Florida State Wide

As this is my final newsletter as Florida’s Attorney General, I look back on the last eight years and I am so grateful to have served this great state. It has been the honor of a lifetime to be my home state’s chief legal officer. Since being elected in 2011, my office has made tremendous strides to reduce crime, save lives, protect consumers and make Florida the best state to live, work and raise a family.

When I first took office, Florida was referred to as the Pill Mill Capital of the United States. Through the shutdown of pill mills, cracking down on drug traffickers and comprehensive litigation to battle the opioid crisis, we have made significant progress to fight drugs in Florida. Efforts to eradicate human trafficking have progressed tremendously from new laws, raising public awareness and creating new resources to provide help for victims. Also, defending Florida consumers from fraud and scams, developing programs to prevent school shootings and aiding our military veterans have been just some of the many initiatives that I am proud to be a part of and hope will continue to be a priority going forward. Continue reading

TALLAHASSEE—Today, the Miami Herald published a misleading and inaccurate article stating that the Department has not been forthcoming about well water testing results in North Marion County, in the Lowell area. The Herald asserts that DOH should have notified homeowners regarding test results that were not yet complete. After testing was completed, affected homeowners were immediately notified. Also, a press release was issued last month regarding this issue. DOH worked quickly to notify the public and to obtain the proper permission to test private wells. Only five private wells tested positive for an exceedance of PFOAS and PFOA.

“The Department’s ongoing efforts to sample private wells, inform well owners and ensure safe drinking water across the state is a crucial part of our mission,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “Unfortunately, the Miami Herald has failed to accurately capture our long-standing and established sampling and reporting procedures and we hope to clear up any misconceptions about our ongoing efforts in the Ocala community. At no time did the Department delay notification to residents about any well sampling results.”

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced $24 million in funding awarded to 36 small and rural Florida communities across the state through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant and the Rural Infrastructure Fund programs. These programs, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), help communities fund economic activities, infrastructure improvements and housing rehabilitation. 

Since December 2010, every county in Florida has experienced a drop in its unemployment rate. During the same time, Florida has created nearly 1.7 million private-sector jobs. 

Governor Scott said, “Florida is the greatest melting pot and it is vital that we support our rural and small communities to preserve our state’s unique identity. Providing small and rural communities the opportunity to make investments in infrastructure and housing programs is key to growing our economy.”  Continue reading

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida’s high school graduation rate has reached a 15-year high according to data released today by the Florida Department of Education. For the 2017-18 school year, Florida’s statewide graduation rate rose to 86.1 percent, an increase of 3.8 percentage points over last year and 17.1 since the school year before Governor Scott took office.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida’s high school graduation rate has once again risen and has reached an all-time high. Access to quality public education played a critical role in my life, and as a father and grandfather, it has always been important to me that every Florida student has the opportunity to pursue their goals and achieve the American Dream. This accomplishment would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Florida’s teachers and school administrators. I’m also proud of the work we’ve done to provide record amounts of funding to Florida schools so they can continue to deliver results. I will never stop working to ensure students are prepared to succeed.” Continue reading

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, at Wyndham Destinations headquarters in Orlando, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses have created more than 1.67 million private-sector jobs since December 2010, including 23,000 private-sector jobs in November. This brings Florida’s unemployment rate down to 3.3 percent, a 12-year low.   

Florida’s unemployment rate of 3.3 percent represents a drop of 7.5 percentage points since December 2010; this drop is faster than the national decline of 5.6 percentage points. This is while 116,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, a growth of 1.1 percent in the past year. Florida’s annual job growth rate of 3.3 percent continues to exceed the nation’s rate of 1.9 percent. 

To view the November 2018 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Following widespread issues with voting in Broward County, Governor Rick Scott today issued Executive Order 18-342 to immediately suspend Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes from office for misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty. The authority for the Governor to take this action is outlined in Article IV Section 7 of the Florida Constitution. The Governor has appointed Peter Antonacci to serve as Supervisor of Elections in Broward County. Mr. Antonacci will serve for the remainder of the term until a replacement can be chosen by voters in November 2020. During the 2018 General Election, according to numerous media reports, Broward County election officials missed deadlines, lost ballots and couldn’t report basic information to the public, which resulted in multiple violations of Florida law. This follows multiple documented instances throughout Ms. Snipes’ term where Florida laws were broken including posting election results before polls closed and authorizing the improper destruction of ballots.  Continue reading

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi is co-leading a bipartisan group of 38 state attorneys general supporting criminal justice reform in the federal prison system. Today, the coalition sent a letter, co-authored by Attorney General Bondi, to Congress asking legislative leaders to fully consider criminal justice reforms like those contained in the First Step Act.

“I am proud to co-sponsor this letter supporting a true bipartisan compromise concerning much needed prison reform in our country. The First Step Act will keep so many individuals from returning to prison and help them lead productive lives,” said Attorney General Bondi.

The letter explains that many states have experienced success through state criminal justice reforms similar to those in the First Step Act. The First Step Act would create programs that incentivize federal inmates to participate in recidivism-reducing programs including vocational training and academic courses. The act would also put more tools in the hands of prosecutors. Continue reading

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced a $625 million multistate and federal settlement with a major pharmaceutical distributor. The settlement resolves allegations that AmerisourceBergen Corporations introduced adulterated drugs into interstate commerce. As a result, ABC, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, will pay the states and the federal government $625 million dollars—including nearly $100 million going directly the state Medicaid programs.

As part of the massive national litigation, ABC subsidiary AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group pled guilty to illegally distributing misbranded drugs in September 2017. ABSG is the parent entity for companies in the specialty pharmaceutical market, including biotechnology and oncology, in addition to pharmaceutical manufacturers and providers. ABSG agreed to pay $260 million in criminal fines and forfeitures. Continue reading

This week, working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, we arrested nine individuals on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges associated with the illegal baiting, taking and molestation of black bears by use of dogs for commercial and recreational purposes.

According to the year-long investigation, the defendants lured black bears by placing drums of dog food, doughnuts, pastries and peanut butter in various areas throughout Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union counties. The defendants used large packs of dogs to chase bears up trees. They would then beat the trees, some higher than 50 feet, causing bears to fall to the ground, where they would force dogs to maul the bears. Continue reading

Dear Friends,

Quick update for you. Constituent service remains our number one priority. Our office has three staff members located in Tallahassee, Lake County, and Marion County that are always ready to serve you and answer any questions or concerns that you may have. I am your Senator, and I work for you. As always, I am available to meet with you personally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office to schedule an appointment.

This past month, we completed our first week of committee meetings (along with some Senator training sessions) and we also received our assignments from Senate President Galvano. I am happy to report that your Senator was named Chairman of the Committee on Ethics and Elections. With the passage of Amendment 4 and the elections debacle in Broward and Palm Beach counties, we anticipate that this committee chairmanship will allow us to play a key role in protecting the integrity of Florida’s elections. I am committed to defending our elections process by making it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Continue reading

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