The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "The Florida Senate is trying to correct a problem that exists only in the minds of some religiously conservative legislators."
Translated, the bill wants creationism - disguised as "intelligent design" - to have equal billing in classrooms. The bill is a fraud. The staff analysis notes that "there has never been a case in Florida where a public school teacher or ... student has claimed that they have been discriminated against based on their science teaching or science course work." The bill claims not to "promote any religious doctrine," but of course it does. It attempts to promote the fundamentalist Protestant view of how life developed."Fraudulent evolution bill".
Here's more of the staff analysis: "It is unclear ... if a student's performance in a science class will be measured upon his or her own view or position on evolution, or by a consistent standard applied to each student." That would be a real problem, as opposed to the non-problem this legislation claims to fix. Killing the bill would solve the problem.
"It's called the 'Academic Freedom' bill and it's supposed to give teachers the freedom to teach the 'full range of scientific views' about evolution. But should teachers have the freedom to teach the 'full range of scientific views' about sexual education?"
Republican Sen. Ronda Storms said that Democratic proposal went too far and had it voted down on the Senate floor Thursday, saying the sex-ed measure not only didn't belong on her evolution bill, it could lead to ``prematurely deflowering kindergartners and first- and second-graders.''"Democrats asked: Could teachers teach intelligent design under the Academic Freedom bill? Storms wouldn't say yes or no."
Sen. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, countered that the sex-education bill had to be ''age appropriate'' and that it would help stop sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Adapting Storms' language in previous evolution debates, Deutch said the bill simply gives students "the opportunity to ask about the scientific information.''
Her answer, instead, came straight from the text of her bill: 'You may teach, specifically: `scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution.' ''"Sex-ed amendment to evolution bill falters".
Storms at one point added: ''The bottom line is if it is not scientifically based and if it is not scientifically relevant, the answer is no. If it is, the answer is yes.'' She also pointed out that the bill says ''you may not teach religious doctrine.'' When pressed about intelligent design by Democratic Sen. Nan Rich of Sunrise, Storms said: ``Asked and answered.''
"An amendment that would repeal most school property taxes but require the Legislature to find replacement money was criticized Friday by a Senate leader as well as advocates for education and businesses including agriculture and tourism. The proposed state constitutional amendment has recieved preliminary approval but goes before the state's 25-member tax commission for a final vote next week, and at least one former supporter has changed his mind. " "Senate leader stirs opposition to tax swap".
Get a life
"Supporters of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Florida began a 10-city campaign Thursday to counteract a major argument mounted against the proposal — that it would infringe on rights of elderly couples who choose to live together..." "Campaign for gay-marriage ban seeks to reassure seniors".
"The Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage held several news conferences across the state heralding the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, including one at Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa." "Backers kick off campaign for marriage amendment".
Please, not another hack
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board: "When former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Miami attorney Raoul Cantero to the state Supreme Court, many assumed Bush was sending a message to a court he perceived as activist and out-of-bounds by appointing someone with no judicial experience and a career spent representing some of Florida's biggest corporate names. It's a perception Bush never refuted."
Cantero's announcement this week that he plans to step down in September leaves Gov. Charlie Crist with a challenge. As Bush's Republican successor, does Crist choose another justice with Cantero's highly ideological background? Or does he seek out someone with the balance of skills and experience needed for this crucial job and put ideology aside?"Choose justice over politics".
The "values" crowd
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "The 2008-09 appropriations bills are not merely a conflict between needy schoolchildren and declining state revenues. They also represent a triumph of the interests of corporations and wealthy investors and politically connected professionals over the needs of schoolchildren." "Legislators put fat cats ahead of schoolkids".
The "Nutz" debate
We've been following Eustis Republican Senator Cary Baker's quest "to allow law enforcement to fine motorists $60 for displaying decorations resembling male genitalia -- commonly dubbed 'truck nutz' -- that attach to a trailer hitch."
Believe it or not, the Republican "Senate is expected to pass the ban next week." "Senate aims to neuter bumpers".
I ain't no urologist, but is it "glans"? Actually, no, I stand clarified: the bill refers to "reproductive glands", which make sense if you have never seen the accessory that is the subject of Republican Baker's efforts.
Fortunately, Republican Senator Cary "Baker made clear his proposal would not affect the decal that shows a 'little boy doing bad things to other vehicles. That's not my issue. My bill refers to a reproduction [sic] of reproductive glands. So, if it doesn't show the glands, it isn't covered. And the little boy decals don't show the glands.'" "Legislator crusades to ban rude 'truck-nutz' from bumpers". Well, that's a relief.
And, as an added bonus, the Republican Senator's bill "would also allow police to stop drivers who display any 'obscene word, image or device.'" "Senate aims to neuter bumpers". More: "Florida Senate amendment takes on truck accessories".
"Under Webster's plan, the Lawton Chiles Endowment health care program would spend an estimated $500-million to acquire the 78-mile toll road that cuts across the Everglades from Fort Lauderdale to Naples." "Senator wants endowment fund to lease Alligator Alley".
