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February 19th, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Capitol News Service Feed
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Criminal Justice Reform
Edius 1
Anchor lead
Criminal Justice advocates are pushing a sweeping reform package aimed at reducing criminal sentences and helping rehabilitate prisoners instead of simply punishing them. As Jake Stofan tells us the Florida First Step act is modeled after a recently passed Federal law.
0:10-0:15 Sen. Keith Perry
(R) Gainesville
0:23-0:37 Jake Stofan
0:37-0:43 Sen. Jeff Brandes
(R) St. Petersburg
0:55-1:02 Matthew Charles
Former Federal Inmate
1:09-1:20 Governor Ron DeSantis
(R) Florida
Anchor Tag
The First Step Act hasn’t been put on the agenda for any committees yet, but two bills aimed at reforming drug sentences cleared a Senate Committee this morning.
Criminal Justice Reform PACKAGE
Florida prisons house nearly 100,000 inmates, costing taxpayers 2.6 billion a year. Most inmates will be released within 5 years.
SOT Sen. Keith Perry
(R) Gainesville
“That’s 85,000 people back out on the streets. Are they going to be good citizens or are they going to recidivate?”
The problem, criminal justice reformers say, is that Florida’s system focuses more on punishment
Than rehabilitation.
“To shift the focus, some lawmakers are pushing the Florida First Step Act. It would give judges discretion to divert from mandatory minimums in non violent drug offenses and offer up to 60 days off sentences if they learn a trade of get an education.”
SOT Sen. Jeff Brandes
(R) St. Petersburg
“These are best practices from around the country that Florida would now be implementing and I think that’s all very positive.”
A similar reform for federal prisons passed at the end of last year.
Its the reason Matthew Charles who was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 35 years for possession crack cocaine is a free man today.
SOT Matthew Charles
Former Federal Inmate
“Something was done on my behalf, but there’s thousands or hundreds of thousands of others, that nothing is being done on their behalf because they don’t have that voice.”
But Governor Ron DeSantis, who voted for the Federal law as a Congressman, is hesitant to support the initiative on the state level.
SOT Governor Ron DeSantis
(R) Florida
“The character of the crimes are a lot different. I mean, the Federal tends to be drug trafficking, there’s a lot of white collar [crimes]. The state you have a lot more just violent crimes.”
Similar reforms have failed in year’s past, but supporters hope the passage of the National First Step Act last December will give the legislation the push it needs.
Capitol News Service Feed
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Dueling Billboards
Edius 1
Governor Ron Desantis has been in office just over a month and is getting generally high marks from both political insiders and the general public. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a civil rights group has been protesting the Governor since the day he was sworn in and now a police union is sticking up for the governor.
Supers: Tallahassee
0:21-0:27 Sot: Rachael Gilmer
Dream Defenders
0:33-0:42 Sot: Matt Puckett
Florida PBA
0:52-0:57 Sot: Matt Puckett
Florida PBA
0:57-1:05 Mike Vasilinda Standup
1:11-1:21 Sot: Jeannette Nunez
Lt. Governor
Runs 1:30
Anchor Tag: Anchor Tag: The Dream Defenders did endorse Andrew Gillum, who fell about 33 thousand votes shy of winning against now Governor DeSantis.
Dueling Billboards Package Script:
Two bill boards critical of Ron DeSantis, sponsored by the Dream Defenders, popped up in the state Capitol shortly after he took office. Both depict the Governor as a puppet of corporations. We emailed the Dream Defenders with questions about the billboards, but they didn’t respond. But they did have plenty to say when they watched the inauguration.
Sot: Rachael Gilmer
Dream Defenders
“Ron Desantis has made it very clear that he is deeply in bed with some of the corporations that are harming people in this state.”
The anti DeSantis billboards didn’t sit well with Flordia’s Police Benevolent Association.
Sot: Matt Puckett
Florida PBA
“Governor DeSantis has come in and he’s been a really good Governor across the board for everyone. We saw the billboard that said he’s not our Governor, and well, he’s everybody’s Governor, and we wanted to make that known.”
