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April 2015

Senate Democrats go tp Florida Supreme Court to force House back in session


Florida Democratic Senators are asking the Florida Supreme Court to force House Speaker Steve Crisafulli to finish the 60-day legislative session.  Here is what was filed with the court



 Case No. SC 15- _________







THE FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESTATIVES and STEVE CRISAFULLI, in his capacity as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives,






MESSER CAPARELLO, P.A. MARK HERRON Florida Bar No.: 0199737 ROBERT J. TELFER, III Florida Bar No.: 128694 J. BRENNAN DONNELLY Florida Bar No.: 268895 P.O. Box 15579 Tallahassee, Florida 32317 Telephone: (850) 222-0720 Facsimile: (850) 224-4359 Attorneys for Petitioners


Pursuant to Rule 9.100, Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Petitioners, Arthenia Joyner, Oscar Braynon, Joseph Abruzzo, Maria Sachs, Darren Soto, Christopher Smith, Geraldine Thompson, Jeff Clemens, Dwight Bullard, Eleanor Sobel, Bill Montford, Audrey Gibson, and Jeremy Ring, respectfully petition this Court for a writ of mandamus compelling the Florida House of Representatives to comply with the requirements of Article III, Section 3(e) of the Florida Constitution, which provides that “[n]either house shall adjourn for more than seventy-two consecutive hours except pursuant to concurrent resolution.”




This Court has jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus under Article V, Section 3(b)(8) of the Florida Constitution and Rule 9.030(b)(3) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Mandamus is the proper legal remedy to compel a state officer or a state agency to perform a legal duty required by the Florida Constitution. Dade County Classroom Teachers Ass’n. V. Legislature, 269 So. 2d 684 (Fla. 1972). The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked on an emergency basis due to the fact that the action of the House of Representatives was taken in the final days of the 2015 legislative session and relief is required prior to the conclusion of the session in order for the Legislature to complete its duties and responsibilities under the Florida Constitution.


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Andy Gardiner sends Steve Crisafulli a letter calling for special session in June

One of the tough things for a House Speaker is holding together 120 members who may have families that thought they were going on vacation in June. Don't pack yet kids.

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli has declared himself the guardian of all things good and while he gave his members an extended holiday, he now must decide whether to accept Senate President Andy Gardiner's request for a special session to run from June 1, to June 20.

Here's the letter:

The Honorable Steve Crisafulli, Speaker

Florida House of Representatives

420 The Capitol

402 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

 Mr. Speaker:

Thank you for your prompt response to the Senate’s request that the House of Representatives reconvene to continue the exchange of legislative work product contemplated by our constitution. 

While the Senate maintains its belief that the House’s adjournment sine die clearly violates both the spirit and letter of our constitutional principles, the House has clearly indicated it has no intention of reconvening prior to the scheduled expiration of the 2015 Regular Session at 11:59 p.m. on May 1. For this reason, I have enclosed a draft call for a special session of the Florida Legislature to begin on June 1, 2015, and to conclude on June 20, 2015. 

The Senate hopes to complete our budget work as soon as possible. Given the stark differences between the House and Senate approaches to health care funding and coverage, we believe clear guidance from the federal government is crucial regarding funding for services to the uninsured which hospitals across our state are legally required to provide regardless of compensation. Beginning our special session on June 1 will provide additional time to receive a response from the federal government and we can conclude with ample time for Governor Scott to review the budget prior to June 30. 

While a federal response would clearly be most beneficial to the furtherance of negotiations, I believe it is prudent to continue to account for the potential of a complete elimination of Low Income Pool funding. In fact, the Senate Budget, unanimously passed nearly a month ago, left unallocated sufficient recurring general revenue dedicated to health care contingencies.

For the last three years our chambers have had, and continue to maintain, significant policy differences relating to health care coverage for uninsured Floridians. Last Friday, the House indicated a willingness to move from your initial offer of $200 million closer to the Senate position. As indicated in our response to House Offer #2 last Friday, the Senate remains open to reviewing a spreadsheet offer that reflects this position at your earliest convenience. 

