Senator Rick Scott’s Week in Review February 7, 2020

This week, after the Senate’s vote to acquit President Trump of all impeachment charges, Senator Rick Scott announced a constitutional amendment that would raise the threshold to approve articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives. The amendment would require a super-majority vote of three-fifths in the House to impeach a public official

Senator Rick Scott said, “The partisan charade Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats made of this impeachment process over the last few months shows that the fears of our Founding Fathers were realized. They warned that impeachment could be used as a partisan tool by partisan actors. The Democrats used the impeachment process as a tool to hurt President Trump, regardless of the outcome of the Senate trial. It’s a dangerous precedent and the process has to change.

“Our country should never again have to suffer from this partisan hackery. An act as divisive as impeachment must have bipartisan backing and overwhelming support. It should be harder – much harder – for either political party to take the process our Founders created as a last resort against a tyrannical leader and use it instead as a tool for the tyranny of a political majority. I look forward to all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, joining me in this effort to protect the integrity of our nation and our constitution.”

Also this week, Senator Rick Scott cosponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act to establish 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental-health crisis hotline.

See more of what Senator Scott has been up to this week below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Support our Nation’s Veterans

On Monday, Senator Rick Scott released another episode of his “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featuring Florida veteran and business owner Joel Hawksley, of Orlando, who wants Congress to stop spending time on the impeachment charade and focus on making sure our military members, veterans and their families have the resources they need to succeed. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back to Work and Support our Nation’s Economic Growth

On Tuesday, Senator Rick Scott released the final episode of his “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featuring Floridian and small business owner Travis Horn, of Tampa, who wants Congress to focus on priorities that matter to small businesses, like reducing burdensome regulations, supporting economic growth and creating opportunities for families. See HERE or below.

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Hong Kong Democracy Activist Nathan Law to Join Sen. Rick Scott as Guest at State of the Union

Senator Rick Scott announced Nathan Law as his guest to the President’s State of the Union Address. Nathan Law is the founding Chair of Demosisto, a youth activist group in Hong Kong that promotes freedom and democracy. Nathan was forcefully unseated as a Hong Kong lawmaker under suppression from Communist China, and is currently a Yale graduate student.

Senator Rick Scott said, “I am honored to have Nathan as my guest at the State of the Union. Nathan is an inspiration in the fight for freedom and democracy, and he has sent a powerful message to Communist China that the people of Hong Kong will not back down or be silenced. The United States will always stand with fighters like Nathan to rise up against injustice and fight for freedom. We cannot let Communist China and General Secretary Xi continue to silence the people of Hong Kong, and the world must stand together to present a unified front against Communist China’s aggression.”  Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Releases Video Ahead of President Trump’s State of the Union Address

Ahead of the President’s State of the Union, Senator Rick Scott released the following video highlighting what he hoped President Trump would address in his speech, and contrasting the success of the nation under President Trump and the dysfunction of the House Democrats’ impeachment charade. See the video HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott to EU: Do More to Enforce Sanctions on Maduro Regime 

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement following reports that Spain’s Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos met with Maduro’s illegitimate vice-president, Delcy Rodriguez, in Spain this week. Members of Maduro’s ruthless regime are banned from entering the European Union (EU). During Senator Scott’s meeting with Interim President Juan Guaido on Saturday, Senator Scott discussed the need for the EU to do more to enforce sanctions against the Maduro regime.

Senator Rick Scott said, “I called on the EU to join the United States and do more to help the Venezuelan people, and I was encouraged when the EU joined as a partner in this worldwide fight against evil. But allowing a Maduro official to enter the EU shows they are not strongly enforcing their own sanctions. More must be done. If we are serious about helping the people of Venezuela and getting Maduro to step aside, the EU needs to do a better job of enforcing their sanctions. And Spain, as a member of the EU, needs to do their part and not allow members of its government to legitimize Maduro’s regime. People are dying. Europe, the United States and freedom-loving nations around the world need to do everything in our power to isolate Maduro in Venezuela and cut off the supply of money from Cuba to Caracas.” Read more HERE.

El senador Rick Scott a la UE: Deben hacer más para hacer cumplir las sanciones al régimen de Maduro

El senador Rick Scott hizo la siguiente declaración tras los informes de que el ministro de Transporte de España, José Luis Abalos, se reunió con el vicepresidente ilegítimo de Maduro, Delcy Rodríguez en España esta semana. Los miembros del malvado régimen de Maduro tienen prohibido ingresar a la Unión Europea (UE). Durante la reunión del senador Scott con el presidente interino Juan Guaido el sábado, el senador Scott discutió la necesidad de que la UE haga más para hacer cumplir las sanciones contra el régimen de Maduro.

El senador Rick Scott dijo: “Le hice un llamado a la UE a unirse a los Estados Unidos y hacer más para ayudar al pueblo venezolano, y me animé cuando la UE se unió como socio en esta lucha mundial contra el mal. Pero permitir que un funcionario de Maduro ingrese a la UE muestra que no están aplicando fuertemente sus propias sanciones. Deben hacer más. Si tomamos en serio ayudar a la gente de Venezuela y lograr que Maduro se retire del poder, la UE debe hacer un mejor trabajo y hacer cumplir sus sanciones. España, como miembro de la UE, debe hacer su parte y no permitir que los miembros de su gobierno legitimen el régimen de Maduro. La gente se está muriendo. Europa, los Estados Unidos y las naciones amantes de la libertad en todo el mundo deben hacer todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance para aislar a Maduro en Venezuela y cortar el suministro de dinero desde Cuba a Caracas”. Lea más AQUÍ.

Sen. Rick Scott Applauds President Trump for Standing with Venezuela’s Rightful Leader Juan Guaidó

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement applauding President Trump for inviting Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó to the White House. On Saturday, Senator Scott met with President Guaidó in Miami to discuss how the U.S. can continue to help the fight for freedom and democracy and end Maduro’s murderous regime.

Senator Rick Scott said, “I encouraged President Trump to meet with Interim President Guaidó when we spoke Monday, and I am glad President Trump is taking this historic step. This meeting, as well as having President Guaidó as his guest to last night’s State of the Union, sends a clear message to Maduro that his time is up. We will never stop fighting to free the people from Maduro’s brutal regime, and the United States will always stand with those fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Read more HERE.

Senador Rick Scott aplaude al presidente Trump por apoyar al legítimo líder de Venezuela, Juan Guaidó

El senador Rick Scott hizo la siguiente declaración aplaudiendo al presidente Trump por invitar al presidente interino de Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, a la Casa Blanca. El sábado, el senador Scott se reunió con el presidente Guaidó en Miami para discutir cómo los Estados Unidos pueden continuar ayudando en la lucha por la libertad y la democracia y terminar con el régimen asesino de Maduro.

El senador Rick Scott dijo: “Animé al presidente Trump a reunirse con el presidente interino Guaidó cuando hablamos el lunes, y me alegra que el presidente Trump haya dado este paso histórico. Esta reunión, en adición de tener al presidente Guaidó como invitado en el Estado de la Unión anoche, envía un mensaje claro a Maduro de que su tiempo ha terminado. Nunca dejaremos de luchar para liberar a la gente del brutal régimen de Maduro en Venezuela, y los Estados Unidos siempre estarán con aquellos que luchan por la libertad, la democracia y los derechos humanos”. Lea más AQUÍ.

Sen. Rick Scott to Chairman Powell: Take Action to Roll Back Growing Size of Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jay Powell, highlighting his concern about the growing size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and ongoing purchases of U.S. Treasuries to finance U.S. federal deficits. Senator Scott continues to work to address the nation’s staggering national debt and rein in the out-of-control spending that is putting America’s future at risk. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Requests Transparency in Combatting Coronavirus in United States

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to President Trump requesting that the administration remain as open and transparent as possible in the United States’ efforts to combat the Coronavirus. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Statement on Acquittal Vote

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement following the Senate’s vote to acquit President Trump of all impeachment charges.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Finally. I’m glad that charade is over. Let’s get back to work.” Read more HERE.

