The Buzz on Florida politics


Latest Buzz on Florida politics

Bob Buesing is finally making it official: The Tampa lawyer and Democrat is filing paperwork today to make another run against State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, in what's likely to be one of the 2018's marquee Florida legislative races.

Democrats see the District 18 race as one of their top chances to flip a state Senate seat from red to blue in what they hope will be a Democratic wave election year. It's also a seat Democrats believe they must hold in order to build a state Senate majority in the future.

Democratic-oriented advocacy groups such as Ruth's List and The Alliance liberal are likely to pour money into the race.

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The Florida Board of Education unanimously approved a rule on Wednesday opening the door for private nonprofits to apply to receive millions in state funding to operate charter schools near low-performing public schools, called "Schools of Hope."

The rule establishes a process for a nonprofit group to become an operator of the charter schools near the struggling schools.

The "Schools of Hope" program was passed last year as part of the controversial school choice mega-bill HB 7069, which several school districts are challenging in court.

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Term limits for Florida's school board members, already a controversial proposal before the Constitution Revision Commission, surfaced in the Florida House PreK-12 Quality subcommittee on Wednesday.

The measure, also a proposed constitutional amendment, came into play because "it may not pass the CRC," said sponsor Rep. Jason Fischer, a former Duval County board member.

And it deserves voter attention, Fischer told his colleagues, because Floridians largely support term limits for elected officials.

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Jack Latvala’s resignation leaves about a half million residents of Tampa Bay with no voice in the Florida Senate, and it now appears they won’t have one until November.

Election supervisors in Pinellas and Pasco counties agree that the cost of a special election is so high -- in excess of $1 million -- that it makes sense to leave the seat vacant until next November when it will be filled anyway, because Latvala’s term was due to expire.

“I really feel that this is a common-sense decision,” said Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. “The information that we’ve provided makes a clear picture.”

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Maybe you thought the conversation over college football's national champions was over once Alabama secured that thrilling come-from-behind victory over Georgia last week.

And maybe you thought the push to make undefeated UCF co-national champions was over after that Disney World parade and that proclamation from Gov. Rick Scott declaring UCF the national champions in Florida.

But wait, now there's a bill filed in the Florida Legislature to create a specialty license plate honoring the University of Central Florida as national champions. Yes, legislation. (Never mind those pesky real world problems that lawmakers could be addressing, this is college football.)

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A hot-button proposal to unite the University of South Florida System into a single university got no pushback at a House committee meeting Wednesday.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers, touted the consolidation provision after Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, asked him to explain it.

“By all accounts, USF is going to earn preeminence,” Rodrigues said, nodding to the state’s bonus funding for top-achieving universities. “Our concern from the student perspective is there is no incentive for USF to share the resources that preeminence is going to bring to them beyond the borders of the Tampa campus. We want all students within the USF family to benefit from the preeminence that is coming.”

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson can rightfully claim he's fought to keep oil drilling away from Florida, but in 2010, he was less strident when the Obama administration floated plans, only to see them scuttled by the BP disaster.

The Tampa Bay Times reported in March 2010 that Nelson was OK with the Obama proposal and now those words have resurfaced as the Florida Democrat runs for re-election against probable opponent Gov. Rick Scott.

"WHOOPS! Bill Nelson Supported Offshore Drilling Under Obama," the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with Mitch McConnell, said in an email blast to reporters this week that linked to a report by the conservative Washington Free Beacon.

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Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz says President Donald Trump is essentially right: Haiti is a dump.

"I would not pick those terms, but I would say that the conditions in Haiti are deplorable, they are disgusting," Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said Tuesday on MSNBC.

"I mean, everywhere you look in Haiti, it's sheet metal and garbage when I was there."

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Beyond the Buzz

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From the Miami Herald's David Smiley:

Hundreds of women gathered Tuesday afternoon in Washington D.C. for a White House event highlighting the accomplishments of women under the administration of President Donald Trump, including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Casey DeSantis, the wife of Republican Congressman and Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

The event, a three-part panel series called "Conversation with Women of America," featured "prominent women within the Trump Administration and highlight[ed] our accomplishments to-date," according to an invitation. Featured speakers included Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, among others, according to the invitation.

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Gov. Rick Scott has had it with Washington gridlock.

In an op-ed published Tuesday in USA Today, Scott called for congressional leaders to quit partisan squabbling and pass legislation that would protect DREAMers and secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Scott isn't calling for comprehensive immigration reform. He doesn't trust ongress to pass " 'comprehensive' anything."

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The Florida Republican Senatorial Committee blew the optics test this month when it reported it had taken $2,100 in in-kind contributions for a Dec. 18 fundraiser from Monroe’s of Palm Beach, a gentlemen’s club that touts itself as “the #1 Adult Entertainment Club and Steakhouse in America.″

The contribution was for beverages at the event held at the Cars of Dreams Museum in Palm Beach, said Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican designated the next Senate president if Republicans hold their majority.

Were any other staff of the gentlemen’s club used for the event? “Absolutely not,″ Galvano said. He said the event was organized by Palm Beach political consultant Tom DaVita and “he chose the vendor.”

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is heading back to Louisiana for his latest job recruitment effort.

Scott is traveling to the Gulf Coast state this week to try to convince business owners that they should leave Louisiana because Gov. John Bel Edwards has pushed for tax hikes to fill a large budget gap.

The majority-Republican Legislature approved temporary tax hikes in 2016. Edwards is proposing to replace those expiring taxes with taxes aimed at raising the same amount.

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An unprecedented threat by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran to impose $1,000-a-day fines and possible jail time for a state vendor brought a swift counterattack Tuesday.

Corcoran has ordered an investigation of C. Patrick Roberts, a prominent TV executive who produces fishing and cooking shows for the state’s tourism promotion arm, Visit Florida. Roberts responded with a lawsuit that claimed Corcoran’s actions violate his civil rights that he filed in federal court, blocks from the Capitol.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama who ruled against the state in a high-profile case in 2016 in which he extended Florida’s voter registration deadline during Hurricane Matthew.

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