Again, given the severity of these issues, I believe an agreement to begin a special session on June 1 will provide the Legislature the maximum flexibility to complete our work on the 2015-16 General Appropriations Act in an efficient and transparent manner. With an initial agreement on a call for special session, we can then begin to discuss a specific schedule that would allow us to inform our respective chambers of when their presence in Tallahassee will be required. I look forward to your response to this important and time sensitive matter.



Andy Gardiner


Cc: The Honorable Rick Scott, Governor


Steve Crisafulli responds to Andy Gardiner letter


House Speaker Steve Crisafulli ignores Senate President Andy Gardiner's suggestion that Crisafulli violated the Florida Constitution by sending the House home three days before the end of the 60-day session. 

Here is his response to Gardiner:

April 29, 2015

Mr. President:

As you are well aware, our Founders created two chambers in the legislative branch to ensure that the people of Florida were protected by checks and balances. No one chamber, even the House, can dictate an outcome to the other. We can have disagreements on policy issues, each year the House and Senate have plenty. At the cnd of the day, if the two sides don't agree, bills die. That is how the process works.

Please understand, I stand ready to begin discussion on allocations as soon as possible. It has been the Florida Senate who has refused to allocate funds to our schools, our environment, and our justice system, based on a view of health care policy that is predicated on borrowing against the future of our children and grandchildren.

I understand that you are angry that the House concluded our business. You know that the things that have been said about our work together are untrue. I know you know that in your heart.

I remain willing to be your partner. I told you that the House could not pass ObamaCare expansion. It's not something that I can force them to pass. Its not about a single member. This is a matter of the House exercising its constitutional duty to represent those who have elected us.

I am sorry that you could not respect that; even Senate President Gaetz understood how hard it is to force one Chamber to take positions that the others cannot.

If you felt so strongly about expansion, why did not ask a House member to file a hill? Why did you not send us your bill so that we had something to consider? Why did you not ask it to be a part of the Joint Work Plan?

We have always said, that LIP is not predicated on Florida passing a Medicaid Expansion bill. Today, CMS has clearcd up that matter and I hope that you will now be in a better position to work together to untie the issues and have separate discussions. 

We stand willing and able to do so in a Special Session.


Cordially yours,



Andy Gardiner letter accusing Steve Crisafulli of violating Florida Constitution

Hatchet135 copy


Text of letter from Senate President Andy Gardiner to House Speakers Steve Crisafulli saying Crisafulli violated Florida Constitution by shutting down the House three days before end of session.

Mr. Speaker,


On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, you adjourned the Florida House of Representatives in contravention of express provisions of the Florida Constitution.  Accordingly, I respectfully request that you reconvene your chamber to finish the important work of the people of Florida.


Article III, section 3 of the Florida Constitution, plainly states: “Neither house shall adjourn for more than seventy-two consecutive hours except pursuant to concurrent resolution.”  Further support for this reading is found in the following subsection of Article III, section 3, granting the Governor the authority to adjourn a session, including the adjournment sine die.  This framework, modeled after the United States Constitution, sets up a constitutional framework encouraging cooperation between our chambers and designating the Governor to resolve disputes when our chambers cannot agree on a time to adjourn.


This constitutional parliamentary requirement could not be clearer and trumps our own respective chamber’s parliamentary rules.  The course of action you have taken is not only unconstitutional; it is unprecedented under our present state constitution.  In fact, the last time there was a disagreement between the chambers on when to adjourn, it was resolved by Governor LeRoy Collins in 1956.  


While our current parliamentary practices may gloss over this requirement where consent of the other chamber is taken for granted, such consent should never be assumed, particularly where one chamber transmits their bills and abruptly adjourns more than three days early in the 60 day regular session, effectively depriving the other chamber of providing meaningful legislative consent and dialogue. 


