The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Florida is a fundraiser's paradise, but an electoral afterthought."
To change that reality and increase the state's influence in presidential elections, House Speaker Marco Rubio and others want to push up our presidential primary, perhaps as early as the last Tuesday in January - a week after the New Hampshire primary."Get In The Game, Florida, Move Up The Presidential Primary".
The effort is a good - albeit risky - move.
"A proposal that would rely on New Hampshire to set an election date in Florida won unanimous support Thursday from a state House committee." "House panel links primary date to New Hampshire's". See also "Early presidential primary clears first House hurdle" and "Lawmakers closer to moving up Florida’s presidential primary".
"Democratic national chairman Howard Dean is lobbying local party leaders to resist moving up Florida's 2008 presidential primary, but he's not having much success. Dean is resisting a Republican-led effort in Florida to move the primary from early March to Feb. 5 or one week after New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, whichever is sooner." "Primary move upsets DNC". The elected Dems have a different view: "Democrats Intent On Primary Move-Up".
Charlie Gets Some Bad Press
"Crist doesn't seem to care if taxes become more tangled and unpredictable. His latest ideas would give schools a higher taxing base than counties and cities, and he would let property-tax breaks move around with the former owners of that property, an approach that would make outrageous inequities even worse as time goes by." "Governor Taxes His Credibility".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board thinks it is "pretty ridiculous that"
Gov. Bush and the Legislature decided to base school grades, monetary rewards and teacher pay on an FCAT that leaves out subjects such as art, foreign language, history and civics. Finally, it's pretty ridiculous that the new FCAT - or whatever it's to be called - won't debut for five years or more. It will take that long to design and validate a new test based on the updated academic standards."Give FCAT a workout".
Perhaps Gov. Crist, who correctly ousted some of ex-Gov. Bush's worst education appointees, will sense through his finely tuned political antennae that the public wants a better test, with more emphasis on diagnostics, and that the public wants some of the improvement - a changed schedule, an end to misleading school grades - much faster than five years from now.
Gov. Crist said this week that he wants elementary school students to get 30 minutes of activity a day. He's offering no money, but he suggested that teachers could lead three 10-minute sessions of jumping jacks. Teachers might be more willing to lead jumping jacks if the state made them jump through fewer FCAT hoops.
"Conservative activist Grover Norquist urged Florida lawmakers Thursday to put a cap on all state and local taxes, an idea that quickly drew opposition from cities and counties." "Cap more taxes, activist urges". See also "Tax cap critics cite possible service cuts" and "Activist calls for cap on state, local taxes".
Who invited this dope to testify before the Senate Finance and Tax Committee?
"Pay to Play"
"The state attorney's office is launching a new grand jury on city government corruption, pursuing for a second time concerns of 'pay to play' business practices, this time barely a month before mayoral elections." "New grand jury to probe 'pay to play'".
Just Do It
"The corps and water district, partners in Everglades restoration as well as dike repair, need to keep it simple: Finish studying. Get moving. Lower the lake. Fix the dike." "Lake O dike can't wait 15 years for repair job".
"It appears to mean that it could be a violation"
"Some [Tampa] city council candidates are mailing their campaign literature to city hall, sending city employees invitations to fundraisers and envelopes for contributions."
Other mailings might violate state elections law, which prohibits candidates from soliciting or accepting political contributions in a government building."Mail May Be In Violation".
"It appears to mean that it could be a violation to do that," said Mark Herron, a Tallahassee-based elections attorney.
"We will have only ourselves to blame"
Douglas T. Kinson, the mayor of Maitland: "If we do nothing and allow Crist's plan to be implemented, in the end, when our tax rates skyrocket to cover the shortfalls, we will have only ourselves to blame." "Fiscal responsibility: Crist's role and ours".
"Some members of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Property Tax Reform Committee expressed disappointment Thursday that their work - scheduled to end in December - was cut short by an e-mail from Gov. Charlie Crist's office, disbanding the group." "Breakup Saddens Property Tax Panel".
"A state commission studying problems with Florida's method of executing criminals will hear from the public today. Anticipating a growing protest against the death penalty, officials with the Governor’s Commission on the Administration of Lethal Injection have set strict rules for public comments." "Lethal injection commission to hear from public".
"While it's fashionable to praise the dedication, even courage of public employees - including law-enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, mental-hospital aides - salaries that are decent enough to keep them working for us too often wind up as lost chits in the Legislature, city halls, county courthouses and collective-bargaining tables across Florida."
That's not just wrong, it's shortsighted."Public service".
Consider the report released Wednesday that underscored with new data what we already knew to be true: Teachers, who don't expect to get rich in the first place, are still widely dissatisfied with what they're paid. ...
Just as teachers and other public employees should be fairly compensated for their important work, so should retired public servants be able to expect that they won't be pushed into poverty as they grow older. Yet, because of dramatic increases in various costs of living, that's exactly what some retirees face.
That's why state Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, and Rep. Bob Allen, R-Merritt Island, are sponsoring legislation to increase the state subsidy for health insurance premiums among state pensioners. The subsidy hasn't been adjusted since 1999 and Mr. Lawson has fought for an increase year after year.
It's a small but significant way of expressing gratitude for public service - an honorable if not lucrative career.
"Charlie Crist's first proposed budget calls for cutting state road spending by $752 million -- more than 8 percent. The proposed funding cutback comes on top of what one public interest group says is already a $23 billion shortfall the state faces over the next decade just to keep up with growth." "Cuts not soothing for road worriers".
