"House and Senate leaders Wednesday formally called a special session on property tax relief for June 12-22 and appointed a joint committee to draft proposed legislation in the interim." "Special session formally called for June 12-22". And the brain trust is:
Senate: Senator Mike Haridopolos, Senator Daniel Webster, Senator Steve Geller, Senator Lisa Carlton, Senator Jeff Atwater, Senator Ted Deutch, Senator Ronda Storms;"Special Session Called; Prop Tax Meetings Set". More: "Agenda for session maintains tax focus", "June special session set on property taxes" and "Property taxes the order of business".
House: Representative Dean Cannon, Representative Thad Altman, Representative Frank Attkisson, Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff, Representative Don Brown, Representative Joyce Cusack, Representative Anitere Flores, Representative Luis Garcia, Representative Dan Gelber, Representative Michael Grant, Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Representative Dave Murzin, Representative Michael Scionti, Representative Jack Seiler, Representative Will Weatherford.
The Legislature has taken one of Charlie's levers in special session away from him: "House and Senate leaders Wednesday sent the state's nearly $72 billion budget to Charlie Crist, giving the governor until May 24 to sign the spending plan and issue vetoes. There had been speculation this week that Crist might wait until after the June 12-22 special session on property taxes to act on the budget, using the threat of vetoes as a weapon to get what he wants in the tax fight. Instead, it looks as though the Legislature has sheathed that weapon by its early delivery of the budget. The governor now has only 15 days to act. So whatever Crist does to the budget will have created its share of friends and enemies three weeks ahead of the session." "Budget goes to Crist early". See also "Budget forces Crist's hand".
Will the special session's focus be expanded? "Some lawmakers, children's advocates and top Democrats are pushing for changes that could increase enrollment in the KidCare program, which provides subsidized insurance to children from low-income and working-class families." "Kid health-insurance action sought for special session".
Charlie To Resume Killing
"Crist said Wednesday that he is ready to resume lethal injections after the prison system announced changes to its death penalty procedures. Department of Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough made the changes - including enlarging the death chamber and increasing training - to avoid a repeat of the botched execution of Angel Diaz five months ago." "Crist to restart death penalty". See also "State sticks with execution procedures" and "Crist ready for executions to resume".
This makes it all OK: "The death chamber at Florida State prison is being doubled in size to give execution teams more space to do their jobs". "McDonough concurs with panel's findings on lethal injection"
And isn't this special, we're actually going to train the executioners: "Executions will be carried out by expanded, specially trained teams but the lethal three-drug mix will not be changed, the head of Florida's prison system said Wednesday." "Official: Trained teams to perform lethal injection". See also "Drug mix for executions will not change, state says".
"While criminal charges have been dismissed against Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles for allegedly lying to immigration authorities, he still faces a longstanding civil charge of entering the United States illegally.." "Cuban militant could remain free pending possible deportation".
Justice Delayed ...
"Democrat Christine Jennings is giving up on the courts."
After months of waiting for a state court to rule on her challenge of the disputed 13th Congressional District results, Jennings is asking the judge to hold off on making a decision on her case until after Congress intervenes."Jennings asks court to delay ruling". See also "Candidate asks courts to let Congress decide election dispute" and "Jennings asks court to put challenge on hold".
"We've been waiting for four months, and nothing has happened," said David Kochman, a spokesman for Jennings.
Kochman said instead of waiting for the "glacial-like pace" of the courts, Jennings would rather focus her energies on Congress, where she believes she has a better chance of overturning the November election results.
"Now it's up to Gov. Crist to spur Florida's space and energy industries. ... Space is a $4 billion industry in Florida, providing thousands of high-wage jobs for a state that still relies too heavily on low-wage work. And with the demand for power from the sun, farm products and other alternative sources rising, energy has the potential to become one of the top industries in the Sunshine State. But both would benefit from a boost." "Keep it going".
Poor Mel, the White House Shill
"Mel Martinez is starting to feel some heat on immigration -- from a new direction. Previously, most of the flack he caught came from those within his party who thought his immigration stances were too embracing of immigrants (tho Martinez usually said they were a vocal minority). But now Martinez is taking heat here in Florida from a group that is worried about Martinez backing a new White House proposal -- one that could leave illegal immigrants waiting more than a decade to gain legal status. So the group is urging the Cuban immigrant to "remember your roots."" "Mel's immigration quandry".
On top of that: "The Florida Immigrant Coalition is holding prayer vigils outside the offices of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez today and tomorrow to try to pressure him to support comprehensive immigration reform in Congress this year. ... Martinez said it's unfair for groups to be targeting him and, he said, it may hurt efforts to pass a bill in Congress." "Another group targets Martinez ".
Too Many GOPers
"Although she filed over a month ago for the state senate, some Republicans, notably Sarasota GOP chair Eric Robinson, keep talking about her as a potential supervisor of elections candidate in 2008."
Robinson is partly trying to avoid another GOP primary. State Rep. Mike Grant, R-Port Charlotte, has said he will run for the same senate seat Detert also is seeking."Here’s my card, now stop it".
They are hoping to replace state Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, who because of term limits cannot run for another term.
No Democrats have filed in the State Senate race yet, but the Florida Democratic Party has sent political scouts to the area hoping to recruit a candidate to run.
