Florida Five: Benacquisto scores another national endorsement, Film-incentive program revamped

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

e cigHealth groups outraged by last-minute change to E-cigarette bill: Health groups and local governments say decades of work to keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids could be overturned through a House measure billed as prohibiting the sale of trendy electronic cigarettes to minors. The American Lung Association of Florida, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, local officials and Students Working Against Tobacco have found themselves fighting the measure (HB 169) that would prevent youths under 18 from buying electronic cigarettes. That is because the proposal also would ban local efforts to restrict the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products. The bill has completed the committee process. While it could be taken up by the House later this week, the measure has yet to be scheduled for a floor appearance. Read more.

Legislature adds local-match plan to film-incentive program: Local governments will have to chip in if the state is going to revive an incentives program intended to attract film and television production crews to Florida. One senator warned that the proposal would turn out the lights on future film production efforts in the Sunshine State. But others on the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee said the local funding requirement is necessary if an incentives package is going to pass. The committee on Monday voted 7-1 to support a revamped effort to provide up to $50 million a year in tax credits that would require a 5 percent to 10 percent match from the local county or counties where production is expected to occur. Also, “family friendly” productions that are free of “smoking, sex, nudity, or vulgar or profane language” could receive an additional 5 percent tax credit. Read more.

Pam Bondi leads Democrats in Sunshine State News Poll: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi starts off with a solid lead over her two Democratic rivals, in part due to her opposition of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law which remains unpopular in the Sunshine State. A Voter Survey Service poll, commissioned by Sunshine State News, shows Bondi leading both former state Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, by the same margin. Bondi takes 44 percent when matched up against both Sheldon and Thurston while the Democratic candidate takes 35 percent. While 1 percent of those surveyed back other candidates in the race, 19 percent say they are undecided.  Sunshine State News talked with James Lee, the president of Voter Survey Service, about the poll and the state of the race on Monday. Read more.

Jeb Bush tells Fox News illegal immigration ‘not a felony, it’s an act of love’: In an interview broadcast Sunday on “America’s News HQ” on the Fox News Channel, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said immigrants who come to America illegally to provide for their family do so out of “an act of love” and “it shouldn’t rile people up.” Bush was attending the 25th anniversary celebration of his father’s inauguration at George H.W. Bush’s presidential library when he spoke with host Shannon Bream, who asked about immigration, according to The Washington Post.Describing the Senate bill on immigration reform passed last year as a “good effort,” Bush said establishing the rule of law will “restore people’ confidence,” pointing to immigrants who overstay their visas as an example. Read more.

Huckabee, LizbethMike Huckabee endorses Lizbeth Benacquisto: Fresh off a successful fundraiser with Sarah Palin, Lizbeth Benacquisto was endorsed by another national political figure, Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee posted support for Benacquisto on Facebook Monday, calling her “the strongest conservative” in Florida’s Congressional District 19 race. Read more.

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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