Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, locked in a tight race for the GOP nomination for Florida governor with political upstart Rick Scott, says he will help introduce an Arizona-style immigration law in the Florida legislature.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, McCollum said the proposed law would mandate that Florida police officers must investigate when, in the course of their normal duties, they develop a reasonable suspicion that a suspect may be illegal.
“I am working with, and do support that, in working with a legislator here in Florida who is a chairman of a key committee, to draft a law for the next session of the legislature, and will take some key elements like that from Arizona law, and make it part of Florida law,” McCollum told Newsmax.TV’s Kathleen Walter in an exclusive interview.
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McCollum said his staff has been working with state Rep. William D. Snyder “for several weeks” to prepare the legislation, which he expects to probably be introduced in the next session of the Florida legislature.
Snyder, the chairman of the Criminal & Civil Justice Policy Committee in the Florida House of Representatives, will determine the timing of when the bill is introduced, McCollum says.
Immigration has emerged as a major issue in the hard-fought battle for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Florida.
Last week McCollum joined with attorneys general in eight other states to file a brief opposing the Obama administration’s recent lawsuit, which seeks to void Arizona’s immigration law on the grounds it infringes on the federal government’s prerogative to enforce borders and determine immigration laws.
Supporters of the Arizona law say that bill was carefully written to parallel federal laws already on the books that have gone unenforced.
McCollum opposed Arizona’s initial law that required law officers to arrest illegal aliens, due to its potential for racial profiling. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed that measure into law on April 23.
On April 29, the Arizona legislature amended the law to emphasize that legal residency would only became an issue after a “lawful contact,” such as a traffic stop, took place.
The law also requires “reasonable suspicion” of illegal residency, in order to justify any investigation into citizenship.
Once the law was amended, McCollum said he supported it.
McCollum’s opponent, Scott, is a strong supporter of the Arizona law. He has hammered away at the immigration issue on the campaign trail.
Floridians clearly like Arizona’s law. A poll in May conducted by the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, and other news organizations showed that 58 percent of Florida voters support Arizona’s law.
Other highlights of the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with McCollum:
- McCollum described Scott as a “flawed” candidate due to his former involvement in the HCA/Columbia Medicare-fraud scandal. “[Scott] was CEO of Columbia/HCA at the time of the largest Medicare fraud scandal in history, where they were fined criminally $1.7 billion dollars. He was fired by the board, took away $300 million in stock options, and is now wanting to be governor of the state of Florida. He either is an unindicted co-conspirator in that, or he was an incompetent chief executive of this large company. And I don’t see when the voters contrast us that they’re going to pick that person to be governor.” Scott was never charged with a crime, and he said he personally was never investigated by the FBI.
- The Florida Attorney General says he has a strong grassroots campaign and has enough money to run an effective campaign against the well-heeled Scott. “Even though I don’t have as much money to spend, I’m not wealthy like he is, I’m can’t fly around in a half million dollar plane,” McCollum says, “I do have a message to deliver and a track record that people will and can understand as a conservative, who will govern as a conservative, will lead this state to create more jobs and many other things we need to do for Florida.”
- McCollum said if elected he will seek a two-year “time out” or moratorium on local tax increases in order to give a boost to the state’s ailing economy. His plans to create jobs include reducing the corporate income tax from 5.5 to 4.5 percent.
- He also favors a 10-year exemption from corporate income tax for high tech industries that move their headquarters and production facilities to Florida.
- McCollum says the Obama administration “did not get off the dime in the right way” and was “really slow to respond” to the BP oil spill in the Gulf. He’s worried much of the oil in the Gulf could eventually come to shore, and he’s working aggressively to help Floridians file their claims for damages.
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