Raydient recently lost an effort to insert language into Florida Senate Bill 324, via their lobby the Associated Industries of Florida, that would allow them to skirt an obligation to pay for recreational facilities in Nassau County according to the Board of County Commissioners. Another battle still awaits as the Speaker of the Florida House has indicated he is opposed to Representative Cord Byrd’s strike-all language to strip it out of the House version of the bill.
The Florida House of Representatives shot down a “voice vote” on Representative Cord Byrd’s effort to remove language from HB-697 and also included the “Sector Plan” language that according to County Attorney Mike Mullin, was aimed at Nassau County and contradicts the provisions in HB-1075, passed last year by the local legislative delegation and creating the ENCPA stewardship district.
Under House procedural rules if five members ask the Speaker for a recorded roll, or “machine” vote the Speaker of the House is forced to have a recorded vote. Since no machine vote was recorded we will seek comment from Rep. Byrd’s office as to why there was no recorded vote and also ask the legislature for a head count chart to see who was planning to support this measure.
While the County Commission was victorious and won the day with Senator Aaron Bean’s amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Bean’s brother-in-law Senator Rob Bradley, the next battle will continue on the Senator Floor. Under Florida Senate procedure once the Florida House of Representatives votes out HB-697 and it goes to the Senate, the Sponsor of SB-324 (Senator Dana Young) will have the option to take up the House version (HB-697) and “table” her bill version, asking her fellow Senators to adopt that bill. If adopted it would force Senator Bean to again propose another amendment on the Senate floor to re-strike the language from the bill and work to convince a coalition of Senators to support his efforts. The bill would then go back to the House of Representatives for revision.
Questions sent to Raydient representatives were not returned as of Wednesday morning.
Citizens for a Better Nassau County, a 501(c)(4) that represents Rayonier interests was silent on the political events unrolling this week, but according to a e-mail received from Nassau Politics has been active in the background.
The meeting titled, “Nassau County Core Group Meeting on November 2” had the main themes of asking how they are going to control the narrative again going into next election cycle:
“How are we going to control the message again going into the next election cycle while simultaneously and systematically broadening our messaging beyond taxation and land use issues? (good government, efficiency, how does our government compete for economic development, etc.)
Candidates, polling, and our political work plan
Growing our Coalition of Supporters (we’re at around 200 and growing now)
When do we hold our next public meeting so it is most advantageous to us? What themes do we want to cover and, based upon that, who should be our presenter(s)?”
The listed place for this meeting? Wildlight.
“Where: Rayonier Corporate Headquarters, Wildlight, One Rayonier Way, Yulee, FL 32034 – 3rd Floor – The Cloud – Capacity 24”
According to the e-mail the meeting was organized by Mike Bell – Rayonier’s Director of Economic Development and Government Affairs, and included a laundry list of Nassau County elected officials and political operatives. Including:
- Former Superintendent of Schools John Ruis
- Former Nassau County Commissioner Junior Boatright
- Nassau County Commissioner Pat Edwards
- Nassau County Property Appraiser Mike Hickox
- Nassau County Tax Collector John Drew
- Michael Stokes, Former Chair of the Nassau County Economic Development Board
- Sarah Bascom, Head of Bascom Communications
Sarah Bascom’s agency was most recently involved as the contact for the press release issued by Associated Industries of Florida in support of SB-324, that would have put Nassau County taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars according to county officials.
Aside from working previously on this issue for the Associated Industries of Florida, Sarah Bascom’s agency managed campaign efforts in 2016 for Citizen’s for A Better Nassau County – trying to paint the image that Nassau County was on a “fiscal cliff.” This later turned out to dispute the auditor general’s report from the CFO John Crawford that showed a surplus of nearly $4 million.
Bascom’s agency also has worked previously on re-election efforts for State Senator Aaron Bean.
It can be difficult to understand how these relationship all seem to work at times and who is really on the side of the taxpayer. Nassau Politics will continue to dig for the truth and will report the facts.