"Developers who want to fill in wetlands would find getting the necessary permits much easier under a bill working its way through the legislature." "Bill making it easier to pave over Florida's wetlands called 'recipe for fraud'".
"Voters got a step closer to deciding the future of Florida's public financing for political campaigns while lawmakers moved toward shaving the program back if it's not eliminated altogether." "House to vote on resolution to repealpublic campaign-finance provisions".
That'll be an additional 15% please.
"Florida college students could soon face higher tuition after a proposal to allow most universities the power to raise tuition up to 15 percent a year passed a House council Monday." "Proposed bill would let universities make annual increases of up to 15 percent".
"Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared on Good Morning America today to discuss her bout against breast cancer and says she'll introduce a bill to make more people aware of the illiness." "Wasserman Schultz talks about her breast cancer on Good Morning America".
And so it begins:
"Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's $1.4 million ad campaign against online sex offenders has set off a pitched political battle that could foreshadow the race to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist."
Chief Financial Office Alex Sink has questioned McCollum's decision to award a no-bid contract to his former campaign media consultant to produce and air the ad. McCollum is on screen for most of the 30-second spot, which has run statewide."GOP defends Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's cybercrime ads".
Sink, a Democrat, and McCollum, a Republican, are potential rivals for governor -- as soon as 2010 if Crist runs for the U.S. Senate.
Late Monday, after the Democratic Party fired off three separate e-mails attacking McCollum, Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer demanded Sink stop the ``partisan witch hunt.''
Related: "McCollum Allows Cuts to Cybercrimes Investigations Unit to Fund TV Ads" and "Maybe It Should Have Been Maybelline; AG McCollum Wastes Hundred of Taxpayer Dollars on Makeup".
"Jeb!"'s hand rises from the grave
"Battle breaks out on class size amendment".
None of our business
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board:
The majority of private flights were courtesy of Steven M. Scott, a Boca Raton physician, founder of a hospital physician network and of an HMO that makes millions providing health care to state workers and retirees, or of GOP fundraiser [and alleged war profiteer] Harry Sargeant of Delray Beach, a former fraternity brother of the governor. Other private flights have taken him to and from St. Petersburg, where he lived for years before becoming governor and where he still has a condo on Tampa Bay, or to South Florida, where his wife has a home on Fisher Island."High flying". More about Sargeant here: "More Questions About a McCain Bundler".
The The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Crist's refusal to open up about private jet flights is hypocritical"
Tragedy for Florida
"Falling Contributions Close Common Cause".
Meantime, AIF and the Chamber have no problem collecting bucks to lobby to hold employee workers' comp lawyers to $8.00 an hour.
Early voting election observation in jeopardy
The Daytona Beach News Journal editors: "The Florida Department of State has proposed an omnibus elections bill this year that contains several changes that would diminish transparency. One of these involves the strategic alteration of just a few words in Florida Statute 104.29 that would create major roadblocks for citizen observers and give senior election officials a free pass to prevent observation."
The change prohibits citizen observation at the main elections office where the absentee, early voting, overseas and provisional ballots are tallied -- more than 50 percent of the total votes in an election. Instead, citizen observation of vote tallying would be limited to polling places only. The proposed change also removes the misdemeanor penalty for a supervisor of elections or elections employee who interferes with citizen observation, limiting that penalty to poll workers only."A more recent encroachment on citizens' observation rights came in January 2008 in the form of an opinion letter by the Secretary of State."
Such opinion letters carry the weight of law unless challenged in court. This opinion bars observers from entering the "central counting room" where all the votes are uploaded and accumulated on a central computer. The right to observe is provided in 102.5612(2) to political party designees, but the Secretary of State's opinion letter bars these observers by concluding that no counting or tabulating actually occurs in the central counting room, a statement that is absurd on its face.Read it all here: "Elections bill a threat to transparent voting".
Volusia County has used this opinion letter to keep observers out of the central tabulating room. Citizens in Sarasota, however, were allowed to observe despite the opinion letter, resulting in the discovery that elections staff were totaling election results on a handheld calculator and entering those results on a "manual entry screen" because the multi-million dollar voting system was unable to correctly total the votes.