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Sen. Rick Scott in USA Today: It’s Time to Raise the Threshold of Impeachment in the House of Representatives

Senator Rick Scott wrote an op-ed in USA Today making the case for his constitutional amendment to raise the threshold to approve articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives. The amendment would require a super-majority vote of three-fifths in the House to impeach a public official. The current threshold is a simple majority.

In the op-edSenator Rick Scott wrote, “Our Founding Fathers feared that impeachment would be used as a partisan tool by partisan actors.

In the impeachment of President Donald Trump, their fears have been realized.…

Pelosi’s impeachment circus has shown that bad-faith partisans will use the impeachment process as a tool to hurt their political opponents, no matter the outcome of the Senate trial. It’s a dangerous precedent. House majorities have no reason to prove — or even attempt to prove — their case if their goal is to simply use impeachment as a political attack against the president.…

It’s wrong, and the process needs to change.

It should be harder — much harder — for either political party to take the process our Founders created as a last resort against a tyrannical leader and use it instead as a tool for the tyranny of a political majority.”

Read the full op-ed in USA Today HERE.

Fox News: Rick Scott announces Constitutional amendment to raise threshold for impeachment

Washington Post: Sen. Scott proposes changing Constitution to make impeachment harder

National Review: Rick Scott Announces Constitutional Amendment Raising Impeachment Voting Threshold in the House

Fox Business: Sen. Rick Scott: 2020 Democrats are ‘the socialists or the more socialists’

Washington Examiner: GOP senator readies constitutional amendment to raise House threshold for impeachment

Newsweek: Senators Propose New Impeachment Rules Requiring Supermajority In House, Witness Testimony In Senate

Florida Daily: Rick Scott Proposes Amendment Making it Tougher to Impeach President, Other Federal Officials

Tampa Bay Times: Rick Scott pitches constitutional amendment to make impeachment even harder

The Hill: GOP senator proposes constitutional amendment to raise threshold for impeachment

The Hill: Senators push for new rules now that Trump impeachment battle is over

Epoch Times: Rick Scott Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Raise Threshold for Impeachment

Independent Journal Review: GOP Senator Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Require Super Majority in the House for Impeachment

WEAR: Sen. Rick Scott announce amendment to raise impeachment voting threshold in the House

Sun Sentinel: Florida’s senators Rubio and Scott vote to acquit Trump

Florida Politics: Florida lawmakers react to the Senate’s acquittal of Donald Trump

Washington Examiner: ‘An inspiration’: Rick Scott invites Hong Kong democracy activist to Trump State of the Union speech

South China Morning Post: Hong Kong activist Nathan Law to attend Trump’s State of the Union address

The Daily Caller: Sen. Rick Scott Brings Unifying Guest To State Of The Union

WESH: Central Florida lawmakers react to State of the Union address

Florida Daily: Rick Scott: Time to Roll Back Growing Size of Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet

WEAR: Florida senators vote ‘not guilty’ in President Trump impeachment trial

Miami Herald: Marco Rubio, Rick Scott vote to acquit Donald Trump of impeachment charges

McClatchy: Trump to host Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó at the White House for the first time

Florida Politics: Florida lawmakers react to the State of the Union address

NBC Miami: Sen. Scott, Rubio on Caucus, Etc. Ahead of State of the Union

Florida Daily: Florida Delegation Continues to Ask Trump for $250 Million for Everglades Restoration

Florida Daily: Rick Scott Calls on Florida Ports and Airports to Take Action to Protect Americans from the Coronavirus

Diario 2001: Rick Scott: Habrá severas consecuencias si algún estadounidense es perjudicado en Venezuela

El Nacional: La advertencia de Rick Scott al régimen por la detención de los directivos de Citgo

Venepress: Rick Scott crítica a CNN por trato a Juan Guaidó

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Sen. Rick Scott Meets with Interim President Juan Guaidó in Miami

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Senator Rick Scott joined Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó and South Florida lawmakers at a rally to promote freedom in Venezuela. Senator Scott and Interim President Guaidó also met to discuss how the U.S. can continue to help the fight for freedom and democracy and end Maduro’s murderous regime.

Senator Rick Scott said, “It was an honor to join Interim President Guaidó in Miami as we continue working to bring freedom to the people of Venezuela. We will never stop fighting for an end to Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime, and the United States will always stand with those fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights.”

Come Visit Us at Mobile Office Hours! 

The staff of Senator Rick Scott will be holding Mobile Office Hours to assist Floridians with federal services, including help with federal agencies and veterans’ resources. See a full list of federal services HERE.

Next week’s Mobile Office Hours will be on:

Monday, February 10th, 2020

at the following locations:

Union County Board of County Commissioners 
9:00AM – 12:00PM
55 West Main Street
Lake Butler, FL 32054

AND

The C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library 
10:30AM – 1:30PM
2607 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33610

Lockheed Martin launched a small business and innovation program in Orlando this week – great to see companies investing in Florida’s entrepreneurs and encouraging innovation throughout the industry!

The USS Little Rock and 90 sailors deployed from Naval Station Mayport to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Best of luck for a successful deployment and thank you for your service!

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WASHINGTON, D.C.
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5274
TALLAHASSEE
111 N. Adams Street, Suite 208
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 942-8415
Fax: (202) 228-4535
TAMPA
801 North Florida Avenue, Suite 421
Tampa, FL 33602
Phone: (813) 225-7040
NAPLES
Collier County Government Center
3299 Tamiami Trail East, #106
Naples, FL 34112
Phone: (239) 231-7890
WEST PALM BEACH
415 Clematis Street, Suite 201
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 514-0189
ORLANDO
Landmark II Building
225 East Robinson Street, Suite 410
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 872-7161
KISSIMMEE
1 Courthouse Square, Suite 300
Kissimmee, FL 34741
Phone: (407) 586-7879
PENSACOLA
221 Palafox Place, Suite 420
Pensacola, FL 32502
Phone: (850) 760-5151
MIAMI
901 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Suite 505
Miami, FL 33134
Phone: (786) 501-7141

Legislative Update – February 7, 2020

Diaz-Balart Meets with Venezuela’s Legitimate President Juan Guaidó

DORAL, FL ­­–– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart issued the following statement after meeting with Venezuela’s interim President, Juan Guaido this afternoon.

“I was pleased to meet with Venezuela’s legitimate President Juan Guaidó today to discuss a democratic and prosperous future for the Venezuelan people. For years, the Cuban dictatorship has provided intelligence and other support to the Maduro regime to dismantle Venezuela’s once democratic institutions, suppress human rights, and plunder the resources of the Venezuelan people. At our meeting, I reiterated the United States’ commitment to supporting democracy, and to stand with the oppressed Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan people in their efforts to rid our hemisphere of tyranny.”

Legislative Update – January 31, 2020

Senate Releases Proposed State Budget for 2020-2021: Invests in Florida’s Teachers & Environment

The Florida Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Senator Rob Bradley, released Senate Proposed Bill 2500, a General Appropriations Act.

SB 2500 details a proposed state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.  The Senate’s proposed budget builds on a continued investment in elevating neighborhood public schools and ensuring our teachers are taken care.  This includes $500 million in a new “teacher salary increase allocation” and $325 million in increased flexible funding through the “base student allocation,” from which districts can invest in teachers and school district personnel.

Florida’s environment and water quality remains a priority to the Florida Senate.  With $643.6 million in funding for water quality and protection, the Florida Senate is working to restore and preserve Florida’s unique environment.  Funding would include storage and treatment projects North of Lake Okeechobee, Red Tide and toxic algae research, septic-to-sewer conversions and the development of coastal resiliency plans.

Guardianship Reform Bill Passes Judiciary Committee

My guardianship bill, Senate Bill 994, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.  This is the second committee of reference.

SB 994 is part of an effort to help restore public trust, improve transparency and prevent the exploitation of those under the care of a guardian.

