Candidates from across the Tampa Bay area were asked to complete our 2014 Legislative Candidate Questionnaire. Below are the responses for the candidates from Florida House District 65.

For the full list of Tampa Bay legislative candidates and their contact information, visit the 2014 Legislative Candidate Questionnaire home page.

Debbie Faulkner (Republican) – Responded, Thank you! | 727-333-5259

Carl “Z” Zimmermann (Democrat) – Responded, Thank you! | 727-786-4654

Chris Sprowls (Republican) – Did not respond.
Chris@ChrisSprowls.Com | 727-279-5997

Economic Issues & Taxes

1. What do you propose or support to increase economic prosperity within the State of Florida?

Faulkner:  A change in our infrastructure development, litigation reform, maintaining low taxes

Zimmermann:  Further development of a regional specialty emphasis. For example, Tampa Bay is a center for marine bioengineering; Cape Canaveral specializes in space exploration. Putting greater emphasis on specialty zones and encouraging support industry to move in – as well as then aligning education in the corresponding areas to develop the workforce, will make Florida rise to the top in economic development.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

2. Excessive regulations can hamper small business growth. Which specific regulations, if any, would you repeal?

Faulkner:  I would streamline our tax payment structure in Florida, and unify our environmental standards.

Zimmermann:  Local licensing, screening and certifications. Last year we streamlined a process statewide so contractors approved and cleared in one county wouldn’t have to repeat the process in every municipality and county they do work in. I would like to continue that way of thinking.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

3. The Florida Legislature passed a $77 billion budget in 2014, the largest in history, and the trend line indicates we will see another record next year. (A) Do you consider this to be a problem, and if so, (B) what specific actions would you recommend taking in order to better steward taxpayer dollars?

 Faulkner:  Yes, I see this as a problem. Government spending is out of control.

Zimmermann:  I consider this to be a huge problem. In 4 years we have increased the state budget from $66 billion to $77.1. That’s over 16% during a period where Floridians were struggling to pay their mortgages and eat. It is great that the economy has recovered, but that doesn’t mean we need to rush to spend it. I would properly fund education, close the gap in healthcare created by a combination of the affordable health care act and the state not participating in the expansion. Regardless of which decision was the right one, we have left a group of the most needy, exposed. I like that we placed $3 billion into trust for a time when we may see a decline (although I haven’t looked at what that trust is or who’s making money off it). But, we could have really rolled back the DMV fee’s to ’09 levels instead of the hocus pocus move we made by only reducing it by $14.50 for the average person. We could have also completely removed the sales tax on commercial rent that no other state imposes.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

4. Would you support legislation that would refund the $1.5 billion taxpayers’ investment in the now-cancelled Levy County Nuclear Power Plant? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  Yes – any unspent taxpayer money should be returned to taxpayers rather than used for other pet projects.

Zimmermann:  YES. Because it is thievery – especially since the plant won’t be built.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


5. Do you support a repeal of Common Core State Standards (now rebranded to “Florida Standards”) in Florida? If not, what changes, if any, would you propose or support?

Faulkner:  No. I believe in local control of education with a state-wide standardized exam. I would support legislation to prohibit school districts from teaching the exam, however. I believe in giving teachers more power over the classroom, and strongly feel too much time is spent teaching tests rather than teaching the subjects naturally.

Zimmermann:  The day we had a bill that was supposed to be a simple cleanup bill to remove obsolete language from statute, I noticed the words common core were being removed. I asked the chair if we were abandoning common core. Her response was no. She said we were simply having Florida’s own standards. The truth was that they seemed to believe a rose by another name wouldn’t be a rose at all. Florida has always had standards and frameworks for every class. That is critical to effective teaching and I will always support that. And, I like that we share standards with other states so we can compare apples to apples. However, I oppose a mandated curriculum. As a teacher, I will meet the standards but I need to be able to adjust to do what is most effective for my students. That’s my job. Anything less and a robot could do it (or maybe a computer).

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


6. Do you support offshore drilling in Florida waters?

Faulkner:  No.

