Gov. Jeb Bush went into his last regular session as governor with a wide-ranging political agenda, insisting this was "not a year for legacy.""Lawmakers look beyond Bush era as session ends".
He was right.
The state's only two-term Republican governor -- one of the most popular politicians in recent Florida history -- was handed the biggest defeats of his eight years in office by a Republican-led Legislature already looking beyond the Bush era.
Two of the governor's "legacy" initiatives -- taxpayer-paid vouchers for children in failing public schools and a constitutional amendment that would ease class-size restrictions approved by voters four years ago -- suffered humiliating defeats.
"Gov. Jeb Bush sustained some of the most stinging defeats of his political career last week from a rock-solid Republican legislature that still considers the governor a virtual rock star. But the setbacks faced by Florida's Republican idol signify more than just a political loss for Bush; they signal a transition to a new landscape for the Republican party: the era without Jeb." "Defeats signal twilight of Jeb Bush era".
"After roaring into his governorship with $1 billion in tax cuts and a radically ambitious education plan that included the nation's first statewide voucher program, Bush left his final session more like a lamb, unable to get more than a fraction of the record $1.5 billion in new tax cuts he'd wanted or to save that signature voucher plan." "Bush's legislative agenda finishes second". See also "Session previews post-Jeb Florida".
But Jebbie and his sycophants are spinning wildly: "Bush claims victories in legislative session". See also "Gov. Bush gets a lot in last session despite high-profile losses" ("a number of high priorities he was able to get through: The elimination of a tax on stock and bond holdings; a middle and high school education package; $200 million to attract companies to Florida; the end of a practice that forces businesses to pay others’ liability in some lawsuits; the $310 million Babcock Ranch purchase and more.")
"Financial, political pressures stymie real insurance solution". See also "For cheaper insurance, first make it more expensive".
"Critics and legislators, however, say the case raises the appearance of favoritism and disregard for Florida's competitive-bidding process." "FDLE worker's ties raise concerns".
Troxler argues that some of the biggest news is what didn't happen in the session: "Key lime pie aside, sometimes the big news is what didn't happen".
Overviews of the session: See "'Great Session' Leaves Dregs", "Session Serves Up Tax Treats, Key Lime Pie, Motto", "Legislature steers cash to [Broward] county", "Central Florida fared well during legislative session", "Broward projects in state budget", Palm Beach "County's satisfied with share of state cash", "Palm Beach County nets $226 million", "Lawmakers Pruitt, Negron help push Treasure Coast projects forward" and "Lawmakers herald increase in education spending".
A review of what happened by subject matter:
- "Crime and Punishment/Public Safety".
- "Higher education".
- "Other issues".
Women Lead State Parties
"For the first time in state history, women lead both of the state's major political parties." "Face off: The women behind Florida politics".
"Gov. Bush and other Republicans think House Speaker Allan Bense should challenge U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in the GOP primary. Bense is considering the idea." "Bense suggested as Harris challenger".
"The Florida Legislature has once again denied a request to pay a financial claim for Minouche Noel, the 17-year-old Broward County girl who is paralyzed due to doctors' errors." "Legislature still won't pay claim for medical care". See also "Paralyzed teen's claims bill ran into stone wall in Senate".
"As midnight loomed, lawmakers' speeches grew giddier and less comprehensible as staff watched on closed-circuit television from their offices, many rolling their eyes. Bense, R-Panama City, said he was unaware that the white cups cluttering the chamber contained alcohol, but conceded that the carousing is a tradition. 'I didn't see it,' said Bense, who lingered outside Clyde's after his party. 'I was in my office. I can't control what members do, and I'm focused on session. And I don't think, if it happened, it's the first time it happened.'" "Boozy celebrations mark session's wrap-up".
"An open-records advocate laments a "tsunami" of exemptions enacted this year." "Lawmakers draw veil over more records".
"Fat Cats Prevail"
"[A] promised next step toward limiting campaign contributions from those same lobbyists stumbled in the Legislature. A grand scheme to virtually eliminate super-sized contributions of tens of thousands of dollars to state lawmakers crashed this week, leaving behind a limited tweak that satisfied few lawmakers." "Push to limit contributions abandoned until next year".
