What About the Budget Cuts?
"Despite newly tightened budget restrictions on travel, two dozen Florida legislators are heading for Philadelphia this month for a conservative organization's convention featuring two potential Republican presidential candidates. ... The ALEC agenda includes appearances by former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who have been considering bids for the White House." "Travel restrictions don't stop Legislature".
"A South Florida mayor has challenged the property tax overhaul passed by the Legislature, asking the state Supreme Court to boot a constitutional amendment off the Jan. 29 statewide ballot and erase from state law a series of initiatives passed in the recent special session. According to Hersh's petition, the amendment is flawed because it:"
•Contains a "highly misleading" ballot statement that fails to inform voters that the intent of the amendment is the eventual phase-out of Save Our Homes." Under the amendment, new homebuyers would be ineligible for the old Save Our Homes benefit, and as longtime homeowners sold out or died, the program would eventually be eliminated."Lawsuit Challenges Property Tax Freeze, Amendment". See also "Mayor challenges state tax changes", "Mayor asks for court's ruling", "Lawsuit: Take tax plan off ballot" ("Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, reacted bitterly to the legal challenge"), "South Florida mayor challenges state tax cut", "Weston mayor sues to fight property tax cuts, statewide reform referendum" and "Weston Mayor Wants Court to Remove 'Super' Exemption from Jan. Ballot".
•States that everyone would receive a minimum homestead exemption of $50,000 when residents who opt for the status quo would continue to have a $25,000 exemption.
•Was improperly scheduled for a vote in a special election, while the constitution requires proposals that include more than a single amendment or revision to be held on a general election ballot. Hersh contends that the Legislature repeatedly referred to the complicated ballot measure with the plural "amendments." The next general election ballot would be in November 2008.
The petition also calls for Secretary of State Kurt Browning to "expunge" 12 sections of the bill that passed in June from state law. The provisions detailing the rollback of local property tax revenues and caps on future growth violate local governments' constitutional authority to set tax rates, the petition says.
Florida didn't do too well "in a new federal report on volunteerism in America's largest metropolitan areas". "Limping in at 45th out of 50, Orlando at least fared better than Miami (49th). Tampa managed a still-dismal 39th."
The report cited four factors driving volunteerism rates:  sense of community attachment,  commuting times,  high-school graduation levels and  poverty."Orlando near bottom of national volunteerism rankings".
Well, we know where the Jebbites stand on poverty: how could poverty possibly be an issue when nobody, has to pay a tax on intangibles? After all, "The law, in its majestic impartiality, forbids the rich and poor alike to sleep under the
bridges" or pay intangibles taxes.
Moreover, according to FIU's most recent Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) report on ""Working Poverty: Low Wage Workers in Florida"" (.pdf file):
• Florida has an unusually high percentage of low-wage jobs, due to its tourist-related economy.As for graduation rates, the Tampa Trib editorial board put it this way in a recent editorial: "The national high school graduation rate is 69.9 percent. Florida's ranking puts it at 45th of the 50 states - a disgrace for the fourth largest state." "A Summer Of Discontent For High Schools".
• Florida also has a higher poverty rate than average for the U.S.
Well, there is one area of "community attachment" where Floridians are doing a bit too well: "Sexual diseases spike, baffling local experts".
"State's juvenile justice: 'It's a train wreck'".
"The once timorous Board of Governors"
"Former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, who championed passage of the 2002 constitutional amendment to set up an independent governing board for the State University System, now wants to strengthen the board."
Go, Bob! Due to historic underfunding and undue political interference in the public universities, Florida has no world-class institution -- not even the University of Florida, the state's flagship school. ..."Suing for higher quality".
While not connected to the suit filed Friday, the once timorous Board of Governors is getting a stronger sense of itself. The board is meeting today in Orlando to consider, among other issues, a proposal to "assert its authority." ...
Logically, the time for the board to have asserted authority would have been when it was set up. But then-Gov. Jeb Bush (who led the demolition of the old universities authority, the Board of Regents) and legislative leaders were unwilling to relinquish control. And no one on the board then had the nerve to speak up.
Perhaps Graham's lawsuit will give the governors the dose of courage they need. This isn't about an ivory-tower power play. It's about giving Florida's university students options equal to those in other states. A high-quality public system can't be run on pennies.
"Florida was the first state to enact such a law in 2005, removing the requirement that people who think they are in immediate peril must first try to retreat from the confrontation before using deadly force. Prior to passage of the law, only people defending themselves in their own homes, for the most part, could use deadly force without first trying to flee. Most states let authorities determine whether deadly force was reasonable, even inside the home. But the new laws create an automatic presumption that a person is justified in using deadly force to ward off an attacker in just about any public place." "Laws to expand self-defense rights cause confusion".
"Florida should consider building more nuclear power plants and even contemplate constructing a facility that would recycle nuclear waste into usable fuel, a panel examining the state's energy future says." "Panel: Fla. should lead in reprocessing spent nuclear fuel".
The Miami Herald editorial board: The Tampa Tribune editorial board writes today that "lawmakers have spent much of the last decade trying to reform the law that has led to well-publicized fraud and abuse by unscrupulous doctors and chiropractors."
Legislators haven't been able to come up with a solution. The governor would be wise to let the law sunset and watch auto insurance rates come down."No-Fault Reform Has Not Worked". The Miami Herald editorial board:"Time to address the problems with PIP".
Trouble is, the expiration of no-fault could directly affect the bottom lines of some powerful players in Tallahassee. Hospitals, clinics and health insurance companies insist if personal injury protection insurance is not required, many drivers will carry no health insurance at all. Hospitals, for example, worry they won't get paid in a timely manner, if at all, in the absence of PIP; some chiropractors worry their clinics will be forced to close.
But the demise of PIP should save drivers from 15 to 30 percent on their car insurance premiums, which is a major reason 38 states do not require no-fault insurance.
"FAU donor's cruise gift to Brogan sparks ethics concerns".
"Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center, was removed from his post Monday, four days after half the center's employees staged a public mutiny against their outspoken new boss." "Hurricane chief gets cast aside in mutiny".
"A well-funded, bipartisan group is revving up to fight the likely ballot proposal for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in Florida." "Proposed ban unites red, blue".
Big of 'Em
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board:"it may be doubly appreciated that House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt were not lavish in handing out post-session bonuses to their staffs." After all,
big bonuses, customary for senior legislative staffers and aides in most years, would have sent a bitter message to other state employees."Fairer play".
Lawmakers decided to give Career Service employees (average salary: $33,557) only a $1,000 one-time salary boost - $673 after all's said and done - instead of a percentage pay raise that would have added to their employees' retirement and base salary.