Two small changes were made in the bill during the amendatory process.  First, we incorporated a timeline for the court to provide a ruling 72 hours after the filing of a verified petition.  The second change clarifies bill language to ensure that individuals seeking public guardian representation would always have petitioner services.

In case you missed it, my proposed legislation would:

·         Require a court considering the appointment of a guardian to inquire and evaluate potential conflicts of interest;

·         Prohibit a guardian from consenting to an order not to resuscitate on behalf of a ward without permission from a court;

·         Prohibit a professional guardian from petitioning for her or his own appointment unless the petitioner is a relative; and

·         Increase reporting requirements for guardians.

You can read more on the background surrounding the bill here: New Florida Legislation Aims to Toughen Guardianship Laws

Watch me discuss the bill on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/FLSenateGOP/status/1217485261619310592

Florida’s Unemployment Rate At All-Time Low

Last week, it was announced that Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 3.0 percent in December 2019.  The labor force continued to increase with 220,000 Floridians entering the workforce over the course of the year.

Florida businesses created 198,200 private-sector jobs  and the state’s annual private-sector job growth rate of 2.5 percent continues to outpace the national job growth rate of 1.5 percent.

This is the lowest unemployment rate for Florida since the current estimating process started in 1976.

Committee Advances Legislation to Deliver Broadband Internet Access to Rural Florida

Senate Bill 1166: Broadband Internet Service, by Senator Ben Albritton, unanimously passed out of the Commerce and Tourism Committee.

This legislation aims to bring reliable broadband internet connectivity to rural areas throughout Florida.  The bill creates the Florida Office of Broadband within the Department of Economic Opportunity to lead efforts for high-speed internet installation within or adjacent to Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance.

Delivering high-speed internet to Florida’s Heartland will help to revitalize rural communities, improve regional connectivity, boost business and educational opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for Floridians throughout the state.

Measure to Create Permanent Emergency Staging Areas Advances

Senate Bill 7020: Emergency Staging Areas, by the Senate Committee on Infrastructure and Security, unanimously passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, chaired by Senator Travis Hutson.

The legislation provides for the plan, design and construction of permanent Staging Areas for Emergencies (SAFE) as part of Florida’s Turnpike System.

SB 7020 aims to create a reliable and consistent approach to emergency staging to ensure that critical supplies and assistance reach communities struck by a natural disaster or in an emergency situation.

The staging areas created through this legislation would be designed to accommodate a significant amount of emergency-related supplies and equipment; provide space in support of emergency preparedness and evacuation activities, such as fuel reserve capacity; and could be used during non-emergency periods for commercial motor vehicle parking.

Florida Veterans Protection Act Heads to Senate Floor

Senate Bill 294: Crimes Against Veterans, by Senator Tom Wright, passed the Rules Committee this week.

The bill would amend the “White Collar Crime Victim Protection Act” to punish a person who obtains or attempts to obtain $50,000 or more by committing an aggravated white-collar crime that victimizes 10 or more veterans.

The commission of this act is a first-degree felony ranked as level 9 of the offense severity ranking chart of the Criminal Punishment Code.

In addition to a first-degree felony charge, a person who commits an aggravated white-collar crime may be required to pay up to a $500,000 fine or double the value of the pecuniary gain or loss, court costs, and restitution for each victim.

Bill to Create First Responders Suicide Deterrence Task Force Passes Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs

Senate Bill 1586, by Senator Ed Hooper, unanimously passed its first Senate Committee on Tuesday.

SB 1586 would create a First Responders Suicide Deterrence Task Force within the Department of Children and Families’ Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention.  The task force would include representatives of the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

The task force would develop training programs and materials to assist first responders with life and work stress and foster an organizational culture that supports first responders.

The First Responders Suicide Deterrence Task Force would be required to report its findings and recommendations on suicide prevention to the Governor and Legislature each July.

Bill to Re-Design Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver is Amended & Passed

Senate Bill 82, by Senator Aaron Bean, was amended and passed this week in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.  The bill would make operational changes to improve the fiscal stability of the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver.

This waiver provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to allow them to reside in their homes and communities rather than stay within an institution.  The waiver would also provided employment assistance, adult day care and personal support services.

SB 82 would require the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) to competitively procure qualified organizations to provide waiver support coordination services for HCBS waiver clients.  The bill was amended by Chair Bean in committee after input from both clients and providers from around the state.

Currently, Senate Bill 82 will help control costs of the waiver program without reducing services to existing clients.  The bill aims to provide a better assessment of a change in client services, as well as,  a more uniform support coordination.  The amendment also removed obsolete language and clarified criteria for qualified organizations.

Welcome to the Florida Senate

The Florida Senate welcomed the following groups to the Capitol:

·         AMI Kids

·         Autism Society of Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities

·         Big Brothers Big Sisters

·         Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists

·         Florida Association of School Administrators

·         Florida Coalition for Children & Department of Children and Families

·         Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops

·         Florida Dental Hygienists’ Association

·         Florida Division of Emergency Management

·         Florida Division of Historical Resources

·         Florida Gulf Coast University

·         Florida Sheriffs Association

·         National Association of Social Workers – Florida Chapter

·         PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

·         Polk County

·         United Way of Florida (Children’s Week and Florida Senior Day)

·         University of Florida/IFAS 4-H Youth Development and Florida 4-H Foundation

·         University of North Florida

I was honored to speak to our local business leaders during Southwest Florida Day at the Capitol.

It was exciting to see a new record in attendance of business leaders who traveled to Tallahassee for Southwest Florida Day.

It was wonderful to speak to so many students during the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Day legislative breakfast.  FGCU students traveled to our Capitol to meet and engage with legislators on behalf of the student body population and school.

Great to see FGCU’s mascot, Azul the Eagle, who made it up for the day!

Thank you to Hendry County Commissioner Karson Turner, Legislative Coordinator Emily Hunter and County Commissioner Mike Swindle for meeting with me while in Tallahassee this week.

What a wonderful opportunity it was to meet with leaders from the Diocese of Venice and so many students from the Donahue Academy in Ave Maria who attended Catholic Days at the Capitol.

I am grateful for the opportunity to sit down with the leaders of LeadingAge of Florida.  There are more than 80,000 seniors currently living in LeadingAge Florida member communities.  LeadingAge Florida serves thousands through home health services, adult day care centers and other community outreach programs.

This week, I visited with Hendry County School Superintendent Paul Puletti.

Thank you to the members of the Southwest Florida Apartment Association who stopped by the office.

I absolutely enjoyed hosting these members of the Collier and Lee County PACE Center for Girls.  These ladies were in Tallahassee for PACE Day at the Capitol. (They asked very tough questions!)

A Look Ahead

Next week, the Senate will hear from the Appropriations Committee Sub-Chairs in the full Appropriations Committee on the specifics of each budget-silo and Chairman Rob Bradley will present the Senate’s Proposed Budget(Senate Bill 2500) on the Senate Floor. The House of Representatives has also released budget recommendations, which are different from the Senate recommendations. Be sure to stay engaged as Session progresses and the Chambers continue to work on balancing our State’s budget.  

You can follow along on the Florida Channel at: https://thefloridachannel.org/

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office any time that I can be of assistance.
 
Sincerely,

Kathleen C. Passidomo

Senate Majority Leader
State Senator, District 28

Naples Office:

3299 East Tamiami Trail
Suite 203
Naples, FL 34112
239-417-6205

LaBelle Office:

25 East Hickpochee Avenue
Room J-126
LaBelle, FL 33935
863-674-7122

Tallahassee Office:

330 Senate Office Building
Tallahassee, FL 32339
850-487-5028

Diaz-Balart Applauds $84 Million for Hurricane-Impacted Communities in Florida

Diaz-Balart Applauds $84 Million for Hurricane-Impacted Communities in Florida

 WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that more than $84 million has been awarded to 21 communities in Florida that were impacted by Hurricane Irma. These funds were administered through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program, which works on an as-needed basis and seeks to rebuild impacted communities after a natural disaster.

