Jebbie's push for private-school vouchers in the Florida Consitution and undermining the state's class-size amendment may go by the wayside, like so many of his ill conceived proposals.
In the closing three weeks of the Legislature, the Republican governor will be pushing hard to get two of his top initiatives through a Florida Senate more difficult to navigate than usual."Governor's legacy down to the wire".
A lingering struggle over who will lead the Senate following the 2008 elections has divided the 40-member body into rival camps. Meanwhile, Bush's bid for constitutional amendments keeping alive private-school vouchers and easing the state's class-size standard are heading for Senate showdowns.
Perhaps He Shared "Devious Plans" on His "Stealthy Visit"
"Wearing an armored vest and helmet while flying on a U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter, Bush visited seven military bases in Iraq and Kuwait as part of the Pentagon-sponsored mission at the request of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." "Gov. Bush stealthily visits Iraq for Easter".
"The crisis at hand"
"Florida's insurance market is facing a crisis, perhaps greater than after Hurricane Andrew. Lawmakers are scrambling to find short- and long-term fixes." "The crisis at hand: covering Fla. homes".See also "Legislative Proposals".
What's Wrong With Jax?
"N. Florida city leads in state's murders".
Harris Fundraising "Exceeds Expectations"
She's bouncing back, sort of:
Katherine Harris has reported raising a bit more than $1 million in the first three months of 2006, despite problems that have plagued her campaign since late February."Harris Forces Raise $1 Million Despite Campaign Turbulence". See also "$3.7-Million On Hand For Harris".
That's about the same amount the Republican congresswoman from Longboat Key raised in the final three months of 2005.
The amount falls far short of the money being raised by her prospective opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, but it may exceed the expectations of some Republican Party insiders.
"The Capitol cafeteria is reporting longer lines. House members and staff are kicking into a petty-cash fund to buy lunches most days. And a Wednesday-night pickup basketball game, featuring legislators, staff, lobbyists and the occasional reporter, also has become well-attended." "Sales plummet in Tallahassee since gift ban".
"Some Florida lawmakers are talking tough about campaign finance laws."
But they skip one detail in their news conferences: The biggest soft-money loophole is getting even bigger, courtesy of a law the Legislature passed last year."Soft Money Eludes Reform".
On Jan. 1, the amount the Democratic and Republican parties can give to a candidate for a statewide office soared - from $50,000 to $250,000.
And there's plenty of money to dole out. Florida is one of 13 states with no caps on how much donors can give to political parties, so big contributions are pouring in.
"All In The Family"
"The list of budding Florida political dynasties already includes such names as Bush, Castor, Bilirakis, Meek, Diaz-Balart. Add another: Thurman. Macky Thurman, the 28-year-old son of state Democratic chairwoman and former U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman of Dunnellon, has filed to challenge Republican state Rep. Larry Cretul in House District 22. Cretul won the district, which includes parts of Alachua, Marion and Levy counties, against Perry McGriff by 35 votes in 2002." "All In The Family".
"Saving's smart; investing's farsighted" "Legacy spending".
"Two state senators seeking information on the temporary workers who grade parts of Florida's high-stakes school exams are fuming after being told it is a 'trade secret.'" "FCAT graders' names, abilities a 'trade secret'".
"Big-city dreams coming from small-town minds"
"Jeb Bush craves the high-paying jobs and cluster companies that would come with the biomedical company [the Burnham Institute.]"
The problem, though, is that we have big-city dreams coming from small-town minds.Get this:
Burnham, you see, is one of the nation's leaders in stem-cell research, some of which involves embryos. It's pioneering research, supported by a majority of Americans, that's meant to help fight diseases such as Alzheimer's.
But Jeb Bush is no pioneer. Not on this front anyway. He was quoted in BusinessWeek saying: "I don't believe the state should provide a financial incentive to support any research related to the killing of embryos."
Bush's office also put out word that "no state money will be used to fund embryonic stem cell research under his watch."
So Bush wants the institute's scientists in Florida -- as long as they leave their stem cells in California?The bottom line:
Maybe. Bush's office wouldn't say for sure. Spokesman Russell Schweiss said only that "logic" suggested Burnham does stem-cell research elsewhere and wouldn't need to do it here.
But even if Bush finds some loophole in his own morality code -- giving money to a leading stem-cell researcher while opposing stem-cell research -- why would a company like that want to come to a state like this? ..."Morality stance carries price".
Sure, there's room for debate. But it's a little strange to preach the gospel of biomedical economic development while standing in an anti-stem-cell pulpit.
Save Our Homes?
"Scrap Save Our Homes 2".
"Is Farkas questioning Crist's qualifications too?"
The most competitive and widely watched state Senate race in Florida this year is the race to succeed St. Petersburg Republican Jim Sebesta. Democratic state Rep. Charlie Justice will face either Republican state Rep. Kim Berfield of Clearwater or Republican state Rep. Frank Farkas of St. Petersburg, who are in the midst of a tough primary."Farkas' zing of foe could nick a friend".
Farkas, however, may find himself in an awkward position as he proclaims his strong support for Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign and fends off Berfield. One of Farkas' main criticisms of Berfield is that someone like her, without a family, business experience, or her own home, has a harder time understanding issues critical to voters. That happens to be one of the main points Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher uses against Crist.
"It makes no sense"
"At a time when Florida is flush with money, it's tough to see a program that provides affordable health insurance to low-income children go begging for resources. But that's what's happening with KidCare and it makes no sense." "KidCare Program Deserves More Support".
MDs Running Amuck In Tally
Two weeks ago, the Florida Legislature approved what business lobbyists once dubbed the "Holy Grail" of attempts to make Florida's courts go easier on businesses."Efforts to limit lawsuits advance".
But the push to make it harder to file and win lawsuits hasn't ended with the elimination of joint and several liability, which will help shield corporations from being hit with large judgments. A host of other measures designed to restrict how lawsuits work and to limit jury awards are marching through the Legislature.
The two most hotly debated bills revolve around the long-running effort by doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers to limit medical-malpractice lawsuits
The Florida Medical Association's top priority is a bill (HB 1561) that would require out-of-state doctors to obtain expert-witness licenses before they can testify in a medical-malpractice trial. The proposal also would give the Florida Board of Medicine, a 15-member panel appointed by the governor, the authority to punish doctors who give "misleading" testimony.
Dem Fundraising Mess (Continued)
After the Miami Herald broke the story yesterday, in "Democrats violated caps on donations", the story is making it 'round the rest of the state, primarily via this AP piece: "Democratic groups may have violated cap on donations".
- "After Easter, session's pace turns frenetic". "It's time to get down to business".
- "Final three weeks of session will be busiest for legislators".
- "Public Schools".
- "Higher Education".
- "Taxation and Budgeting".
- "Hurricane / Insurance".
- "Lawsuit Caps".
- "Crime and Punishment/Public Safety".
House District 38
District 38, the race to replace term-limited Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, also looks to be tight."Heating up".
Democrat Bob Sindler raised almost $42,000 over the past three months. He has now raised $65,000 altogether for his bid to reclaim the House seat he held until 1998. ...
But Republican Bryan Nelson, an Apopka insurance agent whom GOP leaders have been helping raise money, collected another $14,000. His haul included checks from Tallahassee power brokers such as the Southern Strategy Group lobbying firm and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Nelson has now pulled in more than $75,000 overall.
9th Congressional District
"In the 9th Congressional District, fundraising is still lopsided in favor of state Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who is running for his father's seat, but Democratic opponent Phyllis Busansky almost matched Bilirakis' total for the first quarter of 2006." "Bilirakis Keeps Cash Lead …".