Gov. Rick Scott said he is still reviewing a bill that manyanti-Castro Miamians support but that the Florida Chamber ofCommerce says could harm economic growth in Florida. Scott, speaking Thursday on South Florida Spanish-language station1020 AM, said he will be briefed on the impact of House Bill 959 before the May 5 deadline to sign, veto or allow the bill tobecome law without his signature. HB 959 would prohibit companies with business operations in Cuba orSyria from bidding or entering into contracts worth $1 million ormore with government agencies in Florida. The state would also have to include provisions to void contractswith businesses that become engaged in trade with the two nations. |
Scott said it s important to pressure Cuba. We all know we need political freedom in Cuba, Scott said. Iam very committed to making sure that we continue the pressure onthe Cuban government, to make sure there is freedom in Cuba. Scott was interviewed in English, with the interviewer translatingthe governor's comments to his audience. Sen.
Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, sponsor of HB 959, sent a letter tothe governor Tuesday suggesting that the bill will send a messagethat the state of Florida will not tolerate oppressive regimes. "Many of our constituents have fled communist Cuba, leavingeverything behind to find refuge in our great state," Garcia wrote."By signing this bill, you will be honoring our commitment to themand acknowledging their perilous plight toward freedom." However, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has warned that Canada and Brazil , two of the state s top trading partners, have threatened to lookelsewhere because of their existing business ties in Cuba. Mark Wilson, Chamber president, has said the bill sends the wrongmessage and it may be unconstitutional for Florida to establish itsown foreign policy separately from the federal government. The Florida Chamber agrees with Governor Scott that we should doeverything we can to ensure freedom in Cuba and that we help thepeople of Syria who are suffering from violent extremism," EdieOusley, Chamber vice president of public affairs, stated in anemail responding to Scott's comments on 1020 AM. "However, our members remain concerned about the constitutionalityof this bill, as well as the message it sends to our major tradingpartners Brazil, Canada and Colombia -- especially just weeks aheadof the governor s trade mission to Spain.
The State Board of Administration is already prohibited frominvesting state funds in companies that do business with Cuba orany other nation the president of the United States has appliedsanctions against. The bill was approved 115-0 in the House and 39-1 by the Senate.Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, cast the lone vote against thebill. Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.
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