Sen. Marco Rubio was asked on Fox News about his enrollment in Obamacare. If others must, he said, so should he. He defended taking the federal subsidy, essentially the employer contribution many Americans get, but said he would support getting rid of it, as Sen. David Vitter and other Republicans have proposed.
"But in the interim, i'm going to follow whatever law applies to everybody else." The difference, however, is most Americans don't enjoy a contribution worth up to 75 percent of the cost of monthly premiums. Other Republicans have opted to reject the subsidy. Full Story
Beverly Young, the widow of longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, appeared at a fundraiser for congressional candidate David Jolly Wednesday night.
The night before, she went to the hospital complaining of chest pains, but was later released, her son Patrick said. Beverly and Patrick Young were honorary hosts of the fundraiser Wednesday
Jolly, a former aide to Rep. Young, is running for the seat left vacant when the congressman died in October. He is running against fellow Republicans Mark Bircher and Kathleen Peters in the Jan. 14 primary election. The winner in that contest will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 general election.
The district extends from south Pinellas to Dunedin, with portions of downtown and southern St. Petersburg cut out.Full Story
Sen. Marco Rubio didn't even wait for the bipartisan budget accord to be released before calling it a failure, on Sean Hannity's radio show. When the deal was announced, Rubio fired off a strongly worded statement. Today he continued the attack on Mike Huckabee's radio show and he is about to appear on Fox News.
The Florida Republican, still dealing with the fallout for helping write the Senate immigration bill, has a new cause -- one that puts him at odds with Rep. Paul Ryan, a potential 2016 GOP presidential rival, and other Republicans eager to move past politically damaging budget showdowns and break the growing stronghold of outside groups such as Heritage Action.
"It’s not just this budget, it’s this lack of long-term thinking around here," Rubio told Huckabee. "There are no long-term solutions apparently possible in Washington, and we are running out of time. That’s why I’ve become opposed to the deal they’ve come up with.”
Rubio has consistently talked about dealing with long-term budget issues. But it's not hard to divine a political calculation in his aggressive approach. While he talks about long-term budget thinking, he's espousing smaller steps on immigration. …Full Story
Gov. Rick Scott will make an election-year pledge Thursday to cut $401 million in auto-tag fees that could save a typical driver about $25 yearly and put some political heat on his 2014 challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Scott plans to make the announcement in Tampa -- Crist's stronghold -- but he isn't expected to detail an additional $100 million in other tax and fee relief he might want.
While the auto-tag fees were raised by Crist and the Republican-led Legislature in 2009, Crist noted in a statement Wednesday that Scott had allowed the fees to remain for the past three years.
"It’s about time! When these fees were passed by Rick Scott’s colleagues and signed into law they were never meant to be permanent," Crist said in a statement. "I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Governor Scott to realize that it’s time to roll these fees back – better late than never.”
The governor's fellow Republicans who control the Legislature say they want to see more details, but they like what they've heard so far -- especially because it gives them the chance to reduce the unpopular fee increase four years ago. …Full Story
About 2,100 customers who have or are planning to sue Citizens Property Insurance over sinkhole claims will soon be getting offers to settle.
The state run company announced Wednesday it is mailing proposals to current and potentially future litigants this week that offer to pay for repairs. But there are strings attached, including a a requirement that customers will no longer be paid to make the necessary repairs. Instead, Citizens will pay the contractor directly.
Read settlement proposal: Download Citizensletter.pdf
Dubbed “Grout in the Ground”, the proposal is part of an effort to settle sinkhole claims, as well as avoid future risk. The letter invokes recent sinkhole mishaps in Seffner, Clermont and Dunedin to encourage customers to agree to settle.
“While we recognize that these events are extremely rare occurrences, Citizens’ primary goal is making you and your family safe immediately,” the letter stated.
The settlement offer comes after the Times/Herald reported frustration among customers with the claims process.
If homeowners accept the offer, they must drop their lawsuits against Citizens, agreeing to pay their own legal bills and fees. …Full Story
Bob Barker, the host emeritus of "The Price is Right," endorses Pinellas Republican Congressional candidate David Jolly in a television commercial. The commercial is set to run on the television show Thursday, when Barker also is scheduled to make a guest appearance.
