"Property-tax negotiators in the House and Senate said Wednesday that they have agreed to focus their joint meeting next week entirely on expanding or creating exemptions for all property owners." "Property-tax focus narrows". "Legislators get closer to deal -- no sales tax hike, big cuts in property taxes".
"State lawmakers have weeks to go before convening the June 12 special session, but there is good reason to expect that they will resolve Florida's property-tax crisis without causing an economic train wreck in the process. Several factors underpin this optimism, a high-risk position whenever politics and expedience are conjoined. The most promising factors are proposals for 'super' tax exemptions and the shift away from a 2.5 cent increase in the state sales tax." "Drawing a bead on property-tax relief".
Meanwhile, "Rubio Meets the Press -- Over and Over Again": "it looks like House Speaker Marco Rubio is ready to fire up his own property tax publicity machine again."
More on the Dem plan here: "Coming Together on Prop Taxes"; and here: "Democrats in House unveil plan to cut taxes". The House's progress report: "Cannon: "Much work to do" on taxes".
"In an attempt to keep foster children safe, Florida has passed enough laws and issued enough regulations to fill a good-sized book. But those rules alone won't do the job." "Florida falls short on advocacy for foster children".
Cash on Demand
"The price tag for lobbying in the state Capitol is at least $26 million this year -- and could approach $70 million -- as BellSouth leads the way with a million-dollar effort." "BellSouth rings up a $1 million bill for lobbying".
Troxler: "the question is whether our lawmakers, who are coming back for a special session on property taxes in June, should revisit the no-fault question. Some folks want Gov. Charlie Crist to make 'em." "Are we sure we don't need no-fault?".
"Florida isn't the Wild West, just yet." See why here: "Not a license to kill".
Apparently still recovering from the decades old Anita Bryant debacle, "Florida citrus officials are proposing the highest taxes on farmers in at least a decade to fund research and marketing for the beleaguered industry." "State proposes big tax hikes on citrus farmers for second year".
Ever So Popular
Bill March: "His first regular session of the state Legislature is over, and Gov. Charlie Crist managed to get through it with his unusually high popularity levels intact, but one poll hints that maintaining that level could depend on a solution to the state’s property insurance problems."
A poll by Strategic Vision, a Republican-oriented consulting firm that regularly publishes political polls in Florida, said 69 percent of respondents approve of Crist’s handling of his job, while 20 percent disapprove."2 New Polls Confirm Crist Popularity". See also "Floridians Still Wild About Charlie, Poll Shows".
A poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce gave Crist an even higher rating, 75 percent approval and 6 percent disapproval. Voters in the Chamber poll, however, were much less optimistic when asked whether Florida is heading in the "right direction" or the “wrong direction”—43 percent said right, and 41 percent said wrong.
BTW Bill, I think it is fair to say that anything coming out of the Florida Chamber of Commerce is as "Republican-oriented" as anything from Strategic Vision.
"The Legislature's decision to move up the state's presidential primary to Jan. 29 breaches national party rules governing the primary calendar. The rules say scofflaw states will lose half of their delegates to the national convention." "Florida going to get comeuppance for early primary".
"Successful trial lawyer and U.S. senator John Edwards came to Fort Lauderdale last year to help raise money for successful trial lawyer and then-state Sen. Walter 'Skip' Campbell, who was running for attorney general. Now Campbell is returning the favor, co-hosting a reception for Edwards tomorrow on Las Olas Boulevard." "Rich trial lawyers got to stick together".
Biden Goes Union
"Joe Biden picked a pipe fitters union hall in Opa-locka to show his solidarity with the AFL-CIO, which is hosting Democratic presidential candidates around the country." "Biden asks for union help".
"Brad Friedman, author of the left-leaning The Brad Blog, wrote today about an Internet worm that appears to have affected computer systems in Sarasota County, but not the actual voting machines that were used in the controversial FL-13 election." "Computer problems for Sarasota?".
"Sense of Humor"
The Orlando Sentinel editors Suggest that "the best thing you can say about the push to increase competition in the cable-television market in Florida is that the folks who came up with the title 'Consumer Choice Act of 2007' have a sense of humor. How else can you explain that most consumer advocates oppose the bill lawmakers passed last session, and many of the state's largest cable-television providers now support it? The bill takes control away from local governments and sends it to Tallahassee in a move that could mean public-access channels get booted off TV altogether." "Veto in order".
By "consumer advocates" it is fair to suppose that the reference is to something other than Charlie's definition of "Consumer". Wait a minute, it seems Charlie has finally figured out what a "consumer advocate" really is> See "Crist Names Consumer Advocate to Citizens' Panel"; Jason Garcia seems to know: "Consumer Groups Urging Another Crist Veto".
In the meantime, the "Justice Department backs cable change".
"The Florida Republican Party has endorsed a proposal by a Christian broadcasting company and its web site to hold a presidential candidates’ debate in Tampa."
Townhall.com, affiliated with Salem Radio Network, which operates several radio stations in the Tampa Bay area, hopes to hold the debate in Tampa this summer, possibly late July, to be broadcast nationally."Florida GOP Backs Townhall.com Tampa Debate". More detail here: "The Sunshine Debate".
So far, only one candidate, Mitt Romney, has committed to participate, and Townhall.com is still discussing the proposal with the others, said Chuck DeFeo of the web site. ...
The radio network and web site are aimed at a religious conservative audience which is likely to be an important constituency in what could be the two most important early primaries in the GOP race, Florida and South Carolina.
SD 3 Primary Over?
"The anti-abortion group Florida Right to Life endorsed state Rep. Dennis Baxley today in his bid for a seat in the Florida Senate, joining the National Rifle Association in backing one of the staunchest social conservatives in Tallahassee in what is expected to be a fierce Republican primary." "Florida Right to Life Backs Baxley in Senate Race".
"Hillsborough County commissioners summoned Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson to their meeting Wednesday, where he promptly received a tongue-lashing from Commissioner Brian Blair."
Commissioners asked Johnson to explain changes in state elections law that could require Hillsborough County to spend between $2 million and $10 million on new voting machines, equipment and training. Blair said Johnson wasn't forceful enough in his objections to the new law, which is awaiting Gov. Charlie Crist's signature."Blair Blows Fuse".
He turned his ire on Johnson after the elections supervisor told commissioners he would not support their efforts to get the bill vetoed.
"That really frosts my butt," Blair told Johnson.
"Deep into the recesses of absurdism "
Scott Maxwell takes a well deserved shot at
U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, who managed to somehow reach deep into the recesses of absurdism to come up with a reason to vote against the COPS program to put more police officers on the streets of America. Not surprisingly, the Brevard County Republican was on the losing end of a 381-to-34 shellacking in the House. I think I agree with Republican Ric Keller (heaven help us both) who reminded me Wednesday that one reason some Republicans fight this effort to put more police on the street is simply because Bill Clinton started it. Said Keller: "It's a good thing Clinton didn't invent the light bulb, or we'd be having this debate in the dark." You know Keller is worried when he makes cracks like that.