"Despite available money and bipartisan support for improving enrollment in the state's subsidized health insurance program for children, the Senate failed to make it easier for working, poor parents to sign up their children and keep them enrolled. Unless Gov. Crist adds KidCare to next month's special session, tens of thousands of eligible children likely will remain uninsured and millions in unmatched money once more will go back to the federal government."
"All in all," Children's Campaign Inc. President Roy Miller said, "this was a session of small victories and bigger disappointments for Florida's children and families." Next year, the governor who tries so hard to please can constructively annoy legislators by reminding them that, when it comes to children, the state continues sprinting backward while taking only baby steps forward."Next year, see and hear these Florida children". See also "KidCare failure pinned on sponsor".
"Florida risks losing millions of federal dollars if state lawmakers fail to fix the state's health insurance program for poor children, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said Tuesday." "Group Presses KidCare Repair".
Do The Math: Two-year Schools, Four-year Degrees
"Community colleges in Broward and Palm Beach counties may soon become the latest two-year schools in the state to offer four-year bachelor's degrees." "4-year degree plans proposed".
"While wildfires scorched a rain-parched state and Gov. Charlie Crist toured the hardest hit areas, fire chiefs met Wednesday to discuss a legislative threat." "Fireworks provision in bill causing concern".
"Politicians Stuffing Their Hamster Cheeks Full"
Rliable GOPer Mike Thomas thinks we have a bi-partisan problem in Tally: "When it comes to signing off on a good concrete pour, there are no Democrats or Republicans in Tallahassee. There only are politicians stuffing their hamster cheeks full of campaign contributions from the bulldozer lobby. They pass feel-good greenie laws for public consumption. But then they hide the loopholes in the cracks and crevices, like Easter eggs, waiting to be discovered by the $750-an-hour land-use lawyers." "Charlie may be the guy to stop paving our state".
Speaking of "politicians stuffing their hamster cheeks full", we look forward to Thomas' take on this: "That's Our "Jeb!"". More: "Jeb’s Tenet Pay Includes Large Stock Grants".
"Sen. Bill Nelson says the Sudanese government has denied his application for a visa for a fact-finding trip to Sudan later this month. The State Department told Nelson Monday it was the first such outright rejection for a member of Congress, and the third for a U.S. government delegation this week – signaling the start of a trend." "Nelson Denied Sudan Visa". See also "Sentinel: Sudan prevents visit from Nelson".
"Florida drivers now can expect a nice break in the cost of auto insurance at a time when they can really use it." "Demise Of No-Fault Insurance Will Cut Costs For State Motorists".
Now That "Jeb!" Is Gone
"Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth walked to the courtroom podium Wednesday morning and announced that a deed once thought impossible had been achieved."
No inmates who have been declared mentally incompetent have to wait longer than the 15 days the law allows for a bed in a mental institution. ...But there remains a long way to go:
And the end of their waiting marked the final chapter in what had been a knock-down, drag-out fight between Butterworth's predecessor, former DCF Secretary Lucy Hadi, and Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger.
The feud began in the fall, when retired Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell, at Dillinger's urging, threatened to jail and fine Hadi $80,000 for ignoring orders to find space in one of the three state mental hospitals for inmates who had been declared incompetent to stand trial. This earned Farnell the scorn of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who accused the jurist of throwing a "judicial temper tantrum."
"Unfortunately, Florida ranks 48th in per capita spending for mental illness," Dillinger said." I think the Legislature is going to have to pony up the dollars.""Turnaround for mentally ill". See also "Most mentally ill prisoners moved to get treatment" and "State pledges mental-health care for inmates".
"Bills that would shred Florida's growth management efforts and create more costs for taxpayers should be at the top of Gov. Charlie Crist's veto list. The more offensive measure would free the Florida Turnpike Enterprise of fiscal accountability or planning concerns. The scheme would eliminate the requirement that a toll road be able to repay half its bond debt within 12 years. It would extend the deadline for repaying all of its debt from 22 years to 30 years." "Veto Effort To Gut Growth Management".
"By most measures, the insurance bill lawmakers passed Friday is consumer friendly. But there are a few provisions in the new law that make insurers happy -- and some they really don't like." "Insurance law strives to please all sides".
As The Legislature Slams Local Governments ...
"The firefighting community swept into action Wednesday, leaving behind worried spouses, their children's baseball games and sweet, sweet sleep." "With state ablaze, crews answer call". On a related note: "Palm Beach County sheriff to cut street patrols, school programs".
"With the drought elevating a perpetual problem into a critical concern, state water managers are poised today to impose severe new restrictions to combat a seeping front of sea water that threatens the water supply for hundreds of thousands of coastal residents." "Seeping seawater threatens Florida's drinking supply".
"In the midst of budget battles and hand wringing over taxes and insurance, the state Legislature united in unanimous support for a no-brainer measure that protects the value of one of the most popular presents for any time of year: the gift card." "Consumers".
"The New York Times reports that Fort Lauderdale attorney and top Democratic fundraiser Mitchell Berger joined about 50 others for a reunion of those who helped Al Gore when he ran for president in 1987." "Mitch Berger at Al Gore reunion". See also "The Gore Reunion".
Primary Musical Chairs
"Florida's move crowds the traditional leadoff primary in New Hampshire, which had been set for Jan. 22."
And New Hampshire is unhappy about the competition from two caucuses planned even earlier in January in Iowa and Nevada. So its secretary of state is threatening to jump the rivals, even if it means voting before Jan. 1."Campaign calendar craziness".
This way lies madness.