Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam went shopping Friday to promote the state's latest tax holiday for consumers: a first-of-its-kind three-day break from sales tax for purchases of energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances.
Through Sunday, retailers will waive state and local sales taxes on products that carry an Energy Star or WaterSense logo up to the first $1,500 of the purchase price. Putnam picked up a new shower head and some light bulbs at a Lowe's store in Tallahassee....
Gov. Rick Scott chose Republican state Rep. Jimmy Patronis Thursday for one of two openings on the Public Service Commission, the five-member panel that regulates public utilities in the state. Scott also reappointed Commissioner Julie Brown to a second four-year term on the PSC.
Patronis is a consummate political insider and a Florida State University graduate who last year abandoned a planned 2016 race against Rep. Matt Gaetz for a Panhandle state Senate seat held by Senate President Don Gaetz. ...
Funeral services are scheduled Thursday for Ron Villella, a long-time Tallahassee lobbyist who served as an aide to former Democratic Gov. Bob Graham and former Democratic Attorney General Bob Butterworth.
The News Service of Florida reports that Villella, 70, died of cancer last Saturday. Villella helped manage Graham's two successful campaigns for governor in 1978 and 1982 and he ran Butterworth's first and most difficult race for attorney general in 1986. He also held a variety of positions in the two Democrats' administrations before he became a lobbyist....
09/17/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — A decorated combat veteran of war in Iraq and Afghanistan sued Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday, claiming the state illegally eliminated his state job while he was serving his country overseas.
Walter Kreitlow III is a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve who was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star during two tours of duty in Iraq. He's a Republican who said he voted for Scott in 2010 and denied that his filing of a lawsuit seven weeks before the election is politically motivated....
A decorated veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a registered Republican -- sued Gov. Rick Scott and the state Wednesday, claiming the Scott administration used his overseas deployment to eliminate his job in violation of state law.
The suit was filed by Walter Kreitlow, who works as an undercover agent in the Department of Business & Professional Regulation's division of alcoholic beverages and tobacco and earns about $50,000 a year....
09/16/14 State Roundup
The race for Florida governor is shaping up to be one of the closest and costliest in the nation this year, as the Washington money pours in.
The Democratic Governors Association just gave Charlie Crist another $1.5 million, bringing the total it has invested in the Florida governor's race to about $5.6 million. The breakdown: $3.5 million for Charlie Crist for Florida, $1.15 million for the Florida Democratic Party and nearly $1 million to a political committee called Florida For All....
The liberal advocacy group Florida for All plans a downtown Tampa protest Tuesday afternoon outside a fund-raiser for Gov. Rick Scott's re-election. The group says it will distribute "Shady Rick Hand Sanitizers" outside the event, which is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
Florida for All also listed what it calls Scott's "Ten Dirtiest Deeds" on its website, including his opposition to high speed rail, support for prison privatization and his switch from opposition to support for state funding of a Sarasota rowing center....
A new statewide Survey USA robo poll for WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa has Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a 5 point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, 44 percent to 39 percent, with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie at 7 percent and 9 percent undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points....
09/15/14 State Roundup
The country song Where I Come From, an anthem of small-town pride, was blaring from speakers outside a Panama City Beach landmark Friday morning.
Inside Captain Anderson's seafood restaurant, Gov. Rick Scott told the crowd of local Republicans where he came from.
"I don't even know my natural father," he said. "My mom was going through a divorce when I was born. She had an abusive husband. She remarried a year or so after I was born, and I have an adopted father. We lived in public housing, because my parents struggled for money."...
Florida is the most diverse state in the U.S., but a review of Gov. Rick Scott's record of appointing judges shows that the bench has become whiter since he became governor nearly four years ago. Scott has appointed fewer African-American candidates to judgeships than his predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, did during a comparable 44-month period of time.
Scott says he looks to appoint people to the bench who understand that there are three branches of government and "they don't get to legislate." If Scott is re-elected in November, it's likely he will have the opportunity to replace the two African-American justices on the Florida Supreme Court, Peggy Quince and James Perry. Both must retire in the next few years....
09/14/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — After nearly four years, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to Florida judgeships than either Charlie Crist or Jeb Bush did in the same period of time.
Scott has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships in nearly four years, according to data from his office. They include reappointments of three judges who hear job-related injury claims and four county judges who decide small claims and traffic cases....
Candidates in Florida have been switching parties for decades, so Charlie Crist's unprecedented bid to be the state's first governor to serve as a Republican and as a Democrat may not be as outlandish as it seems.
But study a sampling of those who made the switch — and then won — and it's clear that Crist's candidacy really is unlike any other, for a host of reasons....
UPDATE: Buzz received this statement from Southerland after publication of this blog post: "I regret that my comments are being misused for political gain. I was trying to make the point that some organizations host men-only events and some host women-only events. Gwen Graham should be more focused on explaining her background as a D.C. lobbyist and political insider than she is on mischaracterizing my remarks."...
09/12/14 State Roundup
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Gov. Rick Scott's campaign for re-election got a jolt of partisan energy Friday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired up crowds in two North Florida cities by mocking Charlie Crist's candidacy.
With his intense style, Christie framed the contest as a referendum on character, with Scott as a steady leader who does his job and Crist as a job-hopping, party-switching opportunist who can't be trusted....
Gov. Rick Scott's two-week campaign bus tour rolled through the Panhandle Thursday, where he cast himself as an economic problem-solver in contrast to the opportunism of his opponent and predecessor, Democrat Charlie Crist.
Riding in a giant blue bus adorned with white "Let's Keep Working" signs, Scott mingled with customers at The Donut Hole in Destin and rallied Republicans, who chanted "Four more years," at a sparsely-attended event at a Crestview Buick dealer. On Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, president of the Republican Governors Association, will help Scott rally the GOP faithful in Panama City....