“Nearly three years after Hurricane Irma devastated many parts of our country, there are still areas in our community that remain vulnerable. Having visited with localities across Florida’s 25th District immediately after the storm, and in the ensuing months and years, I know how important these funds are. They will help bring us one step closer to fully repairing our communities’ homes, businesses, and infrastructure after such a major storm. I am proud to have played a role in providing these funds during my time as Chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee.

“Florida’s 25th district will greatly benefit from these grants. Every county in our district, and communities from Medley to Everglades City, will see an influx of funding. I look forward to seeing the positive impact these dollars will have in our community, and the lasting effects it will bring. I thank Governor DeSantis and Secretary Lawson for their continued leadership in ensuring Florida is rebuilt and equipped for future natural disasters.”

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the following areas in FL-25 will receive a portion of this grant:

  • Collier County will receive $591,374 to improve a storm water drainage system to alleviate household flooding
  • Everglades City will receive $295,949 to repair damaged equipment at a municipal wastewater treatment facility
  • Hendry County will receive $4.3 million to repair the Four Corners storm water drainage system to alleviate flooding
  • Miami-Dade County will receive $2.1 million to relocate a damaged wastewater lift station to improve an existing sewer system
  • Town of Medley will receive $689,336 to relocate a damaged wastewater lift station to improve an existing sewer system

Everglades Caucus Co-Chairmen Diaz-Balart and Hastings Lead Bipartisan Letter Requesting $250 Million for Critical Restoration Projects

Bipartisan Letter Requesting $250 Million for Critical Restoration Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Today, Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Co-Chairmen and Co-Founders of the Congressional Everglades Caucus, led Members of the Caucus in sending a bipartisan letter to President Trump requesting that he allocate $250 million for Everglades Restoration projects in his FY21 budget request to Congress.

Read the full letter here.

Dear President Trump:

We write as members of the Everglades Caucus to express our appreciation for your continued commitment to Everglades restoration. Thankfully, funding in recent years has allowed for expedited completion of critical restoration projects. To keep the momentum going, we respectfully request that in your upcoming budget you allocate $250 million under the Army Corps of Engineers construction account for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration.

The Everglades is a natural treasure, one of the true ecological wonders of the world, and further efforts to preserve this unique ecosystem will prove imperative to its long-term viability. The Everglades is central to Florida’s economy; its biodiversity an environmental marvel, indeed the Everglades National Park is home to one of the world’s largest wetlands. In addition, we cannot forget that eight million Floridians rely on the Everglades for their drinking water. Whether it be support for the expedited completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike or amending your request level to reflect the needs of our State, you have shown your strong commitment to these important issues. With this in mind, we ask that you join us in building upon these successes for the people of Florida.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to advance vital Everglades restoration projects. By allocating $250 million, you would ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers has the resources it needs to do just that.

January 2020 – Legislative Update

Personal Message from Rep. Bob Rommel

The 2020 Legislative Session opened last week in Tallahassee.  Because of the hard work completed during the Interim Committee Meetings last year, the Legislators “hit the ground running.”

This Session, I have filed 6 bills, 2 resolutions and 10 appropriation requests.  Some of my constituents will be happy and some will be not so happy.  However, please remember that there is a finite pot of money available and not every wish or dream can be fulfilled.  The Governor has already stated that he is looking to streamline the budget to fund education needs, especially salary increases for our state’s K-12 teachers.

I hope to update you during the Legislative Session on a weekly basis  If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at bob.rommel@myfloridahouse.gov.

Thank you for letting me represent you in Tallahassee!

Bob Rommel
State Representative – District 106

Governor DeSantis Makes
Major Announcement
Regarding Education in Florida

On Friday, January 24th at Baker Park, Governor DeSantis and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced that “common core” – including “crazy math” –  had been eliminated from Florida’s education curriculum.  Although full details are not yet available, the new standards, called BEST for Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking – will include a greater emphasis on civics. Governor DeSantis stated, I wanted to make sure we had a renewed emphasis on American civics and understanding the principles that make America great.”  Further, standardized testing will be streamlined.

This is a great day for Florida’s students!

2020 Legislative Session
Weeks 1 & 2

Session Week 1 (January 14-17, 2020)

The 2020 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature kicked off Tuesday, January 14th, with memorable remarks by House Speaker Jose R. Oliva. His focus over these 60 days of session remains on fiscal prudence and health care reform. Speaking about the health care industrial complex, Oliva was clear about his concern and intent to pave a path for positive change.

“They receive state dollars, federal dollars and private payer dollars. We also extend them all manner of local tax breaks, and it is not enough!” Oliva said. “It will never be enough. Until we have the courage to empower the patient and loosen the regulations which have allowed their empire-building, it will never be enough.”

With his comments in mind, House lawmakers heard dozens of bills on a variety of topics over the past week – approving several measures in the areas of health care, education, commerce and more that offer the promise of positive impact on Floridians statewide. The following briefs highlight several of those bills.

House Health Care Appropriations Committee votes to break down health care barriers  (Rep. Rommel is member of this Committee).

Florida House Health Care Appropriations members approved a bill Wednesday that would free advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to help patients to the full extent of their education and training.

Florida has a shortage of health care providers, which means some patients don’t have quick access to the primary care they need. However, there are 32,877 APRNs actively licensed to practice in Florida but can only do so under the supervision of a physician.

These APRNs have graduate degrees – many doctoral – and are trained to diagnose and treat illness and disease. Yet, they are stifled in their ability to help patients. Many experienced APRNs are “supervised” by physicians who never see the APRN’s patients, never review a chart, and never do a patient consultation.

Treatment by an APRN is just as safe as a treatment by a physician. In fact, states that allow independent practice see increases in health care utilization and quality of care, which can lead to improved health outcomes. HB 607 brings Florida in line with 30 other states that already allow APRNs to practice independently.

House Health Quality Subcommittee votes to prevent fraud and abuse

Most Floridians conduct business electronically — it’s instant, efficient and secure. It’s time now for the health care industry to catch up. HB 1103 does just that by eliminating paper prescriptions and moving to an electronic format, which could help combat fraud, medical errors and the opioid crisis. Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee members approved the bill Wednesday to further this effort.

HB 1103 would require all prescriptions to be electronically transmitted by July 1, 2021, with exceptions for written prescriptions when there is a temporary electrical or technological failure that prevents electronic prescribing. Written prescriptions exacerbate the opioid crisis because they can be altered, and prescription pads may be lost or stolen and used illegally. Written prescriptions can also cause medical errors when handwriting is misread.

Many providers already e-prescribe medications. At least 15 other states require e-prescribing in some manner, and federal law will require it for all controlled substances beginning January 1, 2021.

House Health Quality Subcommittee votes to drive down health care costs

Patients should know upfront when a health care professional refers them to an out-of-network health care provider, and physicians should not financially benefit from the referrals they make. Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee members approved a bill Wednesday to build those patient-protection measures into Florida law.

Patients are sometimes shocked to learn that the provider they were referred to is out-of-network and only discover it when it’s too late — when they receive the bill. A growing trend among hospitals is to acquire private health care practice groups, such as a physician practice group or an imaging center. Hospitals may pressure these health care providers to only refer patients to providers affiliated with the hospital.

HB 955 prohibits health care providers from referring patients to any hospital in which they hold an investment interest and requires written notice to the patient of a referral to an out-of-network provider.

House Health Market Reform Subcommittee votes for free-market health care reform  (Rep. Rommel is a member of this Subcommittee).

Floridians deserve options when it comes to meeting their health care needs. Florida House Health Market Reform Subcommittee members approved a bill Wednesday that frees up more choices for patients who need specialty care.

HB 6059 removes provisions prohibiting licensure of hospitals that serve specific populations. Florida bans hospitals that specialize in cardiac, orthopedic, surgical or oncology care. That means hospitals can’t specialize and become the premier facility in any of those areas.

