"A bipartisan bid by Florida lawmakers to block oil and gas drilling within 125 miles of the coast around much of the United States was overwhelmingly rejected Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives. The 352-65 vote came as the House considered a bill that would lift the quarter-century federal ban on drilling in much of the Outer Continental Shelf. Instead, the House adopted a bill 232-187 that would let each state decide whether to allow drilling within 100 miles of its coast. The bill also would let states that allow offshore drilling receive a share of the leasing royalties, money that now goes entirely to the federal government." "Florida lawmakers lose bid on offshore drilling". See also "House votes for drilling near coast", "House lifts drilling ban" and "Gulf Coast residents greet drilling vote with worry and shrugs".
In the meantime, Jebbie again demonstrates his fealty to the national GOP and the oil industry (and concomitant furtherance of his national political aspirations):"Jeb!" actually "welcomed the passage Thursday of a bill by the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow oil and natural gas drilling 50 miles off Florida's shores, but he promised to ask state lawmakers to keep the rigs 100 miles away." "Gov. Bush praises offshore drilling bill".
"The poll also states that those two gubernatorial candidates are about even in a general election matchup, with Republican Crist leading slightly." "Poll: Crist, Davis holding big leads inside their parties". See also "Poll: Crist, Davis keep substantial leads" and "Ads help Crist widen lead over Gallagher".
For more detail and links to the polls see our post on this yesterday.
Pruitt Ordered to Testify
"A judge on Thursday ordered state Sen. Ken Pruitt to testify in a defamation lawsuit involving a close political adviser, but curtailed the scope of the deposition and approved the lawmaker's request that it not be videotaped."
Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, is expected to become Senate president in November. His testimony is wanted by attorneys for state Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, who sued political adviser Randy Nielsen, the Florida Home Builders Association and others over political mailings in 2004 that Kreegel says defamed him by saying he was "arrested" on a criminal mischief charge."Pruitt must testify in defamation suit".
Nielsen has said he produced the mailings based on Kreegel's being charged in a 1989 filing by a prosecutor with criminal mischief. A summons was issued but never returned.
Kreegel's suit is not only about the mailings, but the aggressive efforts of lobby groups and their political strategists to use hard-hitting attacks in the closing days of elections.
"Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort, was never supposed to become predominant in Florida's property insurance market."
From its inception three years ago, Citizens was envisioned as the insurer that Floridians sought only when they couldn't obtain coverage through private insurers. "Troubling milestone". See also "Citizens pullout would put builders at risk" and "Insurers wrote new policies as cash dried up".
But according to a published report, Citizens is primed Saturday to become No. 1 in the industry in Florida - the state's largest insurer with more than 1.2 million policyholders. That's the result of its assuming the policies of 330,000 customers of an insolvent insurer, pushing Citizens past State Farm as having the highest number of policyholders.
If that isn't clear evidence of a crisis, nothing is.
"New state laws go into effect Saturday".
Jebbie Blows It
"Jeb Bush has blown a golden opportunity to help counties improve the state's woeful transportation system. What's even worse about Mr. Bush's refusal to allow voters to raise a surcharge on rental cars for roads and mass transit, is that tourist-heavy counties like Orange remain trapped in an unfair system that undercuts the amount of transportation money they get from the state. Counties collect taxes and send them to the state, which divvies them up based on population -- without accounting for the 51 million tourists who will visit the Orlando area this year." "Now for Plan B".
"Playing politics with the Constitution is, sadly, what we've come to expect from a transparently political Mr. Frist. But before we tag him as a lone opportunist, let's remember that Mr. Hatch's amendment fell just one vote short of passing the Senate. Florida's Mel Martinez supported it, as did Bill Nelson, a Democrat facing re-election." "Don't be fooled".
"Bush made Jim McDonough's appointment as head of the prison system permanent Thursday. McDonough, formerly the governor's top drug-policy adviser, had been named interim secretary of the Department of Corrections in February. He succeeded Secretary Jim Crosby, who was ousted by Bush amid a state and federal investigation of contracting irregularities and other scandals in the prisons." "Bush appoints prisons chief".
We've Been Lucky ...
"Questionable dike around Lake Okeechobee to get $40 million for repairs".
"Levine's ability to put his past experience to advantage for his new employer may be limited for the next two years by a state ethics law that restricts state officials from leaving state service and then immediately representing another body before the state body or agency they previously worked for. The law is largely designed to restrict legislators from leaving office to lobby before the legislature. But it also applies to appointed officials." "Medicaid chief leaves post to lead provider implementing reforms".
"Former Escambia County Commissioner and state Senate President W.D. Childers' bribery conviction stands, and the appeals court that rejected his request to have it overturned won't send it to the Florida Supreme Court." "Ex-Senate president's conviction stands".
Pollution Standards "Too Weak"
"New state clean air standards for mercury and other pollutants approved Thursday for power plant emissions could be costly for consumers, utility officials said, but environmentalists contend they still are too weak." "State OKs new pollution standards for power plant emissions".
"There's at least one local government out there that won't take its cues from a misguided state decision to downgrade the beloved sea cow's imperiled status." "Palm Beach County approves a $1 million manatee protection plan".
"Smith Blasts Davis"
"U.S. Rep. Jim Davis has taken quite a bit of heat for missing votes in Washington while campaigning in Florida. But now his primary opponent in the governor's race is taking aim at him for missing a meeting in which other members of the state's congressional delegation were plotting oil-drilling strategy. Rod Smiths' campaign issued a statement this afternoon blasting Davis after it said 'sources' confirmed Davis wasn't at a late-called delegation meeting yesterday where Florida reps were strategizing on how to wring more concessions out of the oil-drilling bill, which the U.S. House could vote on today." "Smith's Camp: Davis Misses "Crucial" Meeting". See also "Dem Race For Gov Gets Oily" and "Smith Blasts Davis".
"Sean Scott, the Republican elder affairs lawyer running for House District 52, has pulled out of the crowded race because of family obligations." " One Down in HD 52".
"One day before the Martin Lee Anderson Act's tough reforms take effect, two Florida sheriffs unexpectedly announced they're closing their boot camps today, saying the Legislature set too many expensive requirements while giving them too little to pay for them." "Two boot camps close; one left".
Storms Comedy Show Begins
"Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms made it official today, resigning from her District 4 commission seat to run for Senate District 10. Storms' resignation, which is required under Florida law before she can qualify as a Senate candidate, will take effect Nov. 7, the date she would take office in the Senate if she wins that race. The outspoken Republican commissioner said she's confident she can make the leap from representing a part of Hillsborough County to serving constituents from three counties on a statewide stage. " "Storms Sets Sights On Senate Race".
UF and Michael Moore Vindicated
Missed this yesterday: "Election commission rules UF didn't break law by paying Moore to speak" ("The Federal Election Commission has dismissed allegations that the University of Florida violated campaign finance laws by paying filmmaker Michael Moore to speak on campus shortly before the 2004 presidential election.")