Bonita Springs District 1 race gets new candidate

The Bonita Springs city council race welcomed a fresh face Tuesday.
Marc Devisse, 32, filed to run for the District 1 seat that Councilman Stephen McIntosh will vacate in March. McIntosh is vying to become the city’s next mayor.
Devisse owns Tri-Town Construction, a construction company in Fort Myers he founded 10 years ago. He said he wants to “inject a youthful view” into local government and continue to grow the city into a “family-oriented place.”
“I’m a young and energetic guy,” Devisse said.

Continue reading Bonita Springs District 1 race gets new candidate

Governor’s recommended budget boosts education, slashes state agency jobs

Gov. Scott’s $79.3 billion recommended budget would provide the state’s K-12 education system with $20.2 billion, $3.5 billion for environmental protection efforts and $4.9 billion toward public safety.

Scott released his budget Monday morning at a sign company in Jacksonville. His budget also included $1 billion in tax cuts and another $250 million to beef up the Enterprise Florida quick action closing fund, which the governor uses to lure companies.

Scott’s budget is the first step toward the process taken by the Legislature to cobble together an annual state spending plan. He released his tax cut package earlier this month, which left lawmakers skeptical the budget could afford it. However, a memo one of Scott’s budget chief’s sent to state agency heads revealed general revenue may bring in $1.6 billion in extra cash, which was more than the $635 million anticipated otherwise.

Scott’s budget also calls for $500 million in cuts and layoffs for state government agencies, and it again proposes performance bonuses for employees.

You’ll find a complete budget here.

A bid to make education commissioner elected, again

A long line of frustrated parents prompted Florida Rep. Debbie Mayfield to file a bill that would banish the state Board of Education and turn the commissioner of education into an elected cabinet position.

Mayfield, a Vero Beach Republican, said she made her decision to file HB 767 Friday afternoon after spending hours in her district office with parents who were frustrated with excessive testing and the implementation of Common Core.

“It’s in no way a right-wing movement, conservative movement, it’s a parents movement,” Mayfield said. “Those parents want input in who decides and who leads or education system.”

Mayfield’s bill, which was paired with SB 942 by Hialeah Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, would reduce influence the Executive Office of the Governor has on the state education system. Previously, the Florida Cabinet, which also includes the governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and the chief financial officer, served as the board of education, but that was changed by voters with a constitutional amendment that passed in 2003. Now, the state Board of Education is appointed by the governor, and the board appoints an education commissioner.

The commissioner’s position was removed from voter ballots when lawmakers sought to remove the politics from the role of educating the state’s children.

“They did it because they wanted to see if it would work, and now we’re where we are,” Mayfield said. “Maybe this will start the conversation toward bringing it back.”

Mayfield is one of the Legislature’s biggest opponent to Common Core, which she said generated a significant amount of frustration from parents. Also, students face excessive testing administered by school districts that are trying to meet the demands of the state board of education. Turning the education commissioner position into an elected office would leave the direction of secondary education in the hands of the people.

“You need to have someone who’s accountable to the people directly when you’re making decisions involving the future of the children,” Mayfield said. “We have forgotten that these children belong to the parents.”

Mayfield’s bill will need a majority vote from the Legislature in order to be placed on the 2016 ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment. A vote by Floridians in favor of the change would lead to an education commissioner’s race for the 2018 election cycle.

“We have to stop the madness,” she said. “It’s only going to get worse.”

Joe Negron’s sacrifices for GOP pays off in top Florida senate seat

“Punch Foley for Joe.”

With this slogan, Joe Negron ran the most unorthodox campaign of his political career: running for Congress with someone else’s name on the ballot just two months before Election Day.

And not just someone, but incumbent Mark Foley, who resigned in 2006 after getting caught sending sexually explicit instant messages to male teens who worked as congressional pages.

The suicide mission was a sacrifice Negron made for the GOP — one that boosted his 2015 ascendancy to Senate president-elect of the nation’s third-largest state. Just two months earlier in 2006, the Democrat-turned-Republican dropped out a different race in deference to a party veteran.

Negron lost Foley’s seat, but proved his allegiance to the GOP, his willingness to be a team player and his ability to run a campaign and raise money on short notice. These are necessary skills for a Senate president, one of the most powerful elected officials in Florida, who’s in charge of setting policy and budget priorities, picking committee chairs and fundraising for his entire caucus.

“He took one for the team,” Foley said this week. “I have to assume all the calls come in and the national party leaders are begging you to run. You think, ‘This could work, but if it doesn’t I could build some chips with the leadership.’ ”

Negron, a 54-year-old Stuart attorney who represents the Treasure Coast, will preside over the Senate in the 2017-18 Legislature. The Senate Republican caucus will vote him president Dec. 2.

Catch more of the story by Isadora Rangel here at

Lawmakers file measure to crack down on skimmers at gas pumps

Adam Putnam is backing legislation meant to protect people from devices that steal credit card information, like skimmers, at gas pumps.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Dana Young, would require self-service fuel dispensers to use security measures to prevent theft of financial information; increase enforcement authority; and increases the offense level of the crime.

“We estimate that $1,000 is stolen from each victim of a skimmer, not to mention the immeasurable havoc that identity theft wreaks on people’s lives,” said Commissioner Adam Putnam. “This legislation will help protect Floridians and their hard-earned money from skimmers at the pump, as well as increase penalties for the crooks perpetrating these crimes.”

Skimmers illegally capture someone’s credit or debit card information, which is then used to make fraudulent purchases. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services discovered and removed more than 150 skimmers at gas stations in the past year.

“By increasing security measures at gas pumps and increasing the penalties for criminals who prey on innocent consumers, this legislation will help protect Floridians and visitors from thieves who use skimmers to steal from our citizens,” said Young in a statement.

The department partnered with the Florida Petroleum Council and the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association this year on an initiative to educate the industry about ways to protect consumers.

“Our residents should not have to worry about identity theft when paying for gas at the pump and I look forward to supporting this legislation in the Florida Senate,” said Flores in a statement.

We focus on all things politics in the Sunshine State. We are the joint bureau of Naples Daily News / Tampa Tribune / Treasure Coast in Tallahassee.