"With some of the biggest players in Republican politics pushing Florida House Speaker Allan Bense to run for the U.S. Senate, the Panama City Republican headed home on Sunday to catch his breath and weigh his options." "Bense weighs pros and cons of Senate race" ("The deadline is Friday to decide if he'll challenge Harris for the GOP nomination.")
"In its 60-day session that ended after midnight Friday, the Florida Legislature tackled some of the state's most complicated issues, like insurance reform, which is among major legislation headed for the governor's desk. Lawmakers also handled some simpler tasks like designating a state pie, and left many bills to die, at least until next time." "Measures going and not going to the governor". See also "Bill To Limit Trees In Front Of Billboards" and "Lawmakers fail to pass anti-bullying bill".
"For 35 years, lobbyist Arthur I. "Buddy" Jacobs has worked to score bigger budgets and more power for Florida's prosecuting attorneys. Now the most visible ally of the 20 state attorneys has been accused by federal prosecutors of living lavishly while failing to pay his federal income taxes for seven years." "Lobbyist accused of federal tax fraud".
"Bush, the first Republican governor in Florida to win re-election, had a longer honeymoon than most governors, as GOP legislative leaders looked to help him out. But as his eight years in office progressed, Bush found some of his proposals faltering in the Legislature, especially in the Senate." "Bush hasn't won all battles".
Voucher Madness - Class Size "Begging"?
"As Gov. Jeb Bush failed to pass two of his key education goals during his last legislative session, other Republican leaders were already considering the future of school vouchers and how to reduce the financial impact of the class-size amendment on the state budget." And here's a less than impressive insights from incoming Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami; he
predicted that not only will voucher protection plans resurface, but also that Floridians will be "begging" lawmakers to weaken the class-size standards approved by voters in 2002."Lawmakers predict more voucher suits".
"There will come a time when class size is not implementable," Rubio said Friday, the last day of the 2006 legislative session. "It will lead to chaos and then they'll be begging us to change it."
Rubio and Webster agreed, however, in predicting that there will be more legal challenges to Florida's voucher programs and to the state's new free pre-kindergarten program, which uses tax dollars to send 4-year-olds to private schools, including religious ones, as well as public pre-K classes.
"A 'Major' Mistake"
The Harvard Crimson Weighs In: "If you think the end of freshman year seems too early to pick a major, how does ninth grade sound? Fourteen-year-old Floridians will have to make that decision if Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida House get their way. But like a rosy pharmaceutical commercial in which the narrator speaks a bit too fast, the prescription of high school majors—in Florida or anywhere else—relies on a dangerous misdiagnosis and comes with several unnoticed side effects." "A 'Major' Mistake".
"[T]hey had all signed a little form pledging loyalty and acknowledging their duty to be the good guys. They just didn't remember it - which may be one reason the Department of Corrections has been rocked by so many scandals recently." "DOC will have oath and code".
"Boot camp death has unexpected effect on legislative agenda".
Big Of 'Em
"Florida lawmakers have taken a much-needed step in addressing the horrific crime of human trafficking that for many years has received little attention. The measure now on its way to Gov. Jeb Bush's desk will make it so those who would hold others in modern-day slavery will not find it so easy to escape prosecution and severe penalties." "A Tough Stand On Human Trafficking".
The minimum wage didn't hurt job growth:
Campaigning against a higher minimum wage for Florida in 2004, business interests led by the state's chambers of commerce and its tourism industry predicted that bumping the wage to $6.15 an hour, from the federal standard of $5.15, would lead to job losses and hurt the state's economy. The Florida Retail Federation's Rick McAllister predicted the wage "could have a billion-dollar inflationary effect on the state." The Orlando Chamber of Commerce dangled the threat of outsourcing and lawsuits as a result.However,
There was, in fact, an inflationary effect -- on voodoo economics, as there always is when two or more business interests swarm in defense of poverty wages.
Florida voters didn't fall for it as 72 percent approved a constitutional amendment requiring the higher wage -- and annual adjustments in line with inflation. On Jan. 1, the wage rose to $6.40 an hour. It's still well below the federal wage's peak, in 1968, of $9.12 (in 2005 dollars), or the minimum wages of Washington and Oregon, which are at or above $7.50 an hour. But it's better than the current federal minimum, which has been steadily losing worth since it was last raised in 1996.
And those voodoo predictions? The numbers are in. The voters were right. The nay-sayers were wrong. A Florida International University and University of Chicago study released this month concludes that despite the higher minimum wage, Florida continues to lead the nation in job growth after a year of higher minimum wage, while the state's unemployment rate fell almost a full point during the period, or by 200,000 jobs. The number of private businesses also increased, countering claims that businesses would rather flee the state than pay the higher minimum wage.
Solid job creation is not in and of itself proof of economic health if the jobs are at the lower end of the scale -- as many of Florida's new jobs are: The retail sector's average weekly wage is a paltry $504, and the leisure and hospitality sector (all those tourism-related jobs the state's economy depends on) offers an average wage of $372, which grew only $3 for most of 2005. With inflation, workers in that sector saw their wages fall."Minimum wage works".
"State finally providing money for classroom construction".
"Lawmakers and lobbyists who focus on environmental issues often disagree, but they concur on one point: while this year's legislative session is over, the real work begins now." "Green projects get $330 million in legislative session".
From The "Values" Crowd
"While lawmakers debated whether to spend hundreds of millions for cutting edge research, they quibbled over spending $15 million to allow the children of legal immigrants and state workers to be covered by the state's KidCare program, which provides low-cost health insurance for families who can't otherwise get it. 'Unexplainable, indefensible,' said Karen Woodall, an advocate for children and poor people at the capitol. 'The money's there.' They also rejected an effort to force big employers to provide more health coverage." "Capitol health debate came to spending millions for research vs. money for poor".
Looking For Work
"A federal judge in California ruled last week that day laborers have the right to look for jobs on public sidewalks - a decision with significant implications for cities throughout South Florida. ... The message that all South Florida cities should take from Judge Marshall's ruling is this: Don't even think about pulling people off the sidewalks, unless you have provided them an alternative gathering place. Even then, you must mind their constitutional rights. Urinating or littering may be reason enough to arrest someone, but just being a worker looking for work is not." "Looking for work is not a crime".
"Michael Peltier: There's no need for Jeb to discuss his legacy" ("The fate of some of the governor's initiatives won't be realized until after he's gone.")
The Shaw folks are getting desperate: "Commentary: Klein draws flak from GOP over lobbyist's dated address".
Richard J. Jackson, a Manatee County Democrat, has filed paperwork to run for the state Legislature against his insurance agent, state Rep. Ron Reagan. ..."Manatee Democrat eyes run for District 67 seat".
Jackson, who did lobbying work for the Manatee County School District, said the one-party domination is not working and Democrats need to have a role in setting policy.
"The measure, which Gov. Jeb Bush says he will sign, allows cities and counties to use eminent domain only for clearly specified public purposes such as schools, roads and other infrastructure." "Kelo-proofed".