Editor's Note: Since this blog was originally posted, Gov. Rick Scott has back-tracked from the signing statement he issued after signing the law. That signing statement indicated that the new Florida law would not go into effect because of a potential conflict with federal law. The governor's signing statement came as a surprise to many Republican politicians, who became upset when they learned of it. As a result, on 5/3, Gov. Scott announced he would indeed enforce the law he signed on May Day, which goes into effect July 1. Afterward, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) stated that he was pleased that the governor changed his mind. ENR.com will have more on this developing story.
The folks at Odebrecht can apparently relax—for now, at least—after Gov. Rick Scott essentially voided his signing of legislation aimed at disallowing any firms with business in Cuba from winning any public contracts.
Photo courtesy Florida Gov. Rick Scott
In the weeks prior to the governor's very public May Day signing ceremony in Miami, reports had speculated that the bill was targeting Odebrecht. The Miami Herald reported, for instance, that last year, when the firm's Coral Gables, Fla.-based U.S. division was bidding on a $57.1-million wharves contract at Port Miami, Miami-Dade commissioner Esteban Bovo discovered that the firm had some business dealings in Cuba. He then switched his vote against awarding the contract to Odebrecht. (The firm still won the job.)
Subsequently, the 2012 Florida legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that would prevent any government entity in the state from awarding a contract of more than $1 million to any firm with any business in Cuba or Syria, due to those country's oppressive dictatorships and support of terrorism. That new law was looking like a big problem for Odebrecht. As the Herald reported, the firm is negotiating with Miami International Airport officials for future contracts relating to the facility's massive plans for Airport City.
According to the Airport City website—which lists the development as an "Odebrecht project"—Odebrecht is not only working as the developer of the massive mixed-use development, but also providing financing, engineering and construction services. Gov. Scott's planned signing of the anti-Cuba bill seemed to imperil future contracts.
The May Day signing at Miami's Freedom Tower—an iconic symbol for local Cuban-Americans—also seemed to imply the governor was looking for another fight with the feds. As the Herald reported, opponents of the bill had argued that Florida had no constitutional authority to make policy impacting international trade, and hinted that the feds would take legal action after the bill became law. And Florida's two biggest trading partners, Brazil and Canada, came out against it.
But sign it he did. In a statement, Gov. Scott said: "The legislation I’m signing today is designed to protect Florida taxpayers from unintentionally supporting dictators that suppress freedom and the rights of individuals."
At the same time, though, the governor issued a signing statement that explained that the law would not go into effect until Congress passes and President Obama signs legislation allowing such state action against Cuba and Syria—as it already allows for Iran and Sudan.
Because of the apparent conflict with federal law, Scott's signing letter stated: "I, therefore, call upon President Obama to introduce federal legislation that will permit Florida to go above and beyond the pervasive and overly permissive federal regulations."
The Herald then reported that lawmakers supportive of the measure were so upset by the governor's signing statement that they were willing to sue the governor to force him to enforce the law.
Stay tuned. There's likely more to come on this matter. For now, though, what are your thoughts?