High tech ballots
"By requiring all counties to use optical scanners, Florida is banking on a vote-counting method that has been around for decades in order to satisfy demands for a paper trail."
But many Florida counties will be relying on comparatively new technology to carry them through early voting. And with that comes the potential for snags."Paper ballots go high tech".
As many as 27 counties, including Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough, plan on using ballot-on-demand machines to print ballots during early voting. Pinellas is using the system now to print absentee ballots.
Am I limited to one answer?
A question for the ages:
Quick, what do term-limited Florida legislators have in common with Britney Spears?"Term limits limit leaders". Here's a hint: "'We've become the 'Oops, I did it again' Legislature'".
"At 38, this cocky, born-again son of an arctic ship captain has emerged as one of the most important and courted Democratic players in America's biggest battleground state. Beneath Wagar's legendary political incorrectness is a ferociously loyal and idealistic champion who, not incidentally, can reel in reams of campaign checks." "Obama's political muscle in Florida".
Child labor laws, minimum wages, crummy tax relief - what's an Associated Industries lobbyist to do?
To hear Gov. Charlie Crist tell it, help arrives Jan. 29 when voters take up the property tax cut proposal that he helped the Legislature create. Taxes, he says, would "drop like a rock.""Florida businesses wish for more tax relief".
But the plan gives little relief to business owners, who helped launch the cry for reform in 2006 after their tax bills jumped more than 40 percent in two years.
Research shows that the main provision aimed at businesses -- capping annual growth of a property's taxable value at 10 percent -- would rarely be triggered for commercial properties. The other provision is a $25,000 exemption on certain business property and some mobile home property.
"We would be less than frank if we said we are pleased with what the Legislature did for the business community," said Barney Bishop, chief executive of Associated Industries of Florida, one of the state's most influential business groups.
"The average increases for most businesses have been 4 to 6 percent," Bishop added. "To add insult to injury, the cap goes away in 10 years" unless voters reauthorize it in 2018.
The cap also applies only to taxes that fund local government; school taxes, which make up 40 percent of a bill, are not subject to the restriction.
"Under new jury rules that go into effect on Jan. 1 in Florida, jurors will be allowed to ask questions of witnesses in criminal and civil trials. The ability to submit questions is the most controversial of several jury reforms recently approved by the Florida Supreme Court." "Florida rules set to change for jury trials".
"Gay marriage is last season's politics"
The Trib editors:
Twenty-seven states have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages and next November, Florida could become the 28th."Gay Marriage Not The Biggest Threat To Cherished Institution".
But backers of the amendment shouldn't expect Florida voters, most of whom do not approve of gay marriage, to be exercised about this issue during an election year in which there are so many other important matters to talk about.
Gay marriage is last season's politics. ...
Republicans have effectively used the gay-marriage ban amendments against Democrats, who want gay votes but don't want to alienate the majority of voters who don't sanction same-sex marriages.
The Palm Beach Post editors: "U.S. immigration policy is politically contorted and dysfunctional enough without the states meddling in cases where they don't belong."
But recently released documents show that both former Gov. Jeb Bush and his successor Gov. Crist ordered the Department of Children and Families to get involved in a dispute that began last year over a 4-year-old Cuban girl. State officials had said they gave no special treatment to the politically charged case but records obtained by The Associated Press clearly indicate otherwise. DCF spent more than $250,000 in legal fees and took free work from private attorneys in a failed effort to help a prominent Cuban-American couple in Miami get permanent guardianship of the girl and prevent her father from taking her back to live in Cuba."Cuban child case a waste".
Naturally, the case resurrected the political angst of the Elian Gonzalez dispute from 2000. If the child had been Guatemalan, or Haitian, or Italian, the birth father would have claimed custody quickly and taken her back home. But the specter of another Elian and another eruption in the Miami exile community turned an obvious humanitarian decision into something acutely political.
Immigration attorney Ira Kurzban, who represented the father, Rafael Izquierdo, is right when he blames Gov. Bush for the decision "to pander to the right-wing elements of the Cuban community" from the beginning. The Crist administration then continued the pandering. Records show DCF did all it could to disparage the reputation of Mr. Izquierdo and relatives in Cuba. Like Elian, the girl became a pawn in a political game that ignored her best interest.
"The Everglades, the Indian River Lagoon and Central Florida veterans scored victories in Congress in 2007. But NASA failed to win an extra $1 billion intended to make up for past shortfalls." "Congressional session a mixed bag for Florida".
"Term limits could be problem for Big Bend".
A bit much
"For years, University of Florida alumni have insisted that the path to heaven runs through Gainesville. Well, they may soon have a point." "Die-hard Gators could get campus urns".
"Raul Castro: Fidel is stronger, should be parliament candidate".
"On New Year's Day"
"On New Year's Day, 1923, a 22-year-old white woman named Fannie Taylor told the sheriff of Levy County that she had been assaulted by a black man. Soon, a mob of between 400 and 500 people was searching the woods around Rosewood, a community of about 30 black families east of Cedar Key. Suspicion had fallen on a black man named Jesse Hunter, who had escaped recently from a road gang. Hunter was never found, but after seven days of violence, six blacks and two whites had been killed. The homes, stores and churches of Rosewood lay in ashes and the surviving residents had fled through the woods. Mortin's uncle, Sam Carter, was the first to die." "Rosewood survivor recalls 1923 massacre".
It must be there, somewhere ...
"Archaeology students search for artifacts in Panhandle".
"Charlie Crist and state officials deserve credit for forging a deal to reduce prices on pharmaceuticals."
Under the state program, roughly 4 million elderly and low-income Floridians will receive a drug card giving them access to cheaper medications at pharmacies across the state. Those reductions should total between 5 percent and 42 percent."If Florida can get a better deal on meds, so should Washington".
Sure, there probably are a lot of skeptical folks across the Sunshine State today. And given disappointments over meager insurance premium reductions, and even the inability to slash property taxes so far, you can't blame them for doubting this deal, too, won't be as good as promised.
The proof is in the results, and soon we'll see if the governor's plan meets its billing. All Floridians should hope so, and should give the plan a shot.
From the Folks that gave us Tulia, The Thin Blue Line, and Dubya (mocking Karla Faye Tucker)
"This year's death penalty bombshells -- a de facto national moratorium, a state abolition and the smallest number of executions in more than a decade -- have masked what may be the most significant and lasting development."
For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas."As other states back off executions, Texas takes lead".
Over the past three decades, the proportion of executions nationwide performed in Texas has held relatively steady, averaging 37 percent. Only once before, in 1986, has the state accounted for even a slight majority of the executions, and that was in a year with 18 executions nationwide.
But last year, enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.
David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, said the day is not far off when essentially all executions in the United States will take place in Texas.