The Florida Report
With Hurricane Dorian now forecast to be a Category 4 hurricane, Florida's governor is taking every precaution to get Floridians prepared for the incoming storm.
Throughout the day, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited numerous emergency centers across the state, including the one in Brevard County, receiving briefings about the pending storm that is expected to make landfall on Monday.
Most recently, he visited the National Hurricane Center in Miami where he received a full briefing on Hurricane Dorian.
Chris Anderson held his first campaign kickoff event yesterday in effort to continue serving as Supervisor of Elections for Seminole County.
First appointed to the position by Gov. Ron DeSantis is January, he replaced Michael Ertel, who DeSantis brought on as Secretary of State.
As supervisor. Anderson is responsible for overseeing all election activities for the county, including managing all municipal, county, state, and national elections in Seminole County; preventing voting fraud activities and facilitating qualifying of county-wide candidates for office.
Anderson announced his candidacy for Seminole County Supervisor of Elections in 2020 earlier this month.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking precaution ahead of the news that Tropical Storm Dorian has now been upgraded to Hurricane Dorian.
On Wednesday, he issued Executive Order 19-189, declaring a state of emergency for counties in the path of Hurricane Dorian. The Governor is urging all Floridians on the East Coast to prepare for impacts, as the latest forecasts from the National Hurricane Center project Hurricane Dorian will make landfall on Florida’s East Coast as a major hurricane.
By declaring a state of emergency, DeSantis is ensuring that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare. The State Emergency Operations Center will activate to a Level 2 on Thursday morning, enhancing the coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced the appointments of five to the Government Efficiency Task force.
The Task Force, created by Article III, section 19(i) of the Florida Constitution, develops recommendations for improving governmental operations and reducing costs.
First established in 2007, the Task Force meets each fourth year and submits its recommendations to the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Legislative Budget Commission, the Governor, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The Task Force is composed of 15 members of the Legislature and representatives from the private and public sectors
With "red flag" laws still be debated daily, one Florida Republican running for office is sticking to her guns.
Marva Preston, a Republican candidate running for the District 3 Senate seat opening in 2020, posted a picture this week of her platform for the upcoming race.
In the post, Preston attached a picture of her three biggest points, with the Second Amendment being one of them -- along with economy and education.
Under her "2nd Amendment" bullet point, Preston penned a phrase that has become a staple for many gun enthusiasts: "Shall not be infringed."
With voter fraud certain to be a hot issue heading into 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced efforts to make sure Florida votes are secured.
On Wednesday, DeSantis announced that Florida will join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) as part of his administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance the security and integrity of Florida’s elections. By joining ERIC, Florida will be able to crosscheck voter registration data with 29 other member states in order to identify duplicate registrations and outdated records from voters who have moved or passed away, leading to cleaner and more accurate voter registration rolls.
The Florida Report is happy to announce the debut of our new podcast, RoundTable Politics, at the beginning of next week.
The upcoming podcast will feature Florida's best and brightest, as they sit down with the Editor-in-Chief of The Florida Report, Jordan Kirkland, and Rob MacDonald-Davies to discuss the latest news happening in the Sunshine State.
With that said, we are happy to announce that our first guest will be school safety activist Hunter Pollack.
Pollack, 22, is the brother of Meadow Pollack. Along with his father, Andrew Pollack, Hunter works to restore accountability and expose policies and people who fail to protect those they serve.
Continuing their fight against opioid abuse in the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis joined faith and business leaders as well as elected officials in Orlando to participate in Project Opioid, the Central Florida initiative on opioid abuse.
“We need to do everything in our power to roll back the devastating effect the opioid epidemic has had on our state,” said Gov. DeSantis. “In our Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget, we have nearly $2 billion in substance abuse prevention and mental health funding. Specifically, more than $123 million in funding was appropriated to help fight the opioid epidemic. Across our state, we’ve seen too many lives turned upside down and cut short by this epidemic. My administration will continue to prioritize this difficult issue.
