"In the midst of the impasse over cutting property taxes, the state Senate may be ready to let Floridians gamble their way to property-tax relief."
A proposal to permit slot machines at parimutuels all over the state sailed out of the Senate on Friday, 34-5, with promises of up to $2 billion for state coffers. And talk of higher tax revenue from Broward's new Vegas-style slots has dominated debate surrounding looser regulations for Broward's casinos."Property-tax relief: Are slots the answer?". See also "Senate OKs slot-like games, other gambling measures".
So far, the notion of using gambling revenues to replace property taxes hasn't gotten much traction in the traditionally gambling-hesitant House, with Speaker Marco Rubio and his top lieutenants stiffly opposed to the notion. But, as the end of the legislative session nears, some legislators think gambling dollars belong in the mix as a logical piece to a property-tax compromise.
"Legislature roundup". See also "Tallahassee ticker" and "Florida lawmakers faced with lengthy to-do list in final week".
"House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller said Friday that legislators may have to head home and gear up for a special legislative session to deal with the issue because they can't agree right now." "Competing plans for tax cuts may doom passage of any cuts". See also "Tax debate may mean overtime for lawmakers".
More: "Lawmakers take tax battle to the airwaves". See also "Market chills, tax bills won't", "Not everyone wants property tax relief" and "Sentinel: Tax debate may mean overtime for lawmakers".
"In a bill embraced by House leaders, the Florida Senate agreed to scrap touch-screen voting in favor of optical-scan machines -- and move up the 2008 presidential primary to Jan. 29." "Paper ballot system appears likely". See also "Paper-ballot votes get more support", "Senate passes bill changing state voting", "Senate OKs paper-trail votes", "Plan to spen $28 million on new voting machines clears the Senate" and "Senate Passes Elections Bill".
"A slew of presidential candidates and hundreds of journalists descended this week on South Carolina, showering attention on what nearly everybody is describing as the first-in-the-South primary state. Few of these politicos have grasped that Florida is about to crash the Palmetto State's party with a Jan. 29 Sunshine State primary." "Earlier Florida primary could blindside candidates". See also "Florida v. SC primary war".
"Give pundits the chance and they'll tell you how the campaign for president will unfold because, well, they think they know so much more about the candidates than you do. ... Thing is, despite the pundits' eagerness to call the race before it's run, anything can happen -- especially if the public chooses to involve itself in the proceedings and decide, for itself. Floridians can do that sooner than ever in next year's expected earliest-ever primaries. But also before. Next week, the Republicans debate. Tune them in." "See for yourself".
"The future of cable television in Florida may have changed on the state Senate floor Thursday. After a two-year battle, phone companies appear poised to win approval for an easier way to enter the lucrative cable television market." "Senate backs phone entry in cable TV". See also "Titans battle for control of cable TV in Florida".
Dubya Struggles To Find A Friendly Audience
"Despite a growing antiwar mood on college campuses across the country, President Bush can expect more cheers than heckles Saturday as he addresses 1,500 students and their families at Miami Dade College's commencement."
Miami Dade, a commuter college whose graduates are 77 percent Hispanic -- the largest contingent among them Cuban American -- creates a friendlier political envi- ronment for Bush than he might have faced at many four-year universities."Cheers likely for Bush at MDC speech". See also "South Florida graduates to hear from president".
Bush's visit coincides with rallies planned around the country by war protesters calling for Congress to impeach him. Protesters planning an "unwelcoming party'' for the president on the perimeter of the Kendall campus, where Bush will speak at the gymnasium, say they will not disrupt the 5 o'clock ceremony, though some alumni and faculty have signed a petition decrying the invitation.
If you're in the neighborhood, check out this site: "The Unwelcoming Party".
The CD 13 "Task force will meet" next week.
"The Florida Senate struck back at terror and genocide Friday, voting 39-0 to divest state pension investments from companies with known ties to Iran and Sudan." "State strikes back at terror". See also "Florida looks to lead charge on businesses in Iran, Sudan".
"After two hours of heated debate, the state House approved a proposal to require an ultrasound and a 24-hour wait period before almost all abortions." "Abortion bill heads to Senate". See also "House approves curbs on abortion" and "House passes waiting period, ultrasound requirements for abortion".
"Mark Lunsford, who became a highly visible advocate for tougher child protection laws after his 9-year-old daughter was slain, was encouraged Friday by Gov. Charlie Crist to run for the state House of Representatives. Lunsford said he would run as a Republican, albeit on a traditional Democratic platform that he could become a voice for the elderly and less fortunate people." "Crist sets special election for state Senate seat". See also "Jessica Lunsford's father to pursue House seat" and "Crist pushes Lunsford to run for state House".
More Choice Politics
"Certain crimes on pregnant women that result in their fetuses' death could lead to murder charges, no matter how far along the pregnancy was, under a bill the Florida House passed overwhelmingly Friday. Opponents said the bill would change the law on when life begins in Florida." "Florida law on murdering fetuses tightened under House bill". See also "House wants to strengthen rules on fetal deaths".
"Sen. Charlie Justice, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, introduced a new amendment Friday that would apply to any Florida officeholder and any federal office—not just president and vice president, but U.S. House and Senate as well. That one sailed through the Senate and will now go to the House. With Rubio on record favoring it, its odds are good." "R2R—The Saga Continues". See also "Senate flips on 'resign-to-run'".
