A huge vote today in the U.S. House of Representatives on H.R. 800, a bill "to amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish an efficient system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes." Florida co-sponsors include:
Rep Brown, CorrineWhere are Allen Boyd and Tim Mahoney?
Rep Castor, Kathy
Rep Hastings, Alcee L.
Rep Klein, Ron
Rep Meek, Kendrick B.
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Rep Wexler, Robert
"When the Florida Board of Executive Clemency meets today for the first time since Gov. Charlie Crist took office, a majority of members will be on record supporting automatic restoration of voting rights for most felons who have been released from prison."
But as of Wednesday evening, Crist said he was still not sure he had the votes to overhaul the Jim Crow-era rules, found in only two other states, that disenfranchise felons who have served their time."Crist changed his previous position last year, and now favors giving felons an automatic right to vote, serve on a jury and obtain certain occupational licenses after they complete their sentence." For some reason, Dem Alex Sink is not on board with full restoration:
''I don't know if we have the votes yet, but I'm going to keep trying,'' the governor said as he was returning to Tallahassee from Jacksonville late Wednesday.
He said a suggestion from Attorney General Bill McCollum to expedite the review process to relieve the backlog of felons seeking a hearing from the state clemency board doesn't go far enough.
He can't make good on his campaign promise, however, without the majority of the four-member clemency board, which includes McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. McCollum opposes the overhaul, while Sink and Bronson have said they would support automatic civil rights for certain nonviolent offenders."Crist pushes for felons' rights". The AG wants to drag his feet: "Pick up pace on clemency hearings, McCollum says". See also "Whittling Away at Clemency Backlog".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board urges Charlie to do it by executive fiat "If it takes an executive order to correct this 140-year-old wrong, the governor should use the power of his office and do it."
About one-third of the disenfranchised ex-felons are African-American, which is consistent with the oppressive law's history. Florida passed it after the Civil War to prevent former slaves from voting. Besides Florida, only Kentucky and Virginia do not restore rights automatically. The clemency process is time-consuming and expensive. Applicants must appear before the governor and Cabinet for approval. With thousands of cases backlogged in the system, it can take two years just to get a response."Give Florida's ex-felons a reason to stay straight".
"Florida Hometown Democracy"
"Florida Hometown Democracy", the "backers of a statewide proposal [via a constitutional amendment] to give voters ultimate authority over new subdivisions, shopping centers and other future growth received a $35,000 contribution and vows of vigorous support from one of Florida's largest environmental groups Wednesday." "Sierra Club backs push to let voters rule growth". See also "Sierra Club promoting growth-control ballot" ("If the amendment reaches the ballot, it could touch off a massive political fight about growth in the state -- and about who should make development decisions.")
"A few Florida lawmakers are preparing for the Legislature's coming property tax debate by turning to lobbyists to write checks."
At least three lawmakers working on property tax issues have filed paperwork to create funds that can raise unlimited money to support candidates, buy ads, and pay for food and travel."Rush is on to raise cash for tax effort".
Senate Finance and Tax Chairman Mike Haridopolos, R-Indialantic, has formed the Committee for Florida's Fiscal Future and plans to raise cash from lobbyists to pay for travel over the summer and fall to campaign for whatever tax fix lawmakers put on the fall ballot.
Sen. Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican slated to become the next Senate president, has set up another committee called Preserve the American Dream.
Back at the ranch: "Tax overhaul talk has local governments looking for cuts" In the meantime, the Senate slogs away with its public hearings: "Residents air tax concerns to lawmakers at meeting".
At least one legislative delegation isn't particularly thrilled with the House plan; Jeremey Wallace: "State Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, is so far the most enthusiastic about the idea. Reagan called the plan 'bold and innovative.' He also tried to allay concerns that local government would be left short in paying for local services. He said the boost in sales tax would be more than enough to replace homestead taxes." "Delegation treads carefully on tax debate".
The Last Insurance Crisis
"While most Floridians are fretting over the latest insurance crisis - property coverage - it's clear that the last insurance crisis - medical malpractice - never was resolved. ... Both Gov. Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink say they are concerned that medical malpractice rates haven't dropped and they've asked the Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner Kevin McCarty to recommend the next course of action." "Last insurance 'fix' hasn't slashed rates".
"Despite special session, some Florida insurance issues unresolved".
Taxpayer Funded Lethal Injections
"The commission examining last year's botched lethal injection execution wants Gov. Charlie Crist to consider reviewing the mix of chemicals used to kill condemned criminals, according to a draft report of the commission's findings." "Crist to get report on executions". See also "Report to suggest exploring different execution options".
Republican Clay Ford "supports forcing cuts in local property taxes and capping how much they can grow in the future -- key components of Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio's property-tax plan." And get this: "'Ford supporters already are beginning the campaign to get him elected House speaker.'" "Former Arkansas Lawmaker Joins the Florida House".
"A draft bill to give Florida's prosecutors and judges the authority to falsify court records for undercover law enforcement purposes is dead, according to the senator who agreed to sponsor it." "Senator says secret dockets bill on hold".
"The City Commission of this small Tampa Bay community voted late Tuesday to begin the process of firing the city's top official -- less than a week after he announced plans to pursue a sex-change operation." "Manager's sex-change plan leads to dismissal". See also "Activists: Fired city manager could be transsexual champion".
The St Pete Times editors: "Largo officials bow to mob, prejudice". See also this dKos diary: "TAKE ACTION: City Manager of Largo, FL fired because he's transgendered".
"U.S. Chamber gives Florida 'D' in education".
"Forget illegal contributions, dirty tactics and sign theft."
Apparently what riles the Florida Elections Commission is punctuation. Just ask state Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, who was fined $500 last week for adding an extra period to the required disclaimer "Political Advertisement. Paid for and approved by Rick Kriseman," on campaign materials this fall, making it two sentences."Punctuation police snare candidate".
"Former state GOP chairman Al Cardenas has been named to Mitt Romney’s Latin American Policy Advisory Group." "Cardenas Advising Romney on Latin America".
"Let's pick new song for state, Crist says".
Mike Thomas on Gardasil: "To vaccinate -- or not? It's for family to decide".
"Dollars, not early primaries, are defining voters' choices for president." "Curb the enthusiasm".
"Two days after Gov. Charlie Crist came to Washington to push for a national catastrophic fund to bail out hurricane ravaged states, the [Dem Sen. Chris Dodd] chair of the Senate committee that oversees insurance announced hearings Wednesday to discuss the issue." This could explain why Dodd scheduled a hearing: "Dodd is running for president, and Florida is probably going to move up its presidential primary, making the state more important to presidential candidates.". "“A Positive Sign” On Cat Fund".
"Since entombment permits were first issued in 1991, the state has sanctioned the killing of about 74,000 tortoises -- by crushing or suffocation and starvation, since the tortoises can survive for months in their covered-over burrows. Equally bad, hundreds of other species, like the indigo snake (also threatened) and burrowing owls, that use the tortoise burrows as surrogate homes are left without habitat. Tortoise destruction also affects plant life since the tortoises distribute seeds as they lumber across the land. There's no reason for the state commission to delay an end to 'entombment.'" "Tortoise tombs".
"Davie candidate admits operating Internet pornography site".
"Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp focuses on urban renewal today when he attends a conference in Central Florida." "Urban renewal on Kottkamp's schedule today".
A, B, C ...
The Orlando Sentinel editors whine: "There are things to like in Mayor Buddy Dyer's latest agenda to fight crime. But there is one thing it still needs: a way to measure whether it will make all neighborhoods safer." "Leave no one behind".
How about ranking neighborhoods A through F; that ought to make the FCAT happy Sentinel editors happy.
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "The American Civil Liberties Union says it will sue the Palm Beach County School District over the district's low graduation rate. OK, that's one of the culprits. Now, we just need someone to sue the bad parents, lazy students and FCAT-obsessed state." "A lawsuit over dropout rates?"
State of State
"Crist wants to start a new tradition Monday. On the eve of his first State of State address, he will host a State of the State dinner. It will include 100 or so of his closest friends and supporters, and he's invited one member of each news organization." "Crist to host State of State dinner".
Dodson Column a Predictable, Political Bore
Timothy Dodson: "Gore movie a predictable, political bore".
The Broward County School Board "chose to miss the state's deadline for submitting a payment plan for teacher bonuses. It's betting the Legislature will revise the program, known as Special Teachers Are Rewarded, or STAR, when the legislative session begins next week. The gamble could cost the school district $75 million in state funding. Worse, the state could impose a merit pay plan anyway, and then the district would have to come up with the money to fund it on its own." "School Board".
Broward isn't alone: "Gov. Charlie Crist seemed baffled Wednesday that the Pinellas School Board rejected $6.1-million in state money for teacher bonuses. The board on Tuesday said 'no thanks' to the program to award 5 percent bonuses to the top 25 percent of teachers. Pasco officials rejected it Wednesday.".
Words Mean Things
"Call them undocumented immigrants, says Florida Sen. Frederica Wilson, who has introduced a bill to prohibit the official use of the term 'illegal alien.' She makes a valid point." "Phrase 'Illegal Alien' Faces Exile". See also "Legislator wants ban on 'alien'".
"Even stronger building codes, insurance-premium discounts to match and smaller state mitigation grants are among recommendations emerging from a state committee reporting on Florida's hurricane-proofing efforts." "Committee looks to hurricane-proof Florida".
"Since Rep. Vern Buchanan's arrival on Capitol Hill, the Longboat Key Republican has prompted head-scratching among supporters with a moderate voting record that Democrats say comes straight from their playbook. ... One of only 19 Republicans to side with Democrats on five of their first six House bills, Buchanan voted to raise the minimum wage, cut industry subsidies, let the federal government negotiate drug prices and slash loan interest rates for students." "Buchanan does not toe the GOP line".
Charlie the Renter
"The governor, who rents a high-rise condominium in downtown St. Petersburg's Bayfront Tower, got socked with a 25 percent rent increase after his landlord lost the protection of the Save Our Homes tax cap." "Governor feels hit of tax inequity". See also "Governor pays price for landlord's tax trouble".