"Three Republican lawmakers accused two of Florida's biggest lobbying groups Wednesday of using intimidation to try to sway their votes on a tort bill that would make it harder for injured people to sue." "Lobbies accused of intimidation". But this borders on the embarassing:
Rep. Sheri McInvale, R-Orlando, said she was asked by the trial lawyers to step outside the room just before casting her vote and threatened with retaliation in her reelection campaign if she voted for the bill."Charges of intimidation fly as panel passes tort reform". See also "Lawsuit bill advances amid charge of pressure", "Tort Reform Redux" and "Lawmakers prodded on liability lawsuits".
"If I'm not here a year from now, I have a great life," McInvale said, her voice breaking. "I will never succumb to threats to vote a certain way on a bill because of somebody saying we will do our hardest to make sure you do not come back to this legislature. I'm so deeply offended.... To be pulled out during the meeting and basically strong-armed - this is totally inappropriate."
Scott Caruthers, executive director of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, admitted he and two others met with McInvale but denied threatening her.
Saint Tom the Family Man
Daniel Ruth: "What do you think the odds are that by the time the Republican gubernatorial primary rolls around, candidate Tom Gallagher will be stumping across the state wearing sackcloth, ashes and a papal miter, and giving campaign speeches in tongues?" "Heaven Only Knows How The Race Ends" ("GOP maven Barbara Wilcox and Gallagher supporter has huffed that 'We need a family man in the governor's mansion.'")
Florida's Method of Killing Under Review
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a Florida man's execution by lethal injection to consider whether the delivery of the deadly chemicals violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment." "U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Florida's executions are 'cruel and unusual'".
Stem Cell Politics
"Families that would benefit pleaded for research money, but support fell short." "House retreats on stem-cell bill".
"[T]he idea faces opposition from churches, and a number of legislators who believe that destroying an embryo amounts to killing a human being. Gov. Jeb Bush also takes that position, having called it last year 'the encouraging of the creation of life to take life.'" "Legislative panel debates embryonic stem cell research". See also "Stem-cell bill stalls in House committee"
This could be one of the biggest (of many) GOoPer privatization scandals yet:
The Senate Democratic leader Wednesday asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find out whether state personnel data illegally wound up in foreign countries."Calls for data inquiry mount".
Also, a Big Bend senator whose committee oversees the People First system said she'll call Department of Management Services officials to a hearing next month. She wants an update on Convergys operations and allegations that a former subcontractor sent millions of pages of employee records to data-entry companies in India, Barbados and possibly China.
And a third legislator sent Convergys a certified letter, demanding to know all subcontractors used in the People First system - including amounts paid to them and whether any used "offshore" operations to cut costs.
"Another important feature of the bill extends DNA testing to people who entered a guilty or no-contest plea. Some committee members found it hard to accept that a plea bargain might convince an innocent person to claim guilt. But it happens, especially when prosecutors offer a much-reduced sentence in exchange for the plea. Allowing those prisoners access to DNA testing can't compromise the mission of the justice system -- because it's a search for what bill sponsor Sen. Alex Villalobos, a former prosecutor, calls 'plain old truth.'" "Final justice".
Creationists To Wait A Year
"Florida's science curriculum for public schools will not be updated until 2008 -- more than a year later than expected. The delay ensures that a controversial debate over evolution will come after Gov. Jeb Bush leaves office and his successor is firmly in place." "State delays update of science curriculum".
"Floridians could buy flashlights, tarps, radios, batteries, generators and other hurricane necessities tax free the week before the storm season starts under a bill approved Wednesday by a Senate committee." "Sales tax break on hurricane supplies moves forward".
"Despite Florida's landmark growth-management bill last year, there is still a need for more state-growth-law tinkering, a key legislator said Wednesday." "State growth laws not set in stone yet".
"The Tom Gallagher gubernatorial campaign announced the county-by-county leadership of its campaign organization. Most of the more than 200 men and women announced as regional chairs, County Chairs, organizational Chairs, regional Coordinators and captains are veterans of the Bush-Brogan and Bush-Cheney campaigns." "Gallagher's Statewide Team".
"Lee perfects his balancing act"
"Senate President Tom Lee has returned a $20,000 donation made by the Florida Home Builders Association to one of his leadership funds. That's a kind of hybrid between campaign fund-raising and old-fashioned fun money that House and Senate leaders have used to keep their members' wheels greased, helping them with re-election or just keeping their loyalty intact." "Grand gesture".
"Next year's Senate president is soliciting funds to support the Scouts and the Pledge of Allegiance and to oppose 'liberal' and 'anti-God' forces." "Senator pledges allegiance to the oath and Boy Scouts".
"Trolling For Votes".
"Some shop owners say the mandatory requirement would be a burden while some Democrats accused Republicans of trolling for votes." "Bill to bag voters in gun, bait shops advances". See also "Bill aims to enlist voters at fishing, hunting stores".
'Glades: Bush, Martinez AWOL
"This year's conference includes former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, former U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Rep. Shaw and Sen. Nelson. Absent but needed are Gov. Bush and Republican Sen. Mel Martinez. Everglades restoration never has looked shakier." "Friends of Everglades needed more than ever".
"Republicans tend to be serenely like-minded"
The Republicans tend to be serenely like-minded, even monolithic. By the time they convene an official meeting, the leadership has made all the important decisions and the membership enthusiastically endorses them."Open meetings don't guarantee information".
GOP delegates then hurry out to the lobby in hopes of having their pictures made with Jeb Bush or Katherine Harris before they get away.
How Green Is Our Foley?
"Environmentalists voice anger at award for Rep. Foley".
A Collective Sigh of Relief ...
emanates from Tally Town: "Leaders decide a ban on treats from lobbyists can loosen a little. Those mouthwatering Capitol festivals will continue." "Free eats? If public can partake, then legislators can too".
"Florida's senators stuck to their respective party positions in Wednesday's Senate debate over the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court." "Nelson, Martinez split on nominee".
Soft Money Politics
"Senate President Tom Lee may have the bully pulpit of his office to push for campaign finance reform, but his opponent for the Republican nomination for chief financial officer, state Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration, is campaigning on the idea as well." "Lee v. Johnson: Whose soft money proposal wins?".
Seminole Heights Blog: "Does Tom Gallagher Think Conservative Republicans Are Idiots?"