"One constitutional amendment would force the state to spend $200 million for embryonic stem cell research. The other would ban any state money for such research. Though they conflict, both measures could wind up on the same ballot, after the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday declared each proposal meets constitutional muster. So if both pass in November 2008, who wins? The lawyers for both sides. Beyond that, little else is certain." "Conflicting amendments could end up on ballot". See also "Ballot language on opposing stem-cell amendments OK'd", "Rival stem cell initiatives move closer to ballot" and "Court OKs ballot language for stem cell amendments".
Your Tax Dollars at Work
The Q reports that "House Speaker Marco Rubio will keep budget consultant Donna Arduin on the payroll for at least another month to help with special session." "Rubio adviser sticks around".
More on Arduin and her "crackpot" ideas see "The Real Culprit", "'Crackpot Theory', 'Florida-style'" (scroll down) and "Speaking of 'De-Jebification'".
Most Sought After Dem Endorsements?
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gives us what he argues are "the five most sought after endorsements among Florida Democrats."
- Bob Graham: While Graham's 2004 presidential bid was never treated as anything more than a novelty at the national level, the former senator remains a powerful force in Florida politics. He is an iconic figure in the state's Democratic Party, having spent time in the state House (1966-1970), state Senate (1970-1978) and as governor (1978-1986)."The Endorsement Elite: Florida Democrats".
- Kendrick Meek: Meek, who won his mother's Miami-area 17th District when she retired in 1992, is a comer both in Florida and in Washington. He earns a spot on our list thanks to his real-world experience in statewide campaigns. In 2002, Meek was the driving force behind a successful ballot initiative that sought to limit the number of students per classroom across Florida; it was strongly opposed by Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Then in 2004, Meek served as Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) Florida campaign chairman.
- Alex Sink: Sink is the lone statewide elected Democrat in the state after Sen. Bill Nelson, and as such is the titular head of the party. But she is far more than a symbolic leader. Sink is one-half of a powerful political couple in the state (her husband Bill McBride was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2002) and won 300,000 more votes in her successful 2006 run for chief financial officer than the party's gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis got in his losing effort.
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Wasserman Schultz won the 20th District in 2004 and has been moving up the Democratic food chain ever since. Her district takes in huge population centers in Broward County, which as of 2005 had 1.76 million people living within its borders. Wasserman Schultz herself wouldn't claim to be able to deliver all of these votes to a particular candidate, but her endorsement would certainly give a presidential candidate entree into some critical communities.
- Robert Wexler: Asked about Wexler's influence in Florida Democratic politics, one plugged-in Democrat said the six-term congressman had an organization in "the condos" that couldn't be matched. Those condos house thousands upon thousands of retirees (Wexler's 19th District has one of the highest percentages of Social Security recipients in the nation) who make up a huge and influential voting bloc in the state.
See also "Graham, Meek, Wasserman Schultz, Sink and Wexler - the 'Endorsement Elite'" and "Florida's 'Endorsement Elite'" ("Some notable absences: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, 2006 gubernatorial candidates Jim Davis and Rod Smith, and big-city mayors Buddy Dyer (Orlando), Lois Frankel (West Palm Beach) and Pam Iorio (Tampa).")
"Crist to urge other governors to divest Iran holdings".
Very, Very Scary ...
"If Florida legislators don't make property taxes 'affordable' in an upcoming special session, angry taxpayers are likely to take matters into their own hands with unpredictable results, House Speaker Marco Rubio told a business group Thursday." "Rubio urges leaders to control reform of property taxes".
More "devious" Plans?
"Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina doesn’t think much of Florida’s Jan. 29 presidential primary. Here’s what he told the Associated Press:"
Florida’s primary move "was done by a Republican-controlled General Assembly and a Republican governor, and they did it intentionally just to mess up the Democratic process. I mean, that’s all they did it for," said Clyburn. ..."Is Florida Being Devious?".
"I think it’s kind of interesting how Florida continues to play into these things in a very devious way."
"Richardson Says Florida Key To Win".
"At the dawn of a hurricane season predicted to be unusually active, a report from a Washington think tank is warning that the war-stressed Florida National Guard may be ill prepared to respond after a strike by a major storm." "Report questions readiness of National Guard in crisis".
"So what kind of a speaker does a Democratic club in Palm Beach County [the Century Village and West Palm Beach Democratic Clubs] look for to address its hard-core members? How about a Republican governor?" "Everyone loves Charlie, Part 89".
