"A legislator investigating the processing of state employee personnel data in India said Thursday bogus charges are popping up on phone bills of some state workers. 'It seems like what's happening is, a lot of state employees are now getting Internet bills on their phone bills that they never ordered,' said Sen. Walter 'Skip' Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale. He said the charge 'is about $29 a month from a company that no one knows what it is.'" "New allegations rise in Convergys probe".
said Thursday that he is still lobbying senators who opposed his bid to put his school voucher plan before voters, but he denied using strong-arm tactics."Governor denies strong-arming on vouchers". See also "Bush denies voucher pressure" and "Bush says he'll keep fighting for failed voucher amendment".
Sen. Mandy Dawson, D-Fort Lauderdale, accused Bush allies of threatening to kill her budget priorities or bills unless she reversed her vote Monday against the governor's ballot proposal. ...
With the Legislature scheduled to end its two-month session today, it's uncertain whether Bush will push lawmakers for another vote.
In any event, "Florida Senate leaders acknowledged Thursday they don't have the votes to revive a constitutional amendment to expand the governor's prized school voucher program, but at the same time lawmakers quietly rescued 733 students in a voucher program that was struck down by the state's high court." "Vouchers saved, but Bush won't get amendment".
It Had to Happen ...
sooner or later: "State checking eBay land deals".
Big Smith Endorsement
"Broward teachers' union supports Smith in governor's race".
"In a vote about as surprising as summer's arrival in Florida, Broward Republican activists on Thursday overwhelmingly endorsed Charlie Crist for governor -- again -- over rival Tom Gallagher." "Broward GOP's endorsement decision leaves some activitst fuming".
"A Final Rebuke"
"Six Republicans joined all 14 Democrats in the Senate last week to block the latest effort to undermine the class-size mandate. Politically, their vote was a final rebuke for outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush, who has fought the amendment since the day it was proposed. But the bipartisan vote may also speak to a larger political reality." "Voters' voice on class sizes heard".
Will Bense Jump?
"Pressure is growing on state House Speaker Allan Bense to challenge fellow Republican Katherine Harris in the U.S. Senate race. But defeating her won't be easy, and he will need fundraising commitments." "Senate savior?"
"Stormy Times: Ronda’s Interview Ignites Controversy".
"The STAR performance pay plan leaves plenty of room for improvement." "A start on teacher raises".
They Call This "Reform"?
The campaign finance reform legislation ain't all it was chocked up to be:
Many news stories have used words such as "sweeping" to describe the campaign finance reform legislation backed by Senate President Tom Lee, and editorials have urged House leaders to help the bill become law."Campaign Finance Plan Said To Lack Scope".
But a Tribune analysis shows that the reform would have a serious effect on only about 5 percent of current soft money groups in the state, leaving vast loopholes in other places.
Of the 816 soft money committees listed with the Division of Elections, 41 are controlled by legislators - the focus of Lee's bill.
"That's certainly not comprehensive," said University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato. "So in other words, [Lee] has achieved John McCain status" in Florida. "Any time he makes a move [on campaign finance], he gets the benefit of the doubt, and much of the coverage is puffery … lazy journalism."
The Senate passed the Brandon Republican's legislation by a 40-0 vote last week, but House members have been balking, asking for the already limited bill to be scaled back. The bill may come up for a final vote today.
On a related note, "Amendment could doom ethics bill" ("If approved, the amendment would remove what backers see as a blatant conflict of interest in the way federal health-care dollars are distributed. If there's a fight, the amendment could doom Lee's top priority and provide fuel to critics who say Lee, R-Brandon, is losing control of his chamber.")
"Stiff rate increases"
"The compromise property-insurance deal brokered by the governor's office offers Floridians stiff rate increases paired with a property-tax rebate and the promise of relief from future bailouts of Citizens Property Insurance." "Insurance bill could bring steep increases". See also "A third of state property insurance market at risk", "Insurers struggle as storms approach", "Insurance problems receive top billing as legislative session winds down", "Citizens' reform likely to be painful", "Rebates Favored Over Bailout", "Complicated plan could lead to extended session", "Senate takes up 'tough medicine' for insurance woes" and "Rebates Favored Over Bailout".
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Lawmakers Find Way To Achieve Property Insurance Reform".
"Jeb!" Congratulates Himself
Klein - Shaw
"With President Bush coming to South Florida next week to campaign for U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, Democratic challenger Ron Klein is taking to the airwaves with a radio ad criticizing Bush, Shaw and the Republican Congress. Klein's 30-second spot, which debuts today, is the first purchase of radio or TV time by either candidate in a campaign that is expected to be among the costliest and most competitive in the nation." "Klein aims radio spot at Shaw, Bush".
