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It’s official: Florida hits 1 million concealed weapons permits

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida officially hit the one million milestone for concealed weapons permits as predicted last week by Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose office oversees the program.

As of this morning, there were 1,000,645 active concealed weapons permits in Florida, according to Putnam’s office. The million mark comes amid national scrutiny of state and federal gun laws in the wake of Friday’s shooting rampage by gunman Adam Lanza, who killed 20 first graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. Authorities say Lanza also killed his mother as well as himself.

Some gun rights proponents, including state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, want to allow people with concealed weapons permits and extra training to bring the guns into schools. They argue that armed personnel on school campuses would make schools safer.

With about one in 14 eligible Floridians holding the permits, Florida now has the highest number of concealed weapons permits of any state in the nation, according to Putnam. More than 62,000 Palm Beach County residents hold the permits.

Florida concealed weapons permits soon to reach 1 million milestone

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida is on track to hit the one million mark for active concealed weapons permits – more than any other state in the nation – according to Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Putnam, whose office issues and oversees the permits, told reporters Wednesday that there are currently about 993,000 permits in the state. At the rate the concealed weapons permits are being issued, Putnam said he expects Florida to hit the 1 million mark – the highest in the nation – sometime next week.

Nearly one in 14 Floridians over the age of 21 have the permits, according to Putnam’s data. Permits are restricted to those over the age of 21 unless they are in the military and to those who have not been a convicted felon or have had their gun rights restored.

The number of permits has steadily risen since the state first began issuing the permits 25 years ago.

Last year, 151,883 permits were issued, second only to the 167,240 permits issued in 2010. About 80 percent of the current permit-holders are men, and nearly than one-third are between the ages of 51 and 65, according to Putnam’s department. The vast majority of permit holders are white or Hispanic, Putnam said.

Nearly one in 14 Floridians over the age of 21 have the permits, which are restricted to people over the age of 21 unless they are in the military and to those who have not been a convicted felon or have had their gun rights restored. About 90 percent of the permit holders are Florida residents, Putnam said.

Only about .3 percent of the 2 million licenses issued over the life of the program have been revoked, Putnam said. Licenses can be revoked when someone is found guilty of committing a felony or been deemed to be mentally incompetent by a court.

Florida’s concealed weapons permits came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, who has a concealed weapons permit, claimed he shot and killed the unarmed teenager in self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Zimmerman was later charged with second-degree murder.

Putnam said he held the press conference to announce the milestone because he’s asked about the concealed weapons permits more than any other topic. And he said the low revocation rate proves the system is working.

“So clearly, Floridians who are obtaining these licenses are obtaining them for the right reasons and overwhelmingly using them in an appropriate way,” Putnam, who said he has a concealed weapons permit, said.

Putnam gave a National Rifle Association-ready response to a question about what the milestone means about Florida and its culture.

“I think that surpassing the one million active license tells us that Floridians have a great respect and appreciation for their Second Amendment rights and that firearm ownership whether for personal protection, for sport or for collections is a popular thing,” he said.

Internet ban, in limbo in Senate, on its way to House floor with blessing of Gov. Scott and Cabinet

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are putting pressure on lawmakers to approve an all-out ban on Internet cafés now on its way to the House floor but facing a doubtful future in the Senate.

The House Economic Affairs Committee approved the bill (HB 3) this morning, drawing the praise of the Republican governor and Cabinet who want the so-called “casinos on the corner” shuttered.

Critics of the cafés, an estimated $1 billion industry which operates under state “sweepstakes” laws and are largely unregulated, say they prey on the state’s poor and vulnerable. But the café operators say they provide good jobs for their employees and a place to socialize for seniors and others.

Scott believes the store-front casinos found in strip malls throughout the state are already illegal but wants lawmakers to officially ban them.

“These store front casinos are impacting Florida’s neighborhoods and families,” said Governor Scott. “They are and should be illegal. Representative Plakon’s bill closes this loophole and I commend his dedication to shutting down these establishments,” Scott said in a statement released by Rep. Scott Plakon, the Longwood Republican who’s sponsored the bill.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam joined in the chorus demanding the shut-down.