Only a "Glitch"
The FCAT apologists at The Sun-Sentinel try to minimize the latest FCAT Fiasco:
The recent "glitch" in Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores points out why more attention needs to be paid to altering and improving the test."Education".
"Sales-tax holiday begins today for essential storm supplies". See also "State details sale tax holiday on hurricane items".
That's Our Charlie
"Olmert asks for some of Crist's magic".
Whose Fingerprints Are On This?
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Gov. Charlie Crist was right to veto a bill that would have given Medicaid HMOs a $5 million rate increase and taken away a requirement needed to protect HMO patients with severe mental illnesses. Now Medicaid HMOs still will be required to spend 80 percent of their state payment on direct services for mentally ill clients. The objectionable provisions were added to the bill behind closed doors near the end of the session. No legislator owned up to adding the provisions. " "Veto protects Medicaid".
"Now that state GOP Chairman Jim Greer seems to have negotiated a truce of sorts between the state party and the Florida Republican Women's Network (the group of prominent Republican activists booted last year from the national Federation of Republican Women), perhaps we should expect Charlie Crist to return home having resolved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." "GOP women's club feud resolved?"
"The value of homes and business property in Central Florida continues to increase by double-digit percentages, county officials are reporting, adding further fuel to legislative efforts to dramatically slash property taxes. County property appraisers are finalizing their 2007 estimated tax rolls across Florida, basically telling cities and counties what they can expect to collect in property-tax revenues to pay for public safety, social service, roads and other services in next year's budget." "Counties' windfall adds fuel to tax-cut talk".
Looming Trooper Cutbacks
"Florida lawmakers quietly tucked $25 million in the back of the 400-page state budget to keep driver's license offices open and state troopers on the road. With just days left in the spring session, top Republicans were warned that the end of the state's no-fault auto insurance law this October could result in deep budget cuts for the state agency that oversees motorists." "DMV guards against cutbacks as end to no-fault law looms".
"Florida's leaders are gambling big-time that Florida will enjoy another quiet hurricane season. As the new season begins today, never before have the stakes been higher for taxpayers and the state's economic future." "Florida Stands Partially Naked To Risks Of New Storm Season".
"House minority leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, sat sprawled across a chair in the lobby of the Tel Aviv Hilton at midnight, Israel time, voicing his doubts about the progress of tax negotiations and hearing the concerns of more than a dozen members of the Democratic caucus in a conference call with lawmakers. Democrats were preparing for next Monday's tax hearing in which they will formally introduce a revised homestead exemption proposal." "Worried about tax progress, Dems revamp plan".
Among the prominent former Pinellas legislators helping on Thompson's prospective campaign: RZ "Sandy" Safley (formerly with Romney), Curt Kiser (formerly with Giuliani) and Jack Latvala."Floridians for Fred Thompson".
What's more, it sounds like we can expect state Reps. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, and Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, to jump on board if Thompson gets all the way in. Oscar Juarez, another former Howard Baker organizer, is enthusiastic about his longtime friend Thompson and may jump ship from McCain.
"Under the state's wildlife permitting process, the developers could have applied for a permit to bulldoze and pave over the creatures' burrows, destroying them, in exchange for paying into a fund that purchases land for wildlife protection. This appalling practice has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of these slow-moving, terrestrial turtles over the last 15 years and, coupled with development throughout the state, put them at risk of extinction. ... Fortunately, this grotesque 'pay-to-pave' program is set to end July 31, thanks to pressure by environmental and animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, which correctly calls the practice "perverse."" "Tortoise Getting Protection It Deserves".
"As Dennis Baxley and Charlie Dean scrap it out in the final days before the SD3 primary, the Republican Party is turning attention to the general election."
A new mailer is calling into question Democrat Suzan Franks' voting record as a legislator in New Hampshire."1,300 miles away, a tax vote plays in SD3".
"Let's take a look at liberal Suzan Franks' baggage," reads a tag on a suitcase packed for Florida. The flip side shows votes Franks made on a state income tax, statewide property tax and other taxes. ...
If Franks prevails in her own primary, she can expect her New Hampshire voting record will be on full display. More about Franks at her Web site. An interesting tidbit you won't find there: Franks, formerly of Nashua, was a Republican until switiching parties in 2000.