HB 6059 removes outdated regulatory barriers that hinder competition. Repealing the ban should increase competition and ultimately lead to more high-quality, cost-effective options for patients.

House Health Market Reform Subcommittee votes to ensure hospital charitable care  (Rep. Rommel is a member of this Subcommittee).

Hospitals that qualify for local property tax exemptions should have to prove that they provide an equivalent value to their communities. Florida House Health Market Reform Subcommittee members approved a bill Wednesday that requires hospitals to do so.

Current law grants an exemption from local property taxes for property used predominately for charitable purposes. However, the bar for hospitals to qualify for a charitable property tax exemption is low — they only have to demonstrate nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. HB 919 asks this critical question of nonprofit hospitals: Are you doing enough for the community to earn this tax break?

Under the bill, hospitals are required to demonstrate the value of charitable services by providing IRS filings used to report the value of their charitable care, and they would receive a property tax exemption that is proportional to the value of the charity care they provide. Charitable care covered by some form of government payment will not qualify.

HB 919 holds nonprofit hospitals accountable, ensuring they give back enough to their communities to justify their local property tax exemption.

House Health Market Reform Subcommittee votes to create new health care facility (Rep. Rommel is a member of this Committee).

Florida House Health Market Reform Subcommittee members approved a bill on Wednesday that would give patients more options for post-surgery care. HB 827 creates a new licensure category for recovery care centers (RCCs), facilities for post-operative care.

RCCs are a new kind of facility that will give patients access to more options for post-surgery care. These facilities would be able to keep patients up to 72 hours after a procedure at an ambulatory surgical center, hospital, or after an outpatient medical treatment such as chemotherapy.

The bill requires the Agency for Health Care Administration to implement stringent standards for RCCs to ensure patient safety and quality care, just like any other health care facility licensure category. RCCs must have emergency care and transfer protocols with at least one hospital.

HB 827 makes way for a safe, logical, and more personal recovery option for people who need care after a surgery or treatment, but do not want to stay in a hospital.

House Business & Professions Subcommittee votes to end barriers to entry for workers

Burdensome local licensing requirements act as barriers to job entry for skilled workers, prevents mobility, and increases costs for people who are otherwise qualified to work, especially when licensing requirements vary by city or county.

On Wednesday, members of the House Business & Professions Subcommittee voted to give workers greater opportunities to practice their trade and remove barriers created by the patchwork of local licensing requirements. HB 3 addresses the issue so Floridians can work statewide without paying additional fees, passing unnecessary tests or meeting extra experience or education requirements.

HB 3 preempts occupational licensing to the state and allows professionals to work anywhere in Florida without the burdens that local licensing requirements create. Inconsistent licensing requirements across different cities or counties would be eliminated unless specifically authorized by state law. The bill also specifically prohibits local licensure of certain jobs, including painting and flooring installation.

House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee votes to expand charter schools

Public charter schools provide families the opportunity to choose a school that best meets their child’s individual needs. On Wednesday, Florida House Republicans on the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee voted to expand access to charter schools as a public education option for Florida’s students.

Currently, only a school district may authorize charter schools in their district. HB 953, Charter Schools, allows state colleges and universities to act as public charter school authorizers, in addition to school districts, to meet regional workforce and educational needs.

Nearly 7 in 10 voters nationwide support school choice, according to a RealClear Opinion Research Survey. By allowing state colleges and universities to act as authorizers, HB 953 provides students with opportunities for acceleration into new and exciting educational workforce areas, helping meet Florida’s growing demand for school choice.

House subcommittee approves Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education bill

State university and college students should feel free to express their viewpoints in a marketplace of diverse ideas. On Wednesday, Florida House lawmakers on the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted to support this concept by approving HB 613.

HB 613, Higher Education, requires all state universities and colleges to survey students and faculty, and publish a report on the status of intellectual diversity at their institutions. The legislation also revises provisions related to performance funding, among other changes.

A study by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found a dramatic leftward shift in the composition of faculty today with progressives at 60% and conservatives at only 13%. Given this dire lack of political diversity, conservative students may have real fears about expressing their opinions. HB 613 reinforces the protections of the First Amendment by helping expose suppression of diverse speech and opinions at Florida’s higher education institutions.

Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee votes to update public notice rules  (Rep. Rommel is the Vice-Chair of this Subcommittee).

Floridians should have simple, easy, and free access to public notices. On Wednesday, the Florida House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee approved a bill that updates how government entities publish public notices so they can better reach Florida residents with key information and reduce the costs associated with doing so.

HB 7 gives government agencies the option to publish legally required advertisements and notices on a public website if certain conditions are met. Currently, Florida law requires state and local government entities to buy newspaper advertisements to share information with the public regarding important deadlines, events, or code changes. Exceptions exist for counties that do not have a newspaper in the county. This bill updates the outdated legal notice publication requirements to better reflect how most Floridians get their information – online.

Today, the vast majority of Floridians have access to an internet connection via a computer, tablet, or cellphone. With so many people online, modernizing the public notice system will result in more residents being informed about meetings that impact their lives – all while saving public dollars.

Legislation to increase fiscal responsibility in government passes House subcommittee (Rep. Rommel is Vice-Chair of this Subcommittee).

On Wednesday, the Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee passed a measure to ensure that community development districts (CDDs) are held to the same high standard as state government.

CDDs are a type of special-purpose local government that should provide basic urban community services in a cost-effective manner. Currently, a CDD board may authorize bonds by a majority vote of the board. HB 851 increases the number of votes required for a CDD board to authorize bonds from a majority vote to two-thirds vote of the board beginning October 1, 2020.

In state government, any proposed new tax or fee, or an increase to a tax or fee, must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each chamber of the Florida Legislature. Providing the same vote threshold for CDDs is logical and helps ensure consistency.

Florida House subcommittee votes to bring transparency to public records process

In recent years, some agencies have been in the spotlight for unjustified spending of taxpayer money while attempting to hide how much they spent using public record exemptions for trade secrets. Members of the Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee on Thursday approved two bills that hold government agencies accountable by ensuring that public information is not improperly exempted from public disclosure as a trade secret.

HB 799 defines the term “trade secret” and creates a uniform public record exemption that applies to all agencies subject to public records requirements. HB 801 repeals agency-specific public record exemptions for trade secrets, associated processes for designating a trade secret, and most references to trade secrets contained in the definitions for proprietary business information.

The residents of Florida have a right to know where, how, and under what terms their tax dollars are being spent. These bills work together to eliminate the lack of uniformity among government agencies in what information they label “trade secrets” and keep from the public view.

Florida House subcommittee seeks to bring transparency to commercial service airports

Florida is home to 20 commercial service airports, four of which are considered large-hub airports. These airports serve Florida’s visitors and residents, but they also have an annual impact of $144 billion on Florida’s economy. On Wednesday, the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee voted to approve a bill to increase oversight, transparency and accountability of these economic drivers.

HB 915 includes several provisions to enhance transparency and accountability for commercial service airports. Specifically, the bill requires the Auditor General, at least once every five years, to conduct operational and financial audits of the state’s large-hub commercial service airports. It requires the members of the governing bodies of large-hub commercial service airports to submit a more detailed financial disclosure to the Commission on Ethics. Under the bill, each commercial service airport must post certain information about its airport operations online, including meeting notices, agendas, and certain documents it submits to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Among many other accountability measures, HB 915 reiterates the ethics standards for the governing body and employees of commercial service airports and requires annual ethics training. The bill requires each commercial service airport to comply with state procurement laws and public record and open meeting laws, and to annually verify such compliance to the state. Ultimately, the bill holds commercial service airports accountable to all Floridians.

HB 915 protects taxpayers by bringing increased oversight and transparency standards to Florida’s commercial service airports.

Session Week 2 (January 21-24, 2020)

Week 2 of the Regular Session of the Florida Legislature opened Tuesday, January 21st,  after state legislators joined the nation on Monday in observing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives convened and passed several measures. Among these, the body approved a joint resolution to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, currently one of five ways to amend the Florida Constitution.