"Simplistic sound bites"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "Sen. John McCain and Gov. Charlie Crist want to suspend collections of federal and state gas taxes this summer. That might sound appealing to motorists whose budgets are stretched thin by the seemingly daily rise in the price of gas, but McCain and Crist need to focus on real solutions instead of simplistic sound bites." "Gax tax proposal: tiny gain, new pain".
"A routine ceremonial resolution over a free-trade agreement with Colombia exploded into an angry political spat in the state House of Representatives Wednesday after both parties tried to exploit the issue for election-year gain." "Both parties"? Read this story and decide whether it is even remotely accurate to "both parties tried to exploit the issue for election-year gain"? "Colombia deal leads to legislative spat"
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board explains that Senate version of the "so-called Foreclosure Prevention Act... would let home builders receive hundreds of millions in 'rebates' from taxes they paid up to four years ago during a period of record profits for them. Automakers and other corporations would get tens of millions in tax credits, even though they have not paid enough in taxes to qualify for the rebates." "Pigs at home in Congress".
"There's more than one way to skin a property owner"
"In the past year, Florida legislators and voters both directed local governments to reduce their property taxes. But there's more than one way to skin a property owner."
Service fees are a more insidious way than property taxes to bankroll local governments. Fees aren't subject to the Save Our Homes cap or to legislative- or voter-ordered roll backs."Local governments' rush to increase fees for basic services is wrong".
And piling such fees on residents now makes a mockery of the tax-cutting orders given local governments by legislators and voters. Local leaders should be paying for basic services such as fire protection through property taxes. If they are struggling to balance their budgets, they need to look first at cuts in less essential services, or at ways to operate more efficiently.
"The state's sales-tax holiday for hurricane supplies became another victim of Florida's bad budget year and sour economy Thursday." "Florida scraps hurricane-season sales-tax holiday".
"House leadership has agreed with the Senate to provide $300 million in the upcoming state budget for the Florida Forever land-buying program, according to a House staff member." "Lawmakers give Florida Forever land-buying program $300 million".
"A federal proposal that would let Georgia keep more water during droughts instead of letting it eventually flow into Apalachicola Bay means Florida would be "bearing the brunt" of problems created in dry times, Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday." "Fla. Gov. Crist criticizes tri-state water sharing proposal".
"Crist warned lawmakers Thursday that they would pay a political price if they don't accept his health-insurance plan. House Republicans say he'll have to take their industry-backed plan, too."
His plan would guarantee coverage, regardless of an individual's health, and pay basic doctor and hospitalization fees — though higher-cost treatments would not be included."Crist steps up pressure on lawmakers to approve his health-insurance plan". The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Our Opinion: Modest health plan helps uninsured" ("Florida lawmakers, in the midst of the state's worst financial crisis in decades, cannot responsibly permit differences over details to block agreement on widening access to health care for the uninsured millions who need it.")
But the House wants to create a so-called "marketplace" of options — with the insurance industry determining what will and won't be covered — that would be available to uninsured workers only through their employers.
House members Thursday took up Crist's plan, which the Senate passed unanimously a day earlier, and voted to blend it with their own, setting it up for final passage and a showdown over the differences as soon as today.
As Charlie spins
"Ask the Governor: School funding rose despite budget cuts".
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Show Courage, Mr. Speaker: Block University Governance Redo".
"A bill that would make standards for reading, math and other public school subjects tougher, more detailed and more relevant at every grade level passed in the House but a procedural dispute over the measure then brought other business in the chamber to a virtual standstill Friday." "Standards bill passes without school grading changes".
"A national program that rewards more than 11,000 of Florida's top teachers for continuing their education and going through a rigorous training program is slated to be slashed by lawmakers despite warnings from Gov. Charlie Crist to leave it alone." "House, Senate move bills that threaten teacher merit pay".
Elisa Cramer: "Senate Bill 2654, which last week unanimously passed its third Senate committee and is now ready for a full vote of the Senate, would require health insurers to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. It also would prohibit insurers from denying, refusing, restricting or terminating coverage of a person with autism. House Bill 1291 would go even further." "Make insurers cover autism".
A real "innovative idea"
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Boy's idea to feed the homeless makes its way through Tallahassee's halls of power".
"As dangerous as sea lice"
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Almost two years ago, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales intoned that the government had arrested seven domestic terrorists in Miami for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI headquarters in Miami. 'Left unchecked," Mr. Gonzales warned, "these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like Al-Qaeda.'"
In fact, the Miami 7 apparently were as dangerous as sea lice. They had no bombs or weapons to carry out this plot. They pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda only at the urging of an FBI informant. In December, a federal jury deadlocked on charges against six and acquitted one. On Tuesday, another jury failed to reach a verdict."Homegrown? Overblown".
The government now must decide whether to try the men again. That should be an easy decision. At this point, the prosecutors look like bigger clowns than the defendants.