Gov. Rick Scott visited St. Petersburg's Jagged Peak Thursday morning as part of an ongoing, statewide campaign to highlight job creators.
Afterward, in a brief, five-minute Q&A with the media, Scott addressed a few questions in the news, including a brewing disagreement with the Florida Cabinet about next week's process to review and possibly get rid of certain agency heads. Among those targeted by Scott: Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty:...
The Senate wastes little time moving forward on a pair of issues in Day One of the session:
From the News Service of Florida:
SENATE QUICKLY PASSES GREYHOUND INJURY BILL
With a nod to the wife of Sen. Don Gaetz, the Florida Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would require the reporting of injuries suffered by racing greyhounds. Under the bill, injuries to racing greyhounds would have to be reported to the state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering within seven days by track veterinarians or owners, trainers or kennel operators, depending on where the injuries occur. The bill was named the "Victoria Q. Gaetz Racing Greyhound Protection Act,'' after animal-rights supporter Vicky Gaetz, the wife of Don Gaetz and mother of state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. Bill sponsor Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the injury-reporting requirement can help prevent greyhound deaths. She called greyhound racing an "archaic and barbaric practice." But David Bishop, a spokesman for the Florida Greyhound Association, which includes breeders, owners and kennel operators, said the bill doesn't go far enough in protecting the racing animals. In a prepared statement, Bishop said lawmakers need to require track owners to make improvements that would better protect greyhounds. "Reporting at-track dog injuries collects statistical data but doesn't do anything to prevent injuries or deaths,'' Bishop said. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who finished a two-year stint as Senate president in November, thanked Sobel for her "kindness" in sponsoring the bill and naming it after his wife, who was in the Senate gallery. The proposal was the first bill passed by the Senate during the 2015 legislative session. The House version of the proposal (HB 129) has not yet been heard in committees....
The Tampa Bay Times' John Romano writes about the intersection of guns, college campuses and legislative intent:
Beware of the sex offenders!
The murderers, terrorists and crazies, too!
The folks supporting legislation to allow guns on college campuses want everyone to know about all of the dangers potentially lurking behind every tree in the quad.
One thing they don't want you to know?...
A Friday afternoon email from Gray Swoope as he exits the role of Gov. Rick Scott's chief job creator:
Today marks my last day as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce as well as President of Enterprise Florida, the state’s lead economic development entity. For the last four years Governor Rick Scott and our economic development team have made a big difference in how our state can compete for job generating projects....
A one-day non-jury trial is being held today to determine if Florida taxpayers should pay more than $800,000 in legal fees racked up by former House Speaker Ray Sansom.
Sansom has sued the state, saying he should be reimbursed for the costs of defending himself against corruption charges that were eventually dropped.
Sansom is asking for $817,518.73, plus interest, for his defense in the case that ultimately drove him from office....
From the Tampa Bay Times' John Romano:
In another era, this probably wouldn't qualify as news. In another state, it might go largely unnoticed.
But here in Florida, amid the most secretive, duplicitous, unapproachable administration Tallahassee has seen in years, it's darn near heroic.
State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, turned heads last week when he suggested a new formula for determining which pet projects might end up in the state budget....
02/20/15 Real Estate
Since joining his father's construction crew when he was 16, Casey Ellison has ridden 21 years of Florida building booms and busts.
This time, though, the recovery is playing out a different way. As both commercial and residential development picks up, construction managers are having a hard time filling their crews, particularly subcontractors like electricians, plumbers, drywallers and carpenters. ...
From The News Service of Florida...
TALLAHASSEE -- In what judges described as a first-of-its-kind case, an appeals court Wednesday upheld a Florida law that prevents people from openly carrying firearms, finding that the restriction does not violate constitutional rights to bear arms.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal stemmed from the 2012 arrest in Fort Pierce of Dale Norman, who was openly carrying a gun in a holster. A jury found Norman guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor charge, leading to the appeal on constitutional grounds....
From the Tampa Bay Times' John Romano:
The cop deserved better. He deserved hallelujahs and huzzahs.
His career was distinguished, and his honor seemed impeccable. His latest promotion should have been greeted with widespread acclaim instead of questions and whispers.
So, yes, new Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Rick Swearingen has every right to be angry....
From David Lightman / McClatchy Washington Bureau
The firefighters’ union is likely to endorse a Democrat for president, just as it’s done in every recent election. But lots of members have a clear affection for Jeb Bush, a strong supporter of their interests when he was governor. And that also could temper the firefighters’ support for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton....
From Doug Hanks at the Miami Herald:
Miami-Dade County may have a new political heavyweight: Donald Trump.
The billionaire developer, TV star and local hotelier suddenly looms large in Miami-Dade government. On Tuesday, the first 2016 campaign report for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez had Trump contributing a $15,000 check, making him one of the Republican's biggest new supporters. That same day, news broke that Trump's staff was in talks with the Gimenez administration to take over the county's Crandon Park golf course, one of the best in South Florida. Trump would manage the public course in exchange for spending $10 million on improvements....
Data risk consulting firm Sunera LLC is expanding its Tampa headquarters, adding more than 40 jobs.
Sunera, a subsidiary of Cyber Risk Management founded in 2005, currently has more than 100 employees in Florida and more than 200 across North America. Gov. Rick Scott announced the expansion Friday, saying the company would invest $185,000 in Hillsborough County.
The news came at the same time as Friday morning's ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida. The center hopes to position itself on the leading edge of a burgeoning industry. The focus was underscored just this week by the Obama administration's proposal to spend $16 billion in fiscal 2016 to better protect federal and private networks from hacking threats....
The parent of Plant City-based Sunshine Bank is buying Community Southern Bank for about $31 million in cash, creating a financial institution with about $451 million in assets and nine branches in the Greater Tampa Bay market.
Under the deal announced Thursday morning, Sunshine Bancorp Inc. is paying $11.66 per share for outstanding shares of Community Southern Holdings Inc., the Lakeland parent Community Southern Bank. The deal adds about $246 million in assets to Sunshine and allows the franchise to expand into a contiguous market along the I-4 corridor, Sunshine said in a statement....
02/04/15 Personal Finance
The Internal Revenue Service is offering Floridians an extra measure of identity theft protection this tax season.
Because of a high incidence of identity thefts statewide, Florida was picked as one of three test markets where all taxpayers can apply for an Identity Protection PIN (personal identification number). The IP PIN is a six-digit number that must be used on a tax return, in addition to one's Social Security number, to verify the identity of the filer....