The once-every-20-year commission last met in 2018. It has been scrutinized for the way members were appointed and for bundling unrelated topics into single ballot items. If the Legislature passes the ban, voters will ultimately have the final say on abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission.

In committees, lawmakers approved conservative policies to help Floridians overcome barriers to health care and cut through red tape that prevents skilled people from working, among other issues. The following briefs highlight several of those measures, and more.

House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions holds initial meeting

When news broke that the Moffitt Cancer Center’s Research may have been compromised by the Chinese government, Speaker Jose Oliva took swift action by appointing a special committee dedicated to investigating the issue. On Tuesday, the House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions convened for the first time to discuss goals and review evidence.

Under the leadership of Chairman Chris Sprowls, committee members shared that at least two Florida research institutions have been targeted for their research by Chinese-government backed organizations: Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida. As the committee investigates these cases – and any others that arise – the members will be looking for evidence of diversion and theft of intellectual property; sharing of confidential information; and nondisclosure of ties to substantial organizations, including foreign governments.

While other research institutions have been the target of foreign attacks, Sprowls said, this is the first time a state legislature has taken action and responsibility to do what it can to correct problems and prevent future ones. In the coming weeks, the Select Committee will invite members from the Moffitt Cancer Center and University of Florida to testify – answering key questions about their internal procedures, how they failed, and why they failed.

House Health Quality Subcommittee votes to make medical records more accessible

The Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday to ensure that Floridians gain access to their medical records in a standardized, timely manner. HB 1147 sets the timeframe that health care providers and facilities must produce or allow inspection of records and empowers patients to control their records in the form most convenient for them.

Requesting medical records should be a straightforward process; however, it is often inconsistent, confusing, and subject to repeated delays. HB 1147 ensures that, regardless of provider type, each practitioner and facility must produce all requested records in their possession within 14 working days and allow inspection of all records in their possession within 10 working days. Furthermore, providers and facilities must produce the records in the form the patient selects.

A patient will receive treatment from many health care providers throughout their life, and each provider will create and maintain a record of that treatment. It is crucial that the patient and each of his or her current and future providers have prior treatment records for the patient to receive the best care.

House Health Market Reform Subcommittee votes to end surprise medical billing (Rep. Rommel is a member of this subcommittee).

This week the Florida House Health Market Reform Subcommittee approved a bill that protects Floridians from surprise medical billing.

Costs associated with health care services and procedures have the potential to result in significant medical debt for patients, and even bankruptcy. Even if medical costs do not result in bankruptcy, they can weigh heavily on patients. Past legislative efforts have helped patients get more information on health care costs prior to care, but more needs to be done to empower patients and protect them from unfair billing practices.

HB 959 empowers and protects patients by requiring health care facilities to provide good-faith estimates of charges for non-emergency medical services to patients and prohibiting facilities from charging any more than the estimate plus 10% — except if in unforeseen circumstances. The bill also increases medical debt collection consumer protections.

Current law requires all hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and urgent care centers to provide each patient an estimate of charges prior to providing any non-emergency medical services – but only upon patient request. HB 959 makes these estimates mandatory and binding unless unforeseen circumstances or additional services result in the need for additional charges. If so, those charges must be explained in writing.

HB 959 increases certainty regarding the costs of recommended treatments and medical procedures, and protects patients from unfair billing practices.

House Health Market Reform Subcommittee votes for open, transparent access to health care information (Rep. Rommel is a member of this subcommittee).

Health care providers have some flexibility in discussing costs with patients, but there may be cases when a provider’s contract with an insurer limits communication related to costs of care. Florida House Health Market Reform Subcommittee members approved a bill Tuesday to ensure open communication.

HB 1205 prohibits a health insurer or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) from limiting the ability of any provider to discuss pricing information with a patient, ensures that insured patients do not pay more than an uninsured patient for a health care service, and safeguards a patient’s right to open communication with providers regarding costs of care.

As health care costs continue to rise, many health insurers are asking consumers to take on a greater share of their costs by increasing premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Patients should have the information they need to be able to choose less expensive health care services – or even pay for a service themselves, rather than using insurance, if it’s less expensive.

House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee votes to improve government transparency (Rep. Rommel is Vice-Chair of this Subcommittee).

Members of the Florida House Local, Federal & Veterans Subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday to ensure that local governments are responsible and transparent stewards of taxpayer dollars.

HB 1149 helps residents gain access to important information, including voting records related to tax increases and the issuance of tax-supported debt. The bill also enhances access to tax history and property tax information, expands public meetings and notice requirements, and requires local governments to conduct and consider a debt affordability analysis before approving the issuance of new long-term, tax-supported debt.

Under current law, most local governments are required to have an annual financial audit. HB 1149 requires the auditor to report whether the local government is in compliance with the provisions of the new act created by the bill. Local governments not in compliance must provide evidence that corrective action has been initiated within 45 days and completed within 180 days.

HB 1149 ensures that Floridians have open, easy access to the information they need to be more engaged with their local government.

Florida House subcommittee seeks to bring transparency to commercial service airports

Florida is home to 20 commercial service airports, four of which are considered large-hub. These airports serve Florida’s visitors and residents, but they also have an annual impact of $144 billion on Florida’s economy. On Wednesday, the Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee voted to approve a bill to increase oversight, transparency, and accountability of these economic drivers.

HB 915 includes several provisions to enhance transparency and accountability for commercial service airports. Specifically, the bill requires the Auditor General, at least once every five years, to conduct operational and financial audits of the state’s large-hub commercial service airports. It requires the members of the governing bodies of large-hub commercial service airports to submit a more detailed financial disclosure to the Commission on Ethics. Under the bill, each commercial service airport must post certain information about its airport operations online, including meeting notices, agendas, and certain documents it submits to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Among many other accountability measures, HB 915 codifies the ethics standards for the governing body and employees of commercial service airports and requires annual ethics training. The bill requires each commercial service airport to comply with state procurement laws and public record and open meeting laws and to annually verify such compliance to the state. Ultimately, the bill holds commercial service airports accountable to all Floridians.

Florida House subcommittee votes to protect public employees

On Wednesday, the Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee voted on legislation to tighten the regulation and oversight of unions.

HB 1 requires a public employee who desires to join a union sign a membership authorization form that says Florida is a right to work state and union membership is not required as a condition of employment. The authorization form must also provide that membership and payment of dues and assessments is voluntary. Among other protections, HB 1 prohibits unions and employers from asking an employee to provide a reason for leaving the union.

The bill makes clear any dues and uniform assessments may not be deducted from an employee’s salary until the employer receives signed authorization from the bargaining agent and confirms with the employee that he or she, in fact, authorized it. Authorization for dues deductions must be reauthorized annually.

House Committee votes to expand Sunrise Review process for regulated industries

When excessive regulation goes unchecked, working Floridians and small businesses suffer. This week, the House Business & Professions Subcommittee passed HB 1155, which strengthens Florida’s Sunrise Act in order to ensure that proposed regulations of professions are necessary to the protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

Florida’s Sunrise Act requires a formal review of proposed regulations of professions that includes a cost-benefit analysis. Currently, it only applies to legislation that proposes regulation of an unregulated profession. HB 1155 expands the scope of the Sunrise Act by requiring a formal review for legislation that expands the scope of a regulated profession to include currently unregulated activities.

This bill helps ensure that Florida residents, businesses, and industries can thrive in a healthy regulatory environment that promotes the free market.

Florida House Committee passes Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act

Excessive regulations can hinder economic growth and act as barriers to workforce entry for many Floridians who are trying to make a living. This week, the House Business & Professions Subcommittee passed HB 1193 to free workers from redundant licensure and training requirements.

For barbers and cosmetology specialists, HB 1193 reduces the excessive hours of training required to obtain a license to work. For occupations where a license is simply unnecessary, such as commercial interior designers and hair braiders, HB 1193 would eliminate the state licensing requirement. The bill also expands license reciprocity measures for several professions.

