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Backroom Briefing: House Budget Chair in Waiting Game

January 11, 2018 - 11:15am
Carlos Trujillo
Carlos Trujillo
Speaker Richard Corcoran expects to get through the 60-day legislative session without losing his budget chairman.
Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican overseeing his final session, said Wednesday the pace of congressional confirmation should allow House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, to remain in his seat into March.
“I was with him last night, I talked to him this morning, and it looks very favorable that he’ll be with us the entire session,” Corcoran told The News Service of Florida. “His nomination is with four others, and one of them is a sticking point, and they’re going as a package. It’s all about gamesmanship.”
Trujillo was appointed in October by President Donald Trump as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. At the time, Trujillo said upon confirmation he would resign his House District 105 seat, which represents parts of Miami-Dade, Broward and Collier counties.
Trujillo, 34, also announced he would withdraw from his law firm, Trujillo, Vargas, Gonzalez & Hevia.
Trujillo, who had a Nov. 30 confirmation hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee, awaits full U.S. Senate approval.
An early Trump supporter, Trujillo had been named in August as a U.S. representative to the United Nations General Assembly.
Gov. Rick Scott, an expected U.S. Senate candidate, is playing up green bona fides after U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew into Tallahassee this week and said he was persuaded by Scott to remove Florida’s coastal waters from being considered for future oil drilling.
“By removing Florida from consideration, we can now focus on how we can further protect our environment, including our proposal for record funding for the Everglades, our springs, our beaches and our state parks,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “I will never stop fighting for Florida’s environment and our pristine coastline.”
The governor’s office also sent out a list of people --- including elected Republican officials, some of Scott’s appointees, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association President Carol Dover and Audubon Florida interim Executive Director Julie Wraithmell --- applauding the announcement.
Democrats and environmentalists had joined Scott and Florida Republicans last week in decrying an initial announcement by Zinke about a proposal to allow drilling off the nation’s coastlines. The initial announcement included waters off Florida.
But that unity changed Tuesday when Zinke flew into Tallahassee to announce Florida’s removal from consideration.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who could face an election challenge from Scott this year, wasted little time in labeling Zinke’s fly-in a “political stunt” to benefit Scott, an ally of President Donald Trump. And a number of other Democrats and progressives quickly moved to put space between Scott and Tuesday’s announcement.
The liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century started buying digital media time to run a 30-second video titled “Rick Scott’s Offshore Drilling Hypocrisy.” The video features Scott making pro-drilling comments, which he did often when first running in 2010.
"Rick Scott does whatever is best for his wealthy cronies and big corporations, and that's why he's spent his entire political career fighting to expand oil drilling off Florida's coast,” American Bridge spokesman Joshua Karp said in a statement. “Rick Scott's latest lie is nothing more than a shameless attempt to whitewash history to further his personal political ambition."
At the same time, the carve-out for Florida from the overall oil drilling plan is drawing heat from officials in other states, who wonder how they can get a similar exemption.
“New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either. Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke?” tweeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., criticized Florida’s deal during an appearance on CNN and noted Trump’s waterfront winter residence in Palm Beach.
"I mean, you can't say I don't want to see an oil rig from Mar-a-Lago as I look out from the waters of Palm Beach, but it's OK to look at an oil rig out from Hilton Head or Charleston, South Carolina," Sanford said.
Tallahassee business leaders are lashing out at a proposal that would lead to looking into moving the state Capitol.
Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sue Dick on Tuesday called state Rep. Bill Hager’s proposal to set up a relocation task force (HB 1355) “deeply flawed” and that it “should be quickly disposed of by the Legislature this week.”
“No study is necessary to determine that this bad idea would have a damaging, disruptive, and dangerous impact on countless families, businesses, institutions and an entire community,” Dick said in a statement. “It also would taint Florida's proud history of Tallahassee serving as the state's capital city for nearly 200 years.”
Hager, R-Delray Beach, filed the bill Monday asking for a task force to look at options for relocating the Capitol building, executive-branch offices and the Legislature. Among the charges for the task force to consider would be the ease of travel for the public, the cost for lawmakers for interim committee weeks and the 60-day regular session and the economic impact on Tallahassee and Leon County.
While relocating Cabinet offices --- agriculture commissioner, attorney general and chief financial officer --- would be on the table, moving state agencies under the officers isn't. Nor is the state Supreme Court mentioned in the proposal.
Hager's bill does not have a Senate version.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “After talking with @FLGovScott, I am removing #Florida from the draft offshore plan.” --- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke)

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