"This year's dramatic growth decline was the first after years of enrollment gains. If it turns out to be some kind of fluke, and schools experience even one-third the growth seen in previous years, the money could fall short." "Schools Losing Cash In Guessing Game".
"Being a safe driver may not be the most important criteria for getting the best rate on auto insurance. A high-paying job and a college degree carry more weight with insurers." "Basis for auto insurance rates is challenged".
Taxation and Budget Reform Commission
"Former state House Speaker Allan Bense and Florida State University President Emeritus Talbot 'Sandy' D'Alemberte were among 18 people appointed to the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission Thursday by legislative leaders." "Bense, D'Alemberte among 18 named to tax reform panel". See also "Legislative chiefs name 14 to tax, budget reform panel".
Jeremy Wallace finds it "surprising ... how much attention our contested 13th Congressional district was getting."
Of course there was the hearing in the U.S. Senate. But in addition a member of Congress put in legislation trying to end paperless voting, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, issued a statement advocating similar legislation and the chair of the Senate rules committee ordered a “top-to-bottom” review."Election debate continues in Washington".
A couple of days earlier the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee jumped in again, sending a letter to Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent to instruct her to preserve voting equipment for a House investigation.
That’s a lot of activity for three months after the election.
"There are cuts in Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed budget for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, but even activists say the good news outweighs the bad." "DEP Feels Knife In New State Budget".
"Restraining government spending sounds good to taxpayers, but the limits enacted Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Commission might threaten funding for a wide range of projects." "Tax Cap Critics Warn Of Cuts".
The Miami Herald editors:
Some state lawmakers can hardly restrain themselves in their eagerness to pass a bill requiring young girls to be immunized against a virus that can cause cervical cancer. They want to require every 11- and 12-year-old girl in the state to get a vaccination that protects them against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. Doing so would definitely save lives; and it also would be a boon to the manufacturer, Merck & Co., that makes the drug. For some lawmakers, that's a win-win proposition, satisfying two constituencies with one measure."Vaccine could protect women, save lives". For a different view, see the St Pete Times' editorial "Vaccine protects women's health" ("Some misguided social conservatives predict that protecting girls from STDs will lead to promiscuity.")
However, we recommend careful consideration and a more-sensible approach. For example, the vaccinations should be voluntary, not mandatory. Also, the Legislature would be wise to support an expansive education program that debunks false assumptions and explains the pros and cons of the medicine and disease with whatever legislation is passed. Lawmakers want to model a Florida law on similar measures in other states and mandated by the governor in Texas. Merck, which stands to reap a windfall from its vaccine drug Gardasil, helps to fund the advocacy group Women in Government that has been pushing legislatures to pass mandatory vaccine laws.
"Floridians caught driving with suspended or revoked licenses would lose their cars under a legislative proposal being pushed by a Broward lawmaker." "Lawmaker proposes crackdown on illegal drivers".
"University of Florida president Bernie Machen's proposal to charge undergraduate students an extra $500 per semester is already in trouble with Republicans, Democrats and a new governor intent on leaving Florida's rock-bottom tuition right where it is." "Crist, legislators oppose $1,000-a-year fee at UF".
"President Bush on Thursday declared the Christmas Day tornadoes a major disaster, reversing an earlier denial of emergency funding to repair or rebuild Volusia County homes slammed during those storms." "FEMA does about-face, agrees to Christmas tornado aid".
The Best She Can Do?
"The influential chairwoman of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee said Thursday she supports modifying Florida law to take away the concealed weapon licenses of people convicted of acting recklessly with guns."
But Sen. Nancy Argenziano, R-Dunnellon, said she opposes more sweeping changes, including preventing certain people who have pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies from legally carrying firearms. A loophole in Florida law allows defendants who have convictions "withheld" by judges to obtain gun licenses."Florida legislator targets concealed weapons permits of reckless users".
The Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Fixing Florida's concealed weapons law won't be a simple process, but making it easier for the state to monitor arrest warrants and other pertinent information from law enforcement is a good place to start. " "Gun Permits".
"Sen. Alex Villalobos won by just 429 votes in his GOP primary victory over former Miami-Dade School Board member Frank Bolanos, but it turns out that Villalobos should have won by at least one more vote. Villalobos said Thursday that his own absentee ballot in the race was rejected by the Miami-Dade Elections Office because his signature on the ballot did not match the one on record with elections officials. (The Miami-Dade elections office has not yet responded to a request [by Naked Politics] about this.)" "Villalobos: My vote didn't count".
"Frank Sanchez of Tampa, a former mayoral candidate and former Clinton administration appointee, has been asked to be an adviser to the presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on Latin American affairs and international aviation." "Sanchez Considers Position As Adviser To Obama".
That's Our Bill
"Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson"
lavished praise on Republican Gov. Charlie Crist during a Florida congressional delegation meeting Thursday afternoon at the Capitol. It was the second time in two days."Nelson commends Crist -- again".
Crist wasn't at the meeting but after the new director of his Washington office -- Kerry Feehery -- was introduced, Nelson made a point of saying that Crist's action during last week's tornadoes were "exceptional."
"More proof that Florida will be a top stop for the 2008 presidential contest: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will end his six-state fly-around to announce his presidency in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in the heart of Central Florida's conservative Republican country." "Romney to swing through Florida to make his announcement for prez".