Many of the deregulated professions in the bill already have industry standards in place, so continuing to require a license for those professions beyond what preserves the public health, safety, and welfare is unnecessary.

Public Integrity & Ethics Committee approves ethics reform package

Public servants should be intentional about ethics and careful to avoid any inappropriate personal benefit from their role or status. To that end, the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on Thursday approved a bill to help strengthen rules for ethical behavior in government.

To this end, HB 1185 would help weed out conflicts of interest by banning some actions and requiring that public servants report new information. Among many reforms included in the bill, statewide elected officials are prohibited from taking a job offered as a result of their official duties or political status. Additionally, state workers cannot seek a job at an organization regulated by their employer agency, and statewide elected officials must report salary increases or new posts if they work for an organization that receives state dollars.

HB 1185 advances the Florida House of Representative’s commitment to eliminating corruption, fraud, and abuse in government.

Public Integrity & Ethics Committee votes to keep government accountable

Floridians deserve governments that are transparent and accountable to them and held to the highest ethical standards. The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on Thursday approved a bill to advance this idea.

HB 1111 promotes integrity in government by identifying and eliminating government waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct. Among many reforms, the bill creates a “Florida Integrity Office” with the sole purpose of ensuring accountability among state and local governments. The state’s chief financial officer would be responsible for sending suggestions from Florida’s “Get Lean” hotline to the new Integrity office for review. HB 1111 also helps motivate state employees to report cases of misconduct or abuse in government by authorizing financial incentives.

Floridians are better served when their state and local governments are committed to being transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

Out ‘n About Tallahassee

Stop Lawsuit Abuse!

On January 15th, Rep. Rommel along with Senator Doug Broxson, released the results of the Economic Benefits of Tort Reform, a rigorous economic study calculating the costs of Florida’s current civil laws in comparison to benchmarks in other states. Florida has consistently ranked in the bottom 5 of all 50 states for lawsuit climate as ranked by the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

The study calculates that tort costs to the Florida economy are significant:
*  $10 billion in annual direct costs
*  $15.5 billion in annual output (gross product)
*  161,735 jobs when dynamic effects are considered
*  $8.11 million in annual State revenues and $679.4 million in annual
local government revenues.

Excess torts result in a “tort tax” of $719.01 per person, or $4,442 per household.

A 2017 survey of corporate attorneys found that 85% of respondents indicated that the litigation environment in a state is likely to impact business decisions and corporate relocations.

Sensible tort reforms could have a very positive impact on Florida’s  economy – possibly as much as $1 billion more for the State’s annual budget.  This would be significant for education, criminal justice and other major public priorities.

Boots on the Hill Day with
Florida’s Cattlemen’s Association

Clint Raulerson of JB Ranch in Sunniland (Immokalee) stopped by for a quick visit with Rep. Rommel.  Clint is a 5th generation cowboy and a true steward of the land. He’s pictured here with Kim Timm, District 106 Legislative Aide.

NCH Drowning Prevention Program

Paula Digrioli, Executive Director of NCH Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition along with Collier County School Board member Jen Mitchell and Fire Chief Murphy of Marco Island and others came to discuss the Drowning Prevention Program.

Senator Rick Scott’s Week in Review January 31, 2020

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This week Senator Rick Scott continued releasing episodes of his “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series, featuring Floridians highlighting everything Congress is not getting done for the American people throughout the impeachment trial, like lowering the cost of prescription drugs, passing No Budget, No Pay and securing the border.

Also this week, Foley & Lardner decided to drop the Maduro regime in Venezuela as a client and return the $12.5 million they received to represent the illegitimate regime after Senator Scott said he would no longer meet with anyone from that firm. Senator Scott will always stand with those fighting for freedom, and will never stay quiet if any business decides to support Maduro and his gang of thugs.

See more of what Senator Scott has been up to this week below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Pass No Budget, No Pay

The fourth episode of Senator Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featured Floridian and business owner Peter Vivaldi of Orlando, who wants Congress to focus on passing No Budget, No Pay, which says that if members of Congress can’t do their job and pass a budget, they shouldn’t get paid. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs for American Families

The fifth episode of Senator Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featured Floridian and retired law enforcement officer Marjorie Grossman, of Coral Gables, who wants Congress to get back to tackling the rising cost of prescription drugs. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Help American Businesses Succeed

The sixth episode of Senator Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featured Floridian and small business owner Ashley Tripp, of Belle Glade, who wants Congress to stop wasting time on impeachment and focus on growing the economy and helping businesses across the nation succeed. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Secure the Border

The seventh episode of Senator Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featured Floridian and veteran Bob Dye, of Pensacola, who wants Congress get back to working on issues important to American families, like supporting our military and securing the border. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott: Let’s Get Back To Work and Do What Americans Elected Us to Do

The eighth episode of Senator Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get Back to Work” video series featured Floridian and small business owner, Tierney Brumana, of Lakeland, who wants members of Congress to do their most basic job – pass a budget – or forgo their paychecks. See HERE or below.

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Sen. Rick Scott Applauds Passage of Resolution Recognizing National School Choice Week

Senator Rick Scott joined his colleagues in celebration of the passage of the resolution declaring this week as National School Choice Week.

Senator Rick Scott said, “I’m proud to join Senator Tim Scott and my colleagues to recognize National School Choice Week. As a father and grandfather, I know firsthand that every child learns differently and should have the opportunity to attend a school that best fits their needs. That’s why, throughout my time as Governor, I worked to make Florida a national leader in school choice, and as Senator, I’m working to build on these efforts to help our students succeed.” Read more from Senator Tim Scott’s HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Releases Questions to House Democrats

Ahead of the question-and-answer phase of the impeachment trial, Senator Rick Scott released a list of questions he would like answered by the House Democrats and White House Counsel. Read more HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Applauds Interior Department’s Decision to Adopt No-Fly Rule for Drones Made in Communist China

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement following the Department of the Interior’s plan to formally adopt a no-fly rule aimed at drones made in China or with Chinese parts. Senator Scott introduced the American Security Drone Act of 2019, which prohibits the U.S. Government from purchasing drones manufactured in countries identified as national security threats, like Iran and China.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Following many conversations between my office and the Interior Department, I’m glad to see the Department is putting national security first and adopting a no-fly rule for drones made in Communist China. The Trump administration sees the risks associated with using taxpayer dollars to purchase tech from a Communist government that is trying to spy on us. This is great news for our security. Now, we must pass my bill to codify this policy and extend it to all federal agencies, as well as local law enforcement agencies that use federal grants. We must take the threat from Communist China seriously.” Read more HERE.

Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio Urge President Trump to Include $250 Million for Everglades Restoration in Budget

Senator Rick Scott joined Senator Marco Rubio in a letter to President Trump urging him to include $250 million for Everglades Restoration in his Fiscal Year 2021 budget requests to Congress.

This funding would build on the $200 million in construction funding for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Senator Scott, Senator Rubio and Governor Ron DeSantis fought for and secured last year, as well as the $2 billion in state funding invested in restoring the Everglades throughout Senator Scott’s time as Governor. Read more, including the full letter, from Senator Rubio’s office HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott to Florida Ports and Airports: We Must Take Action to Protect Americans from the Coronavirus

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the Directors of Florida’s Seaports and Airports urging them to take action and remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last week, Senator Scott urged the Trump Administration to declare a national public health emergency for the coronavirus to protect the health of Americans families. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott Asks Peace Corps Director for Plan to Immediately Get Out of Communist China

Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to the Director of the Peace Corps requesting a detailed outline of the Peace Corps’ plan for a speedy withdrawal from Communist China. Since the Peace Corps announced its decision to wind down operations in Communist China this month, the Director has refused to take a meeting with the Senator to discuss next steps. This decision follows months of Senator Scott calling for the Peace Corps to get out of Communist China, and the introduction of Senator Scott’s Peace Corps Mission Accountability Act, which prohibits all Peace Corps activity in hostile countries, including Communist China. Read more, including the full letter, HERE.

