The Dean’s List: A Look at Who Made the Honor Roll in Florida Politics–and Who Didn’t

Those Who Made The Grade

Congressman Matt Gaetz. This Florida Republican congressman’s views on dealing with climate change often pose a direct contrast with what Democrats think. While the left insists that the oil and gas industries and buildings are the problems with the climate today, Gaetz says if we really want to address the problem, we should plant more trees, export more natural gas and curb plastic waste. Gaetz is no stranger to the subject as he is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus.

Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond. When it comes to identifying spending and government waste, Diamond is one of the sharpest local leaders in Florida. The Duval County School Board want to raise taxes around $2 billion dollars through a half-cent sales tax increase for new schools and to repair school infrastructure over a 10 to 15 year period. But Diamond grilled the school board and the county school superintendent, insisting that their numbers don’t add up. Diamond said the proposed tax increase will only raise $1.2 billion, almost an $800 million shortfall.  Where will the rest of the money come from? The school board responded to Councilman Diamond with “We’ll get back to you.”

Florida state Reps. Patricia Williams and Kimberly Daniels. Both of these Democrats voted against their own party on parental consent for abortion. The bill making its way through Tallahassee would ensure that minors must obtain parental consent before having an abortion.

 

Those Who Didn’t Make The Grade

Florida Democratic Candidates on Amendment 4. Last week,  a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Florida’s law barring registering felons to vote until fines and restitutions were paid off was unconstitutional. Now Democratic candidates in Florida are playing the race card to support the decision. Donna Deegan, who is running against U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., trumpeted “no more poll taxes.” Other Democrats echoed that sentiment, calling Amendment 4 a “modern-day poll tax, punishing a class of felons based only on their wealth.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. The state agriculture commissioner is probably the most popular Democrat in Florida–and, frankly, she should be since she is the only member of her party holding a statewide office. This session, Fried has taken public positions on issues ranging from guns to LGBT matter to asking for contributions to a political committee opposing Gov. Ron DeSantis. But according to a recent UNF poll, more than half of Florida voters–55 percent of voters have no clue how she is doing on the job while 36 percent approve of her job performance. The good news for Fried is only 9 percent disapprove of her.  Fried is in a position to be a huge rockstar for Florida Democrats but her team needs to do a better job of raising her profile.

Florida Republicans on E-Verify. Governor Ron DeSantis wants it. State House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, says he could support the E-Verify bill that the governor wants. State House Republicans are backing the mandatory E-Verify proposal but are facing opposition from some of their financial backers in the construction and tourism industries. Senate Republicans seem to support the proposal but are approaching it with a lukewarm attitude, carving out exemptions for the agriculture industry. In the meantime, a proposal mandating the state government use E-Verify to check the immigration status of potential new employees is building traction in Tallahassee. Still, more than halfway through the session, Republicans can’t seem to come to a consensus on how to approach this issue even though it has been a decade since Rick Scott first raised it when he ran for governor back in 2010.

 

Reach Ed Dean at ed.dean@floridadaily.com.

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