At the federal trough
"Crist drew chuckles Monday when he introduced Don Winstead as Florida's "stimulus czar" - the key official charged with riding herd over $13.4 billion in federal stimulus money expected by the state." "Crist Introduces 'Stimulus Czar'".
"Meeting on U.S. Sugar deal canceled".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board points out that "the insurance companies that make a healthy profit from workers compensation policies benefit most by delaying and denying benefits."
They have steadily pushed for regulation that makes it easier for them to say no when a claim is presented, and demanded hefty rate increases whenever legislation or court rulings promised to benefit workers or employers. What's puzzling is that the state's big business lobbying groups -- who are supposed to be concerned about the interests of all Florida employers -- have instead thrown their lot in with the insurance companies, pushing for legislation to increase the profits that insurance companies are able to squeeze from businesses' premiums while decreasing the protection those companies' workers are receiving. As a result, Florida's workers' comp insurance companies claim an average profit above 30 percent. ...Much more here: "Workers comp cartel says boo! and Florida jumps".
Crist has expressed mild approval of the House bill, telling The Miami Herald that he "like(s) less expensive insurance." But that simplistic analysis misses the point. Lower rates are great, but businesses also deserve insurance that actually protects their workers. ...
The groups purporting to speak for Florida's employers have been co-opted by the insurance-company cartel. It's up to lawmakers to see through the hype, and write laws that ensure companies pay a fair rate for coverage that actually protects their workers.
"A House panel has approved a bill limiting fees the Florida Attorney General's Office will pay when hiring private lawyers for state cases." "Panel OKs Fee Limits On Lawyers Fla. Hires".
As Charlie stares longingly at DC ...
"The state is staring down a $700 million deficit for the remaining fiscal year, and a whopping $6 billion deficit in 2009-10. Lawmakers and Crist are now counting on the federal government to send Florida at least $700 million in economic stimulus dollars by June 30, and roughly $3 billion for the following year. That leaves another $3 billion for state lawmakers to make up - and there is little agreement yet on how to do it." "Budget Cuts Frustrate Lawmakers".
Related: "Advocates for disabled to highlight services, make case to avoid spending cuts today".
How many fat guys in suits can fit in The Rotunda?
Lobbying frenzy: "Phone company giants are spending a mountain of money on big-name lobbyists to push a deregulation plan that supporters say would lead to lower rates. Opponents say the proposed legislation could bring higher bills and worse service." "Phone bill has pricey support".
"Warning that "the big one is going to hit" inevitably, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called for federal loan guarantees Monday to sustain Florida's catastrophic hurricane fund." "Sen. Bill Nelson moves to sustain Florida catastrophic hurricane fund".
Anti-discrim charter provision on the chopping block
"A charter amendment that would strip this university city's anti-discrimination protections extended to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender residents is before voters Tuesday." "Gainesville, Fla., may shed gay discrimination ban". More: "Orlando gays eye vote that imperils their rights".
"The only way Florida can fight back"
The Tampa Trib editors are worried about workers being mistreated by unions: "Secret elections are imperfect expressions of the public will, but nothing else is better. They work well in a number of democratic contexts, especially in selecting government representatives and in whether a company's workers want to unionize."
The latter issue has become a flash point for partisan squabbling in Florida and across the country. It is sparked by the realization that a pro-union bill, strongly supported by Democrats, has a good chance to become federal law. Under the change, unions getting enough signatures on union-support cards can declare victory without bothering to hold an election."Principle Of Secret Elections Worth A Fight To Preserve".
Businesses correctly warn that the change would put them at an unfair advantage. In theory, the union could win before the business owner had a chance to make sure workers heard management's side.
The only way Florida can fight back [?] is to make a constitutional issue of it, and that's just what House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, proposes fellow lawmakers ask voters to do. He wants to put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2010 that would require a secret vote before unions are allowed to represent workers in private or public workplaces.
"Marlins get OK for long-coveted Miami ballpark".