With much of the Panhandle on the path to recovery from the devastation brought on by Hurricane Michael almost a year ago, Bay County leaders are planning on holding a meeting to address problems that continue to linger for many who reside in the area.
The upcoming meeting, to be held in October, will feature top leaders from around the area. The event is an opportunity for citizens, elected officials, cities and local governments, and other civic organizations to address the delegation before the start of the 2020 Legislative Session.
The legislative delegation consists of Rep. Brad Drake (R-Eucheeanna), Rep. Jay Trumbull (R-Panama City) and Sen. George Gainer (R-Panama City).
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced today that new health plan options will be available to more than 30,000 Medicare-eligible retirees participating in the State Group Health Insurance Program starting in 2020.
The new choices -- Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plans -- will combine the benefits of Medicare and prescription drug coverage into a single plan and offer other valuable benefits such as vision, hearing, dental, and wellness benefits.
“Florida is finding innovative healthcare options to improve the quality of health care services for state retirees while also saving taxpayers money,” said DeSantis. “These new health plans will provide more flexibility while creating the potential to save more than $80 million for taxpayers.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, alongside state leaders, made a major announcement today at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center, moving to obtain reimbursement from the federal government for Hurricane Irma expenses.
On Monday, DeSantis announced that Hurricane Irma costs in Florida have reached $2.63 billion, triggering an increase in the federal cost share from 75 percent to 90 percent.
Along with this announcement, Governor DeSantis submitted a letter to President Donald Trump officially requesting this increase in the federal cost share, which will save the state and local governments more than $160 million.
Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman, retired Colonel Jim Waurishuk treats and equates politics as warfare, short of a shooting war. He approaches campaign politics using military euphemisms such as “preparation of the battlefield,” “force multipliers,” “PSYOP,” and “information operations” to implement and conduct critically essential tasks for the election cycle, which includes Voter Registration, Precinct Development Getting the Vote Out or GOTV, Developing, Implementing and Executing Targeted Messaging, Opposition Research, as well as supporting local and state candidates and of course the President.
For Hillsborough the challenges that the Party and Republicans face in a heavily Democrat county are monumental, but not impossible. But strategy and planning have been at play since January 2017 when the Colonel, then the newly elected County State Committeeman was called by one of Trump’s senior strategist to address what needed for 2020.
Florida's economy continues to remain strong under Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Friday, DeSantis announced the number of employed Floridians has increased to more than 10 million in July 2019. Over the year, 128,000 people entered the labor force at an annual growth rate of 1.3 percent.
“I am proud of our work to ensure Florida remains a state where businesses are encouraged to grow and create jobs,” said DeSantis. “We are continuing to prioritize policies that promote economic growth, including lowering taxes, smart investments in the environment and working to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education.”
On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida welcomed 68.9 million travelers from January through June of 2019, the highest number of visitors during any six months in Florida’s history.
This record number represents a 5.6 percent increase over the same period in 2018 and includes 61.2 million domestic visitors, 5.2 million overseas visitors and 2.4 million Canadian visitors.
“Florida’s economy has grown this year as record amounts of travelers come to Florida to experience everything our beautiful state has to offer,” said DeSantis. “The revenue generated by out-of-state visitation has kept taxes low while allowing us to invest in priorities like environmental protection, transportation and education. We will continue to work to make sure that Florida remains the world’s premier vacation destination.”
Former Republican Manatee County State Representative, Jim Boyd, filed paperwork today declaring his candidacy for Florida State Senate, District 21.
Boyd, a Bradenton native, will look to bring his leadership skills and conservative agenda that he fought for in the Florida House, to the Florida Senate.
“We must continue to work diligently to control the budget, keep taxes low, secure the border, and protect our waters and quality of life,” said Boyd.
He added, “It was such an honor to represent my hometown in Tallahassee for 8 years. I look forward to the opportunity to return to the Florida Legislature and serve the people of Manatee and Hillsborough counties, as well as our beloved state of Florida.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz announced that The Florida Bar's Grievance Committee found "no probable cause" that he violated standard of legal professional in connection with a tweet he sent to President Donald Trump's embattled lawyer, Michael Cohen.