More bluntly, "Fat cats prevail":
They just couldn't do it. The Republican leaders of the Florida House just could not bring themselves to slow the flow of special interest money into slush funds controlled by dozens of legislators. By failing to embrace Senate President Tom Lee's reform effort, they demonstrated they are more beholden to the influence peddlers who pay for their travel and fancy meals than to the Floridians they allegedly represent.. In a nutshell, "Republicans in the state House embarrass themselves by failing to limit contributions to politicians' slush funds to $500."
"The Coalition of Immokalee Workers' one-story office on Main Street is easy to miss, but its dusty mural-covered walls belie a media savvy and organizing muscle rarely seen these days in small-town America." "Workers' coalition takes fight to fast-food giants".
The Tampa Trib's William March reviews. some of the weeks political developments.
"Bad clock management, bad luck and clever opponents helped doom the latest plan in the Legislature to help build a $430 million Marlins baseball park with tax subsidies." "Marlins bill ran out of time". See also "Clock runs out on the Marlins' stadium money".
"South Floridians are very familiar with what can happen when a levee crumbles in the face of a major storm like Hurricane Katrina. If the lake's dike is as susceptible to breaching under a similar onslaught as New Orleans' levees were, we are all in trouble." "Ensure integrity of Okeechobee's dike".
"Cuba wants to drill for oil off its "north slope," which presents potential problems for South Florida's environment. Rather than election-year bombast, however, this mushrooming dispute requires diplomacy." "Cuba mulls offshore oil drilling".
For budding GOoPer candidates, Scott Maxwell
has done you the favor of compiling a few key positions that Jeb Bush and other leading Tallahassee Republicans seem to be using this year with great regularity. Feel free to adopt them as your own."Handy GOP positions -- exemptions included".
As a Florida Republican, you believe big government should keep its hands off local government -- unless local government is doing something you don't like. See for example: Efforts to control school-start dates, local school boards' budget process and to prohibit roadside-beautification efforts near billboards.
You believe that government should be run by the people -- unless the people are doing something you don't like. See for example: Efforts to overturn voter amendments on class size, high-speed rail and term limits. (Note: You may have to be flexible on efforts to thwart the voters' will if you happen to be up for re-election.)
You believe it is imperative to follow the guidelines of our Founding Fathers (quote them often, mind you) in keeping branches of government separate -- unless one of the other branches is doing something you don't like. See for example: school vouchers. Courts rule them unconstitutional. You decide the courts don't know what they're doing.
That's all you have to do: Follow these three easy steps -- except, of course, when there's something about them you don't like.
With The Knuckledragger Out Of Office ...
Florida can move ahead on stem cell research. "Make stem-cell push in '07" ("A majority of state senators support embryonic stem-cell research. Gov. Bush does not.").
"Congressional candidate Nancy Detert has her once-missing campaign money back and ready to help her try to win a seat in Congress."
The Federal Election Commission notified the Venice Republican that she is allowed to re-accept the $94,000 that her campaign treasurer reportedly stole and took to South America. Nine days after he left, Detert's campaign treasurer Randy Maddox returned with $67,000. His parents gave Detert another $27,000 to make up for the amount that the 42-year-old Maddox said he lost while in Argentina."Detert gets money back".
The Amendment Thing
"After years of proposing constitutional amendments, lawmakers show restraint, adding just three proposals." "Session makes amends for past".
Lynn's GOP loyalty Tested
"By voting with Democrats and other moderate Republicans, Lynn helped block Bush-backed proposals for ballot measures to scale back the class-size amendment and protect school vouchers in the state constitution. The votes, along with an ongoing fight over Senate leadership, has created a level of disarray among Republicans unprecedented during Bush's tenure." "Session tests Sen. Lynn's GOP loyalty".
"Preserving open space, protecting environmental quality must not take back seat to traffic relief, home building and economic development if this initiative is to succeed in making Central Florida a place people will relish living in. Regional planning has achieved some success at that in other areas of the country. Portland, Ore., relied on regional regulatory power to manage growth and sustain a higher quality of community. The Salt Lake City area chose a voluntary cooperative model similar to Central Florida's and recently forged agreement for a commuter rail system to serve its region of nearly 2 million residents. In both cases, no priorities were higher than preserving open spaces and protecting the environment. It should be so here in Central Florida, with 3.5 million residents or twice that number." "Regional challenge: To stay green as we grow".