But the Senate is moving forward with a separate measure that would regulate the cafés and impose a $100 fee per computer terminal for operators. Estimates of the number of cafés in the state range from 800 to 1,400 but all agree they have mushroomed in the past few years. Palm Beach County commissioners recently barred new cafés from opening in unincorporated areas.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved a regulation measure and set aside a bill that would make the cafés illegal.

Ag Commish Putnam endorses Haridopolos in GOP Senate primary

Monday, June 13th, 2011 by George Bennett


Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam today endorsed state Senate President Mike Haridopolos in the GOP Senate primary, calling him “the conservative who can win this race” against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November 2012.

Putnam, a former member of Congress and a potential candidate for governor in the future, is the second cabinet member to back Haridopolos. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach is also backing the Senate president over former state Houses Majority Leader Adam Hasner and former appointed Sen. George LeMieux.

Read Putnam’s statement after the jump….


Scott, Cabinet in Panhandle get their game (fish) on

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott with his new fishing license in Panama City

Gov. Rick Scott, in the Panhandle as the state’s cheerleader-in-chief, and the Florida Cabinet threw down the gauntlet – at each other – in advance of a “friendly” fishing tournament this afternoon.

In Panama City on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blast that sent 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam held their first out-of-town Cabinet meeting at the Bay County Government Center in Panama City.

Some good news for Florida anglers other than the Cabinet – Putnam’s staff announced the state would hold two free fishing weekends at the open of the red snapper season on June 4 and again for Father’s Day on June 19. And they’ve extended the scallop season for three extra weeks. The season will begin a week before its previously scheduled July 1 kick off and last two weeks longer than the slated Sept. 10 close.

The Cabinet fishing competition began almost as soon as the panel – all clad in Columbia fishing shirts embroidered with the new “Gulf Safe” seafood marketing logo – reached the podium.

“It’s great to be here,” said Scott, who purchased his $17.50 fishing license at C and G Sporting Goods in downtown Panama City earlier in the day. “We’re going to have a fishing tournament. And we all know that I’m going to win.”

Bondi stepped up to Scott’s challenge.


No free school lunches for you, Ag commish Putnam

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam can’t take over administration of free and reduced lunches in public schools won’t happen, at least for a while.

Under federal law, the state Department of Education must continue to handle the free lunches and other meals unless they get a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture giving Putnam permission to take it over.

Fifty-six percent of Florida school children qualify for the federal lunch program – a 6% increase over hte past two years. To be eligible, a family of four must have an annual income of $28,665 or less.

Putnam proposed taking over the program so he could hook up Florida farmers and schools and get more home-grown fruits and vegetables into kiddies’ diets.

Putnam got a frosty reception from the state Board of Education when he pitched his plan to them earlier this week. The education department would have to request the waiver.

Education department staff say they’re waiting to see if lawmakers approve Putnam’s proposal before they ask the feds for permission to hand the program over to Putnam.

Scott sticks to AZ-style immigration reform

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott is holding fast to his support for an Arizona-style immigration reform for Florida despite recent comments from state GOP leaders, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, that it could be bad for business.

Scott, who campaigned on the issue, said this morning that law enforcement officers should be able to ask for immigration documentation, including during routine traffic stops.

“The federal government needs to secure our borders. We need to have an overall immigration policy that is logical and that works and is fair to Americans and fair to people that want to come to our country that we invite to come to our country,” Scott told reporters this morning.

“At the same time, I also believe that if you’re in our country and you do something illegally, you should be able to be asked just like I get asked for my ID if I ever get a traffic ticket, they should be asked if they’re legal or not. I clearly don’t believe in racial profiling,” Scott said.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said yesterday he does not favor an Arizona-style law.

And Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, fresh from a decade in Congress trying to address the immigration issue, said he believes an Arizona-style law would be bad for tourism and finance in Florida.

New Florida Cabinet meets for the first time

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The all-new Florida Cabinet held a very brief meeting this morning, the first since the all-GOP panel took office early this month.

