09/05/13 - Florida Current - As Syria decision looms, a coda on Florida's contracts ban
By Gray Rohrer / email@example.com
Florida has given up its fight to uphold a 2012 law prohibiting state and
local governments from contracting with companies with ties to Cuba and
The Florida Department of Transportation, the state agency party to the
lawsuit challenging the law, will not appeal a federal court decision to
uphold a lower court preliminary injunction against the law. The ruling
stated the law conflicts with federal law and infringes on the power of the
federal government to set foreign policy.
The suit was brought by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company with
subsidiaries that do business in Cuba. Odebrecht also has several contracts
in Miami-Dade County. According to the Miami Herald, Odebrecht has pulled
in $4 billion in contracts within Florida since 1990.
Now, the state has agreed to a permanent injunction against the law with
"The parties (FDOT and Odebrecht) have agreed to the trial court entering a
permanent injunction consistent with the appellate ruling. This means FDOT
cannot enforce the law," FDOT spokesman Dick Kane wrote in an email.
The news comes as Syria is grabbing headlines across the nation. Congress
is debating President Barack Obama's call to use military force in Syria in
retaliation for Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons
amid a 2-year-old civil war against rebels.
When it was passed in 2012, however, debate on HB 959 centered mostly on
Cuba. The bill was sponsored by two Miami-Dade Republicans of Cuban
heritage, Rep. Michael Bileca and Sen. Rene Garcia.
The law was passed overwhelmingly by lawmakers, receiving only one no vote
from Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami.
Gov. Rick Scott, however, stirred controversy when he signed the bill in
Miami but released a signing statement hours later asserting Congress
needed to pass a law for him to enforce the state contracts prohibition. He
later said he would enforce the law and fight the lawsuit against it in
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