If state legislators don't seem busy enough these days, consider their schedule this week. Brainstorming ideas to solve the insurance crisis and reviewing the status of Medicaid reform and compliance with the class-size amendment are just the start."Legislators brace for a busy week". See also "Rebate checks among proposed legislation".
There's also the task of meeting several new state agency directors and assessing funding needs in education, transportation and health.
In all, 28 Senate committees and 42 House committees will meet between today and Friday as legislators prepare for the 2007 Legislature. Legislators will hold a special session next week, then another week of committee meetings starting Jan. 22. Three weeks in February will also be dominated by committee meetings. About 250 bills have already been filed in the Senate and almost 170 in the House.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "It was profoundly disappointing when Circuit Judge William L. Gary issued a terse ruling saying, in effect, that the business rights of a voting machine company to protect its trade secrets outrank the interests of Florida voters. It was profoundly disappointing when Circuit Judge William L. Gary issued a terse ruling saying, in effect, that the business rights of a voting machine company to protect its trade secrets outrank the interests of Florida voters."
Ms. Jennings plans to appeal, which is to her credit, since this can't be a pleasant or cheap aftermath of a long campaign. She also has a complaint filed before Congress, which is the final arbiter of who will fill the seat."Voters slapped". Jeremy Wallace on the role of the U.S. House: "Legislator nudges court on election".
The House Administration Committee is now reviewing the challenge under the Federal Contested Elections Act. Congress, of course, has authority to collect as much evidence as it sees fit to make its decision, Mr. Gary's ruling notwithstanding.
It's too bad Florida can't do its own housekeeping in this regard. Must we continue to be the one state in the nation that can't manage to pull off an election without a hitch?
Thomas Tryon "in the grand tradition of the Fourth Estate," has "a few unsolicited suggestions for the freshman congressman, none of which have been tested by focus groups or passed muster with political consultants". "Dispensing advice for Rep. Buchanan -- it's on the House".
Aronberg Stays Put
Sen. Dave Aronberg, an "increasingly influential member of the minority party, said he plans to file paper work to retain his Senate seat in 2008. Rumors had circulated for several weeks that An increasingly influential member of the minority party, said he plans to file paper work to retain his Senate seat in 2008. Rumors had circulated for several weeks that Aronberg would relinquish his post to run for Palm Beach County State Attorney in 2008. Barry Krischer is expected to retire. would relinquish his post to run for Palm Beach County State Attorney in 2008. Barry Krischer is expected to retire." "Michael Peltier: Aronberg to seek Senate seat again".
"Imagine walking out your door and coming face-to-face with a 13-foot Burmese python. It happened in a Jacksonville neighborhood. In Miami, Felix Azquz noticed a pet turkey missing from his plant nursery and found the culprit - a 10-foot African rock python too fat from its meal to escape through a fence. In Florida, large, nonnative snakes on the crawl aren't just the stuff of urban nightmares. They also threaten the balance of nature in a state increasingly under siege from imported animals and plants. Fragile ecologies, such as in the Everglades, are particularly vulnerable to the damage done by large snakes that eat native wildlife." "Coiled threat stalks Florida".
"Schools train for FCAT hurdles".
"After declaring war on government gobbledygook, Gov. Charlie Crist visits the front line today. Crist travels to the Tallahassee headquarters of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation for a 10:30 a.m. meeting with top regulators to discuss his plain language initiative." "Crist moves forward against gobbledygook". More specifically, "Within the next three months, agency heads must develop plans to avoid relying on acronyms and leaden terms, and to use short sentences and an active voice that makes it clear who is responsible for what." "Language".
"Barbara Petersen, president of Florida's First Amendment Foundation, called this year's [open-government compliance audit] results 'dismal' -- 42 percent of the 220 local agencies surveyed statewide failed to meet the standards of the law." However,
Crist's insistence on openness looks particularly good when paired with the record set by his predecessor. As St. Petersburg Times columnist Lucy Morgan points out, Jeb Bush's first open-records balk came just hours into his governorship, when he was asked to release the schedule for his first day. This schedule -- posted daily as a matter of routine by other Florida governors -- had to be practically wrestled out of Bush's grip. Crist, on the other hand, was releasing transition documents even before he took office."Crist's 1st order a promising door to sunshine".
In his first week, Crist has set a high standard for openness and accountability in state government. It's a strong, and promising, start.
"George Prescott Bush, the eldest child of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, and the nephew of President George W. Bush, will be the keynote speaker Jan. 15 for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration that kicks off Saturday." "George P. Bush to speak for MLK Day" (via Naked Politics).
Perhaps we'll learn why Jebbie's "media-certified oh-so-dreamy son George P. Bush isn't in the military". "'Bitter...Table for One': Jeb's Cloudy Futuro".
"The state's specialty-license-plate business keeps going from bad to worse. It began innocently enough 20 years ago, giving state motorists the option of paying a premium for plates that would help fund a memorial to the Challenger space shuttle." "Choose none".
Was Posey Just Fooling Around?
If you know Posey's reputation, you have to wonder whether this was really a joke or an accident, as he is now claiming:
Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, withdrew his nasty note to the Florida Supreme Court last week, lest it slip into our Constitution. His bill (SB 408) increasing the court from seven to 15 members wasn't so risky; constitutional amendments don't pass inadvertently."Sorry, Charlie: No new justices to appoint".
"Basically, a law student came up with the idea and asked me to have it drafted so he could see how it would look, but it was never supposed to be introduced," Posey said of his amendment. "It got in a stack of our stuff and got filed."
He wouldn't name the student because "I'm somewhat sympathetic to the kid. He's kind of wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to change the world." ...
Posey's defunct resolution opened with a half-dozen "Whereas" sections scolding the court for striking down ex-Gov. Jeb Bush's tuition-voucher program last year. It called the ruling "specious in posture regarding the doctrine of judicial restraint" and "the equivalent of judicial activism in policy making."
"Farm to Fuel"
"The 'Farm to Fuel' initiative pushed by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson holds exciting promise for a state with a long growing season and a growing hunger for energy. The Legislature should grant additional modest tax incentives Bronson says are needed to help get an ethanol market established. " "Bronson Right To Be Pumped About Prospects For Ethanol".
Jebbie's Legacy: The ACLU View
Howard Simon's piece on Jebbie picked up by the Miami Herald today: "Jeb Bush left many worse off".
"Palm Beach and Martin County developers, their businesses and in some cases, their wives, took a major but quiet financial interest in Martin County Commissioner Susan Valliere during her reelection campaign last year. But slow-growth activists who have been supporters of Valliere since she first won office in 2002 are accusing her of selling out to the highest bidder after learning that a political action committee created by Valliere's husband, Jim, took in thousands of dollars from these developers during her campaign." "Official swayed, activists contend".