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam ran through the skimpy agenda in less than half an hour. The highlight: the Cabinet’s confirmation of Scott’s pick for Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard.

“Congratulations. You’ve got a lot of work to do,” Scott told Vinyard, a Jacksonville businessman and lawyer, after the vote. Scott’s transition team was highly critical of the agency and recommended merging it with two other departments to help streamline permitting and regulation.

Scott has revamped the Cabinet procedures and eliminated the until-now routine Q-and-A with reporters before and after the bimonthly meeting, at least for today.

Before the 9 a.m. meeting, Scott’s spokesman advised reporters not to rush the governor on the dais after the meeting ended and that Scott would not answer questions until noon when he is scheduled to address the Associated Press annual editors meeting on the 22nd floor of the Capitol.

Scott’s Cabinet colleagues weren’t so media-shy, however.

Bondi, Atwater and Putnam – all University of Florida alumni – posed for photos and shook hands outside the Cabinet room for about 30 minutes before the meeting started and remained for nearly as long answering questions from reporters after its conclusion.

Scott answered a single question after the meeting.

“Fine. Fine,” he responded when asked how his first Cabinet meeting went. He was then whisked away.

Ag Commish Putnam urges ‘moral persuasion’ on MLK Day

Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam issued a statement in honor of Martin Luther King asking Floridians to “embrace his vision of partnership and unity” in light of the recent shootings in Arizona.

“As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, I encourage my fellow Floridians to join me in commemorating his legacy. If the tragic events of the past week have taught us anything, it is that moral persuasion, not violence, changes hearts, minds and the world. Dr King’s life was cut short, but his example lives on. May we embrace his vision of partnership and unity, without division by race, religion, class or gender, as we work together to create a better and brighter future for all those who call Florida home,” Putnam, a Republican and former Congressman, said in a statement released this afternoon.

Ag commish-elect Putnam administration set to go

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by Dara Kam

Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner-elect Adam Putnam has his new team ready to go with less than two weeks until he takes office on Jan. 4.

Putnam has hired Sterling Ivey, who’s been Gov. Charlie Crist’s spokesman since Crist took office, as his press secretary. Ivey also served as spokesman for the Department of State under Gov. Jeb Bush.

Putnam’s tapped more than a dozen long-serving government workers such as his chief of staff Mike Joyner, who spent more than 25 years working for the state including a stint as chief of staff at the Department of Environmental Protection.

And Putnam’s hanging on to several of current Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson’s employees, many of whom have worked in the department for years.

See who’s on Putnam’s administrative team after the jump. (more…)

Cabinet winner warns Republicans need to deliver or else

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Andrew Abramson

Adam Putnam, the state’s new Agricultural Commissioner, warned that Republicans need to deliver or else they will find themselves in 2012 in the same position as the Democrats this year.

Putnam, who along with North Palm’s Jeff Atwater (Chief Financial Officer) and Tampa’s Pam Bondi (Attorney General), will be part of the state’s second all-Republican cabinet, and the first since 2007.

“If we fail to produce, we will suffer the consequences like the current administration suffered tonight,” Putnam said late Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Bondi is promising to fight against President Obama’s agenda.

“I also look forward to continuing Florida’s leadership in the fight against the federal healthcare takeover,” Bondi said in her victory speech.

Atwater calls new Republican cabinet historic

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Andrew Abramson

For the second time in state history, and the first time since 2007, Florida will have an all Republican cabinet.

North Palm Beach’s Jeff Atwater, celebrating at Duffy’s on PGA and US1, believes the Republican trio of himself, Pam Bondi (attorney general) and Adam Putnam (agricultural commissioner) can help create business in Florida.

“It means a consistent and deep seated belief in the entrepreneurial spirit,” Atwater said. “This will be a cabinet wanting to facilitate a true support for the small business risk takers that are in Florida.”

Atwater said he is looking forward to working with Bondi and Putnam.

