Gun-loving Florida has more gun deaths, study shows

Gun homicides are killing more Floridians
Gun homicides are killing more Floridians

Floridians are dying of cancer, heart attacks and accidents that also prove the top killers in many states, a new Stateline report shows.

But more Floridians also are meeting their end at the end of a gun than the national average, according to the analysis of 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Homicide by firearm claims 4.5 people for every 100,000 Floridians, compared with an average 3.5 Americans, the report found. Florida, of course, has a lot of guns — increasing the statistical odds.

Florida’s 1.7 million concealed weapons permits are most of any state.

Still, many states have some quirk that sends residents to the grave — the icy upper Midwest, for example, had a higher number of falls, and Montana had more suicides by firearms; New York, more pneumonia.

Kentucky and New Hampshire have high rates of death by accidental poisoning, which includes drug overdose.


Scott says Republicans unsettled by Trump should keep eyes on November

Gov. Scott says Republicans should keep eyes on November
Gov. Scott says Republicans should keep eyes on November

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who endorsed Donald Trump in March and recently attempted to rally Republicans around him, said Tuesday that choosing a presidential favorite shouldn’t be all that hard for voters.

“It’s a clear choice. We’ve got a business person, Donald Trump, who knows how to build jobs. On the other side, we have a career politician who has never created a job in her life,” Scott said of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

The governor also shrugged off recent moves by some prominent Republicans to distance themselves from Trump. Scott also seemed to see few warning signs in the candidate’s sky-high unfavorable ratings from women and Hispanic voters.

“The most important thing is think about November,” Scott said. “Unify this party.”

That was a theme another Trump-backer, Attorney General Pam Bondi, echoed Tuesday.

“This is a movement. It’s more than an election right now,” Bondi said. “I think the American people have spoken loud and clear. Donald Trump is our nominee.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who initially supported Jeb Bush before turning to Marco Rubio, now finds himself having to warm up to Trump.

“I have said from the beginning that I would support the nominee,” Putnam said.

But he also acknowledged he worries about how Trump might play in swing state Florida, and his potential effect on Republican candidates running in toss-up legislative and congressional districts across the state.

“I am concerned about how he has positioned himself with some key voting blocs,” Putnam said, while acknowledging he was “intrigued” by Tuesday’s Quinnipiac poll showing Trump and Clinton in a dead heat in Florida.

“Interesting times,” he concluded.



Scott and Cabinet break deadlock on insurance commissioner, promoting deputy as a compromise


On their third attempt at reaching a consensus, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet agreed Friday to promote insurance regulator David Altmaier to the post of state Insurance Commissioner — while keeping his outgoing boss, Kevin McCarty, on board for an additional 60 days.

Altmaier’s selection came after another deadlock ensued between Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Scott over the selection. Atwater on Friday again recommended Delray Beach Republican Rep. Bill Hager, a former Iowa insurance commissioner, for the post but, as in two earlier meetings, Hager was a no-sale with Scott.

Scott’s own favorite applicant, Tampa-area Jeffrey Bragg, a retired insurance industry executive, was already rejected by Atwater. The governor and chief financial officer, who oversees the insurance commissioner’s office, must agree on a selection, under state law

Friday’s meeting was as awkward as the earlier attempts to settle on a candidate.

After Hager failed, Atwater’s fallback candidate, Deputy Commissioner Belinda Miller, also didn’t win Scott’s OK. So Atwater turned to Altmaier, who has worked at the Office of Insurance Regulation since 2008 and was among three applicants interviewed Friday by Scott and the Cabinet.

Altmaier impressed the governor and Cabinet — with all but Atwater joining Friday’s meeting by conference call — with his grasp of insurance markets,his ability to respond to a decision Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court seen as threatening to the workers’ compensation system, and his focus on the consumer.

“This guy is impressive,” Atwater said.

Altmaier will get a $165,000 annual salary. McCarty, the state’s insurance commissioner since 2003, was set to step down May 2, but earlier agreed to stay on to assist with the transition as hurricane season nears.

Scott and the Cabinet agreed to that offer Friday, but made the point that Altmaier is in command.



Scott! Bondi! Putnam! Atwater! Florida’s Fab Four coming to Jupiter for Cabinet meeting

Your Florida Cabinet: (From left) Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
Your Florida Cabinet: (From left) Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

The Florida Cabinet is hitting the road for a meeting next week at the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University.

Scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. next Tuesday in the Student Resource Building at 5353 Parkside Drive: Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and hometown favorite Jeff Atwater, the state’s chief financial officer and a North Palm Beach resident.

Click here for the cabinet’s full meeting agenda.