The Miami Herald editors: "Gov. Charlie Crist gets an A for effort for his initiative to stop disenfranchising felons who have served their time in prison. Unfortunately, his good intentions were only partially achieved. A step toward the most practical goal -- automatic restoration of ex-offenders' rights -- but that's all. Ultimately, the governor and Cabinet will need to revisit the restoration process." "A step forward on ex-offenders' rights". See also "Ballot reforms too little, critics say" and "Voting groups says Crist's plan not good enough".
"Four days after the plan was approved, state officials are still trying to sort out the details as scores of felons ponder the right to vote and apply for occupational licenses and other civil rights that were once more difficult to restore." "Details fuzzy in plan for ex-cons".
Mark Lane the other day: "Chain-gang Charlie has become Voting-rights Charlie". See also "Crist singles out Sink, Bronson for praise".
"Legislature: Day 24 at a glance" See also "2007 Legislature roundup".
"Thirty-three families are awaiting approval by the state Legislature so they can be paid millions in jury awards or settlements in cases in which governments were at fault." "Victims hoping claims finally pay off".
"Federal wildlife managers recommended knocking the manatee down a notch on the endangered species list." "A divided stand on manatees' future". See also "Manatees may lose "endangered" status".
"The war in Iraq has depleted the equipment inventory of the National Guard, potentially hampering its response to the predicted heavy hurricane season, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said." "Florida Guard stretched thin, Nelson says".
"After years of antigambling battles, Florida's property-tax crisis and shrinking state budget have opened the door for gambling proponents, who persuaded a Senate Committee on Monday to approve expanding slot-machine gambling throughout the state." "Odds looking good for expanding slots". See also "Senate considers video lottery games".
"With the Legislature past its midpoint and the signature issue of property-tax reform far from settled, Gov. Charlie Crist issued a veiled warning Monday, saying he's willing to keep the Legislature in session until the issue is resolved." "Crist Talks of Overtime". See also "Special session, anyone?"
"Crist supports raising bar for pre-K teachers". See also "Degreed teachers for pre-K get boost" and "Crist Aims To Beef Up Pre-K Teaching Standards".
Doesn't this speak volumes: "When children’s education advocates staged a press conference Monday asking lawmakers to require teachers with bachelor’s degrees for state-paid universal Pre-K program, they touted the support of six former governors and the widow of a seventh: Claude Kirk, Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Wayne Mixson, Bob Martinez and Buddy MacKay, ... Noticeably absent: Jeb Bush, who left office in January and on whose watch the current law not requiring a bachelor’s degree was passed. Children’s Campaign President Roy Miller, whose group helped passed the constitutional amendment creating the program, said they tried to get Bush, too. 'Attempts were made to reach out,' he said." "Just not Jeb".
The Best He Could Do
"New Gingrich, the best-known non-declared candidate in the Republican primary for president, will speak at a gathering of 'medical communicators' in Tampa Friday." "Gingrich To Speak At Tampa AMA Event".
Senior Tax Break
"The measure (HB 333), which implements a constitutional amendment approved by voters last fall, increases the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 for residents age 65 and older whose income does not exceed $23,414 in 2007. " "Tax break for low-income seniors".
"Credit should go to Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis for jumping on the issue of hidden cases and secret dockets when it first emerged in the media last year. Lewis told the Miami Herald that when he learned that cases were being removed from the public docket, essentially wiping away any trace of their existence, he 'almost swallowed' his tongue." "Opening up hidden cases".
"The Florida A&M University Board of Trustees unanimously urged the Florida Legislature on Monday not to move fiscal responsibility for the joint FAMU-Florida State University engineering school to FSU." "FAMU board questions fiscal shift".
"Magic City Children's Zone "
"State lawmakers are hoping to spark change in impoverished areas such as Liberty City by coordinating support services for children and families." "'Zone' may lift needy kids".
"DCF went through a name change and 22 reorganizations in 33 years. Mr. Butterworth is the fourth DCF secretary in the past nine years. His reorganization plan is to decentralize the agency, largely reversing the policies of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who shifted a lot of control from local districts to Tallahassee." "Make plan No. 23 work".
National Hurricane Center Funding
"Fully funding the National Hurricane Center should be a no-brainer at a time when coastal dwellings are increasing and storm activity is on the rise. Forecasts won't stop hurricanes from striking our shores, but better instruments and data collection will help minimize the damage with more-precise storm tracking and evacuation calls. This is why Bill Proenza, the National Hurricane Center's new director is arguing for more funding." "Save lives, damages". See also "U.S. Rep. from Boca seeks funds to replace hurricane forecast satellite" and "Protect neediest from hurricanes".
"Most House lawmakers get to introduce six bills each year. But if you're Speaker Marco Rubio, you get 43." "Lawmaker squeezes 94 ideas into 43 House bills so far".
One poll released in March showed John McCain leading among Republican voters in the GOP presidential primary in Florida, with 38 percent to Rudy Giuliani's 28 percent."Doubts Aside, Polls Get It Right". See also "Pollsters Learned From Their Early Errors".
Another, at the same time, had Giuliani ahead 38 percent to McCain's 18 percent.
Despite doubts and occasional conflicting results like those, experts say advanced techniques make modern polls, particularly political polls, remarkably accurate.