“They truly come with a level of expertise into these roles that may have never been matched historically,” Atwater said. “From Adam Putnam’s lifetime experience in the agricultural industry, to Pam Bondi’s hands on real life experiences in the courtroom to my experiences in the financial service industry of 25 years and a governor (if Rick Scott wins) who has made a lifetime of creating jobs in the private sector, it’s (great) for all Floridians.”

Scenes from the trail with Rubio

Sunday, October 31st, 2010 by George Bennett

In Sarasota today, Rubio with wife Jeanette and children Super Girl, Pocahontas, Spiderman and -- wandering off at right -- Transformer.

These Rubio supporters called each other before arriving at a Saturday event in Palm Harbor.


On the trail with Rubio: Elvis, Stones comparisons and jabs at Alex Sink

Friday, October 29th, 2010 by George Bennett

ORLANDO — Republican Senate nominee Marco Rubio is getting rock star treatment as he barnstorms in the final days of the campaign, and it isn’t just because of his big black charter bus.

Rubio appeared with chief financial officer candidate Jeff Atwater and agriculture commissioner candidate Adam Putnam in front of enthusiastic crowds at multiple stops today. In Melbourne, where a crowd of more than 500 showed up at a rally in a park, Putnam compared introducing Rubio to “opening for Elvis.” In Daytona Beach, where it was Atwater’s turn to introduce Rubio, he compared his task to opening for the Rolling Stones.

Rubio is spending more time promoting other GOP candidates — and taking jabs at Democratic governor hopeful Alex Sink.


GOP candidates’ refusal to participate leads to cancelation of Cabinet debates

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

With two of the three GOP Florida Cabinet candidates refusing to participate in a debate next month, organizers had no choice but to cancel the event.

Attorney general candidate Pam Bondi and Senate President Jeff Atwater, the Republican nominee for chief financial officer, would not agree to debate their Democratic opponents, Florida Press Association president Dean Ridings said today. The press association and Leadership Florida had planned to host the Oct. 5 event at the University of Florida.

GOP agriculture commissioner candidate Adam Putnam was the only Republican who signed up for the debate, Ridings said.

“Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater would not confirm. We are pretty much at the deadline. And every indication was that they would not participate,” Ridings said. “It didn’t make sense just to do the one” debate, Ridings said.


NRA supports Adam Putnam in Ag race

Thursday, June 17th, 2010 by Dara Kam

adamputnamU.S. Rep. Adam Putnam snagged the National Rifle Association endorsement this morning in the race for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Putnam, a scion of a powerful Polk County citrus and cattle ranching-family, is running against former Florida Democratic Party chief Scott Maddox.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush has also endorsed endorsed Putnam, a fresh-faced conservative Republican first elected to Congress in 2000 at the age of 26 after serving in the Florida House.

Scott Maddox: Double your money! On me!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

header_leftDemocratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Scott Maddox’s campaign didn’t get off to a slow start although he didn’t begin collecting money until yesterday.

The former head of the state Democratic Party put off raising campaign cash until Sept. 1 – nearly two months after he jumped into the race – for a reason: that’s when matching public money kicks in.

“But today is not just the first day of our fundraising campaign, today also marks the first day that you can more than double your impact! If you contribute today, the State of Florida will match your donation on a 2 to 1 basis up to $250! If you give $50 dollars, the state will match with an additional $100. If you give $100, the State will match an additional $200, and if you give $250, the match will be an additional $500! Please help us take on this challenge and make a difference for Florida’s consumers…and watch your donation grow!” reads an e-mail Maddox sent to supporters yesterday.

Maddox is faces two other contenders in the Democratic primary. Former state Rep. Rick Minton, a Ft. Pierce realtor, and former Suwanee County Commissioner Randy Hatch both want the job. Audubon of Florida lobbyist Eric Draper dropped out of the race after Maddox stepped in.

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, also a former state House member, from Bartow is the favorite in a GOP primary. Putnam was one of the youngest politicians elected to Congress in 2001 at the age of 26. Opponents in the primary include state Sen. Carey Baker, a gun shop owner from Eustis.

Current Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles Bronson is leaving office because of term limits.

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