Sunday, December 17, 2017
Business

Gov. Rick Scott will sign bill banning governments from hiring companies tied to Cuba

Gov. Rick Scott said on Friday that he intends to sign contentious legislation that would ban the state and local governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba and Syria.

"As we all know, the record of the Castro and Assad governments are undeniably repressive," Scott said in a phone call to Spanish-language radio station WAQI-AM, known as Radio Mambí. "I'm going to sign legislation that protects Florida taxpayers from unintentionally supporting dictatorships that commit such despicable acts."

The governor told host Ninoska Pérez Castellón that he will sign House Bill 959 on Tuesday in Miami at the Freedom Tower, a symbolic setting for the Cuban exiles who were processed there when they first entered the United States.

In throwing his support behind the bill, Scott sided with the nearly unanimous Legislature. The legislation was authored by Miami-Dade Republicans who argued that taxpayer dollars should not fund companies connected to oppressive regimes in Cuba and Syria.

Influential business interests, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the governments of Florida's top two trading partners, Brazil and Canada, have warned the law would discourage investment from foreign firms. It is unclear which, or how many, companies would be affected by the legislation.

On Thursday, the board of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution urging the governor to veto the legislation, saying it would deter efforts to attract companies and jobs.

Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson, who has called the law unconstitutional because foreign policy is a federal matter, said Friday that while he agrees that companies should not work in places like Cuba, the law could hurt the state's business-friendly reputation.

"We remain concerned about the constitutionality of it. We remain concerned about unintended consequences," he said. "But it's impossible to predict what the governor's message is going to be, how it's going to be received."

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