"The Florida Legislature has promised to be in special session beginning Jan. 16. This week, lawmakers hold committee meetings in Tallahassee. These key events occurred Monday or are coming up:" special-session call, insurance ("the House draft bill is expected by Thursday"), and property taxes ("House and Senate leaders announced a series of town-hall meetings to discuss proposals to address property-tax issues, including doubling the homestead exemption and making Save Our Homes protections portable to newly purchased homes"). "2007 Legislature roundup".
- "Rate rollbacks, rebates and an expanded role for the state insurer of last resort lead a list of recommendations unveiled Monday as lawmakers return this week to begin addressing property insurance issues." "Senate unveils property insurance plan". More: "Customers of the state's largest insurer, Citizens Property, would be spared a recent proposed 55 percent increase and see their rates frozen for a year under a massive bill proposed Monday by a state legislative committee." "Senate proposal would give Citizens customers relief". See also "Senate proposes Citizens rate freeze". See also "Senate: State insurer should rescind rates".
- "Insurance plan seeks rate cuts, takes flak" "Insurance plan seeks rate cuts, takes flak". Indeed, the "Insurance bill proposed by Republican legislators falls short of campaign promises".
- The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "The odds never supported an easy fix, or a marginal piece of legislation. The state Senate has offered a comprehensive bill. If nothing else, it's a start." "Insurance".
- Meanwhile, big talk from Charlie: "Crist pledged anew Monday to bring significant insurance rate relief to Florida policyholders during next week's special session, saying, 'Big insurance has a new day coming, and it starts the 16th.'" "Crist stands by promise for relief from insurance rates". See also "Insurance companies making extraordinary profits, says Gov. Crist".
- "A consumer group blasted property insurers Monday for 'systematically overcharging' their customers to rake in billions in profits." "Insurers accused of gouging". See also "Consumers see their insurance rates, risks rising" ("insurers post record profits as companies hike rates and shift more risk to customers, a consumer group says.")
- Oh No ... More "Town Hall Meetings": "State lawmakers plan a series of town hall meetings across Florida to gather feedback from citizens on skyrocketing property taxes that have forced some business owners to flee the state and kept potential homebuyers from qualifying for mortgages." "Lawmakers propose meetings on property taxes". See also "Property Tax Road Show".
Apparently the absence of a paper trail does not "cast a cloud" over the legitimacy of elections: "The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider whether Florida's touch-screen voting machines need to have a paper trail in case of a recount. The court Monday declined to hear U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's appeal of a lower court ruling that the state's touch-screen voting machines don't need to leave a paper ballot trail."
"Supreme Court will not hear Wexler's paper ballot trail lawsuit".
A Little Help?
"Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has $1.3 million left over from campaign fundraising. Some Democrats who might have benefited are not happy about it." "Sen. Nelson's surplus funds rile Democrats". Here's the question: "Could Nelson have helped Davis?"
"The Hill (http://www.thehill.com), a newspaper on Capitol Hill, is printing a rumor that Harris is headed for a conservative talk radio show gig." "Harris in line for radio show?".
What's Next, Fireside Chats?
"Crist kicks off a series of informal meetings he calls 'Tallahassee Tuesdays' by inviting a group of local high school students to the Governor’s Mansion." "Crist to meet with area high schoolers".
"Democrats recaptured a big part of the Hispanic vote in this year's elections, support that Latino activists caution won't necessarily be there in the next contest. ... Mehlman worked hard to reach out to Hispanic and black voters during his tenure as party chairman. His successor, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, was born in Cuba and is expected to continue the effort." "Democrats Recapture Part of Hispanic Vote".
Charlie's buddy, The Donald, is going to let folks in on his financial success. But Daniel Ruth points out that "Trump the Younger's strategy for wealth creation had a lot to do with simply being born, just as the elder Trump's first steps to affluence were greatly enhanced by having a Daddy Warbucks on his birth certificate."
It is ironic, though, that those people who will flock to the Tampa Convention Center to hear young Master Trump's message on how to be born well will have to pass by the stalled Trump Tower project on Ashley Drive, which looks more like an archaeological ruin than a real estate development."Shhhh! It's A Secret! Don't Tell Anyone". On a related note, to wit: his $25 million lawsuit against the town of Palm Beach, see "Trump unfurls his ego".
The proposed 52-story effort has been stalled for more than two years because of financing setbacks as well as the discovery of soil instability beneath the building site along the Hillsborough River.
Or put another way, if you really want to know about the secrets of wealth, here's a revelation for you.
Ready? Buy low. Sell high.
Will Butterworth Step Up?
