"What do you get when the state Senate is split into two factions of Republicans and a minority bloc of Democrats, with no group holding a clear majority and only three weeks left in the annual legislative session? If you're Senate President Tom Lee, you get a high-stakes game of 21, with major Republican issues such as protecting vouchers, weakening the class-size amendment and fixing the state's insurance mess hanging in the balance." "Senate rift jeopardizes session's agenda". See also "GOP's fight over Senate presidency threatens legislation".
More GOoPer Incompetence
"It's becoming a cruel annual tradition: Thousands of disabled Floridians languish on a waiting list for services they can't afford, while the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities sits on tens of millions of dollars. It's the same this year." "Wrong kind of 'savings'".
Who Is Grading The FCAT?
AP reports that "two state senators say it's the public's right to know who grades the test and what qualifications those graders have." "Lawmakers may sue over FCAT graders".
"Legislators saving biggest issues for last as session enters final weeks".
"Legislative leaders take a new approach to class size reductions: stop resisting it and start paying for it." "Class-size amendment may finally get funding".
However, as the PBP editorial board observes,
Legislators used to argue that they didn't have enough money - even as they gave tax cuts to Florida's wealthiest residents. Now, while still cutting taxes for the wealthy, they have switched to the not-enough-time excuse."Tallahassee's new excuse on class-size assignment".
If there's not enough time now to build the necessary classrooms, it's their own fault. Gov. Bush and the Legislature had enough time and money. They simply chose not to comply with the amendment. Why not? They were angry at an amendment they saw, correctly, as a rebuke for a pattern of shortchanging education. And as former Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville, told The Post, they always figured that Gov. Bush would find a way to repeal or gut the amendment. Said Sen. King, "That was a political decision that was made."
Now, the very legislators who shortchanged schools pose as saviors for the districts. "Counties all over the state are having to borrow money" to comply with amendment, Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie lamented. The districts are being forced to build "with gun to head," complained Rep. Marco Rubio, R-Miami. They are the incoming Senate president and House speaker, respectively. So the future leadership is just as dismissive of what the constitution requires.
I Am Shocked
"Study backs environmentalists' suspicions that chemicals from sewer pipes and coastal runoff may be harming coral reefs." "Evidence surfaces linking decline of coral reefs to sewer pipes, runoff".
"A bill advancing rapidly through the Legislature is the top priority for the Florida League of Cities, which argues that municipalities need more self-governing power in the areas of land use, land development and annexation." The SPT's editorial board argues that "this is a bad bill that could shred safeguards against parochial decisionmaking." "Cities' power grab".
"Car-rental tax would tap tourists to pay for mass transit in Florida". This is one tax the wingnuts really hate. See also "Legislation" ("Some people just can't keep their noses out of other people's business. And there's no bigger nose among the nosy than that of Grover Norquist").
Byrd Might Have Had A Point ...
with that "sheep" comment, but he probably should not have been the one saying it:
Here in the capital, memories are still fresh of the reign of House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, whose effrontery could be breathtaking even in an environment of very secure egos."Beyond Byrd".
He called his own colleagues "sheep," for example, suggesting House members couldn't think for themselves. That went over well.
Is the Governor's Race Over?
Steve Bousquet writes:
Republicans face the worst political climate they've seen in years. The powerhouse Bush machine is sidelined or divided in Florida, and it's entirely unclear whether either of Jeb Bush's would-be successors, Attorney General Charlie Crist or Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, can rev up the conservative Republican base. Despite that, the Democrats determined to take back the governor's mansion are sucking wind financially compared with Crist, who has raised $8.8-million, and Gallagher, who has raised $6.6-million.Here's the real kick in the head:
[A]n awful lot of veteran Democratic donors quietly describe the gubernatorial contest as a foregone conclusion: Gov. Charlie Crist. Many of them are not so horrified by that prospect.More:
Such longtime Democratic money-machine trial lawyers as Gary Pajcic of Jacksonville, John Morgan of Orlando, Fred Levin of Pensacola of Steve Yerrid of Tampa are helping raise money for Crist (and in some cases Democrat Rod Smith, too).
"There's a gut feeling a lot of people have that this is just a Republican state," lamented Screven Watson, a longtime Democratic strategist advising Rod Smith. "I don't agree with that, but a lot of your business community believes that." Watson said he expects that view will change as the gubernatorial choices come into focus."Where's all the money?" See also "Is the Governor's Race A Foregone Conclusion?"
"Be fair about special-risk retirement".
"Hands off the constitution"
"The observation that 'Nobody's life, liberty, or property is safe while the Legislature is in session' may sound like an exaggeration. But if you define liberty as the ability of voters to have a direct voice in governing themselves, the statement has never been more fitting. Lawmakers are currently proposing three constitutional amendments that would take power away from the people by creating insurmountable hurdles to Florida's ballot initiative process. These measures would make it virtually impossible for citizens to have a direct impact on statewide policy." "State to the people: Hands off the constitution".
"Despite last week's filing of another slender financial report by the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, Chairman Wahid Mahmood says the money will start flowing soon. During the first three months of 2006, the party took in a scant $7,941, with more than two-thirds coming from Mahmood himself. The party raised $106,736 in 2005 — but less than $20,000 after July 1." "County Dems bring in less than $8,000 in first quarter".
"Bush had hoped to make it more difficult to remove a feeding tube from patients who have a terminal condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. He threw in the towel this week after failing to find any member of the Florida Legislature to sponsor his proposal. ... the message finally sank into a governor whose determination had long since become stubbornness. " " The governor relents -- finally!".
"Some insurers want Florida to repeal no-fault. Doing so, however, would push many more cases into crowded courts and drive up the costs of litigation. While drivers might save some money from not having to buy personal injury protection, known as PIP, other costs might rise - such as those for bodily injury and uninsured motorists. Innocent victims with no health insurance might be stuck with bills they can't pay. Also, according to testimony before the Legislature, the rate of uninsured drivers has decreased from 31 percent in 1992 to about 6 percent." "Keep no-fault insurance".
Save Our Homes
"Some folks have noticed that families living in identical houses in Florida pay wildly different tax bills. Some of the families with the low tax bill have noticed that they can't take it with them. Yes, and as Annie sang, the sun will come up tomorrow. The oddities of Florida's property tax are intentional. It is supposed to tax new buyers more than old settlers for comparable houses. It is supposed to keep people living where they are. It was redesigned that way when voters approved Save Our Homes in 1992." "Save Our Homes unfair? Dig deeper".
"Long frustrated over the image of being too soft on national defense, Democrats are trying to fight back by giving better training to candidates for Congress, including those running for seats that represent Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties." "Session teaches Dems about defense issues".