"The battle of the property-tax cut proposals intensified Wednesday, with Democrats in the state House rolling out a plan for a steep hike in the homestead exemption and their GOP counterparts backpedaling from a controversial measure to sharply roll back -- and eventually kill -- local property taxes."
As Democrats described their idea as a ''surgical'' cut that spares cities and counties from the deep budget cuts proposed by House Republicans, Speaker Marco Rubio backed off a key piece of his proposal."Democrats' proposal would sharply raise homestead exemption". See also "Senate taking slow approach to property tax reform", "Rubio Tries to Save Tax Plan", "Push to cut property taxes falters as legislators clash over different proposals", "Trying to save tax idea, Rubio to offer tweaks", "House's property tax reform halted as parties offer changes, new versions" and "Public Services And Tax Cut Are At Odds" ("House leaders are negotiating changes to their proposal to cut property taxes to protect hospitals and children's programs from losing millions, even billions, of dollars.")
At a meeting with city and county officials from Miami-Dade County, Rubio announced he still wants to eliminate property taxes on all primary homes and replace it with a 2.5 cent increase in the sales tax. But rather than use the 2000-01 budget as the base for budget cuts, he now prefers to use the 2003-04 budget as the base and avoid budget cuts altogether, if possible, by changing the way counties assess property.
Charlie's National Profile
"Time Magazine is planning a profile of Gov. Charlie Crist, tentatively scheduled for the next issue—another step for Crist in building a national profile." "Crist Profiled In Time Magazine".
"Today in Tallahassee"
"Today in Tallahassee". See also "Legislature: Day 9 at a glance" and "Upcoming at the Capitol".
"All three of the top contenders for the GOP nomination for president have accepted invitations to speak to the Florida state House Republican Conference in Tallahassee." "GOP Candidates Troup To Tallahassee".
"Four state agencies are looking into reports of abuse at a Department of Children & Families contracted facility that holds mentally ill and disabled juvenile delinquents who aren’t competent to stand trial." "State investigates reported abuse at DCF contracted facility".
"An expansive program that could control pollution of the St. Lucie River and increase cleanup efforts for Lake Okeechobee passed its first test Wednesday in the Florida House." "Bill to protect Lake O, river has early favor".
"The Democrats are taking off the gloves in their effort to unseat Rep. C.W. Bill Young. State party Chair Karen Thurman sent an email to Democrats today that says Young 'knew about the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but he didn't do anything about them.'" "Dems attack CW Bill". They even have a website.
Take a look at these dKos posts: "Target: Bill Young and His Failure to Protect Veterans" and "Protest Bill Young's Inaction Over Walter Reed (FL-10)".
"Obama Campaign Plans Tampa Events".
"An FCAT-driven plan for teacher bonuses that was hated by educators, derided by unions and rejected by nearly a third of Florida's school districts would be discarded and replaced by a new merit-pay initiative, key state lawmakers announced Wednesday." "State looks for new way to reward top teachers". See also "New teacher reward program proposed".
"Not every consumer is going to have access to cable-television services offered by the telephone companies if a rapidly moving House bill becomes law, some lawmakers and consumer advocates said Wednesday." "Cable plan critics fear 'cherry-picking'".
"Thousands of Florida children could have vastly better lives, advocates said Wednesday, if the state repeals its 30-year-old ban on gays adopting."
A coalition of state legislators, mostly Democrats from Broward and Palm Beach counties, wants to eliminate what they said was a relic of former beauty queen and orange-juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade of the 1970s."Gay adoption back on agenda". See also "Gay adoption push renewed".
"It is the most sweeping anti-gay parenting law in the country, something of which we should not be proud in the state of Florida," said state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston. "The law is devoid of any basis in social science and contradicts public policy on child welfare. It denies children and adults constitutional rights and jeopardizes, most importantly, the best interests of children."
Lifting the ban would allow gay men and lesbians to become adoptive parents of some of the 3,919 foster children who were available for adoption in Florida at the end of last month, Rich said.
The Palm Beach Post editors argue "Let homosexuals adopt".
"Attacks on the homeless have become so prevalent in Florida that they deserve hate-crime status, according to legislation that passed a Senate panel this week." "Bill would make attacks on homeless hate crimes".
"Months before the 2006 general election, a top voting-machine manufacturer sent a written warning to elections officials in Florida about a glitch in its equipment. That letter has reignited debate over the results of a contested Sarasota area congressional race in which Republican Vern Buchanan won by only 369 votes." "Election officials warned of glitch".
"Florida cell phone users, businesses with land-line phone systems, and satellite television subscribers would get relief from some of the taxes on their monthly bills under legislation advancing in the state Legislature. The cuts, which were included in Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed state budget and are being heavily lobbied for by statewide business groups, would lower the state communications services tax slightly." "Cell users, satellite TV customers, others may get tax relief".
"Another sordid Florida land deal"
"There ought to be a law against this kind of double-trickery. " "Just another sordid Florida land deal".
The Tampa Trib editors: "The process that led to the city manager's firing was most unfortunate. The voice of intolerance carried the day at city council chambers. The preacher who said Jesus would fire Stanton on the spot didn't speak for all Christians. Indeed, a survey of Largo citizens showed the majority stood behind Stanton. Still, the city manager should have stepped down when he decided to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. " "Personal Trip Across Gender Line Puts Public Leader's Job At Risk".
"Bill Would Require Parental Notice Of Sex Ed Content". See also "Sex-ed bill widens scope".
Big of 'Em
"Senate panel wants more kids insured". See also "Committee OKs KidCare reform" and "Goal: Unite care for kids".
