Fighting for Florida

Today, I joined the Bay County Chamber of Commerce for their monthly breakfast. It was an honor to visit and speak with those who have a vested interest in promoting a pro-growth environment for the Bay County area.
 
As I mentioned in my remarks, we must work together with our business leaders to strengthen our economy, grow good-paying jobs, and help Florida workers and families achieve the American dream.
 
Because of job-killing regulations and bureaucrats in Washington, Florida workers are under attack. But I am fighting back. 
 
I continue to challenge the federal government on regulatory issues such as its flawed basis for imposing fishing regulations that affect everyone on the Gulf. I am also pushing for a resolution to the Army Corps of Engineers’ mismanagement of water that had directly harmed the Apalachicola Bay, which serves as an economic driver and an important ecosystem to this region.  
 
I appreciate the Bay County Chamber of Commerce for hosting me today. One of the best ways I can represent and serve Florida in the U.S. Senate is by hearing directly from our community leaders, job creators, and other hardworking Floridians. They are the backbone of our state’s economy and I will continue to push for policies that help grow more good-paying jobs right here in Florida.


 


 

This week, I had the pleasure of touring Costa Del Mar, a rapidly growing business in Daytona Beach that manufactures specialized sunglasses for people who live, work, and want to be on the water. It is yet another example of a growing business in Florida. Costa Del Mar’s success is closely linked to recreational fishing, an important Florida industry tied to 150,000 jobs in the state. My family and I have made some great memories out on the water and fishing together.
 
While it was exciting to see the progress Costa Del Mar has made, they and their customers are grappling with excessive and overly burdensome government regulations.
 
Regulations have closed access to red snapper in the South Atlantic for two years in a row, and only 17 days were allowed in the previous six years. The Gulf of Mexico fared a little bit better, but is still largely restricted as demonstrated by only a nine day season this year. This is impacting visitors to both coasts of Florida, which in turn affects the many Floridians whose livelihoods depend on these tourism dollars. Some argue the data being used to determine the health of a fish stock is greatly flawed, and I have put forward ideas on how to improve the type and sources of data used. Recreational fishermen have much to contribute. So, it’s a big problem with far reaching economic harm when a fishery is off limits based on bad science.
 
Bureaucrats in the federal government are also proposing closing off entire bodies of water, such as Miami’s Biscayne National Park. That’s why Senator Bill Nelson and I are working on a compromise bill to address the federal government issuing decrees like this. We want to make sure that at a minimum, state wildlife authorities on the ground are involved in the conversation as these decisions can have a devastating impact on our economy.
 
I want to make sure we create the type of smart regulatory environment where more people can continue to enjoy the natural recreation off Florida’s coastlines and Florida businesses can create jobs and make things in America. Costa Del Mar is a made-in-the-USA brand that we are very proud to have in Florida, and I’m excited to see their growth and what they have planned for the future. We cannot allow their progress to be impeded by unnecessary roadblocks. I will continue to push for pro-growth policies and legislation that make sure local experts have a say in the regulations that protect our resources and our environment, without hurting our small businesses and the enthusiasts who come to Florida to be on the water.

Yesterday, I visited AMSkills, a trade apprenticeship program in Clearwater, to hear from Floridians about their experiences in trade apprenticeship‎s. I stressed the necessity of reforming our higher education system and reiterated my efforts to promote higher education and alternatives to four year colleges. As I mentioned at AmSkills, I had over $100,000 in college loan debt that was only paid off four years ago. I know what it’s like to carry the weight of this financial burden, so I’ve proposed numerous ideas to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all.

I’ve supported expanding apprenticeship and mentoring programs like AMSkills and allowing students to get academic credit for what they learn outside of the classroom. I have helped craft bipartisan legislation called the Student Right To Know Before You Go Act, which requires colleges and universities to tell prospective students how much they can expect to earn with a given degree before they take out the loan to pay for it.  I’ve also supported income-based repayment, which would allow each graduate to repay their loan at a different pace based on their income.

These issues are personal to me, which is why it was so important to visit Pinellas County to hear about these issues. The proposals for these solutions do not start in Washington, but in our local communities. Thank you to AmSkills for hosting me yesterday and for contributing to the future of Florida.‎

‎To read more about my visit, see this Tampa Bay Times article.

Happy Fourth of July

Jul 04 2016

On this Independence Day, I want to wish a safe and happy Fourth of July to the Floridians I have the honor of representing in Washington and to all Americans across the nation.

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate our country’s independence, I’d like us to pause to remember what an exceptional nation we call home.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, America was born as a free and democratic nation -- the first nation ever founded on the idea that our rights come from God and it is our government’s job to protect those rights. For 240 years now, our people have prospered and our nation has been uniquely blessed.

While we celebrate America's history on this Fourth of July, we must also look forward to our nation’s future. It is up to each generation of Americans to preserve the freedoms of our founding and leave behind an exceptional nation for the next generation to inherit.

May God bless you and your families on this Independence Day, may God bless the state of Florida, and may God always bless the United States of America.

Happy Father’s Day

Jun 19 2016

As we gather with our loved ones today, I would like to wish you all a Happy Father’s Day. While the work we do in the U.S. Senate is important for our nation, being a good father is even more important for America. The bedrock of a strong and prosperous America starts at home, not in Washington, D.C.

Although my father is no longer with us, the impact he had on my life will forever live on. My father led by example – making sacrifices, working hard, and providing for his children. He came to this country from Cuba with nothing but the American dream. Despite never imagining that his son would one day serve in the U.S. Senate, he knew that in America anything was possible. Just like millions of other fathers across America, he gave my family a better life. Today we pause to thank all fathers for the wonderful and important roles they play in our lives.

Finally, let us not forget the fathers who are serving our nation overseas. Although you may be far in distance, you are close in all of our hearts. It is because of our brave servicemen that we can enjoy the freedom that is America.

To all of my fellow fathers, Happy Father’s Day! May God bless you, and may God always bless the United States of America. 

During this Haitian-American Heritage Month, I was happy to speak this morning to students at Miami Edison Senior High School. I offered my best advice regarding the journey of life, and stressed that positive change within any community rests in the hands of its people. 

As we celebrate the history and culture of the people of Haiti this month, we should also bring awareness and a sense of urgency to present-day issues involving Haiti, which affect us here in the United States. The world has watched as Haiti has struggled to rebuild its nation following a devastating 2010 earthquake and ongoing political instability, but Haitians around the world continue to be supportive of their country’s transition and take pride in the resilience it has shown.

Nowhere is that truer than in South Florida, home to the largest Haitian diaspora community, including many at Edison High who are working hard to achieve their dreams. They inspired me to continue working hard on their behalf in the U.S. Senate.