Yesterday - "The fate of a proposal to loosen restrictions on class size remained uncertain Thursday, with key Senate Republicans offering little indication of how they will cast their final votes." "Class-Size Conflict Remains Undecided".
Today - "Senate leaders are pulling out all the stops to win support from reluctant lawmakers in a vote today to undo the strict caps on class size that voters chiseled into the state Constitution four years ago." "Senate set to vote on class size". See also "Senate making another pass at diluting class-size measure" and "Senate girds for class-size showdown".
The latest GOoPer Scare Tactic - "School busing and other draconian measures may have to be taken if the state's class size reduction requirements are not loosened, critics said in Senate debate Thursday." "Critics say busing looms if class size limits not loosened".
Getting Nasty - "The Republican drive to water down Florida's strict class size caps turned nasty in the Senate on Thursday as one angry Democrat said she had received veiled political threats to sway her vote and big money projects were being dangled in front of others to gain their support." "Reports of threats, big money projects surround debate over bill on class-size caps".
"Jeb!" Cutting Deals? - "Amid talk of last-minute deal-making to nail down needed support, the Florida Senate today is poised for a critical vote on the future of the state's class-size limits. Gov. Jeb Bush is backing the plan by incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, to ask voters in November to weaken the stringent class-size standard approved by Floridians in 2002. But the Republican governor denied a swirl of speculation Thursday that he was trying to woo wavering senators with promises of help for hometown budget issues if they voted to put class size back on the ballot." "Senate to vote on future of class-size limits today". See also "Bargains begin over class size". And at least one Dem is interested: "Lawson may break with party over schools". See also "Lawson's vote switch roils black caucus".
- "Coming up at the Capitol".
- "Legislature 2006: Developments from day 52, April 27". See also "Legislative news briefs" and "Tallahassee Ticker"
- "Insurance issues on agenda". See also "You may pay for insurer's woes", "Legislators plan to chip in $920 million to reduce surcharges on home insurance", "'No guarantees' as House debates insurance" and "'Obscene' insurance rate increase ahead for condo owners".
- "Last year lawmakers wanted to extend term limits for state legislators from eight years to 12 years. Now they're not so sure.". "House revisiting long-term debate".
- "Senate nearing vote on 'soft money'".
- "Legislators dish out $54.5M for SUS".
"A tax 'holiday' in late May will give Floridians extra incentive to stock up on hurricane supplies before the June 1 start of hurricane season." "12-day tax break lets state stock up for hurricanes". See also "Bush OKs hurricane items tax break" and "Bush signs hurricane preparedness sales tax holiday into law".
- "Lawmakers mull funding a study on property tax reforms".
- "State lawmakers from both political parties are uniting to pass legislation aimed at bolstering affordable housing for working people, the poor and the elderly." "Legislature set to boost affordable housing".
- "Courtroom interpreter bill passes House".
- "The Senate passed a bill preventing the school year from starting any earlier than two weeks before Labor Day. A similar bill has been passed in the House." "Later start-date support grows". See also "Senate plan blocks early school start".
- "Anti-bully bill would give power to schools".
- "Asked about Siplin’s last-minute move, McInvale, who said she had not spoken to Siplin about the amendment, said: 'He doesn’t like me.'" "Dog Eat Dog".
- "Legislation to create a state council to study the social disparities among black males has moved through the House and is set to pass through the Senate." "Panel will be formed to help black men, boys".
Big Of 'Em
"Farms let many go to rally in Orlando":
Workers at two of the state's largest farm companies won't be penalized if they take the day off Monday to trek to a huge Orlando rally in support of immigration reforms, company officials said Thursday.See also "Tampa, Immigrants Gear Up For Protest". also
Representatives of A. Duda & Sons Inc. and Taylor & Fulton Farms said they support their workers -- many of whom are in the country illegally -- and the message they are taking to the streets and to Congress.
"The Florida House gave Speaker Allan Bense an early farewell Thursday by unveiling a portrait of him that will hang in the House chamber for decades -- and by giving him a 1977 Corvette." "Bense can motor away with gift".
"A planned work stoppage on the heels of rallies is intended to raise awareness throughout the country." "Immigrants pool their passion".
I Am Shocked
"Ethics panel clears Crist and Gallagher". See also "Sen. Mike Bennett cleared".
Picking Up The Tab
"Picking up the pieces after Poe Financial Group's breakdown will fall to the state's insurance pool -- and possibly Florida residents." "Burden could fall on policy holders". See also "Loans Could Help Insurers Survive Storm Of Claims".
"Innocence-protection bill is a must-pass"
"In the past five years, five men have been cleared of heinous crimes because DNA evidence proved they were innocent. One man died on death row. The other four spent a combined 92 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit." "Kill DNA deadline".
"But Florida legislators apparently live in a bubble. While out here in the real world many Floridians are struggling to find decent, affordable places to live, the leadership in Tallahassee seems poised to keep a lock on a treasure chest of money legally dedicated to easing the affordable housing crunch." "Housing crisis left hanging".
Cuban Oil Drilling
"Citing fears that Cuba plans to drop oil rigs near the coast of Key West, Florida's Sen. Bill Nelson planned legislation that he says could tie Fidel Castro's hands." "Nelson: Block Cuban oil drilling".
