Florida Governor Rick Scott delivered his final State of the State address on the first day of the 60-day 2018 legislative session, touting his administrations accomplishments, and saying his “results speak for themselves.”
While Scott outlined his priorities for the upcoming legislative session, it was hard not to notice that this address seemed more like a campaign address than a government update for Floridians.
Scott is expected to run for the U.S. Senate this year, challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
Republican legislators praised Scott’s speech that focused on his accomplishments and agenda, while Democratic Leaders Minority Leader Oscar Braynon and House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, openly criticized Scott, even on job creation.
Braynon, who along with Senator Anitere Flores (R) opened the session with a joint statement to all-but acknowledge their ongoing extramarital affair, was tasked to give the expected critical Democratic response.
But not all Democrats bashed Gov Scott’s speech or record as governor. Florida state Representative Joe Abruzzo told The Floridian that he thought Scott “did the right thing making sure that our justice department” did its job, referring to Scott’s past removal of state attorneys that did not want to seek the death penalty in criminal cases.
I think the governor did the right thing making sure that our justice department and our state attorney’s act in a certain way. He got involved and removing people from cases when they wouldn’t seek the death penalty, some egregious cases,” said Abruzzo, adding that “there are things that the Democrats firmly believe, I like to focus on things where we can all work together.”
Abruzzo also talked about what he expected to transpire during the legislative session, saying that the 60-day-long session could be “extremely contentious from those running for office” or it could be pass smoothly.
In my opinion, it’s too early to tell how it’s going to come across, but you can pretty much take to the bank that it will go smooth, quick, nice and easy, or extremely contentious. We will know here in about a week to fourteen days.-Rep. Joe Abruzzo
Republican legislators Bob Rommel and Byron Donald both feel that the state is “in great position” due to the leadership of Governor Scott, Senate President Joe Negron (R) and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Florida is in a great position because of the leadership we’ve had. –Rep. Bob Rommel
Rommel doesn’t think this session will be as contentious as 2017, saying that he doesn’t foresee any “drastic changes” and is focused on trying to get his freedom of speech bill passed.
Donalds echoed Rommel, saying, “Florida is in great hands” and added that their job was to “keep the ship running smoothly.”
Donalds is also focused on pushing his Hope scholarship bill and said that he believes criminal justice bills could see the light of day this time around.