TAMPA, Fla. - Florida has only one open seat in the 2022 election—the race for Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services (to succeed Commissioner Fried who is not seeking re-election). Two Republicans (James Shaw and State Sen. Wilton Simpson), and three Democrats (Naomi Blemur, J.R. Gaillot and Ryan Morales).
Simpson is the only candidate in the race to not yet accept FOX 13’s request for a one-on-one interview with Political Editor Craig Patrick.
Our discussion with J.R. Gaillot began with his proposal to require liability insurance to obtain a concealed weapon license. Here is an excerpt of that part of the interview.
Insurance Requirement for Concealed Weapon License
Craig Patrick: "There is a striking statement on your campaign website which reads, ‘Insurance is required for driving a car. We will make it required for concealed carry permits as well. Wouldn't you have to change state statute to do that or would you do it without changing statute?"
J.R. Gaillot, candidate for commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
J.R. Gaillot: "There's no requirement to change the state statute. The process is to set up a committee. The committee will make the recommendations."
Craig Patrick: "The legislature and governor would not need to sign off on a new mandate for liability insurance in order to have the license."
J.R. Gaillot: "No, they will not."
Craig Patrick: "Where does that stand in terms of the availability of coverage? You can get such coverage through your homeowners or renters policy, but if you don't have such policy, do insurers even offer that in Florida?"
J.R. Gaillot "No, currently they do not. And that's the beauty of it. The insurance companies, they are very powerful lobby. So is the NRA. We're not here to take anybody's guns away. But like I said on the website, like you mentioned, you need insurance for your home, for even a golf cart in Florida, but not a gun doesn't make any sense. We will let the insurance companies write the legislation. It will create competition. It will create jobs. And it's capitalism at its best."
Craig Patrick: "You said the insurance lobby will write the legislation, but you said it doesn't require legislation in order for you to do it?"
J.R. Gaillot: "No. Well, eventually we expect it to be challenge. We expect it to be a challenged, and to clarify it (with legislation). So, to prevent any further challenges, that's what will happen.
Craig Patrick: "And is it a good idea to have the insurance lobby write the legislation?"
J.R. Gaillot: "Yes."
Craig Patrick: "A lot of lawmakers will say they don't want special interests writing the legislation. They would prefer to do it themselves."
J.R. Gaillot: "That is true."
Gaillot also discussed his concerns that major food producers are reducing portion sizes in their packaging, in ways he believes may be illegal.
Craig Patrick: "If elected as Commissioner of Agriculture, what would you do to stop it?"
J.R. Gaillot: "To sue them?"
J.R. Gaillot, candidate for commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, with FOX 13's Craig Patrick
Craig Patrick: "Sue them for what?"
J.R. Gaillot: "For violating the statute… They have publicly admitted that they are shrinking the size of the product.
Craig Patrick: "You're referring to Shrinkflation. Now, if they say on the packaging, it’s a smaller or lesser weight than what they had before, it's not deceptive and illegal, is it?"
J.R. Gaillot: "No, it is not."
Craig Patrick: "Are they doing that?"
J.R. Gaillot: "… The chicken and the frozen pizza, we looked.. It's still saying 10 pounds and it's not weighing 10 pounds."
Increasing Citrus Production
Craig Patrick: "You also are running on the premise that you can increase citrus production. How do you do that with the greening crisis that we have?
J.R. Gaillot: "Well, I visited a site that under testing with the University of Florida cuts citrus under protective screens. That is scheduled to be scaled up heavily. We're also looking at modification, injecting something into to prevent it from getting diseases. It's not very popular concept among the public. And I'm I have a meeting next Monday with a few to go over some of these steps because you have to pretty much when you talk about modifying the plant. There's a taboo associated with. But I learned a lot through this process myself because I when I first met with them, I said, we want it to be as organic as possible and it's introducing chemicals. And then they had to show me that it doesn't have cancer producing agents, it's just preventing the disease. So I'm still learning that part of it. But we are looking into that more."