A couple of weeks ago, a high ranking Jebbie appointee was caught "referring to civil rights leader Jesse Jackson as Jesse James and to U.S. Sen. Barack Obama as Osama bin Laden". Now another "Jeb!" crony apparently "used racial epithets over a period of months". From the Miami Herald editorial board:
In today's world of mean-spirited politics, it is commonplace for powerful people to use dirty tricks and unsavory tactics to gain an edge. But the win-at-all-costs mentality crosses the bounds of decency and moral turpitude when foes resort to racial slurs and personal invective. Those are the tactics of unprincipled, disreputable bullies -- and anyone who engages in them should suffer the consequences of their actions, including public condemnation and censure."Ugly words get in the way of education goals".
This is why it is important to have a definitive determination of the accusation by four public officials and Miami-Dade schools' Superintendent Rudy Crew that state Rep. Ralph Arza, a powerful education leader, used racial epithets over a period of months to denigrate Mr. Crew. Mr. Arza denies that he made the comments.
The four officials described Mr. Arza's alleged comments to Miami Herald reporters, but asked that their identities not be revealed. Some apparently fear possible retribution from a leader who wields considerable power in the Legislature and is close to Gov. Jeb Bush -- who has declined to comment. Nevertheless, we urge the four officials to take a public stand against what they themselves believe is hateful speech.
Mr. Crew says he is considering filing a complaint against Mr. Arza with the House Rules Committee. We urge him to do so, thereby formally requesting that the legislative body live up to its duty to review allegations of loutish behavior by members and mete out punishment when it is deemed appropriate.
From The "Values" Crowd
"Past and current members of a state-mandated watchdog committee for disabled people and foster children criticized state government Thursday for the 'the breakdown and probable elimination' of the group." "Advocate group for disabled fighting for its life".
"Palm Beach County is not asking for much in return for spending $255 million to build Scripps Florida's headquarters in Jupiter. All it wants is a guarantee, in writing and under penalty, that Scripps will stay for 15 years and maintain 545 jobs. That request is downright modest compared to the tens of thousands of jobs Gov. Jeb Bush promised in trumpeting the project, or the 30-year commitment the county counted on. But rather than concede to a series of reasonable offers, Scripps simply insists it won't bet its California assets on the Florida venture." "Scripps plans to come up with a compromise proposal today". See also "Gov. Bush lawyer to suggest ways to resolve Scripps dilemma".
"This year, lawmakers appear to be closer than ever to enacting legislation (SB 256, HB 7041) that would tighten rules on how state money is handled by the schools and parents. The House passed its version of the bill on March 29. The Senate is scheduled to debate its version next week." "Voucher controls within reach after 2 years of slipping away".
"Shutting down juvenile boot camps was the least the Legislature could do in response to the death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old inmate in the Bay County camp. Not only are the brutal tactics in some boot camps unnecessary, they appear to be counterproductive. With one exception, boot camps have a troubling failure rate. Even the Pinellas County facility, which has avoided controversy, found that 90 percent of those young people who successfully complete the program are rearrested." "Last chance for juvenile justice".
Gallagher and Citizens
"Will Gallagher Benefit Politically From A Bailout Of Citizens Insurance?"
"One dollar is now the standard Gov. Jeb Bush will use to privatize an entire government agency? The latest report on the much-maligned People First system comes from the Legislature's program analysis office, and it is blistering." "No more blank checks".
"No such group apparently exists"
"More than once Thursday as he explained the so-called "65 percent solution" linked to a proposal to weaken the class-size amendment, sponsor Sen. Ken Pruitt referred to research by 'First Class Education Florida.' No such group apparently exists. A search of the state Division of Corporations records, the state Division of Elections database and the Web failed to turn up the name." "Pruitt's 'research group' not in Florida".
"Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said Thursday his office will be meeting with oil company executives next week to gather information about rising gasoline prices' Crist, a Republican candidate for governor, criticized oil company mergers, saying they have led to 'less choice, less competition and higher prices."" "Crist's office to address rising gasoline prices".
"The compromise state legislators are inching toward for getting public records online may be as good as it gets for now." "Online records: Progress".
"he mere mention of embryonic stem-cell research was voted off a biomedical research bill Thursday, effectively ending the debate over the controversial issue this session. But supporters of embryonic stem-cell research saw the vote as yet another sign that state money for it could become a reality next session — at least in the Senate." "Stem-cell debate ends, for now".
"Can FCAT graders make the grade?"
"Rahm Hearts Ron And Phyllis"
"From The Hill comes news that DCCC chief Rahm Emanuel plans to beef up a fundraising program that will particularly help the 22 Democratic challengers nationally deemed strongest by the party. Two Floridians made the mighty 22 list: state Sen. Ron Klein (no surprise) challenging Clay Shaw, and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky (something of a surprise) who is challenging Gus Bilirakis for the Pinellas/Pasco/Hillsborough district held now by Mike Bilirakis." "Rahm Hearts Ron And Phyllis".
"Crist Attacked In Web Ad By Anonymous Creator".
"The legislation that created the center in 2004 set up the board to run it and specified that the board members would appoint their own successors. The legislation passed Thursday by the Senate calls for them to be appointed instead by the governor and legislative leaders." "Byrd Center Funding Hits Impasse".