Senator Rick Scott: If Anyone Supports Maduro, I Won’t Stay Quiet

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement after the law firm of Foley & Lardner heeded the Senator’s call to drop its client, Inspector General Reinaldo Muñoz, the top lawyer for Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime in Venezuela.

Senator Rick Scott said, “This week, I raised questions about the $12.5 million Foley & Lardner received to represent the illegitimate Maduro regime and announced that I would no longer meet with anyone from that firm. I’m glad they made the right decision to drop the Maduro regime as a client and return the money. It’s unfortunate they made the decision to give this murderous dictator legitimacy in the first place. I would recommend to Foley & Lardner that they get involved in support of the people of Venezuela. 

“Nicolás Maduro is perpetrating a genocide on the people of Venezuela. I’ve been to the border between Venezuela and Colombia. I met young mothers who trek hours through the jungle just to get their only meal of the day. I met children who travel through FARC-controlled territory to Colombia to go to school – the only way they can get an education. Thousands have died, millions have fled, and Maduro and his cronies have gotten fat and rich. I hope the last few days will serve as a lesson to any other lobbying firms, consultants or organizations that if you support Maduro and his gang of thugs, I won’t stay quiet.” Read more HERE.

Senador Rick Scott: Si alguien apoya a Maduro, no me quedaré callado

El senador Rick Scott hizo la siguiente declaración luego de que el bufete de abogados Foley & Lardner respondiera al llamado del senador de abandonar a su cliente, el inspector general Reinaldo Muñoz, el principal abogado del brutal régimen de Nicolás Maduro en Venezuela.

El senador Rick Scott dijo: “Esta semana, hice preguntas sobre los $12.5 millones que recibió Foley & Lardner para representar al régimen ilegítimo de Maduro y anuncié que no me reuniría con nadie de esa firma. Me alegra que hayan tomado la decisión correcta de abandonar al régimen de Maduro como cliente y devolver el dinero. Es lamentable que hayan tomado la decisión de dar legitimidad a este asesino dictador en primer lugar. Le recomendaría a Foley & Lardner que se unan en apoyo al pueblo de Venezuela.

“Nicolás Maduro está perpetrando un genocidio contra la gente de Venezuela. He estado en la frontera entre Venezuela y Colombia. Conocí a madres jóvenes que caminan durante horas por la jungla solo para obtener su única comida del día. Conocí a niños que viajan a Colombia a través del territorio controlado por la FARC para ir a la escuela, la única forma en que pueden obtener una educación. Miles han muerto, millones han huido y Maduro y sus amigos se han engordado y enriquecido. Espero que los últimos días sirvan como una lección para cualquier otra firma de cabildeo, consultores u organizaciones que si apoyan a Maduro y su banda de matones, no me quedaré callado “. Lea más AQUÍ.

Sen. Rick Scott Applauds Trump Administration For Heeding His Call to Declare Coronavirus a Public Health Emergency 

Senator Rick Scott released the below statement following President Trump’s decision to declare the 2019 Novel Coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States, and announcement that people who pose a risk of transmitting the disease will temporarily be suspended entry into the United States. This decision follows Senator Scott’s call last week for the Administration to declare a national public health emergency to stop the coronavirus from spreading within the United States.

Last Wednesday, Senator Scott sent a letter to the CDC Director requesting information about the agency’s plan to combat the threat of the coronavirus and urging quick action to protect the health of American families.

Senator Rick Scott said, “Last week, I called on the Administration to declare a national public health emergency to stop the coronavirus from spreading within the United States, and I am glad they heeded that call today. Just like we did in Florida to curb the spread of the Ebola and Zika viruses, we must take action to make every resource available to contain the disease and keep Americans healthy. We still need to take additional steps to protect Americans, including increased screening and inspections on all products and produce coming into the United States from China.

“China needs to do more to keep the world community accurately informed about the spread of the virus and follow America’s lead to ground Chinese commercial flights.” Read more HERE.

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Sen. Rick Scott Warns UK: Allowing Communist China in Your Networks is a Mistake

Ahead of the United Kingdom’s decision to allow Huawei, a China-based company backed by the Communist Party of China, to build part of its 5G infrastructure, Senator Rick Scott wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner warning the U.K. about the extreme risks associated with this decision.

In the op-edSenator Rick Scott wrote, “…Johnson and other U.K. leaders must be extremely careful when it comes to the threat of communist China and the implications for the United States’ relationship with the U.K.

Put simply, the U.K. allowing Huawei to gain a foothold would be a grave mistake.

Huawei is a bad actor across the globe. It’s a company that aids the communist regime in Beijing, which continues to violate human rights, steal our data, technology, and intellectual property, and build up their military to compete with us and other freedom-loving countries.…

Countries that do business with Huawei eliminate their citizens’ and their country’s privacy rights.…

Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party are one and the same. We can’t forget that.

If the U.S. is going to consider a trade agreement with the U.K., it is imperative that Huawei is recognized as a threat to our national security partnership. The U.S. must put any trade deal with the U.K. on hold until Johnson commits to take swift action to ensure Huawei will not be used in their transition to 5G networks. This is for the security of both the U.S. and the U.K.…”

Read the full op-ed in the Washington Examiner HERE.

Sen. Rick Scott: Peace Corps Needs to Stop Wasting Taxpayer Dollars and Get Out of Communist China Immediately 

Senator Rick Scott wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in response to a recent op-ed on the Peace Corps’ decision to end its programs in Communist China. Senator Rick Scott also sent a letter to the Director of the Peace Corps requesting a detailed outline of the Peace Corps’ plan for a speedy withdrawal from Communist China.

In the letter to the editor, Senator Rick Scott wrote, “…I’ve met with the Peace Corps director multiple times and asked her what the volunteers did in Communist China and why they were there….

When I asked what the return on investment was for the U.S. taxpayers, the director (shockingly) had no answer….

The Peace Corps finally came to its senses this month and said it is leaving Communist China. Since then, the director has refused to meet with me. I would love to hear its plan for a speedy withdrawal from Communist China, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Read the full letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal HERE.

AP: AP Exclusive: Law firm dumps Maduro ally amid outcry

Politico: Law firm scraps contract to work for Maduro government after criticism

Florida Daily: Rick Scott: Lobbying Firm Hired by Maduro Regime Should Be Ashamed of Itself

Fox News: Sen. Rick Scott: I believe we’ll see no impeachment witnesses

Fox News: Sen. Scott: I believe President Trump will be acquitted tomorrow

Breitbart: Exclusive – Rick Scott: Senate to ‘Hopefully’ Acquit Trump by Friday Night

Washington Examiner: Rick Scott: I believe Trump will be acquitted on Friday

Newsmax: Rick Scott: ‘Tired’ of Impeachment Going on ‘Forever’

Military Times: Senators want Purple Hearts for victims of Florida Navy base shooting

Florida Daily: Rick Scott Has Questions for House Democrats On Impeachment

Florida Daily: Marco Rubio, Rick Scott Ask Trump for $250 Million for Everglades Restoration

Florida Daily: Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Michael Waltz Want to Change Water Quality Allocation to the States

WPEC: Sen. Rick Scott asks seaport and airport directors to take action with Coronavirus

Florida Daily: Rick Scott Wants Info from the Peace Corps About Plans to End Operations in China

VPI TV: Senador Rick Scott saludó que Foley & Lardner haya dejado de representar al régimen en EEUU

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Congratulations to part-time Floridian Derek Jeter on being recognized for his incredible MLB career and being elected to the Hall of Fame!

Florida is home to the best airport in the nation! This week, Orlando International Airport was ranked the best large airport by USA Today in its 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards.

Chipola College’s baseball field was named after long-time Coach Jeff Johnson, who is in his 23rd season with the school – congratulations, Coach Johnson!

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