Zimmermann:  No, and for a very simple reason. 50% of the crude we pump up from America’s soil and sovereign waters is shipped out of this country, refined and sold to the highest bidder – which may be an unfriendly nation. This happens because it is controlled by international conglomerates that many people mistake for American companies. They say it’s because we don’t have enough refineries. That is true, but rather than invest in refineries here they prefer to have them offshore where they can do it cheaper and keep their profits as well. I support building more refineries and keeping America’s resources in America.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

Civil Liberties

7. Would you support legislation in Florida that nullified the NSA’s ability to perform warrantless surveillance of Floridians?

Faulkner:  Yes.

Zimmermann:  It is a fine line between protection and big brother control. I support making that line thick and clear. I believe warrants that require sufficient reason is a starting point.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

8. A bill was filed in the Senate in 2013 (SB 846: Search and Seizure of a Portable Electronic Device) that would have required that a search warrant be issued before a search of someone’s mobile device was permitted. Would you vote in support of this bill? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  Yes, I would support this bill. I will strongly support any bill that restores the integrity of our Fourth Amendment privacy protections. A search of a mobile device is a search of property that should require a search warrant.

Zimmermann:  Yes. Because that philosophy is what this country was founded on.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

9. Do you support a repeal of red light cameras in Florida? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  YES. This is an issue I feel very strongly about. Red light cameras are an electronic surveillance mechanism that should not be tolerated. They perpetrate intrusions into our privacy interests otherwise protected under the First, Second, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments, and in my view, despite jurisprudence to the contrary, are a way for the government to violate the Fourth Amendment by conducting unlawful searches of our vehicles.

Zimmermann:  I support legislation that would fully repeal them unless new standards were established that provided a mandated length of time between a yellow light and red light sufficient to safely stop as well as a delay to allow a vehicle reasonable time to pass. They should not be used as a clever way to make money, but I am good with them catching real offenders that run red lights.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


10. Should all drug offenders, even non-violent and first-time offenders receive mandatory sentences? Would you suggest policies other than incarceration to deal with drug use?

Faulkner:  No. Yes – effective mental health and substance abuse treatment; community service.

Zimmermann:  No and it should also depend on the severity of the drug. Once a person is in “the system” it is very difficult to move on and improve their lives. I would support a more serious effort to get them off drugs.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

11. Do you support the legalization of medical marijuana as proposed by the United for Care Amendment? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  I believe it is the voters’ choice. Personally, I believe that it is outside the scope of my knowledge to know whether marijuana has a legitimate medicinal purpose, but to the extent it does, the decision to prescribe it should fall within the discretion of a doctor, not the state legislature.

Zimmermann:  Yes. My sister died after a long, painful battle with breast cancer. Pot helped her greatly at the end.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

12. Do you support drug testing of welfare recipients? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  Yes. As an Assistant State Attorney, I had to submit to drug screenings to receive my bi-weekly paycheck in addition to working full-time and performing the duties required of me in that position. I do not believe it is unreasonable to require other recipients of state monies to submit to the same screenings.

Zimmermann:  Only in conjunction with mandatory publicly viewed testing of all elected officials.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

 The US Constitution

13. Do you support a state’s right to nullify federal law, as many have already done for example by legalizing medical marijuana, or blocking implementation of the Affordable Care Act?

Faulkner:  Yes – I believe that where the federal government exceeds its boundaries set forth in the Constitution, it is incumbent upon the states to protect themselves and their citizens.

Zimmermann:  Tricky question. I love and believe in this country and it is a careful balance between flexing states rights and weakening our nation. I think I’d rather deal with that issue by issue rather than a blanket statement.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

 14. Would you have voted for Florida HB 209 – “Carrying Concealed Weapon or Concealed Firearm”, which would have granted an exception from criminal penalties for carrying a concealed weapon or a concealed firearm when evacuating? Why or why not?

Faulkner:  Yes. I believe owners of firearms should be permitted to transport their weapons to safety with them.

Zimmermann:  I did vote for it.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


15. There is no argument that health care costs are completely disconnected from a person’s ability to pay. What do you propose or support to help reduce the cost of health care services in Florida?

Faulkner:  Litigation reform.