During the 2018 election, The Dream Defenders pushed candidates to sign what they called freedom papers, which also irked the law enforcement group.”
Sot: Matt Puckett
Florida PBA
“Law enforcement shouldn’t exist. Prisons shouldn’t exist. So we took offense to that.”
Mike Vasilinda Standup
“We sent pictures of both billboards to the Governor’s Press Office. Their response: The Governor will always come down on the side of law enforcement.”
We caught up with Lt. Governor Jeannette Nunez. She hadn’t seen the Dream Defenders bill boards.
Sot: Jeannette Nunez
Lt. Governor
“You know, I think Ron DeSantis has shown he’s the Governor for all Floridians. And if Pople want to take out ads, that’s their preoperative, but we’re not  worried about nonsense like that. We’re worried about leading the state of Florida in the right direction, which is what we are doing.
And until the middle of March, the Governor is likely to see this billboard on his ride home each night.
Menu Items VOSOT/SOT
A restaurant in the shadow of the Capitol has a power menu, with items named after those who govern. FSU President John Thrasher has a power-bowl salad, Several state senators have burgers, as does the Lt. Governor. The tradition takes place almost every election, but once you are out of office, so goes your name from the menu. The Lt. Governor told us she not had planned stay in office, but….
Sot: Sot: Jeannette Nunez
Lt. Governor
“”But that didn’t happen. You know when the governor called me and asked me to join him on the ticket. Here I am and now I have a sandwich named after me, so I guess that’s one of the perks of deciding to come on board with Governor DeSantis.”
Sot: Andy Reiss
Andrews Restaurant
“Everybody wants the event for life, the item for life.  When you don’t get reelected, or term out, bam, You’re done, so, thank you for being here.”
The menu was inspired by a New York deli that names dishes after broadway plays and actors.
Space Force VOSOT:
It’s space day in the Capitol and Governor Ron DeSantis is using the occasion to call on the President to locate the command center for the President’s proposed Space Force in Florida.
Sot: Ron Desantis
“I think we have obviously facilities, such as Cape Canaveral, where that would be a natural fit. I think that will be very good for the state of Flordia, but I also think given our history in space, given all the resources that are now in Florida, I think it would make a lot of strategic sense to do that.”
As a precedent, Florida is already home to the Army’s Central and Southern command centers.
Drug Sentences VOSOT:
Two bills aimed at reforming sentencing for certain drug offenses passed their first Senate committee stop this morning.
The first would change the way a sentence is determined for possession of pills by basing thresholds on the number of pills instead of their weight.
The second bill would give immunity from prosecution to those who report drug overdoses.
Sponsor Senator Jeff Brandes says the two reforms are one of the first steps in a larger push for criminal justice reform.
SOT Sen. Jeff Brandes
(R) St. Petersburg
“Whether it be the bill that moves from weights and looks at actual dosage units or the Good Samaritan Act, which allows people to be free of prosecution if they’re acting in good faith to help somebody who is a friend who is experiencing an overdose, that to me is another step in the right direction as we move towards criminal justice reform.”
Brandes is also sponsoring a number of other criminal justice reforms this session, including the Florida First Step Act.
Teacher Bonuses VOSOT:
Governor Ron DeSantis defended his proposal to offer bonuses to high performing teachers this afternoon.
The Governor’s plan would offer $9,000 bonuses to as many as 45,000 teachers in the state.
The state’s largest teachers union argues the money would be better spent on raising teacher pay overall.
DeSantis says the bonuses guarantee teachers will actually see the money.
SOT Governor Ron DeSantis
(R) Florida
“I’m not necessarily opposed to doing that, in terms of higher salaries. Different districts have done it different ways, but that ultimately is a decision that is negotiated collectively. Our bonus program doesn’t involve that and it goes basically straight from the state to the teacher and I think that’s a good way to do it.”
The Governor’s plan would allocate $423 million for bonuses under the state’s Best and Brightest Program.
It would also remove college entrance test scores from being a factor in determining whether teachers qualify for the bonus.

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