"State Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman decided Wednesday to call a meeting by phone a few hours before the deadline for deciding how to handle Florida's stalemate with the national party over Florida's Jan. 29 primary date." "Democrats go down to the wire on primary solution".
"A powerful group of business leaders pledged support Wednesday for the super homestead exemption, but told House Speaker Marco Rubio that much more needs to be done to cut property taxes." "Businesses ask Rubio for more tax relief".
"Behind closed doors in the Governor's Office, lobbyists representing insurers, health-care providers and plaintiffs' lawyers are negotiating whether millions of Florida drivers will still be buying personal-injury-protection coverage next month." "Insurance plan being hashed out in secret". See also "Increased profit rates cited for lack of Florida property insurance savings". Meanwhile, "PIP loss to hit state".
"Florida's new math standards are good for students and taxpayers." "This change adds up".
"Cabinet OKs specialty tags for NASCAR, troops, prisons". See also "Crist, Cabinet approve NASCAR license plate".
"Behind Closed Doors ..."
"After dog-and-pony shows, candidates go behind closed doors to talk moola".
Playing Politics with Kids
"A Cuban farmer did not speak on the phone or write letters to his daughter for nine months after she moved to the U.S., a clear sign of his abandonment of the girl, state child welfare attorneys said in closing arguments Wednesday in an international custody dispute." "State: Father abandoned Cuban girl in custody dispute".
Florida Hometown Democracy
"The co-founder of the Florida Hometown Democracy constitutional amendment campaign said Wednesday letting citizens vote on land-use changes is not a 'radical, wild-eyed idea' to stifle growth." "Land-use amendment debated".
Mike Thomas: "Tased student asked for it and got it: Attention". Another view: "Taser doubts". Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "Democracy could use a jolt" ("If it were up to me, the people who don't ask questions would get Tased, bro.").
The Washington Post yesterday: "Key Republican leaders are encouraging the party's presidential candidates to rethink their decision to skip presidential debates focusing on issues important to minorities, fearing a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters." "Debate no-shows worry GOP leaders".
Battle of the Empty Suits
"Mitt Romney is seeking to emphasize his Florida-friendly stands on issues including oil drilling and a national catastrophe fund, following a couple of public appearances here by Fred Thompson in which he didn’t always say what Floridians wanted to hear." "Romney Takes On Thompson On Florida Issues".
The Tampa Trib editors: "Presidential candidate Fred Thompson's swing through Florida should alarm voters and worry supporters. Thompson displayed little command of the issues or sympathy for state concerns."
"Giuliani associates himself with Churchill".
"Florida's probe of property-insurance companies that refuse to lower rates has expanded beyond State Farm, state regulators said Wednesday." "Insurance-industry probe widens". More: "Consultant: Insurance should be cheaper, companies at fault".
Court Throws out Legislation
"Although the state Constitution has always barred the Legislature from targeting unique situations with broad general laws, the Legislature has a long history of crafting such deals anyway. Yet in two cases last week, the Florida Supreme Court pulled back the veil on a surreptitious practice that runs counter to Florida's open government laws. In throwing out the two laws, the court toughened the standard for such laws and opened the door for future legal challenges." "Improper laws put in spotlight".
"The Bush administration has changed its procedures for trying to remove U.S. sites from a United Nations list of endangered special places after the Everglades was struck from the list this summer, a State Department official said." "Everglades uproar brings change".
"$16 million allocated for Florida trails".
Scott Maxwell: "The U.S. House voted overwhelming this week to help families struggling with their home loans. And even though members of Congress who opposed this effort were hard to come by, you can come by four of them right here in Central Florida. Republican Reps. Tom Feeney, John Mica, Adam Putnam and Cliff Stearns were among those on the losing side of a 348-72 vote to expand federal backing of mortgages."
"Former House Speaker John Thrasher and opponents of the proposed Hometown Democracy ballot initiative are asking voters who supported the petition to revoke their signatures."
The initiative, if put on the ballot and approved by 60 percent of voters statewide, would require local voters to approve any land-use changes to local comprehensive plans. The effort to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot is spearheaded by Palm Beach attorney Lesley Blackner."Ex-House speaker lobbies against initiative".
Thrasher - with Al Cardenas, former state GOP chairman, and Barney Bishop, head of business-backed Associated Industries of Florida - leads a political committee, Save Our Constitution Inc., that opposes the proposed amendment.
He was asked Wednesday about a letter he sent voters after he debated Ross Burnaman, a Tallahassee land use attorney who crafted the Hometown Democracy initiative, at the Capital City Tiger Bay Club.
Thrasher, a Republican, sent the letter on Sept. 6 under the letterhead "The Honorable John Thrasher Former Speaker of the House of Representatives." It urges voters to renege their support for the initiative, claiming it opens the door for "special interests" to manipulate the outcome of elections.
The letter takes advantage of a new law passed this year by the Republican-controlled legislature that gives voters 150 days to undo their support of ballot initiatives by signing a form and returning it to the Department of State.
The letter also cautions that control over growth will be taken away from local planners and instead "turns all power over use of Florida lands to certain 'electors.'
"Guess who the 'electors' will be. The special interests and their slick lawyers will rig the system to put our future in the hands of their cronies," Thrasher's letter says.
Electors is simply another word for voters, but Bishop acknowledged after Wednesday's debate that the word was used in part to confuse voters.
A women's focus group on the issue that included a former state lawmaker did not know what "electors" meant, Bishop said. "They thought they were presidential electors from presidential election campaigns. We're just using the words in the amendment itself to show people that they don't understand that it's legalese, and people don't understand what that means," he said.
Burnaman called the letter "reprehensible."
"The former Tallahassee police chief chosen by Gov. Charlie Crist to head Florida's juvenile justice system this year announced soon after taking over that the state would fight crime in a new way."
Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Walter McNeil said Florida would not keep dumping the bulk of its money into youth lockups. Instead, the state would take a balanced approach, investing in less expensive prevention programs that stop teens from skipping school, joining gangs and committing crimes."Juvenile Justice set to reverse course, cut programs that deter teen crime".
Legislative leaders and youth advocates say they now are surprised that the agency and governor's office presented budget plans that would do just the opposite - chopping millions from programs proven to reform teens who have not yet committed crimes as adults.
"Florida schools could lose the $158 million slated as reward money for schools that do well on the FCAT as legislators look for ways to cut $1 billion in state spending." "Cutback of FCAT bonus is urged".
"But of the close to 2,000 video questions already submitted for the Republican presidential candidates coming to St. Petersburg this fall, the vast majority are asked by regular people sitting in front of a simple camera. The St. Petersburg GOP debate and its unusual format caused an immediate ruckus in some Republican circles. They feared a political ambush. Or some Web-savvy attack. Or just the unexpected. But, so far, there appears little reason to worry." "New debate covers old ground".
"A potentially potent voting bloc"
"A little publicized provision in the proposed property tax amendment gives a tax break to mobile home owners and creates a potentially potent voting bloc. The tax break could benefit close to a million Floridians, about 75,000 of them in the Tampa Bay area. And with polls showing tepid support for the super homestead amendment, their turnout could make a difference." "Mobile home owners may get break".