Gov. Rick Scott has started retreating from a controversial statement that a Cuba-crackdown bill he signed the day before was unenforceable.
In a written statement, Scott now acknowledges that the law will go into effect. And he reiterated his support for it — even though he thinks it might not survive a legal challenge.
“Constitutional lawyers have told me that this legislation will be challenged in court. I signed the bill regardless of that fact, and it will become a state law on July 1, 2012,” he wrote. “As Governor, it is my sworn duty to uphold the laws of the state and I will meet any challenge to this law in court as necessary.”
Scott’s move was a peace offering of sorts to Miami’s Cuban-American lawmakers, who were incensed Tuesday when he signed the bill into law at the Freedom Tower — only to issue a letter afterward that suggested the law is unconstitutional.
The law would prohibit state and local governments from hiring companies — notably Odebrecht, a Brazilian engineering and construction firm that works extensively in South Florida — whose parent companies or affiliates also do business in Cuba or Syria. Because the state law could affect foreign commerce, Scott said in his Tuesday letter, it needed the approval of Congress and the president.
Scott’s letter blindsided the members of Congress and the state Legislature — all Republicans — who were never told he would espouse that position. They said the state law was fine and that Scott’s letter potentially undermined it because it armed opponents with a potent legal argument if and when they sue.
“It’s unfortunate this very ill-conceived statement muddies the waters,” U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said earlier Wednesday, before Scott’s latest statement came out.