Zimmermann:  During the debate in 2013 when we were locked down in the House debating whether or not to accept the $51 billion. It became apparent that it wasn’t going to be resolved. My suggestion at that time was that we build clinics next to every emergency room. Both parties knew that because the Feds made the affordable health care act law a large number of the most needy (those that make under $11800) would fall into the area where no subsidy is available unless the money was accepted and a plan in place. The majority party came up with (my opinion) a hair-brained idea of giving those people $2000 per year bank accounts to buy insurance and not accepting the money. The problem is the only plans they could get for that money would have a $2000 deductible. This plan would cost the state 1/2 billion dollars and never get used because the people couldn’t pay the deductible. They would continue flooding emergency rooms for the most expensive treatment. My idea was to use that same 1/2 billion to build clinics next to emergency rooms that could treat all but the most life threatening. In the heat of politics with you’re either for accepting Obama care or not – and there wasn’t any gray area allowed, nobody else seemed to be interested in actually solving the problem. So I would have voted to accept it and then fight like hell to fix the problems.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


16. Would you vote in favor of Florida accepting the federal funds set aside for Medicaid Expansion? Why or why not?

 Faulkner:  No. If Florida is to expand Medicaid, the decision needs to be made at the State level and not depend on receipt of federal funds which will not likely be there in the future. This way if the State expands the program, it will be forced to plan accordingly in the budget. Further, as a policy matter, I believe in more local and state control rather than federal control.

Zimmermann:  I would. I haven’t read the federal bill and I don’t know all the details. There are many things that I do know that I like and probably many I don’t like, but the reason given by so many of my fellow members on the other side of the isle for not accepting the $51 billion is that we need to teach the feds to stop spending, lower the deficit, and ultimately balance the budget. (Ok, maybe I’m optimistically adding to their reasons). The problem is. I am not a congressman and I don’t work in Washington and it’s going to take a lot more to get them to balance the federal budget. In the meantime, that money would fill the hole that is created in our state that so many really needy people fall into. Assuming it wasn’t a political decision for either side. Fix the problem and press congress to take fiscal efforts seriously and come up with a plan – even if it takes 20 years.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

Government Fairness and Transparency

17. What are your thoughts on legislation that gives a competitive advantage to a specific company or industry?

Faulkner:  Did not respond.

Zimmermann:  It’s wrong. And if you look at the amount of money that company contributed to the parties either direct or through PAC’s, we’d all see it was bought and paid for.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

18. In several recent studies, Florida has been found to be in either the top 10 or the top 5 most corrupt states in the nation. What do you propose or support to help reduce corruption in Florida?

Faulkner:  Have more transparency in political campaign funding, and open primaries

Zimmermann:  Pass a law that requires any elected official that gets caught being paid for a job they are not doing (consultant), gets promoted by the company that benefits from legislation, or passes bills that directly benefits their family , is immediately removed from office while the investigation is being conducted. The elected official’s net worth should not increase either other than normal amounts.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

19. Currently, millions of dollars in campaign contributions filter through political committees that are controlled by legislative leaders. (A) Do you consider this a problem, and if so, (B) what, if anything, would you suggest be done about it?

Faulkner:  Yes. I believe campaign contributions should be restricted to eligible voters.

Zimmermann:  Of course it’s a problem. I believe we should have one 6 year term with no re-election. And if you want to run for another office you should have to sit out one cycle. That would take almost all the influence of money out of it and we could actually do the job we are suppose to do.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

20. In February 2013, Watchdog group Integrity Florida reported[1] that Enterprise Florida has failed to meet its job creation objective, lacks transparency, has the appearance of pay-to-play, is engaged in apparent conflicts of interest, and is picking winners and losers in the Florida economy by demonstrating state government favoritism to certain companies and industries. Would you support an Inspector General investigation into Enterprise Florida and legislation to take corrective actions?

Faulkner:  I am always in favor of investigating groups that receive state funding, but which may be engaging in partisan politics.

Zimmermann:  Yes.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.

Any additional comments or thoughts:


Zimmermann:  Well done questionnaire. Good questions.

Sprowls:  Did not respond.


[1] Ben Wilcox and Dan Krassner: “Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare?”

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