Florida's "Millionaires can rejoice"
"Millionaires can rejoice."
Moderate-income homeowners can forget about any $2,000 tax cut."Last-ditch tax debate pivots on who becomes fall guy". Michael Mayo: "Numbers add up for simple property tax solution".
And new home buyers peeved that their neighbors are paying only a fraction of their taxes? They'll have to get over it. ...
Under the new plan, the largest benefit goes to owners of homes with the $1 million in accrued Save Our Homes benefit who trade up to even more expensive homes. One million dollars in accrued benefit is the maximum that would be transferable to a new home under the proposal. The tax savings for someone making that move: $9,500.
And because the new plan leaves the Save Our Homes protection in place, it does nothing to prevent existing inequities where neighboring homeowners in identical houses pay vastly different tax bills, based solely on when they purchased their home.
The Palm Beach Post editors: "State legislators still want to find something - anything - for the Jan. 29 ballot that would make property taxes 'drop like a rock.' The only thing dropping is public confidence in the Legislature. As the special session extends into this week, Tallahassee staff members are pounding out spreadsheets for tax cuts that might total $11 billion. But no one is considering unintended consequences. It's all about political expediency." "In their race to cut taxes, legislators still stumbling".
The Miami Herald editorial board:
The last time state lawmakers celebrated a property-tax fix, they botched the job so badly that a circuit-court judge ruled that the measure could not be put on the ballot. After meeting in special session last week, with the urgency of a football team needing a fourth-quarter miracle, lawmakers again are celebrating a potential property-tax fix. Don't uncork the champagne just yet. The deal they're considering has the look of a desperation pass that could end up in the stands.Read what's not to like here: "Lawmakers miss rare chance to fix property-tax".
Superficially, the proposed deal is appealing, even though the cuts would fall far short of expectations. Renters and low-income seniors would get a break. Homeowners would get portability and doubled homestead exemptions. Schools would be exempt from any additional tax cuts. Save Our Homes would be spared.And first-time home buyers would get a break on the market value of their new home.
What's not to like about this deal?
"Disenfranchisement by bureaucracy"
"A cloud is gathering, again, over Florida's presidential race as voting rights groups plow the ground for challenges to the state's election system."
In March, Secretary of State Kurt Browning - the former county elections supervisor for Pasco County - refused to meet with the Advancement Project to discuss its registration concerns."Civil rights groups investigating voting".
Civil rights groups say that after years of election challenges and vows for improvement, the state's Republican administration remains intent on ''disenfranchisement by bureaucracy.'' ...
For Leon County elections supervisor Ion Sancho, an outspoken champion of freer voting, it comes down to this: ''Are we going to place the primacy on our voters first, or are we going to play voter suppression games?''
The Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, helped organize the latest suit last month in federal court based, in large part, on evidence turned up in a separate 2-year-old case still pending against the state.
An internal memo shows Chief of Staff Dawn Roberts and agency lawyers decided that it had had enough discussions with the organization and ''an additional meeting . . . would not yield any meaningful or more fruitful dialogue.''
With "experts" like that ...
"Prosecutors in the boot camp trial were outnumbered and outgunned by defense attorneys, some legal experts said. ... Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Dr. Vernard Adams testified Anderson died from suffocation when the drill instructors gave him ammonia and clamped his mouth shut. A second state witness, Dr. Thomas Andrew, medical examiner for the state of New Hampshire, said Anderson died from a lack of oxygen. ... defense attorney Hoot Crawford showed a videotape of mostly state witnesses faltering on their testimony, including Adams saying Anderson's body did show evidence of ''exertional sickling.''" "Experts: State dropped ball". See also "Acquittal triggers strong reactions".
"Special sessions aren't so special anymore"
"Being a Florida legislator is considered a part-time job. The pay is $31,932 a year, plus free health and life insurance. But so far in 2007, that part-time job has required lawmakers to be at the state Capitol for four special sessions in addition to their regular legislative duties — though the only bill they are constitutionally required to pass is the state budget. The fourth session, which like the others is estimated to cost taxpayers $40,000 a day, started Friday and could last until Oct. 29." "Florida legislative special sessions turn into ordinary events".
Another RPOF yawner
"When Florida Republicans gather next weekend for their Presidency IV convention and a FOX News presidential debate, they'll also hear a pitch for drawing more blacks and Hispanics into the fold."
For at least some of the 3,000 delegates gathered at Disney World, the theme will sound oh, so familiar."John Kennedy and Aaron Deslatte: State GOP pledges to woo blacks, Hispanics -- again".
Eight years ago at a similar Orlando event, then-Florida Republican chairman Al Cardenas, the party's first Cuban-American leader, said the GOP's future in Florida hinged on attracting more minorities.