In the commercial, Barker notes that he was a friend of the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, and that Jolly worked with Young on veterans' issues. He says that "with Jolly, the choice is right." Full Story
Sen. Bill Nelson and a bipartisan group of other lawmakers tried this afternoon to fast-track a bill to address soaring flood insurance rate hikes, but the move was rejected, leaving prospects of a fix unlikely before Congress adjourns for the year.
"This is no fooling time," Nelson said. "I beg the Senate to let this legislation go by unanimous consent." Nelson read from this Tampa Bay Times story illustrating the story of Pinellas County homeowners who saw their rates skyrocket to $44,000 from $4,300.
But Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., objected, saying the bill had still not cleared the Banking Committee. Roberts was speaking on behalf of Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who is the ranking member on banking.
A string of lawmakers, from a range of states, appeared on the floor to call attention to the issue -- and to send a signal to increasingly angry constituents they are working on it. "We are down to the wire here," Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said darkly.
The Senate bill and companion legislation in the House intends to roll back any rate increases, which went into effect Oct. 1, until FEMA completes an affordability study. …Full Story
Interim Department of Children & Families Secretary Esther Jacobo has agreed to stay in the job through the end of the 2014 legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday. She’ll be continuing in the post at a time when the department is trying to correct flaws that helped lead to the deaths of 40 children under state care.
Jacobo, Miami’s top DCF administrator, took over the post in July, after former DCF Secretary David Wilkins resigned amid the scandal over the deaths of four children who had a history of involvement with child abuse investigators during a six-week period, caalogued in stories by The Miami Herald.
Scott also said that his office will be meeting with children services and law enforcement officials and community leaders to identify a permanent secretary.
Here are comments from Scott and Jacobo from Wednesday’s press release from the governor’s office: …Full Story
Gov. Rick Scott submitted the necessary paperwork to the state Division of Elections Tuesday to seek a second term in 2014. Republican "Richard L. Scott" appointed Abby Dupree as his campaign treasurer and Frederick (Rick) Carroll III, a well-known Tallahassee CPA, as his deputy campaign treasurer.
Scott's paperwork is in addition to his Let's Get to Work re-election committee. The filing is a formality, but it officially makes him a candidate, and he is not expected to have serious opposition in the Republican primary. The first reporting deadline for contributions to Scott's re-election fund will be on Jan. 10, 2014.Full Story
Looks like the last three mayors of St. Petersburg are totally divided on who should succeed the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress.
St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman is helping raise money for fellow Democrat Alex Sink to fill the Pinellas congressional seat.
Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker appears in a TV ad for Republican David Jolly, as well as a mailer that hit mailboxes today: "David Jolly knows Pinellas and has worked to support Congressman Young's many efforts -- from industry to tourism to the support of our veterans," Baker is quoted saying in the flier.
Now comes a fundraising email from outgoing St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster on behalf of fellow Republican Kathleen Peters:
...Kathleen is one of us. She is a Pinellas insider, NOT a Washington insider. I worked closely with Kathleen as our State Representative for Western St. Petersburg and as a fellow mayor of South Pasadena. But even before that, she was a Cub Scout leader, soccer and little league mom, involved with the YMCA, and a volunteer for too many charities to mention. In short, Kathleen Peters has demonstrated her love and commitment to Pinellas County by her actions. …Full Story
Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed his first campaign finance report Tuesday for Attorney General and the message is clear.
He's not dropping out any time soon.
Thurston raised $21,500 in November, even though he didn't hold a fundraiser. His first one is Friday in Tamarac. He still trails George Sheldon, the former secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families, who raised $46,379 in November to raise his total to $52,310. Sheldon got into the race Oct. 21, five days before Thurston.
"He got in the race before me," Thurston said, explaining Sheldon's fundraising edge. "But that's ok. It is for real. We assume there will be a primary and it's going to be a pretty good primary."