Your own rules do not support the unilateral actions you have taken.  House Rule 13.1 cites Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure as highly influential in interpreting the House’s rules.  Section 204-3 of Mason’s provides “[n]either the senate nor the house can constitutionally adjourn sine die without the other.”


The Senate will remain available to conduct business upon the call of the President until the scheduled expiration of the 2015 Regular Session at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical constitutional issue.




Andy Gardiner, President 



Marco Rubio Palm Beach fundraiser at home of sugar tycoon

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is attending a Palm Beach fundraiser Friday at the home of Pepe Fanjul, Jr., executive vice president of Florida Crystals and vice president of Fanjul Corporation.  The Fanjul family are among the most powerful sugar tycoons in the world.

Pepe's father, who is on the host committee, was one of the first people Rubio greeted as he left the stage following his speech formally announcing his 2016 presidential campaign. Pepe Sr. and his brother Alfy, are well known in political circles nationally and internationally.

Last year, Alfy caused considerable controversy after a series of trips to Cuba. He told the Washington Post:

"The [Fanjul] family was in Cuba for 150 years, and, yes, at the end of the day, I’d like to see our family back in Cuba, where we started. . . . But it has to be under the right circumstances.

“One day we hope that the United States and Cuba would find a way so the whole Cuban community could be able to live and work together.”

Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros Lethinen condemned the trips. 

Pepe Sr. is a Republican. His brother is Democratic. Both fled Cuba and began building their sugar empire. Many suspect the political division is more about access for the family interests rather than a real divide in political philosophy. 

They have been enormously successful.

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Marco Rubio answers Google

 Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio and his campaign team continue to come up with creative ways to build the image of his "next generation" persona.

In this new video, Rubio, Florida's junior senator, answers questions based on the top Google searches for Marco Rubio. Nothing surprising in his responses but it does demonstrate his instinctive comfort with all things new media. 

 And it helps set him apart from that "old generation" guy - Jeb Bush - the original internet political geek.

Jeb Bush will go to Europe in June to burnish foreign policy

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is on the cusp of formally announcing his candidacy for president, will travel to Europe in June to burnish his foreign policy credentials.

Reuters is reporting that Bush will go to Germany, Poland and Estonia. Reuters is attributing the trip to an unnamed Bush aide. Read the Reuters story here

While Bush has traveled to other countries mostly to enhance his business career, he has virtually no experience in actual foreign policy. This trip is surely intended to fill in the gaps. In addition, Bush has surrounded himself with foreign policy experts from both his brother and father's administrations. 

Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama entered their first terms with a deep understanding of the many nuances of world politics. Jeb Bush has said little about what he would do in dealing with global issues if elected president.

According to Reuters: In Germany, the former Florida governor will address the governing Christian Democratic Union economic conference, said the aide, who requested anonymity. In Poland and Estonia, Bush will meet government and business leaders as well as leaders of civic and non-governmental organizations.


Jeb Bush calls for quickly raising Social Security age

New hampshire
Almost but not quite, presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a New Hampshire audience this morning that he wants to raise the eligibility age for Social Security sooner rather than later.

Bush told the crowd at the Politics and Eggs breakfast in Manchester - live streamed by WMUR -  "we need to deal with demographic realities."  Bush added that the Social Security age needs to be raised, "in short order."

He said he would not change the Social Security benefits age for existing retirees or those near retirement. Bush said the change should be gradual but that without it people in their 30s "are not going to get the benefits" as they exist now.

On other topics, Bush said he opposes raising the federal minimum wage because it would eliminate jobs. But Bush went on to say that it would be okay for states to raise the minimum wage - as Florida has done. He did not explain why that would not cause a loss of jobs.

Asked about the Terri Schiavo case - where as Florida governor Bush intervened and failed in attempt to stop her husband from ending tube feeding despite dozens of court decisions favoring the husband - Bush said, "I feel sad. It was one of the most difficult things I have gone through."

