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 66.

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

Lorena Grizzle (Democrat) – Responded, Thank you!

Larry Ahern (Republican) – Did not respond. | 727-804-5573

Economic Issues & Taxes

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

Grizzle:  In my immediate area of Clearwater, Largo, and Seminole, I propose to keep the momentum of the Florida High Tech Corridor going, bringing information technology, network security, and engineering growth to this area.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

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

Grizzle:  I am currently visiting and talking with business owners to determine which regulations are restrictive to their growth. I would like to address this later in the campaign.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Many hometown projects were included in this budget as it is an election year. While this does not excuse any waste, I would hope the make-up of the legislature would become more balanced in order to stop pet projects from setting a record budget. A better informed public during the legislative session would help this process and more transparency is needed.

Ahern: 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?

Grizzle:  I would support returning recoverable taxpayer investment in power plants that were never built. Any power company should not be handed taxpayer dollars without consumer recourse in the event the plant is never built.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Common Core Standards have already been implemented in Florida Schools and a sudden pullback will harm the students who now are on a course of study. Also, textbooks have been ordered which usually have at least a three year use, and that would be costly to replace sooner. The data should be closely monitored and educators without a political agenda should be the ones who make the determinations from the data as to what works for our children. We need to remember that we have always had standards in Florida, we just need to get it right.

Ahern:  Did not respond.


6. Do you support offshore drilling in Florida waters?

Grizzle:  No.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

Civil Liberties

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

Grizzle:  This is a federal issue which requires the attention of our Congress.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  I would be concerned that in cases of immediate threat to the public the search and seizure of mobile devices is necessary, but must be strictly regulated to prevent abuse from law enforcement personnel.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

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

Grizzle:  Municipalities control these cameras. As much as I may see problems with them, I cannot support taking local control away from the municipalities.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  No, we should not hand out mandatory sentences. Incarceration is not the answer for drug abuse. We are creating a pattern of failure for these individuals with this approach and wasting taxpayer dollars. We need to focus on treatments that work

Ahern:  Did not respond.

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

Grizzle:  Yes, it is proven to relieve tremors and seizures, reduce nausea for chemotherapy patients, and is certainly a better alternative than the oxycodone prescribed, which is a synthetic heroin.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

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

Grizzle:  No, it is a costly and unwieldy program to test recipients. Better screening is needed to prevent fraud.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  All states have rights, but it is best to persuade Congress to change federal laws, if possible.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  I believe if you have a concealed permit, you are free to carry your weapon. I am concerned that we would have a large segment of the public wildly brandishing weapons when emotions are high and adrenaline is flowing, as in a hurricane evacuation or trying to buy the last bottles of water on the shelf of the grocery store. I lived through hurricane Andrew in 1992 and it was like the Wild West at times, the public fighting over ice and water.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Encourage people to go to clinics instead of emergency rooms, and allow the free market to reduce pharmaceutical costs through competition.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

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

Grizzle:  Yes, we paid into these funds already and it will help provide health care for needy Floridians who are filling our emergency rooms with cases that could be treated at doctor’s offices or clinics at a lower rate.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Giving an advantage to one company over another through government intervention or incentives negates the effect of healthy competition.  We want companies to be well-functioning and competitive as this increases the value and quality for customers as opposed to fixed or overpriced products.  Also, when we give tax incentives to companies to move here, it has been the usual practice that after a few years, these companies pack up and move when the incentives dry up.  There are some industries in which government would do well to invest in research and development, such as photovoltaic cells for solar energy and semiconductor design, then let the private industry take the reins of producing these.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Getting people involved in taking back their government from the special interests and lobbyists is the answer.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  This is a huge problem. With the recent court ruling, there may not be an end to this in the near future. Again, the public must be willing to participate in making their government their own. Transparency in government is crucial.

Ahern:  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?

Grizzle:  Yes.

Ahern:  Did not respond.

Any additional comments or thoughts:

Grizzle:  Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questionnaire!

Ahern:  Did not respond.


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

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