Awaiting the Democratic victor will be current Attorney General Pam Bondi, who raised a total of $316,823 in November from two committees and her own campaign, including paid expenses for consulting, sponsorships and media play. Since announcing her reelection bid this summer, Bondi has raised a total of $1.9 million. …Full Story
In just a little less than a month, Charlie Crist raised about $2.96 million in his bid to reclaim the governor's office from Rick Scott.
While that is impressive, especially for a non-incumbent Florida Democrat, it still trailed what Scott was able to raise -- about $5.8 million. All told, Scott has raised about $42 million.
Still, even with that $39 million gap, Crist made it seem like November was a magical time for his fundraising team.
Check out Tuesday's press release from his campaign:
Rick Scott says he will have more money than any politician in the history of Florida politics. But he doesn’t have the people.
Every public and private poll says that the people of Florida want to be back in charge.
And today, I’m humbled to announce that between Charlie Crist for Florida and our campaign, we raised about 3 million dollars in just over three weeks. More than 3,500 of you contributed directly to our campaign. You are incredible. Thank you.
While Rick Scott shakes down a few gigantic special interests, I will continue to be inspired by you, the people.
I work for you. Always have, Always will.
God bless you,
WASHINGTON - News broke this evening of a bipartisan budget deal and brought praise from lawmakers on both sides.
But Sen. Marco Rubio was swift to condemn the deal, arguing it fails to deal with debt and improve the economy.
"Instead, this budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans," said Rubio, who has opposed every major budget deal.
“In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions, instead of making some tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending. I voted against sequestration because of its effect on key programs, including the defense budget, but higher spending and more revenue are not the appropriate ways to address that problem."
The last paragraph is worth noting. Rubio says that he opposed the sequestration but in the previous sentence he seems to critize the deal for easing off on some of the cuts. Some Republicans and tea party members think the sequester is a good thing. Is the Florida senator having it both ways? Spokesman Alex Conant writes: "He opposed sequester because it was a dumb way to cut spending, but has said that we shouldn't undo it without seriously reforming long-term debt drivers. Today's deal undoes some of the sequester cuts, but doesn't deal with real debt problem."
Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Nelson praised the deal. “We now have what amounts to be a major bipartisan budget deal, considering the gridlock that has gripped Congress in recent years. No one will love everything in this agreement. But we all should be able to compromise to get something done for the good of the country.”
According to a release from the negotiators Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc):Full Story
Source: Governor's Office
Hollingsworth's 2011 application to Gov. Rick Scott for a seat on Enterprise Florida's board of directors.
Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, listed on a 2011 application for a high-level Scott appointment that he attended the University of Alabama from 1986 to 1990. He did not obtain his degree there until 2009 and did not note that fact on the application, but two subsequent state applications for employment did note his 2009 graduation.
The first notation apppeared on Hollingsworth's May 27, 2011 bid for an appointment to the board of Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI), the state's public-private economic development agency. (See first image in above gallery).
On his Enterprise Florida appointment application, an official state document that was subject to review by the Florida Senate, Hollingsworth wrote: "University of Alabama, 1986-1990, BA, Communications."
The governor's office said Tuesday that Hollingsworth correctly answered the question because it asked for "dates attended" at a university and "degrees received." The questionnaire did not specifically ask for the year of graduation, the governor's office said. …Full Story
He survived a coup attempt and is now officially in line to take over the Senate presidency in fall 2014.
Andy Gardiner, the 44-year-old Orlando Republican, was the focus of a personal, yet pomp-and-circumstance filled ceremony this afternoon where the Senate GOP unanimously approved him as its next leader.
Gov. Rick Scott, Cabinet members, former senators and current House leaders all were in attendance. The invitations to the ceremony were addressed by hand by Gardiner’s mother, a calligrapher. And his three children -- Andy Jr., Joanna and Kathryn -- lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
But Gardiner also got down to business in his acceptance speech, outlining three points of focus for his two-year term: the economy and jobs; the environment and ecotourism; and expanding education and employment opportunities.
“It should be a goal of our caucus to continue to look for areas where we can improve the business climate for businesses here in the state of Florida, what opportunities there are for targeted tax cuts that we can bring more businesses to the state of Florida,” Gardiner said. …Full Story