On immigration, Bush said, "first and foremost deal with the border."

He called immigration, "hugely important for the nation," and said the U.S. should encourage immigration of workers who can fill shortages in needed skills. He also supports bringing in farm workers, "because people here don't want to do that work."

While Bush continues to sound and travel very much like a 2016 presidential candidate, he repeatedly says he has not yet decided but that a final decision is coming soon.

What Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio talked about

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio found themselves sitting next to each other on a flight to Miami last week. NPR asked Rubio what the two men discussed just hours before Rubio announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.

From NPR's transcript of the interview:

A Florida political reporter noticed that you spent a plane ride sitting beside Jeb Bush, more than two hours, coming back from an NRA convention. Did you guys talk about the presidential campaign at all?

Not in great detail. Jeb and I are friends, we'll always be friends. And I have tremendous admiration for him as a person, what he did as governor, and personal affection. And that's not going to change.

I don't view, I'm not running against Jeb Bush and I'm not running against anybody in this field. I'm running because I strongly believe that I have something to offer this country that no one else in the field does at this moment in our history.

And I'm going to go out there and do the best job that I can and — but, I mean, that's not going to impact our relationship in any way that's going to change how we feel about one another and it was great to see him and spend quality time just talking about good times and everything going on ...

You didn't talk politics very much at all?

... and everything in between. Sure, I mean we had observations about — we joked with a lot of the passengers who saw us sitting next to each other and we took some pictures with people and we told them, we warned them how historic a picture like that may be one day.

And, um, but you know, we talked about the Masters, we talked about the Paleo diet, we talked about the Miami Dolphins. I mean it, we talked about, reminisced about old war stories from our time in the legislature, when I was in the legislature and he was governor. It was just a host of things.

Sooner or later if you go forward and he goes forward, there's going to be a moment where you're going to have to say, "Here's why it should be me and not him."

I don't know. I mean, I think this year's going to be quite different in that regard. We have a quality field of candidates who are going to be well financed and experienced, who are going to be running. And I think that'll change the nature of the race.

There'll certainly be moments when others will try to draw distinctions. But in my mind, I'm going to talk about who I am and what I want to do. And I'll let voters make the decision about who they think is best capable at this moment of leading our country.

Read the entire NPR transcript here.

Marco Rubio tells George Stephanopoulos he is the most qualified to be president

In an exclusive interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, newly-minted 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he, "absolutely" feels like he is the most qualified candidate to be president.

One suspect that fellow candidate and Floridian, Jeb Bush, as well as some other cand: Iidates, may disagree.

Here's what Rubio told ABC:

"I think this country's at a generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge but what kind of country are we going to want to be moving forward?" Rubio told Stephanopoulos in an interview at the Florida senator’s home. "I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction. I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.”

When asked whether Rubio believed if he was the most qualified candidate to be president, he said: “I absolutely feel that way.”

Read more here. See the full interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

Should Jeb Bush step aside for Marco Rubio?


Early last year, Jeb Bush had a small gathering at the Biltmore in Coral Gables for a very private, serious chat about running for president in 2016. One of his top advisers, Mike Murphy, was a tad surprised to run into someone he knew as he waited for cab to leave go to the airport.

The meeting was described as the first of its kind. An exploratory moment. Bush was "80 percent" against running. After nine months of reflection, and very careful planning for a major campaign rollout, Bush was 100 percent in.

But should Bush stay in - or should he step aside for Marco Rubio?

Bush has not been in a Republican primary since 1994. Bush was 41. He ran against three candidates - all of whom had years in elected office. Bush had not spent a day as an elected official.

In the general election he ran against the late Democrat Lawton Chiles, who was 64. Bush lost. Four years later the Bush machine cleared the Republican decks for him. The then-45 year old Bush defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay who was 65.