Cardenas pledged to recruit black voters and candidates.
But his efforts were quickly torpedoed by Gov. Jeb Bush ...
"The top Democratic official in South Carolina is fighting to protect the state's right to host the first presidential primary in the South, no matter the cost to Florida Democrats." "South Carolina fighting for first dibs on presidential primary".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Tax Cut Version 3.0, the latest scheme developed in Tallahassee to lower property taxes, has something for everyone. Everyone, that is, except those who want to see Florida's leaders make a serious effort to reform the state's tax system." "Modest relief".
GOPers at work
"Southern Strategy Group, one of Tallahassee's most prominent lobbying firms [and John Thrasher's shop], has dropped a client after he verbally savaged a state senator last week. Ken Underwood, president of National Safety Commission, says several lobbyists notified him they were dropping him under pressure from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who chairs a key budget committee."
"He has no right to call my lobbyists and say who they can work for," Underwood said."Fight in the lobby".
Fasano, who has spent two years trying to scuttle Underwood's exclusive contract to print the state's official driver-safety handbook in return for inserting advertisements for his driving school, tells a different story. He says Southern Strategy called him to apologize Wednesday after Underwood took Fasano to the woodshed in a press release.
Fasano has a business partner, Ed Collins, with ties to a rival driving school, and a former aide worked briefly this year for a coalition of driving schools trying to muscle in on Underwood's deal. Fasano tried to kill Underwood's contract in this year's state budget, but the governor vetoed the attempt. Then, the coalition of driving schools sued to have the veto overturned.
Less than impressive
Scott Maxwell writes that "Seminole County's power Republicans can't be too impressed with the results of the primary in the special election for the 34th District House seat last week. Chris Dorworth had money and big backing that even included the head of the whole state GOP, Jim Greer. And yet Dorworth only eked out a 51 percent victory. Are Seminole residents finally catching up with the rest of the country -- ready for a change?" And that was fast: "Dorworth raising green in Tally".
Poor little Lincoln
The Moonies have come "Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart against sniping from Florida Democrats who earlier this week criticized the Miami Republican for voting against a bill to expand a children's health care program, but later helping a group of injured Ukrainian children." "The Washington Times to the rescue".
"Sarasota Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, whose 2006 razor-thin win is still being contested, says he's raised more than $1 million to take on Democrat Christine Jennings, who came within 400 votes of winning the seat to replace former Rep. Katherine Harris." "Buchanan raises $1 million plus for rematch".
Let the Gay Bashing Begin
Wonder how State Rep. Bob Allen will vote on this one:
Two Democratic state legislators from Palm Beach County [State Sen. Ted Deutch and Rep. Kelly Skidmore, both of Boca Raton] have filed bills that would prohibit discrimination in Florida based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations."Two legislators seek to expand anti-discrimination law".
The measures, which the sponsors say will face strong opposition in the Republican-led Legislature, would expand state law that provides legal recourse for people maligned based on their age, color, disability, marital status, national origin, race and religion.
"Gone is Rubio's conservative dream"
"So after months of lofty public policy debate with wonky economic dissertations, the property tax battle in Tallahassee may come down to a simple political calculus of getting enough votes."
Gone is Rubio's conservative dream of ending property taxes for residents. Also gone are the efforts to get rid of Save Our Homes, the 1992 voter-approved plan that many lawmakers feel unfairly burdens non-residents and businesses who do not have the 3 percent cap on assessment increases.And Saint Marco excuse for his abject failure of leadership? You guessed it:
Instead, Floridians may vote on a plan in January that is intended to be popular first and foremost; a plan lovable and simple enough to get three-fourths of the Legislature to agree to put it on the January ballot where it then needs 60 percent approval from voters.
he attributes it to the need to have bipartisan support."Rubio's revolution lacks a legislative consensus".
"The now-younger face of the rights group is bringing new tactics and new priorities." "NAACP: Old fight, new style".
"A volatile liquid"
The Tampa Trib editors:
In Florida, drinking water can be a volatile liquid."Don't Allow Managers, Utilities To Drown Local Source Water Law".
In the 1980s, overpumping at drinking water wellfields prompted 'water wars' among Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. North Florida residents continue to fret that urban counties will try to tap their springs and rivers. And state government has spent years battling Georgia and Alabama in court over shared water resources, including the Chattahoochee River.
A 1998 Florida law sought to douse local water-supply conflicts by requiring counties to fully tap their own resources and devise other local sources before looking to other areas for water. It's appropriately known as 'local sources first.'
But in rapidly growing Central Florida, some water managers and utilities don't seem to understand the concept.