"Last year was the first election year in more than three decades in which Florida Republicans stopped gaining ground on Democrats in voter registration."
And since last year's election, Democrats netted 34,000 more registered voters than Republicans. As of Jan. 31, Democrats accounted for 42 percent of the electorate and Republicans for 36 percent in America's biggest battleground state."Florida GOP losing ground in voters".
That's the biggest registration advantage Democrats have enjoyed in more than a decade.
"State agencies presented dire scenarios Thursday of the impact of budget cuts that included hundreds of layoffs, severely reduced services, thousands of children and the sick kicked out of programs as well as changes in the way people interact with government." "Trooper layoffs, school-readiness drops among Senate committee nightmare scenarios". See also "Florida puts tighter squeeze on spending".
"All about the money"
"From reducing prison costs to grappling with the state's prepaid college funds, the state Legislature turns its attention Thursday to virtually every aspect of the state budget."
This is the first week the budget committees meet with the new and bleak economic forecast issued by the state Revenue Estimating Conference on Friday. Factoring in the lower-than-expected tax collections, the budget deficit could reach $3 billion next year."In Tallahassee today, it's all about the money".
From the "values" crowd
"A House panel voted to require that women get ultrasounds before abortions." "Ultrasound abortion provision revived in Florida House". See also "Bill On Abortion Ultrasound Requirement Is Back" ("The bill, which comes this year from Rep. Anitere Flores and Sen. Andy Gardiner [both RPOFers], sparked some of the most emotional discussion of the 2008 legislative session, ultimately passing the House but falling short in the Senate.")
Meantime, "Thousands rally in Tallahassee to protest cuts to Florida schools".
"Florida Power & Light wants to increase customers' base rates by 31 percent next year - that's an additional billion dollars a year." "FPL seeks hefty increase in base rates".
Castor's "electronic revolution in health care"
The Tampa Trib editors:
This week USF Health CEO Stephen Klasko and Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor launched a program Klasko is convinced will be the beginning of "an electronic revolution in health care.""Electronic Revolution Jolts Economy, Health Care".
Through PaperFree Tampa, a public-private partnership, the university will hire some 130 people to fan out into 10 counties and meet one-on-one with physicians to persuade them it's time to convert from paper pads to an all-electronic prescription system.
It's the first regional initiative to call upon federal stimulus monies to help integrate electronic prescribing hardware and software.
"Florida's circuit court clerks have won a compromise in the state Senate, killing part of a bill that would have taken away their power to collect fees and perform other duties. But the House might not agree to go along - and even if it does, clerks say, the Senate's compromise doesn't go far enough." "Circuit Court Clerks Win Battle In War To Retain Power".
"A compromise bill being worked on by lawmakers would see court clerks retaining some of their duties -- but losing control of their spending. " "Bill would see court clerks keep duties, lose some power".
Background: "Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Sen. Ken Pruitt proposed this spring to gradually transfer those court-related responsibilities to chief judges and courts administrators of Florida's judicial circuits. Doing so, said Bogdanoff, would save money and introduce needed accountability into a system that has allowed clerks to grow too powerful."
"The national fight over ensuring secret ballots for union votes erupted Wednesday in an emotional quarrel between two Palm Beach County lawmakers that included one calling the other a "jerk" in a Florida House committee meeting. Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach, called Rep. Adam Hasner, R-Boca Raton, a 'jerk' from her seat in the House Policy Committee. Her microphone was turned off, but her comment was audible from at least the third row in the meeting room." "Democrat calls GOP colleague 'jerk'".
Still draggin' them knuckles in Tally
The Miami Herald editorial board: "The fundamental unfairness and illogic of Florida's ban on gay adoptions gets more obvious with every new legal assault on it. The ban has been found unconstitutional in two state court circuits and is the target of two new bills in the Legislature. Whether the Florida Supreme Court will agree that the ban is unconstitutional, or lawmakers will come to their senses this year and end the ban isn't clear."
Unfortunately, politics still trumps common sense when it comes to issues involving homosexuality in Florida. While the private sector has kept up with changing times by offering partner benefits, for example, the public sector is still hampered by political expediency."Lift Florida's gay adoption ban".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Commuter trains can be a great way to move a lot of people from one place to another, especially when the trains are run efficiently and intersect with dense population areas. This is why the idea of a central Florida commuter line between DeLand and Poinciana, which would pass through busy Orlando, is so appealing. However, the appeal of the proposed 61-mile SunRail project under consideration in the Legislature loses much of its luster because of its high sticker price and its overly generous indemnity provisions." See what they mean here: "This train has too much baggage".
However, "[b]ehind the scenes, some South Florida legislators are trying to tie the fate of the insurance legislation authorizing the $1.2 billion rail deal to creating a new source of revenue for the Tri-Rail commuter rail system in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties." "SunRail picks up rider from South Florida".
Chamber of Commerce A**wipes at it again
Garbage like this must make the drafters of the first amendment roll over in their graves: The Orlando Sentinel/Zell Corporation editorial board: "On card-check bill, Nelson and Kosmas will show if they leveled with voters".
Republican John Mica lives more than 130 miles from many of the residents he represents. Much of the congressman's district is actually in Flagler and St. Johns counties. In fact, just about the only part of Orange County included in Mica's district is the swath of land around his Winter Park home.Much more here: "It's time to tackle dirty little secret of politics".
"Florida growth fizzle is official". See also "Manatee’s population growth hits wall", "Southwest Florida keeps on growing, but pace has slowed, Census says" and "Polk's Population Is Still Growing, but Slowing".
"The Everglades, Cuba, NASA, a national insurance backup fund, offshore drilling, climate change, the Apalachicola River - all issues important to Florida that the state's Washington representatives say will get a different look under President Obama." "Fla. Issues Get Another Glance on Obama's Watch".
Lightweight weighs in
"Mack calls on Secretary Geithner to resign or be fired".
Courtesy of the feds
"Florida is about to get $65 million for homeless-prevention programs — money that advocates say is desperately needed to help keep the recently unemployed from winding up in shelters.
" "$65M will help keep roofs over Floridians' heads".
"Hernando GOP Unity Rally a memory as sniping resumes".
Update: "Rachel's Law moves forward".
"The parents of an undercover civilian killed in a drug sting fight for a bill to protect informants." "Parents of informant killed in sting fight for `Rachel's Law'".