RPOF Newsletter – February 4, 2021
A Note from RPOF Chairman Joe Gruters

February 4, 2021

Message from Chairman Joe Gruters

Florida GOP unified in taking on Big Tech censorship. Led by Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Republican leadership stormed onto the offensive to protect Floridians from Big Tech, calling them “monopoly communications platforms” whose economic interests are “not in the public interest” during a speech announcing new legislation.

The “Transparency in Technology Act” would increase technology transparency in Florida, particularly as it relates to Big Tech firms like Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, and Google/Youtube.

“In Florida, our message to Big Tech is loud and clear. Big Tech companies have long since abdicated the protection of consumers for the pursuit of profit and we can’t allow Floridians’ privacy, voices, or livelihoods be violated or diminished,” Governor DeSantis said during a press conference announcing the proposal. “When it comes to elections, Big Tech shouldn’t be in the business of censoring or de-platforming candidates, but rather, voters should be able to make that choice independently. Floridians should be able to choose which content to consume and which to ignore, because I want to preserve Florida’s rich, diverse public discourse and not allow corporate-owned, content managing outlets to dominate our voices.”

Joining the governor at the announcement were Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senate President Wilton Simpson along with the bill sponsors, Senator Danny Burgess and House Commerce Committee Chair Blaise Ingoglia.

Republican leadership across the board is supporting this proposal.

Read more and see the Governor’s interview here: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/desantis-big-tech-crackdown-florida

And here: https://www.theblaze.com/news/desantis-legislation-crack-down-on-big-tech

Every few years the media trots out a well-warn tact — the GOP is divided! This year the Miami Herald started the fake-out with this tweet from its Tallahassee bureau chief: “Florida GOP faces a divided party, and the uncertainty of redistricting so it is turning to a tactic it knows best: advancing conservative bills that energize the base — but sidestep imminent challenges.”

The story then lists the bills, except they aren’t at all divisive. For instance, the article calls HB 1, the anti-rioting legislation, “politically divisive.” But nearly two out of three registered Florida voters support it, including more than half “strongly supporting” it. Even 4 in 10 Democrat primary voters support it.

The story also lists the proposal above by Governor DeSantis and GOP leaders in the Legislature that would protect Floridian’s privacy and free speech options. That will also likely be popular. The media is getting the GOP divided shtick exactly wrong again. Popular bills with bipartisan support are not politically divisive. They are unifying.

COVID-19 Update

More and more Publix stores are administering the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. Governor DeSantis announced the addition of Nassau, Pasco and Pinellas to the list of counties where Florida Publix pharmacies are administering the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total number to 325 in 23 counties.

“My administration remains laser focused on making the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to seniors through our partnership with Publix,” said Governor DeSantis. “With the addition of Nassau, Pasco and Pinellas counties now administering vaccines, we are able to continue our ever-expanding mission to support Florida’s seniors.”

For a list of all vaccination sites at Publix locations in Florida, go here. https://www.publix.com/covid-vaccine/assets/publix-pharmacy-covid-19-vaccine-fl-store-list.pdf

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The state of Florida will be sending 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to reopen a vaccination site in The Villages, Governor DeSantis said this week. This site, which will now be permanent, will be in addition to the permanent vaccination site at the Wildwood Community Center, also in Sumter County.

To watch the Governor’s announcement, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RQg6SHzc2k&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=GovernorRonDeSantis

Florida Update

Governor DeSantis announced that more than $92 million that will be available to local governments through the Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus Relief Program.

The CDBG-CV program is designed to help local governments prepare, prevent, and respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Program activities must be critical to the area and primarily benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

“As Florida communities continue responding to and recovering from the pandemic, this funding will provide local governments and their communities with vital support,” said Governor DeSantis.

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The final signing of Florida’s $90 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant was announced by Governor DeSantis this week. This announcement was applauded by Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello, NASA, the Federal Highway Administration and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, as well as space industry partners at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

“We are preparing for future growth, facilitating local commerce, and ensuring economic vitality for Florida’s booming Space Coast all while encouraging space freight mobility,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

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Governor DeSantis announced that $75 million has been awarded to 30 communities through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program. The program allows local governments to increase the resiliency of critical facilities that serve a public safety purpose for local communities.

“While we continue to help communities recover from the impacts of major storms in recent years, we also need to prepare for future storms,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. “This funding will be central to that preparation and make these communities more resilient.”

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Governor DeSantis made two new judicial appointments to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, which covers Orange and Osceola Counties.

Judge Gisela Laurent, of Winter Garden, has served on the Orange County Court since 2017. She previously served as Sole Practitioner at the Laurent Law Firm. Laurent is the first female Hispanic judge to be appointed by a Governor to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

Joshua Mize, of Winter Park, has been the Owner of Mize Law since 2018. He previously served as an Associate at Morris, Manning & Martin. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

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Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis notified Florida Clerks of Court that the Department of Financial Services intends to audit certain clerks for their involvement with Penn Credit, a debt collection vendor that has come under federal scrutiny for allegations related to public corruption.

To narrow the scope of the audit, the Department has requested all Florida Clerks of Court self-report within 30-days on whether Penn Credit was an approved vendor.

Read more here: https://www.myfloridacfo.com/sitePages/newsroom/pressRelease.aspx?id=5777