Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Some of the Biggest Culprits"

    "When Republican lawmakers rail against those who have raised property taxes in recent years, they typically leave out some of the biggest culprits: themselves."
    In the eight years since their party has had control of state government, the state-determined share of school district property taxes - called the "required local effort" - has risen $3.46 billion, with only $1.14 billion of that attributable to new construction.

    The rest, $2.32 billion, came from GOP lawmakers and former Gov. Jeb Bush requiring school districts to increase local property taxes - without announcing they were seeking a tax hike and holding public hearings as local governments must do any time the tax increase is more than what would occur with just new construction.

    This allowed the lawmakers and Bush to cut other taxes - state taxes such as the intangibles tax - by $1.7 billion a year, with more than half of that benefiting the wealthiest 4.6 percent of Floridians through the elimination of a tax on stocks and bonds.

    While Republican leaders said they increased money for schools without raising state taxes during those eight years, they raised the "required local effort portion" of the schools tax seven out of Bush's eight years.
    "Republicans admit tax hikes".

    "More Politics"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Critics accuse the University of Florida Faculty Senate of playing politics by denying Jeb Bush an honorary degree. If the faculty did, the politics didn't start there."

    Bush left office in January, hardly a decent interval, given UF's policy against granting honorary degrees to sitting politicians. The push came from Carolyn Roberts, whom Mr. Bush named to the Board of Governors, and former UF President Marshall Criser, whom Mr. Bush named to lead the Scripps Florida Funding Corp.

    The university's honorary degrees committee was divided. Given the split, Faculty Senate Chairwoman Danaya Wright, a law professor, requested that UF's administration hold off on the nomination. Instead, it went to the committee, which voted it down, 38-28. Some dissenters may have acted out of pettiness. But there's a valid argument against giving even a symbolic honor to someone who did so much direct harm to Florida higher education and indirect harm to UF.
    Read the argument here:"High degree of politics".

    "Beyond the state and national politics that have captured news media attention over the Bush story, the local repercussions appear significant. The Bush matter has shed light on growing tensions among the board's 11 politically appointed trustees and Danaya Wright, the outgoing Faculty Senate chair and an ex officio member of the board." "Trustees put Bush degree issue to rest".

    Unhappy Trails

    "The House budget council Friday turned down two plans to create a voting paper trail across the state, saying they wanted more time to debate the issue."

    In a decision split along party lines, Republicans said the House's Policy and Budget Council was not the appropriate place to discuss a paper trail.

    Democrats said they were forced to bring it there because GOP leaders had not allowed paper trail legislation to get a hearing in substantive committees.
    "House panel shoots down plans for vote paper trails".


    "Obama gets rock-star treatment in city tour". See also "“Starship Obama” Trolls For $$ in Tally, Jax" and "Obama dazzles lawmakers, regular folks".

    Budget Blues

    "The House Policy and Budget Council adopted a $70-billion budget Friday that includes higher college tuition and higher property taxes to support a $1.2-billion jump in public school spending next year." "House council approves $70-billion state budget".

    Yee Haw!

    "Dixie's heyday in Congress has come and gone. Today it's rare to find anyone with a Southern accent in a position of power, and after the Democratic victories in November, congressional historians say the region's clout has dropped to its lowest level in at least 50 years." "Southern clout in Congress at lowest level in half century".

    Never Mind

    "Just a month after House Speaker Marco Rubio told lawmakers that a tough economy meant they shouldn't load up the state budget with hometown projects, a House committee did just that Friday while approving a proposed $71 billion state spending plan." "House plan retains hometown spending".

    "Insane Spear-carrying"

    Daniel Ruth: "Of all the issues confronting the Florida Legislature, forcing private business owners to allow employees to bring their guns to work has to fall somewhere between designating the official state disease and a resolution creating Che Guevara Day."

    But that hasn't stopped state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Wholly Owned Subsidiary of the National Rifle Association, and state Sen. Durrell Peaden, R-Cold Dead Yada Yada Yada, from once more attempting to pass the Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang Socialization of Private Business Act of 2007.

    Last year, Baxley sponsored the workplace gun bill, which would deny private business owners the right to prevent employees from keeping weapons in their cars while on company grounds.