The bar opened the investigation back in February in response to a tweet sent out by Gaetz a day before Cohen testified at a House committee hearing against Trump.
At a meeting of the Florida Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), state economists announced today that Corporate Income Tax collections increased significantly during the last fiscal year, triggering a refund for corporate income tax payers.
The refunds help offset collections from an expanded tax base which is helping pay for the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce credits the Florida Legislature for taking steps to ensure Florida continues to have one of the best tax climates in the country.
Florida's robust military is expected to play a key role in growing the economy into one of the largest in the world.
On Tuesday, the Florida Chamber Foundation announced during the 2019 Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit that Florida’s defense industry is playing a major role in efforts to grow Florida from its current 17th largest economy in the world to the 10th largest economy.
Florida remains one of the most strategically important states for the U.S. Armed Forces with 20 major military installations, three combat command centers and thousands of defense contractors supporting more than 800,000 Florida jobs.
A separate study released by the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows that an upcoming ballot measure would cost billions annually in the state of Florida.
The 2020 amendment, backed by a political committee known as Citizens for Energy Choices, would attempt to create "competitive" electricity markets in which customers would have the right to choose electricity providers or to produce their own power.
If passed by 60 percent of the vote in 2020, the “Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities" will change drastically change Florida's energy sector.
Florida's governor is getting involved in rooting out the ongoing corruption that plagues Tallahassee.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order, removing suspended City Commissioner for the City of Tallahassee Scott Maddox from his post.
The order comes three days after the Democrat, along with longtime business associate Paige Carter-Smith, pled guilty to two extortion charges and a tax fraud charge.
Both extortion counts hold 20 years, with the tax fraud charge holding another five.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced the reappointment of Stephen Swindal to the Tampa Port Authority.
Swindal, of Tampa, is the owner of Marine Towing of Tampa. He is also the owner and founder of Pan American Sports Group LLC, a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic that trains prospective major league players.
He is the former CEO of Bay Transportation and provided service to the New York Yankees Partnership and its affiliates in various capacities for over ten years. He last served as a Senior Executive Officer with the New York Yankees Partnership and was Chairman of the Board of Yankee Global Enterprises, LLC (the owner of the New York Yankees Baseball Club and the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network).
With the gun debate heating up on a national level, one Florida Republican is standing his ground, pushing legislation to end gun-free zones on college campuses across the state.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a conservative legislator that represents House District 32, has filed a bill that would eliminate gun-free zones on college campuses in the Sunshine State, allowing concealed weapon permit holders to carry of campuses across the state.
The (HB 6001) mirrors a similar proposal that Sabatini filed last legislative session. That measure died in committee, although Republicans controlled both chambers.
Continuing to fight for people in the Panhandle, First Lady Casey DeSantis made a major announcement for people still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Michael.
On Thursday, the First Lady announced the installation of telehealth portals in 63 public schools throughout six counties in Northwest Florida to provide mental health services to students still recovering from Hurricane Michael.
Receiving the portals are Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Liberty and Franklin counties, and all portals will be fully installed by the start of the school year on Monday, August 12.
Those in Florida who oppose Sen. Lauren Book's controversial measure are speaking out.
On Wednesday, President of Florida Right to Life Lynda Bell responded to Book's proposed bill calling for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Florida House of Representatives and Senate from voting on a bill that would affect access to abortions unless women legislators were equally represented.
“Lauren Book has become so radical that she wants to eliminate the constitution and clearly doesn’t understand Representative government," Bell told The Florida Report. "Her bill would halt the voice of every person -- women included -- who happened to vote for a man!"
If successful, Book's bill would undermine the electoral and legislative process in Florida, and attempt to artificially circumvent the way legislators enact and vote on legislation in the Sunshine State.
Republicans looking to keep control of both chambers in Florida are getting a head start on their Democratic colleagues in an effort to continue to push conservative policies throughout the state.
Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini, an officer in the Florida Army National Guard, is one of the many Republicans gearing up for another run in the Florida House.
Sabatini, one of the most conservative candidates in the legislature, will hold his re-election campaign kickoff event on September 5.