"A bill would require homeowners to buy storm protection in order to get any type of building permit." "Shutters may no longer be optional".
Lake O Real Low
"Lake Okeechobee over the weekend dropped to an all-time low for this time of year, worsening South Florida's water supply problems and adding urgency to tougher water restrictions expected on Friday." "Lake Okeechobee's level hits all-time low for this time of year".
Rep. Don Davis
"Rep. Don Davis, who suffered underwent surgery for a brain tumor several weeks ago, was released from a rehab hospital over the weekend and is back home." "Rep. Davis returns home after rehab".
"The Giulani campaign announces state senators Mike Fasano, Dennis Jones, and Burt Saunders are endorsing Rudy. Saunders is the new name." "Senators for Rudy".
"Marching Rattlers and Obama".
"Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan acknowledged for the first time Monday that he ended the contract of chief fundraiser Lawrence Davenport, thus entitling the former employee to $577,950 in severance pay." "For the first time, Brogan admits he ended Fundraiser's FAU contract". See also "Brogan owes an answer".
"A bill that would allow Citizens Property Insurance to expand further and solidify its tax-exempt status moved forward Monday with full approval from the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. The bill got a big push from Gov. Charlie Crist, who made a surprise appearance in the last minutes of the committee meeting to lobby for the bill, which was originally proposed by Sen. Rudy Garcia, a Hialeah Republican." "Senate bills gain ground". See also "Crist nudges bill toward vote", "Insurance bills clear Senate panel" and "Crist surprises committee to lobby Citizens bill".
"A measure that would have made it against the law to talk on a cell phone or send text messages while driving was put on hold in the state Senate on Monday. A return call for the bill isn't likely this year." "Senate Committee Puts Cell Phone Driving Bill On Hold".
"Across the United States violent attacks on homeless people increased to 142 in 2006 (resulting in 20 deaths and five rapes) from 60 such assaults in 1999, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. ... Florida had 48 attacks in 2006 -- more than any other state. And 84 percent of the assailants were under 25, many still in their early teens." "Seeking solutions to prevent attacks by youth".
"Double Rent" Bill
"Consumer groups have blasted it as the 'double rent' bill. Supporters say it would actually help renters. Either way, a Florida Apartment Association-backed proposal to change state landlord-tenant law got a new lease on life Monday. Backed in the House by DeLand Republican Pat Patterson, the proposal would let landlords collect the equivalent of two months' rent when a tenant cuts out early on a lease -- even if the landlord has found someone else to rent the apartment." "Bill seeks landlord, tenant compromise". See also "Lawmakers may add to broken lease fee".
One Way To Deal With The Problem
"As foreclosures continue to mount in Florida, homeowners should know filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help them hang on to their homes while catching up on late mortgage payments, state lawmakers said. The Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance thinks it is a lender's responsibility to inform homeowners of that right. On Monday, the committee approved a bill that would require banks, mortgage lenders and other lien holders to include the information when they notify a homeowner of their intent to foreclose." "Rights sought for homeowners in debt".
"Lockup in lieu of treatment for mentally ill inmates"
"Here's a dose of grim reality: One of the nation's largest psychiatric facilities is in South Florida -- and it's not a hospital. It's the Miami-Dade County Jail." "A Florida injustice".
"An effort to clamp down on the fledgling industry of shipping wine directly to Floridians' doorsteps began moving through the Legislature on Monday. Prodded by Florida's alcohol distributors and retailers, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved a bill that would prohibit out-of-state wineries that produce more than 250,000 gallons of wine a year from shipping directly to consumers." "Bill seeks to limit shipping of wine".
"There may be some merit to a proposed pilot project that would convert high-occupancy-vehicle lanes to toll lanes in parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. But so far convincing evidence is lacking, so legislators should proceed very cautiously." "Transportation".
"Crist's first two appointments to the South Florida Water Management District board are good at least for one reason. They replace Irela Bagué and Alice J. Carlson, who last month - right before imposing water restrictions - voted in favor of a water permit for an unneeded Palm Beach County golf course that could suck up to 209 million gallons each year from the Everglades." "Complete water board with what it needs most".
Cracking Down on Inflated "AP" Claims
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out from the abrupt explosion of advanced placement courses in public schools, that some may be simply slapping the tag 'advanced' on the same old curriculum.
That's why it's wise for the College Board, which manages national standardized tests, to perform an audit of every advanced placement course being offered in the country to ensure that students actually are doing college-level work in high schools."This is doubly important for Florida,"
which has been a leader in the advanced placement surge. Under former Gov. Jeb Bush's administration, the number of students enrolled in advanced placement courses more than doubled. Teachers, who are paid bonuses for teaching the courses."Audit Will Advance AP Quality".
But the College Board now suspects that some advanced placement courses around the country don't include a rigorous, college-level curriculum and it's asking teachers to get their syllabus and course materials approved before using the advanced placement label.
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "The polluting discharges at Piney Point phosphate plant have finally stopped. But the public has little to celebrate in this saga of industry abuse, state neglect and federal indifference." "The Saga Of Piney Point Pollution".
Pamela Hasterok: "Reaching the middle of the road is a long trip for a Legislature dominated by conservative ideologues. But the governor, with his media spotlight and public popularity, is moving them there." "Crist says 'gimme' and usually gets".