    Baxley's insane spear-carrying for the NRA went nowhere. After all, private business has every right to conduct its affairs as it sees fit. It's a simple concept called private property rights. It's all the rage in places like democracies - or at least it used to be.
    "And Now, Murphy's Gun Law".

    "Arm-twisting by the Republican Leadership"

    "Tallahassee lawmakers are back to their old tricks of giving with one hand and taking with the other. Some of those consumer-friendly property insurance reforms approved during a special session in January are now being rewritten at the behest of the powerful insurance lobby. Enough legislators from both political parties raised concerns this week to block final approval of the bill in the House, and they should not give in to the arm-twisting by the Republican leadership." "Don't let insurance lobby gut consumer protections".


    "More than 220,000 Nationwide insurance policyholders face a statewide average 54-percent rate hike to protect their homes." "Nationwide insurance rates go up by average of 54 percent".

    "Among the Lowest in the Nation" (Yet Again)

    "The 2002 constitutional amendment assured Florida voters that high-quality universal prekindergartens would be in place within four years. This is the fourth year. Now is the time for our state to mandate that we take steps toward making that promise a reality. According to the latest annual report from the National Institute for Early Education, the quality of Florida's pre-K program ranks among the lowest in the nation. When our state's 4-year-olds are most ready to learn, they are now failing to get the education they need." "How to improve pre-K". See also "Neediest kids may lose out on pre-K".


    "Score one for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, with assists from Mel Martinez of Florida and Richard Shelby of Alabama, in the battle over billboard blight." "A good block".

    Hometown Projects

    "Despite a tough budget year, lawmakers have set aside millions in hometown projects that will benefit South Florida." "South Florida occupying front row of budget table".

    Hill in O-Town

    "Hillary '08 lands in Orlando".

    Next Up

    "There were two divisive education issues for the Legislature to tackle this session. They took care of the first this week when Gov. Charlie Crist signed the new Merit Award Program for teachers, nuking the justifiably loathed STAR plan. ... Now, with that out of the way, the Legislature can go to work on fixing the problems with the FCAT. There is still time." "Education".


    "In recent years, some of the nation's largest financial institutions have moved aggressively for a piece of the $85-billion student aid market, selling both private and federally backed loans. Suddenly, those aid offices - including some in Florida - are under the harsh glare of state and federal investigations over the question of improper relationships between universities and lenders." "Lenders, schools may be too close".


    "Crist said this week that he will pursue talks with the Seminoles on Class III gaming, which his predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, declined to do because he adamantly opposed a gambling expansion in Florida. The fallout of Bush's inactivity has prompted a lawsuit by the tribe that could leave the state with no regulatory role in - or financial benefit from - higher-end Indian casinos." "Crist Deals Fresh Hand To Casinos".

    "As legislators now debate how to spend the big bucks the casinos rake in, they need to honor Broward voters' intent when they ratified the referendum in March 2005. Yet a House bill wants to put the money into the state's general education fund. Each district would then decide how to spend the extra money it gets." "Legislature 2007".

    Nice Work ... If You Can Get It

    "Plenty of working stiffs would be thrilled by a week's paid vacation and a four-day work week. If so, maybe they should consider running for the Florida Senate, who will take off a full week of the nine-week 2007 session for the second year in a row. The 40 members of the upper chamber are taking the week off, they say, because Passover makes Monday and Tuesday religious holidays and Good Friday is a holy day for Christians. So, rather than return to the Capitol for Wednesday and Thursday like the House plans to do, Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, sent his senators home for a full week to regroup and recharge. They've also taken off every Friday since the session began March 6." "Pruitt defends Senate schedule".

    "Tuition Increase"

    "As Florida lawmakers assemble a tight budget for next year, they appear ready to increase tuition for state university and community-college students by 5 percent." "Lawmakers propose tuition increase".

    My Safe Florida Home

    "The My Safe Florida Home program shows just how much is involved for government to take a good idea and make it work." "Make storm hardening work for all Floridians".

    Designated Drivers

    "Senate bill protects designated drivers".