"Legislators representing mental-hospital employees bluntly told high-level state executives Monday that being beaten up by a criminally insane ''patient'' is just like getting assaulted by a violent 'inmate' of a Florida prison. The only differences are the pension paid to the victim and the rights of the attacker, said state Reps. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee."
Deputy Secretary Don Winstead said DCF is preparing its budget and that new Secretary Bob Butterworth is concerned about staffing levels and security. Coley said she has a bill to extend special-risk pensions to hospital workers and Richardson urged DCF to support it."Legislators go to bat for mental-hospital workers".
"Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, again gave Florida a 'yellow' grade, meaning 'needs improvement,' in its fourth annual report." "Group criticizes Florida on its traffic safety record".
Diaz de la Portilla Pays
"State Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla has agreed to end his bitter fight over campaign finance violations by paying nearly $9,000 in fines."
The Miami Republican has been largely victorious during his lengthy fight, getting acquitted on criminal charges stemming from a 1999 special election and having an appeals court dismiss a record $311,000 in fines sought by the Florida Elections Commission."Senator to pay $9,000 to end legal fight".
But Diaz de la Portilla decided this week to pay a $8,750 fine imposed on him by the commission for the 17 election law violations that were not dismissed by the appeals court.
"Researchers said stem cells can be taken from amniotic fluid with no harm to mother or fetus." "Stem-cell research takes promising turn".
The neverending story: "Crist wants government to stop using jargon, acronyms and confusing language." "Crist wants government to speak in plain language". See also "Crist moves forward on 'plain language' plan".
Out In The Fields ...
"For too long, many Florida farmers have reaped huge profits by shortchanging their field hands. Besides paying low wages, many farmers cut corners by forcing their workers to find affordable housing on their own, charging too much for substandard company-owned buildings or relying on the largesse of government and charitable organizations." "Migrants need homes".
Don't Make A Fuss
Tampa Trib doesn't like pickets: "Those seeking to help homeless people by building tent cities and staging in-your-face protests at St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker's church aren't winning supporters; they're alienating them." "Picketing St. Pete Mayor's Church Does Little To Help Homeless".
Florida's "Dismal Tobacco Grade
"On behalf of the American Lung Association of Florida, it is my unfortunate duty to relay Florida's dismal grades received in the State of Tobacco Control report. For the third consecutive year, Florida received an "F" in cigarette tax, an "F" in tobacco prevention and control spending, a "D" in youth access and one bright spot, a "B" in smoke-free air." "Tobacco policy just so much stale air".
"Whatever efforts Florida makes to store and clean water before it gets to the Everglades, all the money, reservoirs and filter marshes will be useless if Lake Okeechobee isn't cleaned up." "Include governor's office in Lake O cleanup plan".
Charlie's Best Qualities ...
"One of Charlie Crist's best qualities is the honest way he acknowledges when he doesn't know something or doesn't have all the answers." "Openness Gains Goodwill".
The Gay Thing
"Foley is gay. When was it 'relevant'?".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Many state legislators like to sponsor bills on subjects they understand. In his case, Gary Siplin should have resisted the urge." "Siplin: A serial offender".
"The Florida Department of Children & Families no longer relies on snail mail to alert jails to pick up inmates from one of three state mental hospitals." "E-Mail May Ease Jailed Mentally Ill Backlog".
"State Sen. Ronda Storms of Brandon clearly didn't get the dusty old memo about how first-term legislators are expected to be seen and not heard. At her first committee meeting Monday, the Republican from Hillsborough paid close attention, asked tough questions and had bureaucrats squirming." "A fresh voice in the Senate".
Our "Champion of Consumer-friendly Causes"
That's our Charlie, "a champion of consumer-friendly causes":
Today should be a proud day for Ken Littlefield as the veteran state legislator assumes a coveted spot on the Public Service Commission, the board that regulates utilities in Florida."Littlefield's PSC appointment may be short".
But even as he takes the oath as a commissioner, Littlefield has to worry about job security.
Gov. Charlie Crist, a champion of consumer-friendly causes, is re-examining some late appointments made by his predecessor to state boards. He told the Florida Times-Union this weekend that those appointments include Isilio Arriaga and Littlefield.
"Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller today urged his fellow Senate Democrats to withhold their support from any prospective 2008 nominees for President until they pledged to support the creation of a nationwide catastrophe fund." "Geller: Make presidential candidates promise to help Florida".
"Organizers fell short of obtaining the needed more than 600,000 signatures to get a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages on the ballot for 2006. But Florida4Marriage.org is working to quickly get another 28,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in 2008." "Marriage amendment push continues".