"A proposal critics say would not only allow school voucher programs but require them went on the November ballot Friday. Voters will also be able to require schools to spend at least 65 percent of their budgets in the classroom as part of the same proposed constitutional amendment." "Tax swap ratified for vote". See also "Board puts tuition vouchers on Florida ballot", "Voters to weigh proposal allowing school vouchers" and "School vouchers to be on November ballot".
"The Florida Senate is set to debate whether women seeking first trimester abortions should be required to have an ultrasound and be given an opportunity to see the picture. The chamber will likely take up the issue Monday." "Senate to debate bill requiring sonogram before early abortion".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "After much debate this week, the Senate takes up the bill again Monday, and should defeat it. Florida then should try to reduce the number of abortions not by intimidation and harassment of pregnant women but by helping women prevent all those unplanned pregnancies." "Pick right abortion fight".
"I Believe" on hold
"A proposed 'I Believe' license plate that features a large cross atop a stained glass window is in trouble in the Senate but perhaps only temporarily." "Religious license plate stalled in Florida Senate".
Let the lobbyists decide
"St. Pete Beach and other Florida cities wouldn't have the right to require elections to approve changes to land-use plans under a provision introduced on the House floor Friday. Authored by Rep. Dean Cannon, the House plan comes in response to a growing push to require such votes by residents fed up with rampant development." "Bill would ban Florida cities from having land-use elections".
"House alters proposed evolution act". "A bill that would ensure teachers are not punished for challenging evolution in the classroom was debated Friday in the Florida House but amended to include more stringent language that would mandate alternate views to evolution be taught." "Evolution bill would require alternatives".
"Florida is about to rev up its death chamber again. The U.S. Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to states like Florida to continue using a three-drug cocktail for lethal injections, and the state’s attorney general and governor have wasted no time in calling for the resumption of executions. But just because Florida's procedure has been deemed constitutional doesn't mean it is sufficiently humane. The potential for error and an excruciating death remains." "Florida still risks botched executions".
Will he challenge Keller?
"Term limits are pushing Dan Webster out of the Legislature after 28 years. For some of his colleagues, he's not leaving quietly enough. On Monday, Webster begins the last week of a political career that has taken him down a very long road, from obscure back-bencher to House Republican leader. He was the first Republican speaker in more than a century and is now the Senate majority leader." "Webster not leaving Florida Legislature quietly".
"Dragging down the state's economy"
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Besides dragging down the state's economy, the deepening foreclosure problem is inflicting collateral damage that communities are trying to minimize." "Federal, state offerings fall short on foreclosure".
To swap or not?
"Florida voters will decide in November on a ballot measure that cuts property taxes across the board by an average of 25 percent, or $9.5 billion, while directing state legislators to replace the revenue by raising sales and other taxes."
Opponents said the amendment would almost certainly lead to a sales tax on services -- everything from dry cleaning to legal fees -- similar to one that was withdrawn after a huge public outcry more than 20 years ago. "Voters will decide yet another school property-tax plan". See also "Tax-swap plan will be on Florida ballot".
But the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission shrugged off the criticism, voting 18-7 Thursday to stand by the plan commissioners first approved last month to require that school property taxes be cut by $9.5 billion by 2010.
"The state Senate has passed a bill mandating that insurers provide coverage. A House bill that could be taken up Monday puts the financial burden on the state's Healthy Kids program. Both bills have attracted critics." "Lawmakers split as insurers balk at covering autistic kids".
And so it goes ...
"The Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee — the same party leaders that last August voted to strip away all of Florida's 211 delegates to the national convention — announced Friday that on May 31 it will consider formal challenges to that decision from Michigan and Florida." "DNC will review delegate disputes". See also "Delegate Plan To Be Heard".
"Hoping for an outcome that would help Hillary Clinton's quest for her party's presidential nomination, Democrats are rallying around the state today, calling on their national party to count the results of Florida's disputed primary." "Democrats across Florida rally for primary votes to count".
"Bill's language to move from mandatory to optional increases on expressway tolls". Wouldn't wanna be accused of passing tax increases now would we?
Big of 'em
"Marissa Amora and her adoptive mother, Dawn, were at the Capitol today to watch a Senate panel unanimously approve an $18.2 million judgment against the state, which was blamed for the girl's brain damage." "Marissa charms lawmakers as she waits for $18.2 million".
McBush in Tampa
"Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain will make what his campaign calls a major policy speech on health care at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa on Tuesday." "McCain Coming To Tampa".
