"A Republican-sponsored property tax rollback cleared a House council on a largely partisan basis Friday, after the panel voted down Democratic proposals to exempt some emergency and disaster response services from the reductions." "House panel approves GOP property tax rollback". See also "House panel votes to roll back property tax to 2001", "House tax-cut plan passes", "Property tax bill moving forward", "Property tax relief plan headed to House floor", "First Property Tax Plan Advances" and "Voting against Grandma and Apple Pie" ("House Democrats gave themselves cover Friday by forcing Republicans to vote against a series of amendments to exempt police, firefighters, hurricane expenses, ambulance drivers and unfunded mandates from the GOP's property tax cut bill. The GOP-stacked Policy and Budget Council naturally beat them all back.")
"But even as legislators publicly debated the cut, House Speaker Marco Rubio maneuvered behind the scenes to build support for separate -- and even more controversial -- property-tax changes. In a campaign-style tactic, Rubio held a half-hour conference call with a host of Republican fundraisers, lobbyists, strategists and activists to talk up his idea to eliminate all property taxes on primary homes and replace the lost revenue with a 2.5-cent increase in the state sales tax."
Among the organizers of the call was Bridgette Nocco, a top fundraiser for the state's Republican Party, prompting speculation that Rubio is looking to begin a public-relations campaign to sell his proposal directly to Floridians."GOP tax-cut plan steamrolls over protests". See also "Fighting for sweeping tax reform" ("A new political group, Floridians for Tax Reform, has been formed"), "Stakes Rise in Property Tax Battle", "As House debates one plan, Rubio sells another", "Committee hears one prop tax bill, as Rubio urges lobbyists to help him with the other one" and "Calling All Hands" ("Rubio told invited lobbyists, elected officials, tax reformists and GOP donors details of his plan, as well as put in a plug for the party's new website on the same issue.
And word spread Friday that a property-tax-focused fundraising group had been formed, led by veteran GOP operative Brett Doster.
The site: www.nomorepropertytax.com.")
Gov. Charlie Crist has been noncommittal and Senate leaders are seeking alternatives that avoid a sales tax hike while providing tax relief by increasing the homestead exemptions and altering the Save Our Homes tax cap."Tax plans split lawmakers".
And If You Believe This ...
"A filing error caused a memo alerting Sarasota County election officials about an 'issue' with voting equipment last August to be hidden from the public for the last seven months, an attorney for Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said. The letter was accidentally put into a file of documents that county staff thought was for protecting 'proprietary' information for the voting machine company Election Systems & Software, attorney Ron Labasky said Friday night. That prevented Dent's office from turning over the memos about the voting machine issue to Democrat Christine Jennings, who is challenging the Nov. 7 election results." "Memo on voting machines misfiled" ("Dent said earlier last week that she vaguely remembered the letter, but thought it was 'much ado about nothing.'"). More on the "Sarasota saga". See also "Republican leader responds to FL 13 request".
As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap
The Daytona Beach News-Journal: "This week, the chemical safety board called on the Florida Legislature to reinstate OSHA protections for all public employees in the state. But the safety board's recommendations come at a bad time. Lawmakers are trying to budget against a projected $1 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years and cut property taxes. Cities and counties are under similar fiscal pressures. Complying with the federal standards would create a substantial and unwelcome expense. Still, lawmakers have only to consider what went wrong in Daytona Beach to be reminded that the voluntary programs are acutely unreliable, that people in the public employ die when safety and health precautions are only viewed as budget line items." "Public crews at risk".
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "In just the last five years, Florida has seen 33 chemical incidents at public facilities, all of which the safety board says might have been prevented if U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards were in place."
Some lawmakers in Congress have proposed extending OSHA standards to state, county and municipal employees. The Orlando Magic may stand a better chance of winning the NBA championship before their bill becomes law, however."Senseless tragedy".
That's why Florida's Legislature must step up and extend OSHA protections to its public employees. Florida once complied with them, but stopped in 2000. That's a grievous wrong lawmakers speedily need to right.
These editorials are all well and good, but these deaths and injuries were foreseeable, and the direct result of the "philosophy" Jebbie and his acolytes brought to Tallahassee. For background, see "Will Jebbie Apologize?"
Florida GOPers "Mired Themselves in Darkness"
This sentence works at so many levels: "While much of the state was celebrating 'Sunshine Week,' dozens of Republican House members mired themselves in darkness." "Dark side of Tallahassee". See also "Stem cell meeting draws gentle chide".
Voucher Madness: Like So Much Dust In The Wind
"A year ago: After a state Supreme Court ruling struck down school vouchers, Republican leaders moved heaven and earth in an attempt to revive them with a constitutional amendment, all to please a governor who considered them his personal legacy."
Today: "Vouchers?" said Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster. "Don't know.""School vouchers lose champions with Bush's exit".
Without the strong personality of former Gov. Jeb Bush pushing a particular policy in the Capitol, "school choice," as proponents call it, is generating much less enthusiasm this year than it has in the previous eight.
"Secretary of state's goal: No more elections embarrassments".
"Kirk, who became Florida’s first Republican governor of the 20th century, owes $318,498.46 dating back to 1995, plus fees and interests, according to the lawsuit filed by Miami U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta." "Authorities say former governor Claude Kirk failed to pay taxes".
"Competition can provide consumers with greater choice and lower prices. It can also give lawmakers a cover for consumer-unfriendly legislation. Unfortunately, the state House of Representatives is looking for cover. Fueled by a major push from Florida's biggest telephone companies, the House is fast-tracking legislation that could throw the state's cable-television market into turmoil." "Hollow promise to viewers".
The Tampa Trib editorial board today:
- "Florida law says drivers, children and front-seat passengers must fasten their seat belts, yet lawmakers won't allow police to stop lawbreakers." "Help Save Lives, Sen. Baker, Allow Hearing On Seat-Belt Law".
