"It's crunch time in the Florida Legislature, as the House and Senate face the reality of their major philosophical differences over taxing, spending, gambling and other issues." "Now, the hard part: Florida legislators, governor will try sorting out their differences".
Wingnut laff riot
The latest from the wingnuts that elected Bill Posey to Congress: "Tax protests in the coming week throughout the country -- including five set for Brevard County -- are designed to send Washington the message that taxpayers are against using their money for bailouts and increased government spending." The "Goals for Sunday include:"
# Calling attention to and collecting signatures for a petition to Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature to reject stimulus funds on 10th Amendment grounds. The 10th Amendment states the government has the power to regulate only matters delegated to it by the Constitution."Tea time: Five tax protests planned in Brevard". See also "Tea parties showcase discontent at federal spending" and "Nationwide 'tea party' protest will include rally in West Palm Beach".
# Promoting various local political [read Republican] clubs that allow citizens to participate more in the process. ...
The event will feature U.S. Rep. Bill Posey*, political pundit Chris Ingram and local entertainer Mark Vance.
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*You remember Bill, the pride of Brevard County: "With citizenship bill, Rep. Bill Posey goes from obscurity to on-air scorn". See also "The Colbert Report: Bill Posey Alligator Rumors.".
"[T]he big question over the next days is: Can he get through either meeting without someone asking him if he’s running for governor?" "Buchanan works the district".
Abusing the stim
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board: "The federal government isn't interested in writing blank checks for Florida and other states that have managed their finances poorly. Instead, federal stimulus money is very specifically targeted to people who are suffering most in an historic economic downturn."
But rather than spend the federal money on nursing homes, medical care for low-income Floridians and children with developmental disabilities, state lawmakers are planning to take the money with one hand -- and divert it away from its intended purposes with the other."Use federal stimulus money the way Congress intended".
"Florida ha[s] resurrected the de facto debtor’s prison"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "In a little-noticed trend blamed on the state’s hard economic times, several courts in Florida have resurrected the de facto debtor’s prison — having thousands of Floridians jailed for failing to pay assessed court fees and fines. The shortsighted plan threatens to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. It appears to generate little additional revenue relative to the misery it causes, and it should be stopped." "Debtors' prison revisited".
"The House’s Finance and Tax Council will roll out legislation this week that will remove sales tax exemptions for charter fishing boats, DayJet travel service, college skyboxes, ostrich feed and mail-order magazines, Chairwoman Ellyn Bogdanoff said. The relatively big-ticket items are charter fishing boats ($11.9 million) and magazine and newspaper subscriptions delivered by mail ($11.2 million)." "Bogdanoff would repeal $25 million in sales-tax exemptions".
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "lawmakers, overwhelmed with problems that defy easy solution, may be conflicted when facing the well-heeled industry that wants to build a commuter rail across central Florida and sees the source of money intended for Florida Forever as a good one to raid. While building a rail to link central Florida cities at some time in the future might be a smart thing to do, that time isn't now." "Our Opinion: Florida Forever trumps a regional rail".
"Crist wants an Ethics Commission inquiry into a former high-level tourism official's involvement in state funding for a 'space tourism' program in which he took a six-figure job." "Crist wants Ethics Commission probe of former tourism official".
5 gears in reverse
"House sponsors are backing off a plan to strip Florida's circuit court clerks of some of their duties - but they still want to decide how much money the clerks get to spend each year." "Court clerk funds divide lawmakers".
"Supporters of 'Rachel's Law' said Monday they are girding for a floor fight after a compromise measure regulating the use of confidential informants cleared its latest hurdle." "'Rachel's Law' clears another legislative hurdle".
HD 47 gets a GOPer
"Rich Reidy, chief aide to Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, announced today he will run for the Florida House in a district that includes much of the northern and northwest areas of the county."
Reidy, 51, of Lutz will run as a Republican for District 47, a seat being vacated by Kevin Ambler of Tampa. Ambler, also a Republican, must give up the seat because of term limits. The district includes Lutz, Carrollwood, Odessa, Citrus Park, Keystone, Northdale and Lake Magdelene."Hagan aide plans run for House seat".
AFSCME endorses Meek
"Government labor group endorses Miami rep for U.S. Senate seat". More: "U.S. Rep. Meek to visit Daytona in petition bid".
Siphoning 5.5 million gallons of water a day
"Seminole County is ready to forge ahead with construction of a $90 million plant that will siphon 5.5 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River, having won the last permit needed Monday night."
The governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District approved the controversial plant on a 5-4 vote over strong opposition from Jacksonville-area residents concerned that the withdrawal of water will harm the quality and quantity of water downstream. Hundreds of people packed a meeting in Palatka to oppose the project, and thousands more sent e-mails in opposition."Seminole gets OK to pump from St. Johns".
"Legislators are still at odds over whether to expand casino gambling, but they appear ready to quietly revive a dead industry in Florida: quarter horse racing. But some say the new tracks are just a bid to get card rooms." "Quarter horse racing may be revived".
"A special House committee sweetened the pot Monday for pari-mutuel gambling operations that face tougher competition from Seminole casinos. Tracks and jai-alai frontons operating in Southeast Florida would get longer hours for their card rooms, far bigger pots and a lower tax rate on their slot machines, in return for a guarantee of $140 million in tax revenue for the state." "House panel OKs gambling-expansion bill".
"Current practices threaten to decimate freshwater turtles"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should follow the lead of Gov. Charlie Crist, who sides with biologists who warn that current practices threaten to decimate freshwater turtles." "Protect Florida's freshwater turtles".
"When Miami Mayor Manny Diaz leaves office in November, he departs with a mixed legacy: from a construction boom that reshaped downtown to a fire fee fiasco and controversy over a $3 billion public works megaplan. Among his lesser-known accomplishments: Establishing Miami's first Office of Faith-Based Initiatives." "Miami mayor's legacy includes faith-based department".
"A year after Florida legislators promised to pay for the lifetime care of a girl beaten into a coma because of state negligence in investigating her abuse, they have failed to budget any money to help her." "State lacks funding for child abused at Lake Worth home".
"Obama liberates Cuban policy from fossils"
"Calling it 'extending a hand to the Cuban people,' the Obama administration on Monday announced it is lifting travel and gift restrictions for Cuban Americans, allowing them to travel freely to the island and send additional financial help to family members." "Restrictions on Cuban Americans' travel to Cuba to be lifted". See also "Obama lifts restrictions on travel for Cuban-Americans" and "Obama to allow travel, money transfers to Cuba".
More: "SW Fla. Cuban residents say they're ready to go".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial Board reminds us that
something more powerful than Castro's grip on Cuba held American presidents hostages after 1991 -- the Cuban community's grip on South Florida politics. Neither Bushes nor Bill Clinton could afford to alienate the most powerful constituency in the southern part of the state. So a smarter foreign policy for the United States, the kind of foreign policy that adopts the rest of the world's trading and travel norms with Cuba, were blocked by the views of a relative few. That community had a dream -- to one day reclaim the pride and property it had lost to Castro's leveling socialism in Cuba. It would not tolerate anything less than an uncompromising hard line toward Castro. Or it would wait him out."Beyond Fidel".
Still, Obama is not lifting the trade embargo. There couldn't possibly be a threat of "subversion, or other activities endangering the security of the United States" to justify its prolongation. Castro's regime is repressive and unfree, but so are the regimes of several countries -- from China to Saudi Arabia to every country of North Africa -- with which the United States maintains normal relations."Maybe Obama is choosing to thaw relations with Cuba in increments, especially when the likes of U.S. Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans and Cuban-Americans, can still make noise (as they did on Monday, immediately calling Obama's mostly humanitarian moves 'a serious mistake')."
"Obama is unlikely to allow American tourists to visit the island without limits any time soon. And lifting or substantially easing the economic embargo would require legislative action by Congress, something Cuban-Americans feel mixed about. Many believe it should remain in place as a moral symbol even though many acknowledge it has been ineffective." "Cuban-Americans optimistic, wary of new Cuba rules".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Considering the hoopla that preceded it, President Barack Obama's decision to relax the rules governing travel and cash transfers to Cuba might seem to some like a daring new policy initiatIve -- but it isn't. Mr. Obama is making a marginal change in U.S. policy to signal that he is open to fundamental revision, but only if the Cuban government reciprocates -- and that has always been the real stumbling block." "New Cuba rules send important signal".
In the whatever category: "Diaz-Balart brothers: Obama Commits Serious Mistake Regarding Cuban Dictatorship" and "Sen. Martinez optimistic on new Cuba travel rules".
Related: U.S. Senate candidate "Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek is wary of President Barack Obama's plan to let Cuban Americans send unlimited remittances to relatives in Cuba." "Rep. Kendrick Meek opposes President Barack Obama's stance on remittances to Cuba".