The event, which will be held JB Boondocks Restaurant and Bar in Howey-in-the-Hills, is expected to draw a large crowd of supporters for the conservative candidate who represents House District 32.
Florida's governor has directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to get involved in the Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a request to the FDLE to take over the investigation pertaining to the Epstein matter following a letter from Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
DeSantis issued an Executive Assignment of this case from Palm Beach County to the State Attorney for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Additionally, the Governor requests FDLE to initiate a preliminary inquiry into other irregularities surrounding the prior state investigation and the ultimate plea agreement.
Abortion was a hot topic this past legislative session, and it looks to continue to be a divisive issue heading into 2020.
Democrat Sen. Lauren Book has filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Florida House of Representatives and Senate from voting on a bill that would affect access to abortions unless women legislators were equally represented.
“No vote about us without us,” Book told the Tallahassee Democrat.
The bill, SJR 60, would create an amendment for voters to decide whether to block a legislative vote on proposals that would curb abortion in the state unless half of the chamber is female.
Looking for ways to bolster and improve upon Florida's bustling tourism scene, Gov, Ron DeSantis announced the launch of a new VISIT FLORIDA eco-friendly travel hub.
The hub features tips and resources for green, sustainable travel throughout the state. Visitors can find information about environmentally friendly attractions, activities, dining, transportation, and lodging – and how to practice voluntourism while in Florida.
“Since taking office, I have made the protection of our environment a top priority,” said DeSantis. “In their continued effort to keep our state at the forefront of travelers’ minds, VISIT FLORIDA’s new eco travel hub will put our beautiful environment on display and enable millions of visitors to take advantage of Florida’s sustainable travel options. More eco-friendly travel to our state will help our economy continue to grow, while keeping taxes low for Floridians.”
Farmers and those working in the agricultural industry in the Panhandle are getting some additonal relief thanks to the DeSantis administration.
Today, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced nearly $13 million has been awarded through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan for agricultural producers. More than 70 applications have been approved from farmers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
“We remain committed to utilizing all available resources to help Floridians continuing to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Michael,” said DeSantis. “I’m glad that farmers in the Florida Panhandle were able to utilize the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan to prepare for the upcoming growing season.”
The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA), one of the largest and most successful law enforcement associations in the nation, announced a changing of leadership for the 2019-2020 year.
Taking over the reigns will be the newly-elected President, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. Gualtieri will preside over the association and work with the staff and board of directors to guide the efforts and direction of FSA and its 67 Sheriffs.
“It is an honor to serve as President of a prestigious and historical organization such as the Florida Sheriffs Association,” said Gualtieri. “We will do everything it takes to continue making the association and our community proud.”
On Thursday, Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Cord Byrd announced the dates to their highly anticipated immigration tour.
The tour, which will span seven cities in three days across Florida, will see the two legislators traverse the state to gather input from Floridians on the controversial issue of illegal immigration.
The two conservatives plan to use the forum as the foundation for future legislation on the immigration crisis -- which could include an e-verify program or preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.) Michael D. Jones has been announced to be among the many headline speakers for the August 13-14 Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.
The annual Military, Defense and Veterans Summit brings together industry leaders, economic development experts, policymakers and leaders from the business community to discuss the opportunities and challenges to diversifying Florida’s economy and leveraging veteran’s expertise and skills.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a plan for allowing the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from other countries like Canada, a key proposal among many Republicans in the state of Florida.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a plan that would permit pilot programs developed by states, pharmacies or drug distributors that sought to safely import prescription medications from Canada. The Food and Drug administration also got involved, advising manufacturers on how they could import high-priced drugs that are sold at a much lower cost in other countries.
Earlier this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Chad Harrod, the chief executive officer of Harrod Properities Inc., to the Port Tampa Bay Board of Directors.
As CEO, Harrod focuses on the active management and oversight of the companies. He is also responsible for corporate advancement, strategic planning and client relations.
On Thursday, Paul Anderson, chief executive officer and president of Port Tampa Bay, issued the following statement regarding the appointment of Harrod: