Howard Troxler writes that "Monday was not what you would call a day crackling with Important Policy Action from the executive branch."
On the other hand, the legislative branch also took a while to get going, with nothing much happening before lunch, and then only a few meetings in the afternoon."When it comes to the budget, the most important division is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between the Senate Party and the House Party. Each side pooh-poohs the other like this:"
Still, everybody insists that the place is on Super Crisis Red Alert. This week we will see the Legislature's specific ideas for how to fix the state budget, which is a huge mess, since the state expects to take in billions less next year than it would otherwise spend.
The Senate (they say in the House) is run by drunken sailors. The Senate wants to expand gambling, tax cigarettes and maybe even increase the state sales tax on sort of a whim. After that, all the senators will go to the bar, get pie-eyed, put all the money in a big pile and set it on fire."Drunken sailors vs. bug-eyed fanatics".
The House (they say in the Senate) is run by reality-denying, bug-eyed, tax-hating fanatics who think we can get by with digging money out of the sofa. They're gonna have to agree to tax something, and come around on some gambling too, or else the lights are going to go out.
"Will Charlie stay or will he go? We proudly introduce the Crist-O-Meter".
Looking For $8.00 Hour Lawyers
"The Florida House is ready for a final vote on a measure that would restore a cap on attorneys fees in workers' compensation cases" "Fla. House slates final vote on insurance issue".
"Two state senators say they want a proposed cigarette tax increase expanded to include all tobacco products. ... The panel's chairman, Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, and Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, say their legislation will help pay for the Medicaid program that covers the treatment of many people who become ill from smoking and other tobacco use." "Fla. senators want to hike tobacco taxes". See also "Process to raise Florida's tobacco tax by $1 per pack may get under way today", "Lawmakers consider new taxes on tobacco", "Taxes heat up for smokers" and "State Senate Favors Higher Tobacco Taxes".
More: "Will bump in Florida tax gain momentum?"
Back at the ranch, "Tobacco lobbyists stoked for tax fight".
Love For Sale
"All 160 members of the Florida Legislature have either accepted a campaign check from the industry or benefited from its contributions to their parties. And in the coming weeks, lawmakers will decide between two very different proposals to change the face of gambling in Florida." "Gambling dollars reach all legislators".
Going One Dimensional
"Sports leagues, dance studios and art schools across central Florida say the number of children participating in these extracurricular activities is down significantly over last year." "Parents cut dance, sports camps to save money".
"As Congress prepares to debate President Barack Obama's budget, Republican Sen. Mel Martinez said Monday the proposal creates an unacceptable deficit and needs to be trimmed." "Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida criticizes Obama budget".
"State Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, wants to become Florida's next university system chancellor and is ready to step down from the Legislature after 23 years if the Board of Governors will have him." "King has eye on chancellor job". See also "Sen. Jim King says he would step down to take job as university system chancellor".
"Nearly 80 percent of Republicans voted"
"Updated election data shows that Florida Republicans actually turned out at a greater rate than Democrats — nearly 80 percent of Republicans voted, compared to 76 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of other voters."
GOP turnout grew 1 percent from 2004; Democratic turnout grew 3 percent."Swing's the thing".
The lesson? Barack Obama's Florida win probably had less to do with mobilizing base Democratic voters than it did persuading swing voters.
Filling That Vacancy
"The state Supreme Court has been asked to order Gov. Charlie Crist to select a new appellate judge from current candidates rather than to wait for a black nominee." "State Supreme Court asked to order Crist to name new appellate judge". See also "Judge asks top court to force Crist to pick replacement" and "Ex-Judge's Dispute With Crist Goes To Court".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "We think: The state has no business forcing unwanted tests on pregnant women".
Right Wingers Love The Government Teat
The Tampa Trib editors: "A forward-thinking bill meant to defend Florida's military bases from indiscriminate budget cuts is progressing in the Legislature. And that should be good for the nation's defense and Florida's economy." "Bill Should Arm Florida To Defend Military Bases".
Miniature Spine Sighting
"Sen. Mel Martinez expressed support for more bailout funds for General Motors and Chrysler, saying the federal government 'cannot allow' the U.S. auto industry to fail." "Martinez Supports Auto Industry Bailouts".
"After years of fighting all but the smallest tuition increase for public university undergraduates, elected officials are embracing legislation to give Florida's 11 institutions authority to raise the cost of a degree by as much as 15 percent a year." "An increase at state universities is embraced".
Uneducated Bidness Persons
"Cost cutting at Florida Atlantic University is likely to heavily affect the College of Business." "Florida Atlantic University's College of Business facing severe cuts".
"That's an insult to taxpayers"
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "On a banks of the Withlacoochee River sits a so-called barn with all the comforts of home: two bedrooms, a bath, a kitchen and a covered porch. By calling it a barn, the owner — a state senator and former Citrus County sheriff — avoided pulling a building permit and paying nearly $10,400 in impact and other fees. His buddies in Citrus County government appear willing to let him get away with it. That's an insult to taxpayers." "The elite game the system".
Never Mind About That
"A Broward family's efforts to collect $30.76 million from the Broward Sheriff's Office after a car crash that paralyzed a teen stalled Monday when lawmakers tabled the bill in its first committee stop." "Aid bill for crash victim stalls".
"It makes even more sense now"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It made sense a year ago, with the economy teetering, for Florida to start treating mental illness as a disease, not a crime. It makes even more sense now, with the economy staggering, to make a change that would protect the public and save money." "To make Floridians safer, treat state's mentally ill".
Gainesville Green To Go Mainstream?
"Medical marijuana? Woman wants voters to decide".
"Crist has stayed out of the budget fray, but lawmakers have begun to question the wisdom of his stance."
Gov. Charlie Crist's policy of disengagement is testing the limits of lawmakers' patience and raising questions about his leadership. As the legislative session nears the midway point, Crist keeps at a safe distance from the politically turbulent talk of painful budget cuts and higher taxes swirling about him."Lawmakers try to draw Gov. Charlie Crist into budget battle".
"Republican plan would hike homeowner insurance rates 23% on coast".
"Out of reach of the public"
The St. Petersburg Times editors: "In courtrooms around Florida, proceedings are routinely captured electronically and later transcribed. Both the written transcriptions and the original sound recordings are valuable. But the Florida Bar as well as the chief justice of the Pinellas-Pasco circuit court, among others, want to put the electronic record out of reach of the public." "Keep court audio open to public".