"Republican lawmakers who met for an hour to listen to an expert play down the promises of embryonic stem-cell research did not let the public know they were meeting, even though the Florida Legislature is considering two bills on the issue."
As many as 25 House Republicans gathered at the University Club at Florida State University on Monday night to hear a lecture by Maureen Condic, a neurobiologist and professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The dinner and Condic's expenses were paid by the Republican Party of Florida."Utah expert lectures GOP lawmakers". See also "'Sunshine Week'? GOP in secret talk on stem cells" and "'Sunshine Week'? GOP in secret talk on stem cells".
The lecture comes at the same time that legislators are considering two bills to set aside $20 million for stem-cell research. The main difference between the measures: the version backed by Democrats authorizes spending money on embryonic stem-cell research, which results in the destruction of human embryos, while the GOP version does not.
Republican leaders said the meeting -- which was first disclosed by the Palm Beach Post -- did not violate any public meetings laws.
"House leaders aren't ready to commit to Gov. Charlie Crist's request for a $5 million payment to the parents of Martin Lee Anderson." "House leaders not yet sold on settlement". See also "State releases evidence in boot-camp death".
"Technical difficulties produced inaccurate vote tallies for Palm Beach County local elections, leaving many candidates wondering who won well into evening before the results were corrected." "Glitch skews Palm Beach vote tallies". See also "Web site glitch reports wrong vote results", "Palm Beach Co. vote display problems blamed on human error" and "Elections" ("Another pathetic turnout in Broward.")
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Dr. Anderson won his 2004 election for supervisor with the strong backing of U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, in the wake of Theresa LePore's actions four years earlier in the 2000 election. Since that time, Dr. Anderson has had trouble delivering relatively non-controversial results and routinely dismisses the importance of getting information to voters quickly. Unfortunately, Dr. Anderson has few opportunities to get a big vote right before he runs for reelection, as early as September 2008. Next is the presidential primary. The county's reputation for bad voting can't take another hit on the national stage. With voting concerns dominated by doubts over touch-screen voting, Dr. Anderson has a more basic problem. He has to show voters that they can count on him." "Once again, the election story is Arthur Anderson". See also "Elections" ("Another botched municipal election.")
"Thirsty crops, flower beds and golf courses will be some of the results of water restrictions imposed Thursday on southeast Florida, an area that encompasses about a third of the state's population." "Water restrictions imposed due to critical South Florida shortage".
"Florida would add no-interest loans to the state's home-hardening program, under a House bill proposed today by Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa." "Lawmakers bemoan delay in hardening homes".
"Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning said Wednesday he has a plan that could allow large counties to completely scrap touch-screen voting machines, even for early voting." "Touch screens could be scrapped".
"State taxpayers would put up $60 million over 30 years to help build a retractable-roof stadium in Miami for use by Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins, under a bill that was approved unanimously Thursday by House and Senate committees." "Plan to give state money to Florida Marlins moves closer to floor". See also "Plan to give state money for Marlins stadium moves closer to floor".
"Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and the Cooper city commissioners have one thing in common: None of them seems to understand the concept of Florida's 'Government in the Sunshine' laws. The city commissioners disregarded the law by meeting over drinks and dinner before official meetings -- until the get-togethers were exposed." "For open government".
"Joe Redner has a deal for Tampa's registered voters: Cast a ballot in the upcoming runoff election and gain free admission to his Mons Venus strip club." "Voters Tempted By Redner". See also "An adult incentive to get out and vote Strip club owner offers free admission in return for ballots in runoff election." and "The 7th Try Might Be The Charm".
Current Use Standard
"A House plan to force county appraisers to start assessing property based more closely on its current use instead of its future potential cleared its first committee stop." "House tax bill passes committee".
For Some Reason ...
The Miami Herald wants you to know what the wingnuts at the purportedly "nonpartisan" The James Madison Institute think: "Homeownership available to all".
"A new offshore drilling bill dropped on the U.S. Senate like an anvil can be summed up in five words: betrayal of the public trust. Just a few months ago, Congress settled the divisive issue of where to draw the line on drilling off the Florida coast." "Floridians betrayed by new bill on oil drilling".
In the meantime, Florida "Lawmakers want voters to enshrine an oil-drilling ban in the Florida Constitution, but the largely symbolic effort got off to a rocky start on Wednesday." "Drilling discussion tabled by the Energy Committee".
"Former state Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is getting serious about the possibility of running for the state Senate. Detert was in Tallahassee on Tuesday kicking the idea around with former colleagues and friends." "Senate may be in cards for Detert".
The Orlando Sentinel editors think "Arguments about whether Gen. Robert E. Lee was a hero or a villain typically are futile." "The big picture".
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors: "Over the next two years, analysts project the flow of money into state coffers will decrease by about $1 billion. Where have we heard that number -- $1 billion -- before? Right. That's about the annual cost of the tax breaks the Legislature lavished on this state's wealthiest investors and corporations." "State budget squeeze".
"The 2002 federal law requires school districts to offer private tutoring to any child whose school fails to meet federal standards three years in a row. Last year, 585,000 students nationwide - and 34,000 in Florida - got free tutoring, at a cost of $400-million. But is it really helping? A national report released Wednesday says nobody really knows." "Report questions private tutoring".
"Argenziano's rollercoaster ride"
"Sen. Nancy Argenziano's rollercoaster ride as a nominee for a Public Service Commission seat has given rise to speculation that the resurrection of her candidacy was a political deal. The talk is it was cooked up by Republican senators who want her out of the Senate, or by Gov. Charlie Crist, who wants to put Argenziano on the PSC so she can give utilities fits." "Charged up over Argenziano".