"Davis vows education improvement".
"Term limits issue becomes a hot potato".
"The Florida Senate, by a 28-10 vote, approved and sent to the governor Thursday a bill that would exempt an Orlando religious theme park from property taxes." "Holy Land exemption is in Bush's hands now". See also "Holy Land park might avoid tax bill".
"State Rep. Ralph Arza said he was sorry if he offended anyone but that he didn't mean to say anything 'racially insensitive' about Dade schools Superintendent Rudy Crew. Crew said the statement fell short."
The public mea culpa stopped short of expressly addressing whether he repeatedly used the ''N'' word and a Spanish epithet comparing schools chief Rudy Crew to excrement, which four sources reported to Crew and, later, to The Miami Herald. Arza previously denied using racial epithets, but acknowledged he has a foul mouth on occasion."N-word apology fails to end feud".
"Child-care advocates worried about shortfalls in budget".
"Even in normal times, Rush Limbaugh makes little sense during his radio gasfest. But this week, he tried to fool his audience into thinking that he wasn't arrested."
So the man who in 1995 maintained that the way to treat drug users was to "send them up the river" gets the chance to benefit from a public program he never would have supported for others. Mr. Limbaugh's attorney once defended his client's comments about the case by noting that hypocrisy is not a crime. Good thing for Mr. Limbaugh, who had been a serial offender long before the issue became his own alleged criminal conduct. Anyone stopping at the Limbaugh Truth Shop for the facts about his case would see this sign: Gone Fishin'."A mad Rush to denial".
Nelson Plots Drilling Strategy
"Despite threats from him and another senator, Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday that he expects Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to be confirmed as secretary of the Interior." "In offshore drilling fight, Nelson shifts his strategy".
"The Florida Legislature on Thursday passed a resolution that would allow an additional $25,000 homestead property tax exemption for people 65 and older. The proposal will go on the ballot this fall as an amendment to the Florida Constitution, with voters having the final say." "Seniors Could Pay Lower Taxes If Voters Approve Amendment".
"Florida lawmakers enacted several sweeping education bills on Thursday, including one that tells school districts when they can start school each year." "Bush's prized project passes". See also "Parents, industry drive push for later start dates", "Legislature passes majors for high school, A-Plus-Plus", "Sweeping education changes OK'd", "Yes-Yes Votes Given To 'A-Plus-Plus' Plan", "Legislature passes majors for high school, A-Plus-Plus" and "School year to get later start".
- The House and Senate will be debating the budget today - "Today at the Capitol". See also "Today is the scheduled final day of the 60-day session of the Legislature".
- "Senators bicker as the clock ticks; major issues unresolved".
- "Bills sent to the governor Thursday".
- "Legislature 2006: Developments from day 59, May 4". See also "Thursday's Capitol Roundup" and "Legislative news briefs".
- "Senate backs off on citizen initiatives, sticks with pig repeal". See also "Initiatives withdrawn" and "Amendment will stick to grammar and pigs".
- Budget - "Education is winner as session nears end".
- "Inmates' DNA deadline may be dropped". See also "DNA justice".
- "Tuition deal for undocumented immigrants' kids hits impasse".
- "Push to test student athletes for anabolic steroid use killed".
- "Legislators approve education, housing bills".
- "Legal loophole in DUI cases could be tossed".
- "Lawmakers Approve Taser Use Limits".
- "'Humongous' housing bill heads to governor".
- "Bill limits eminent domain". See also "Legislators OK bill limiting power of governments to seize property" and "Proposal restricts property seizure".
- "Foe's maneuver may sink Marlins' funds". See also "Lawmakers tack proposal onto spring training bill".
- "Public records exemptions pass". See also "Vote gives gun rights advocates a victory".
- "Court interpreter bill awaits governor's signature".
- "K-8 virtual schools' expansion headed for governor's signature".
- "Panhandle developers now play by entire state's rules".
- "Insurance overhaul snags legislative wind-down". See also "Senate debates costly reforms".
- "Lawmakers tack proposal onto spring training bill".
- "Senate re-enacts 'Earnhardt law'".
"But members of the House and Senate this session have been far apart on how best to promote competition in the cable television industry. And with just a day left in the regular session, it appears unlikely that a bill will emerge this year." "Cable choices".
"he Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Gov. Jeb Bush -- not voters -- should pick Seminole County's next circuit judge." "Court backs Bush on judicial appointment".