- "The state's denial of a destructive development planned in North Florida indicates Gov. Charlie Crist means business when it comes to enforcing growth management laws." "An Encouraging Stand On Growth".
- "Without seagrass, Florida's estuaries would be barren. Grass provides refuge for marine life, particularly juvenile fish. Manatees and turtles feed on it. Smaller creatures eat the algae that grow on it. But Florida is rapidly losing its seagrass beds." "Fines Needed To Save Seagrass".
"Florida Republican Party activists are gathering in Central Florida this weekend for a unique conference in preparation for next year's presidential campaign and state races." "GOP calls grass-roots to summit".
"A meeting of some of the state's elected property appraisers turned sour temporarily when Rep. Trey Traviesa accused some of them of not knowing how to do their jobs."
Traviesa, R-Tampa, wants to change the way property is assessed from basing its value on its highest and best use to its current use. He believes that would help owners of modest rental units and working waterfronts who are being taxed out of their locales when high-rise condos are built beside them."Plan to change how assessments are done displeases appraisers".
"Florida businesses fired the first shot Friday in the renewed battle over allowing employees to leave guns in their cars while at work." "Businesses start fight against 'privacy' bill".
"Ten years ago, Congress decided to put a cap on the number of medical students whose residencies would be paid for through the Medicare program, which is the traditional and primary way this final step in a doctor's training is financed. Yet a decade later, growth states such as Florida, plus 22 others that are also suffering physician shortages, have been hurt by this cap. It simply doesn't reflect population growth or shifts,where the elderly live or newly retired baby boomers are moving." "Residency reform".
Timid Tax Panel
"A high-profile commission charged with reforming Florida's taxation and budgeting processes met for the first time Friday, but don't expect the powerful panel to muscle in on the Legislature's turf." "Tax Panel Not Looking For Fight". See also "Former House speaker leads tax reform panel".
Changing the Subject
Political Pulse notes that "Winter Park Republican [and future House Speaker] Rep. Dean Cannon publicly took the Florida Association of Counties to task for the hiring influential lobbying firm of Hill and Knowlton -- which Cannon made sure to note has represented 'Big Tobacco' -- to work against some of the House GOP tax-cut plans. Cannon repeatedly asked a Polk County commissioner if he found the arrangement 'troubling.'".
Kinda funny to hear GOPers complain about a Company that "'previously represented Big Tobacco, Enron and companies like that.'" " Another black hat for counties". Mr. Cannon, are you unaware that "companies like that" are the patrons of your Republican Party.
Mel and Chavez
"Karl Rove's Florida Frankenstein" thinks "'Chavez is something very much on the minds of Floridians.'" "Mel doesn't gas up at Citgo".
"Bill would make it a misdemeanor to leave kids in a car".
"The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag"
"Bob Hurst walked into a Tallahassee art museum this week and saw the symbol of his Southern heritage hanging by a noose. The art work, which has led to a standoff between descendants of Confederate soldiers and the museum, is a life-size gallows with the Confederate flag dangling from a frayed rope. Created by a black artist from Detroit and titled The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag, the piece has brought an old debate to Florida anew." "'Hanging' Dixie's banner". See also "Flag art isn't going away", "Flag hangs; group fumes" and "Confederate flag hanging from gallows ignites controversy".
"Florida No. 1 in attacks on homeless, survey finds".
"Largo's Star Chamber of Sex"
Daniel Ruth today:
You never can tell; it could all end next week if only these Lemmings of Politicos decide to do the right thing.Ruth notes that, although the "the Largo City Commission had the mother of all hot flashes" in firing Stanton, the meeting next week
Do the right thing?!?!? Sorry, I was just fooling with you.
Rather, when Largo's Star Chamber of Sex, otherwise known as the city commission, meets next week, about all that will happen is that this Fright of Public Figures will take another bite out of the Adam's apple of its exiled city manager, Steve Stanton.
would be a superb moment for the commissioners to acknowledge that after time to reflect, they acted in haste, in ignorance and fear of the mob mentality, when they decided to turn on a loyal and able employee of 14 years service."Another Bite From The Adam's Apple".
But the likelihood of elected officials admitting they acted like a bunch of bigoted vaginal vigilantes is about the same as Stanton eventually becoming a Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader, although the imagery is interesting.
Bye, Bye STAR
"Compromise legislation designed to end more than a year of debate over - and resistance to - performance pay for teachers took its last step Friday toward floor votes in both legislative chambers." "House panel OKs teacher merit pay compromise".
"Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will reduce premiums on its 1.2 million customers - on average, 14.5 percent for high-risk policy holders and 6.7 percent for others." "Citizens To Reduce Premiums". See also "Citizens files rate cut proposals" and "Citizens To Reduce Premiums".
Redner Gets an Endorsement
"For Tampa City Council".
Not Too Much To Ask
"New rule: no sofas on the beach".p>
"Florida fully intends to participate in a federal program that allows states to buy antivirals at a subsidized price, but is waiting on lawmakers to approve the money, state health officials said Friday." "Feds concerned about Florida’s ability to buy flu antivirals".
"The Senate, however, is still grappling with choosing a date and has not yet moved the bill out of committee. That chamber has discussed moving the primary to Feb. 19. House lawmakers want the primary to be held Feb. 5, 2008, or seven days after New Hampshire holds its primary, whichever comes first. New Hampshire is waiting to schedule its primary to preserve its first-in-the-nation status, while national Democrats have recommended a Jan. 22 vote. If New Hampshire holds the primary on that date, Florida would vote on Jan. 29 -- before other states jockeying for position such as California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday signed a Feb. 5 primary into law." "House close to vote on primary".