In each of those races, one of Bush's themes was that it was time for a new generation. It was time for those 60-something guys to take their stale ideas into retirement. Bush would be fresh, new, invigorating, and ready to take Florida into a new direction.

Bush is 62. Most of his campaign has been a rehash of the same ideas he was talking about in 1994. So far, the Bush of that era seems to be missing in this campaign. In 1994, there was energy. In 2015, there is a sense of entitlement.

In 1994, Republicans were excited about Bush's potential. Even though he lost, they never lost faith. His victory in 1998, stirred the GOP. It would begin the next two decades of GOP dominance in Tallahassee.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with Bush's ideas, he was always suited up, ready to play. Politics for him was a full-contact sport but his mission was to remake Florida.

It has been 13 years since Bush last was on a ballot. It has been 21 years since he last had a serious opponent.

There is a sense of outrage among Bush lovers at the very idea that Rubio would dare to challenge Bush for the presidential nomination. "The Bush people are freaking out," said one former Bush supporter who now backs Rubio but still fears Bushites enough to worry about being named. 

Describing a 30-minute, private conversation last week with Rubio, this Republican said, "Marco Rubio is determined. There was no fear or hesitation in his voice."

One thing Florida Republicans have learned about Jeb Bush and his followers is that you are either with him or against him. If you are against him, they are done with you.

Very done.

With the stakes this high, Floridians supporting Rubio will forever be banished from Bush world. 

Rubio at 43, is very much the Jeb Bush of the 1990s.  Rubio represents something new for the GOP - for better or worse. And the very fact that he is willing to take on Bush in Florida may say far more about Bush than it does Rubio. JEB BUSH _

Could it be that Rubio believes Bush's Florida support - untested since 2002 - is at best fragile. That if Rubio does well in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, he has a reasonable shot at winning Florida?

Does Rubio's willingness to take on Bush in Florida send signals to other 2016 candidates that they may have less to fear from Bush than they may have believed?

Is Rubio the GOP's future? Is Bush just in the way?

This is going to be ugly. The Bush team will soon begin ripping Rubio apart. He is now the enemy.

And nothing would be more devastating to Bush than to lose the nomination. He cannot be the Bush who failed. Unlike his father there will be no second chance. This is it for Jeb.

Should he step aside for Rubio?

Perhaps. But Bush simply can't do it now even if he wanted to.


See Hillary Clinton's campaign announcement video

Democrat Hillary Clinton was expected to announce her 2016 presidential campaign with a video a few hours ago, but now the video is here.

The video opens with various parents and others talking about what they are hoping to do in the future. About a minute and a half into the video, Clinton appears. 

"I am hitting the road to earn your vote because it's your time and I hope you'll join me on this journey."


Jeb Bush releases new video ahead of Hillary Clinton announcement

 Just hours before Hillary Clinton is expected to formally announce her second bid for president, Jeb Bush's campaign-in-waiting released a video this morning with Bush speaking directly, in somewhat of a monotone - to the camera.

Nothing new here except he sounds more like a candidate. The issues are the usually check-the-box issues and he, of course, notes that "we must do better than the Obama, Clinton foreign policy."

He concludes with "I know we can do better and together we will."

Oops....does that mean he's now a declared candidate? Did he go a tad too far in making that statement as someone "exploring" a candidacy? Does this video create a problem with the FEC? 

His rivals in both parties may start asking those questions?

It is also noteworthy that Bush decided to do this video not only ahead of Clinton but just a day before U.S. Senator Marco Rubio makes his announcement.

Here's the video"


Jeff Atwater announces he will not run for Marco Rubio seat

Everything about this surprise announcement from Florida CFO Jeff Atwater seems odd. Widely expected to run for Marco Rubio's senate senate seat, Atwater stunned the political world today by dropping out of the race.

Atwater says in a prepared statement that instead of going to Washington, he wants to be the "best CFO I can be for the people of Florida."

Since most Floridians who or what the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of Florida is or does, one can be assured that there is little concern about the office and who holds it.  Also, Atwater was prepared to leave the job last year in an ill-fated bid to become president of Florida Atlantic University.

