The readers’ forum

Defend law banning business with terrorist states


During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 959 almost unanimously. Gov. Scott signed the bill into law.

It reflected the state of Florida’s will to not do business with companies that are engaged in business operations and foster economic activities with state sponsors of terrorism such as Cuba and Syria.

Several other states have successfully enacted similar legislation that has withstood federal court scrutiny.

However, on Sept. 4, I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which was a party in defense of a lawsuit challenging the law, decided not to appeal a federal court decision to uphold a lower court’s preliminary injunction against the law.

This decision is disgraceful.

FDOT was responsible for defending this law. With the current debate over Syria and the recent discovery of Cuba’s illegal military coordination with North Korea, our state should have conducted a spirited defense of the law all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Florida residents and their elected officials should have the right to prohibit taxpayer dollars from going to companies that do business with the tyrannical regime in Cuba.

With the passage of a nonbinding county referendum by a supermajority of the commission, Miami-Dade County voters affirmed the intent and spirit of the law in November.

I urge the Miami-Dade County mayor, commissioners, and all government entities in Florida to stand together and refuse to award public dollars to companies that do business with nations on the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list.

Gov. Scott and state Attorney General Pam Bondi should conduct a thorough investigation into FDOT’s decision and exhaust all options to defend and implement the law’s intent.

Anything less is an inexcusable failure to stand against tyranny and protect Florida taxpayers’ rights.

Erik Fresen, state representative, District 114, Miami

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