The Buzz on Florida politics

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Latest Buzz on Florida politics

Gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep Gwen Graham announced Tuesday that as governor, she would urge the state attorney general to sue pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis.

“The current state government is failing to do all it can to address [the opioid crisis] — in this case, holding the powerful prescription drug companies accountable for their role in creating this crisis,” Graham said in a release.

Graham’s statement came on the same day that Gov. Rick Scott announced support for new initiatives aimed at addressing the epidemic.

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WASHINGTON - Citing “massive storms” in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, Sen. Bill Nelson says the Trump administration should extend a deadline for young immigrants to seek renewal of work permits that protect them from deportation.

“These major hurricanes significantly disrupted day to day living and operations in these states and territories,” Nelson and other Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. “It would be appropriate for the government to extend the October 5, 2017 deadline nationwide to allow individuals adequate time to meet the government’s recent request.”

In ending the DACA, the administration is allowing some “Dreamers” seek a renewal. Those renewal applications and a $495 fee are due by Oct. 5 and the lawmakers fear the recent disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria could make it nearly impossible for some eligible Dreamers to meet the deadline, according to a release from Nelson.

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Gwen Graham, a former Democratic congresswoman running for Florida governor, said state leaders need to do more to prepare for the next hurricane, especially in the face of climate change.

In an opinion-editorial for the Tampa Bay Times, Graham specifically focused on the state’s significant problem with infrastructure.

“Our coastal and stormwater infrastructure are not prepared to handle climate change,” Graham wrote. “They’re two of the most critical areas during a storm, and received D-plus and D ratings, respectively, by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2016.”

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WASHINGTON - Florida lawmakers, still contending with the wreckage of Hurricane Irma, are making urgent calls for federal assistance for Puerto Rico.

“I‘m deeply, deeply concerned,” Sen. Marco Rubio said this morning, a day after visiting the island. As bad as things are in San Juan, he said, it’s “catastrophic” elsewhere and people are unreachable.

“These are American citizens,” said Rubio, who will meet this afternoon in Washington with Vice President Mike Pence and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González.

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Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding.

“Growing up, my own family dealt with the struggle of substance abuse and I know firsthand how this painful issue causes families to worry and pray for help and healing,” Scott said in a release. “As states across the country continue to fight this national epidemic, we must make sure Florida is doing our part to help vulnerable individuals and keep our families safe.”

The new $50 million would go toward drug treatment, counseling and The Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council.

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Gov. Rick Scott appears to be fighting fire with fire.

Scott issued a strongly-worded statement Monday evening, questioning why officials at the Hollywood nursing home in which eleven patients overheated did not act more decisively to save lives. The two-term governor also addressed the controversy related to messages that nursing home officials left on his personal cell phone.

“The owners and operators of this facility have offered no explanation or defense for the deaths of these patients in their care, other than to say they left messages on my personal cell phone,” Scott‘s statement read. “The nursing home administrators placed four separate calls to my cell phone, like hundreds of others did during the storm. In each instance, the calls were promptly returned by state officials, and the voicemails were immediately deleted so the voicemail box had room for more incoming messages. In none of these calls did the staff indicate that any of their patients were in danger.”

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WASHINGTON - Roger Stone plans to tell House investigators Tuesday that his reputation as a “dirty trickster” may make him a target but he vehemently denies colluding with Russians to help friend Donald Trump.

“While some may label me a dirty trickster, the members of this Committee could not point to any tactic that is outside the accepted norms of what political strategists and consultants do today,” reads Stone‘s opening statement, a copy of which was provided to the Tampa Bay Times. “I do not engage in any illegal activities on behalf of my clients or the causes in which I support. There is one ’trick’ that is not in my bag and that is treason.”

Stone, who lives in Fort Lauderdale and New York, is to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, though not in public session.

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Matt Gaetz is at 35 one of the youngest members of Congress and sits in a very safe district. But the prestige of the job has worn off quick.

“It’s considerably worse than I expected,” says the freshman from Florida.

“After Donald Trump won and we had Republican control of the government there were very high expectations for bold, conservative reform and I believe we’ve fallen short of those expectations,” the panhandle Republican said in an interview.

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Beyond the Buzz

Out of sight, out of mind
Aaron Richardson Jr., now 29, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was arrested for carjacking in 2011. While in custody he lost both his sight and hearing.
Hurricane Irma
How the slightest shift kept Hurricane Irma from turning into an even worse disaster

If you have any ideas about the future of Florida after the storm, you now have until Oct. 6 to prepare your pitch to the Constitution Revision Commission.

The powerful panel meets every 20 years and has the authority to put constitutional amendments directly on the November 2018 ballot. On Monday, its rules committee tentatively extended the deadline for Floridians to submit ideas. The previous deadline of Sept. 22 was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

After months of public hearings around the state, the commission has already received more than 1,400 proposals from the public through its public web site,, said Tim Cerio, chair of CRC’s Rules and Administration Committee.

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As mountains of storm debris pile up in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott is calling in reinforcements by mobilizing National Guard troops to clear away trash in hard-hit Monroe County in the Keys.

Scott said 400 Guard troops and 40 trucks will help clear away debris in residential areas where Keys residents are blocked from returning to their homes. He said 6,000 roof tarps are also on their way to the Keys.

In Marathon Monday, Scott criticized private haulers for not showing up.

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In a special election on Tuesday, voters in southwest Miami-Dade County will determine the successors for two seats in the state Legislature that opened up after a Miami Republican senator was forced to resign last spring when he made racist and insulting remarks in front of fellow senators at a bar near the state Capitol.

The fight for the District 40 Senate seat — formerly held by Frank Artiles, who stepped down in April — has been highly competitive for what it could mean, particularly for Democrats: The chance to flip the seat and narrow Republicans’ current 24-15 advantage in the chamber.

The House District 116 seat is also on the ballot, because Florida’s “resign to run” law required Miami Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz to vacate that seat when he chose to run in the District 40 contest.

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WASHINGTON - Florida Rep. Brian Mast, a veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan, says any NFL player that takes a knee during the national anthem “should already be gone,” adopting the stance of President Donald Trump.

“The NFL doles out penalties for celebrating a touchdown, but won’t require respect for our flag?” Mast, R-Palm City, wrote Monday on Facebook. “I have taken a knee after jumping out of a helicopter as we looked for the enemy, taken a knee in front of the Soldiers Cross as we mourned a fallen brother and taken a knee in church. Any player who has taken a knee to protest this great country during its anthem should already be gone.”

The post drew a range of reactions.

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WASHINGTON - A Florida-led effort on climate change gained new momentum on Monday with the addition of two more House members.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus along with Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., bringing to 58 the number of members in the group.

“Climate change poses a threat to Florida’s economy and our way of life, but it also presents an opportunity for the state to step up and lead on this issue,” said Murphy. “Clean air and water shouldn’t be a partisan issue, which is why I’m proud to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. By working together across party lines, we’re leading the fight to reduce our carbon footprint, create well-paying clean energy jobs, and support research that addresses the threat to our communities.”

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