Even the money grubbing dopes at the Chamber (and their editorial board retainers) get it
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "'No other group has more to lose than the business community if the state fails to maintain a well-designed talent development system.'"
This is the latest assessment of a destructive and disruptive amendment proposal coming from the Florida Senate that would, essentially, dismantle the just-now-maturing new system of governing Florida's 11 public universities."Editorial: Business weighs in on SUS upheaval".
That statement, from no less than the Florida Chamber of Commerce [sic], underscores the folly of undoing what the voters put into place little more than five years ago.
Those public employees and their pensions are ruining Florida
The Tampa Tribune editorial board:
Legislation to expand pension benefits certainly would, as police unions claim, encourage officers to stay on the job longer. And while that may be a good thing in some cases, it could also keep many on the job who are going through the motions."Retirement Benefit Could Undermine Law Enforcement".
Encouraging officers to delay their retirements also would make it more difficult for motivated young people to join the force. Such a practice also carries the potential for creating complacency, even indifference, at law enforcement agencies.
That is why Senate Bill 706, which would extend the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) for law enforcement officers in the state retirement plan, should itself be dropped.
DROP is meant to encourage the early retirement of highly paid employees in the state retirement system. It allows eligible people who agree to retire in five years to begin collecting their monthly pensions immediately, though the money is placed in a fund with a state-guaranteed high interest rate. The practice gives retirees a large lump sum when they leave, plus their regular monthly benefits.
Now Sen. Carey [Truck Nutz] Baker, a Deland Republican, wants to increase the lump-sum benefit - from five to eight years - for law enforcement and corrections officers.
Who writes garbage like this: DROP "allows eligible people who agree to retire in five years to begin collecting their monthly pensions immediately," EXCEPT that they in fact don't "begin collecting their monthly pensions immediately". Actually, "the though the money is placed in a pension fund with a state-guaranteed high interest rate.", so they don't get it until they retire.
Why do these people knowingly write that employees work AND receive retirement benefits, when it is flat out false - DROP monies are not "received" until employees stop working.
We of course know why the editors deliberately mislead: the editors (and their Chamber buddies) don't want Floridians to wonder why they don''t have retirement plans at all (except for SS and, for the lucky few, cheesy 401(k) plans). When employees realize that other folks - through their unions (in this case the PBA) - have negotiated better deals with their employers, these employees might start getting uppity and wondering about how they can get the same deal.
While we jabber on about Cuba ...
"While Haiti reels from food riots, drownings and hunger, South Florida members of Congress struggle to bring the desperate nation's latest crisis to the attention of Americans preoccupied with the presidential campaign and economic troubles at home." "South Florida U.S. House members lead effort to ease crisis in Haiti".
The Palm Beach Post editorial Board: "Clinton-McCain ticket".
Expect Florida to jump on this
Jac Wilder VerSteeg the other day: "Think only gossip mags pay breathless attention to the country's hottest trendsetters?"
In fact, our most hallowed document, the U.S. Constitution, is at the mercy of trendiness, and some of our most conservative Supreme Court justices - Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts, to name two - can be set all atwitter by fads."The new death-penalty fad".
The fad currently sweeping the country is sentencing to death rapists who victimize children.
Strict constructionism and faddishness might seem to clash. But even conservative justices recognize legal principles that recognize the inevitability of change. In death-penalty cases, the principle is "evolving standards of decency." It means that as society's view of what is acceptable changes, what is acceptable under the law can change.
People who oppose the death penalty - and I'm not one of them - have figured that America's evolving perception of what qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment would lead to abolition of the death penalty. Some polls do suggest a decline in support for capital punishment.
But while the recent debate focused on whether electrocution or lethal injection "hurt" too much, trendsetter states have changed the debate from how to who. Starting with Louisiana in 1995, six states have allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty for people who rape children but do not kill them. The others are Texas, Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
"A sweeping energy bill was hung up for hours in the House on Friday by a dispute about utility rates charged to state agencies and universities by municipal utilities." "Florida House energy bill gets tangled in utility debate".
"A bill that would require crowns and other dental work to be labeled with the metals they contain and where they are manufactured is at the center of a dispute over whether labeling is necessary or an overreaction." "Legislators dispute bill requiring labels on dental items".
"A growth-management bill that has builder support for some provisions and concerns environmentalists is nearing passage." "Florida House bill pushing transportation fee, rural development for developers nears passage".