And folks who know Atwater have long said that being CFO is not something he has enjoyed, and that he longs for something else. 

It is also odd to make this announcement on a Saturday - not usually the day for major campaign announcements.

Here is Atwater's announcement:

Over the past weeks I have received a tremendous amount of encouragement to consider a run for the United States Senate in 2016. In response, we reached out to many friends around Florida and the country to discuss the direction in which politicians in Washington are taking our Country.

Universally, these conversations expressed deep concerns over the fiscal train-wreck of our Federal government, the lack of leadership on the world stage and the abandonment of our faithful allies, the bureaucratic stranglehold on our economy that is crushing hardworking middle class Americans, and the disgraceful assault on religious freedom.

I am most humbled that these conversations included a deep expression of confidence and urging by so many friends that we advance with a candidacy for the United States Senate.

While I have certainly taken these words of support under consideration, I will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016. I remain committed to only one endeavor and that is to be the best CFO I can be for the people of Florida.

This effort was graced with amazing support from across the State of Florida by grassroots activists, donors, and an amazing team who were on this journey with me.

As an American, and in my capacity as Florida’s CFO I will continue to fight for the foundational principles that gave birth to this country and which have proven beyond any doubt, and with apologies to none, that the United States of America is “...the last best hope on earth.”

Tickets for Marco Rubio announcement 5:30 Monday evening



Florida Senator Marco Rubio is offering tickets to his major announcement on Monday. He is expected to finally answer whether he is entering the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Does anyone doubt it?

From Rubio's office:

Doors will open at the Freedom Tower for Marco Rubio’s big announcement at 4pm and close at 5pm on Monday, April 13. Nobody will be permitted inside the building after 5:15 pm, and the program is expected to begin at approximately 5:30pm.

People who requested tickets at will begin receiving tickets today via email. Due to very strong demand, not everybody who applied for a ticket will receive one. However, in order to accommodate as many people as possible, there will be an overflow viewing area in the parking lot on the southeast corner of NE 6th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

We will continue to accept ticket requests until noon Friday at Supporters may also enter a contest at to win a trip to Miami for the announcement. (See website for full contest rules.)

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Jeb Bush Right to Rise spreads the wealth

One way to win support is campaign campaign contributions. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is not only using Right to Rise PAC for raising money but he's spreading some of the wealth around. Here's the latest RTP press release:


Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Right to Rise PAC released its second round of contributions to conservative candidates and state parties totaling over $100,000.

 “I'm proud to support conservative leaders who are dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for all and restoring America’s place in world," said Governor Jeb Bush, Right to Rise PAC’s Honorary Chairman. “The Right to Rise PAC will continue to aid candidates who want to restore the promise of America with a positive, conservative vision of reform and renewal."

 Right to Rise PAC Contributions:

·         Senator Roy Blunt ($5,400)

·         Senator James Lankford ($5,400)

·         Senator Johnny Isakson ($5,400)

·         Senator John Thune ($5,400)

·         Senator Lisa Murkowski ($5,400)

·         Senator Pat Toomey ($5,400)

·         Senator Thom Tillis ($2,600)

·         Ed Gillespie ($2,600)

·         Representative Rick Allen ($5,400)

·         Representative Bradley Byrne ($5,400)

·         Representative Carlos Curbelo ($5,400)

·         Representative Mario Diaz-Balart ($5,400)

·         Representative Cresent Hardy ($5,400)

·         Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler ($5,400)

·         Representative Evan Jenkins ($5,400)

·         Representative John Katko ($5,400)

·         Representative Adam Kinzinger ($5,400)

·         Representative Raul Labrador ($5,400)

·         Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ($5,400)

·         Representative Mike Simpson ($5,400)

·         Representative David Valadao ($5,400)

·         Republican Party of Virginia ($10,000)

 Total Amount Given: $117,800