    "Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback described his version of private Social Security accounts to a conservative anti-tax group Friday, saying his plan will help the economy and save the federal safety net. ... Another Republican hopeful, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, also addressed the group and later said he supports a proposal by Florida lawmakers to move up the presidential primary." "Two long shots stump in state".

    18 Words

    "A single sentence added to a bill passed this week by a House committee would wipe out strict protections for wetlands in 20 Florida counties, say county officials." "18 words imperil 3-million acres". See also "Developers urge lawmakers to rescind local governments' wetland-protection powers".

    "You would think that with the continued loss of thousands of acres each year, state lawmakers would be alarmed by the rapid disappearance of a resource that filters and stores water, prevents flooding, slows erosion and sustains wildlife." "Lawmakers Out To Bulldoze Wetlands, Local Governments".


    The "Florida Flies the Flag Act" would make it illegal for cities and counties to require permits or fees to fly the American flag or enforce rules that prohibit the "respectful" display of the flag." "Measure unfurls amid flap over Trump flag".


    "For House Speaker Marco Rubio, it was a rallying cry to abolish property taxes. But he sounded a little desperate."

    Support for his plan to eliminate property taxes on primary homes and raise the sales tax was eroding fast, and Rubio was trying to salvage his signature issue.

    "If this House doesn't put out bold ideas, no one will," he told his fellow Republicans.

    For 15 minutes Tuesday, the 35-year-old House speaker from Miami issued an unmistakable challenge: "We will be judged on this session by what we do or fail to do on this issue."

    Ignore the naysayers on editorial pages and the woe-is-me refrain from city and county commissioners, Rubio said, reading from prepared notes in a departure from his normal off-the-cuff style.
    "Speaker pushes for change".

    "Inside Joke"

    "To evade the $500 cap, some lawmakers control committees that are exempt from the $500 limit. They're called 527s, so named for the section of the IRS code that covers them, or in state law, CCEs, committees of continuous existence." "$500 cap remains an inside joke to many".


    "A Democratic lawmaker criticized Karen Thurman, the party's Florida chairwoman, for making a 'totally baseless attack' on Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young over his activities involving Walter Reed Army Medical Center."

    "As a Democrat, I am embarrassed that the assault originated with the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party," Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, wrote in a letter to the St. Petersburg Times. "I reject her comments completely. She certainly does not speak for me or anyone who has been privileged to know Bill Young and his wife Beverly."

    Abercrombie said no one in Congress "has done more personally or been more dedicated to the welfare of our wounded soldiers than Bill Young, both as a leader of the House Appropriations Committee and as a human being."
    "Colleague calls attack on Young 'totally baseless'".

    Virginia Key

    "Environmental and civic activists are right to criticize the city of Miami for the secretive approach officials took to write a new master plan for Virginia Key, the barrier island between Brickell Avenue and the village of Key Biscayne." "Local perspectives".

    Yesterdays News

    - "Can't tell a Copycat from a Copy Cat? A House bill would require new companies to steer clear of existing names." "What's in a name? Bill may decide".

    - "Tampa Bay's new members of Congress charting different courses".

    - "Differing plans on how to spend slot machine tax revenue debated by legislators".

    - "Polled voters gave the thumbs down to the idea of replacing local property taxes with increased sales taxes, preferring deep budget cuts." "Poll: Voters dislike property-sales tax swap". See also "Most skeptical of plan to end property tax".

    - "Are our taxes too high? Floridians say yes, no, maybe".

    - "Obama: Bush fails to respect the Constitution".

    - "Ocala Rep. Baxley puts $100,000 into possible campaign for Senate".

    - "The Florida Senate has signaled its support to buy new opti-scan voting machines across the state for $35 million. The House, meanwhile, has kept silent on the plan." "Florida Senate backs new voting machines". See also "Making every vote countable", "Paper Trail Still Lacks Direction", "Lawmakers debate voting-machine bill", "Touch vote machines in Senate cross hairs" and "Florida House panel rejects money for voting machine paper trail".

    - "Brownback, Gilmore to talk about 2008 race in Palm Beach County".

    - "Crist signs teacher merit pay bill into law". See also "Educator bonus plan gets Crist's approval" and "New bonus program for teachers signed".

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