"Two bills aimed at curbing drunken driving have passed the House and are headed to the Senate." "Drunk-proof cars awaiting Senate action".
Why Florida Needs Mandatory Civics Classes
"Angry homeowners have watched as local governments, flush with cash from rising property values, have chosen to spend it on more police, better parks and all the other things local government does - rather than use it to soften the property tax hit." "Taxpayers Demand Trimming".
"The state Senate loves no-fault laws, but House lawmakers says the system is ripe with fraud." "Drivers, it could be your fault". See also "House, Senate rethink auto insurance" and "Senate extends no-fault until '12".
"The NRA Of Cults"
Daniel Ruth: "Think of those zany, cuckoo, wacky Scientologists as sort of the National Rifle Association of cults."
A few days ago, a joint Senate-House conference committee approved a $200,000 seed money appropriation to create the Statewide Suicide Prevention Program, which will be used to develop a comprehensive effort for consideration during next year's legislative session."The NRA Of Cults Strikes Yet Again".
The program would involve local suicide prevention agencies, faith-based groups, law enforcement, emergency response professionals, schools, universities, substance abuse treatment organizations and, yes, cue the "Running with Scissors" theme - mental health experts.
Now there's a recipe for subversion - potentially suicidal people getting help from people who know what they are doing.
Kramer did not respond to questions submitted through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights about his opposition to the bill.
Heaven Help Us If ...
Heaven help us if "T. Willard Fair is one of Florida's most recognized civil rights leaders". "Education Official Went Too Far With Harsh Immigration Ad".
After all, this is the same man who told Jebbie that "'In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you."
Lessons From Orlando (?)
"Last Tuesday's contest in state House District 49 in the Orlando area wasn't your typical, who-cares, no-name special election:"
- Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson flew in from Washington to campaign door to door with a 29-year-old rookie who had lost his last race.Beth Reinhard tells us why in "Lessons from Orlando for Democrats".
- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also followed the campaign.
- The Democrat won.
That means the party flipped its eighth Republican seat in the House since November in a state where Democrats had gotten used to making concession speeches over the past several years.
Why should voters in Miami-Dade and Broward care about a Central Florida election in late April?
To Tell the Truth
"Give the Florida Senate a pat on the back for approving the Truth in Government Act. If enacted, the law would require anyone giving testimony before a legislative committee -- including lobbyists -- to be sworn in. That means someone who lies while addressing a committee could be charged with perjury." "Legislature 2007".
"For the second year in a row, lawmakers are trying to maneuver around the Florida Supreme Court ruling that struck down a private voucher program established under former Gov. Jeb Bush. The trick: Deposit revenues from corporate income taxes into a trust fund, and specify in statute that the fund can be used for 'any purpose other than education.'" "Trust fund could be voucher loophole".
"State lawmakers decided to keep a registry of private attorneys who represent inmates sentenced to death in North Florida despite Florida Supreme Court justices' request to scrap the pilot program initiated by Gov. Jeb Bush four years ago." "State opts to keep list of private attorneys".
"Floridians who will see millions of their tax dollars go to roads instead of mass transportation next year can thank rental-car lobby money for that. But if the state, once again, fails to leverage $50 million of that tax money into more than $1 billion in federal mass-transit dollars, blame state legislators." "Why accept gridlock?".
"Tampa Electric got a gift from the Legislature on Friday when the Senate voted to let it charge customers up front for a $1.5 billion experimental coal power plant in Polk County." "Tampa coal-plant measure passes".
Not A Tax Increase
"By a 28-10 vote, the Senate on Friday embraced a tiered tuition system that would generate tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue for the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida." "Senate approves higher tuition for 3 schools".
"A legislative conference committee has refused, in the human services and health care appropriations bill, to include money to protect the state in the event of an avian flu pandemic. If that stands, it will make Florida the only state to turn down federal assistance to protect its people." "Influenza". See also "Public health experts urge legislators to stock antivirals to fight avian flu".
"Owners of second homes in Florida feel tax squeeze". See also "Homestead exemption only allowed on principal residence".
"Financial settlements for a 14-year-old boy killed at a Florida boot camp and a wrongly imprisoned man are both halfway through the state Legislature." "Senate OK's $4.8 million in beating death of teenager". See also "Senate passes $5 million settlement in boot camp death", "After debate, Senate approves settlement for boot camp death", "Senate approves $4.8 million payout in boot camp death" and "Senate OKs $5 million Anderson settlement".
From The "Values" Crowd
"It would be unwise of the Florida Legislature to cut funding for the Medicaid safety-net program that helps cover hospital care for uninsured and charity patients. Yet this is exactly what a Senate proposal would do. ... The Legislature shouldn't shortchange poor and uninsured residents who use emergency services or the hospitals that care for them. Lawmakers should provide a safety net for the needy." "The neediest patients". See also "Cost-saving plan may cut state funding for disabled", "Accord to cut deficit likely to cap services for some disabled people", "Bailout could cut services to disabled" and "Budget Would Revamp Disabled Services".
Falling Water Levels
"Bird and alligator sightings rise as water levels continue to fall".