"Republican Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Tuesday he plans to run for governor if Gov. Charlie Crist runs for the U.S. Senate."
Bronson told The Associated Press indications are getting stronger that Crist will run for the Senate seat that Republican Mel Martinez is leaving after one term. If that happens, he will run for governor.
"Bronson preparing run for governor". See also "Bronson to join race for governor if Crist makes leap for US Senate" and "Ag Commissioner Bronson may run for governor".
"I have won two statewide elections fairly handily and I've been on the Florida Cabinet now for eight years, handling all the issues that the governor has to handle," Bronson said. "Should the governor go to the U.S. Senate, then I feel like I've got something to offer the state."
While it's widely speculated that Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum will also run for governor if Crist runs for Senate, Bronson is the first major politician to say he will seek the seat.
"With gambling a central debate in the Legislature's budget battle, the Senate steamed ahead with its casino gambling package Tuesday, setting up a three-week cliffhanger on whether Republican legislative leaders can cut a deal on a sensitive political issue." "Senate pitches casino deal".
"House and Senate budget committees on Tuesday approved $65 billion state spending plans that were near in numbers but philosophically far apart as the Florida Legislature took a long holiday weekend break. " "Florida House, Senate ready for budget negotiations".
Florida lawmakers moved forward Tuesday with budget proposals that try to shield public schools from major cuts -- but threaten funding for nursing homes, land conservation and dozens of other programs.
"Budget plans leave much to question".
The state's massive budget problems could lead to Floridians getting hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in additional fees next year for necessities such as driver's licenses.
But as House and Senate committees approved initial budget plans Tuesday, major questions remained about whether lawmakers will agree to raise tobacco taxes and expand gambling to bring in more money.
Outa here ...
"Florida legislators are headed home for the holidays. With just over three weeks left in the legislative session, Florida lawmakers left the Capitol late Tuesday for the Easter and Passover break." "Florida legislators head home for holidays". See also "Legislators take break until Monday; a lot of work will be waiting for them".
"The bland leading the blind"
Michael Putney "What in the world are they doing up there in Tallahassee? "
Not much, judging by the list of the Legislature's achievements over the past month. Or the governor's. For the most part, it's the bland leading the blind. Desultory and querulous would correctly describe the legislative session thus far.
Much more here: "Legislative session `desultory and querulous'".
And pathetic when it comes to funding education. Take the news conference called by Gov. Charlie Crist in the capitol last Friday. Sporting his best doe-eyed, hang-dog look (not to mix animal metaphors), Crist begged the ''good members of the House and the good members of the Senate'' to put their stamp of approval on his original gaming compact with the Seminoles -- the one the Florida Supreme Court struck down as illegal.
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "If ever there was an example of legislative indifference to the welfare of the state's most vulnerable children, proposed budget cuts to the Guardian ad Litem program are it."
Florida lawmakers cannot attempt to balance our budget on the backs of children whose last hope for protection is the court system. Though some lawmakers have taken a pledge to not raise taxes — and lawmakers are refusing to revisit sales-tax exemptions this year — to cut the already paltry funding that pays for volunteer training for Guardian ad Litem would be a disgrace."Pathetic proposal: Guardian ad Litem funding cuts are a new low".
As the media pounds public employee pension plans ...
Outback Steakhouse's parent company lost more than $700 million last year but it still handed out $2.7 million in performance [sic] bonuses to its five senior executives.
"Outback lost millions, but executives still getting bonuses".
In fact, executives with OSI Restaurant Partners had two chances to earn bonuses last year, one tied to the company's profits and the other to OSI's efforts to save money.
And this year, senior executives will be eligible for yet another bonus – one designed to keep them from jumping ship.
Just go away
Sandy Day ...
That's her, the clown on the rightPerhaps the "civics" lessons should focus on O'Connor's role in Bush v. Gore. "Retired Supreme Court Justice O'Connor: Use new media to teach civics in schools".
More wingnut justice
Oh yeah, "Alemán was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001." "Florida high court publicly reprimands Broward judge".
"Tobacco tax hike has smokers calling for help". Related: "Florida Senate makes it hard for Gov. Crist to say no to tobacco tax".
"The ultimate success of the governor's Big Sugar deal, which rides on an option to purchase more land, may not be known for years." "Land-purchase option is key to scaled-down U.S. Sugar deal".
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "The new deal to buy land to help restore the Everglades may not stem controversy, but it should spur state leaders to finally get on with completing one of Florida's more important public works projects." "Now that there's a new deal with U.S. Sugar, can we get on with the Everglades restoration?".
See you in Havana
"As the Obama administration considers a shift in the half-century policy of isolating Cuba, members of the Congressional Black Caucus returned from Havana saying the Castro brothers are eager to see a new day in U.S.-Cuban relations." "Lawmakers meet Castros, urge end to embargo".
"Nearly three quarters of Florida voters think the Florida Legislature should not deal with the state's financial crisis by cutting funding for public schools, and they would support a one-penny hike of the state's sales tax for the next three years if the money went exclusively to public education, according to a poll released this morning by the Florida Education Association." "Teachers' union poll says public favors education sales tax".
County kills firefighter
"State investigators say a Volusia County firefighter's death during a training exercise was the result of improper training and an unsafe workplace." "State faults county for firefighter's death".
"A Senate panel changed its $65.6 billion budget proposal Tuesday to calm opponents of the state's deal with the CSX Corp. to build commuter rail in Central Florida. Sen. Paula Dockery and other SunRail opponents cried foul Monday upon discovering language about the $1.2 billion project buried deep in the Senate's 376-page budget plan. The two paragraphs authorize the state to 'complete an escrowed closing on the Central Florida Rail Corridor Acquisition.'" "CSX opponents get Senate budget revised". See also "Fight gets hotter over state SunRail project", "SunRail cash proves hard to reroute", "Hunt for SunRail bucks fails in Senate committee" and "Tampa high-speed rail, SunRail linked, backers say".
"Once the aquifer becomes fouled ..."
"The bill, which passed a Senate committee Monday, would create spring-protection zones in areas around large springs. Over the next 15 years, it would gradually require changes in septic tanks, sewage systems and agricultural operations to reduce pollutants in those areas." "Proposal would protect Florida springs".
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "By paying attention to water quality in springs across Florida, people also protect themselves -- springs provide an important monitor for the quality of the water in the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies most of the state's drinking water."
And once the aquifer becomes fouled, it could take generations to recover, forcing people to rely on more expensive water-reclamation tactics such as desalination or reservoirs.
"Reclaiming at-risk gems".
So the choice for the Florida Legislature is this: Take further measures to protect springs now, and find a way to make that decision affordable. Or force Floridians to pay more for water in the future, and risk losing ecological and economic treasures like Blue Spring.
Lawmakers might not see it that way this session. They are cold-shouldering a bill by Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, that would put stronger protections in place for the state's large springs, requiring state and local officials to work together to lessen pollution leaching into the groundwater -- and then flowing out through the springs.
Rush Limbaugh winces in pain
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Now that South Florida, and Broward County in particular, has earned the disreputable distinction of being a place where doctors dispense painkiller drugs as if they were Halloween candy, the state Legislature has decided to act."
"Belatedly, Florida takes on prescription-drug dealers".
Lawmakers are reviewing several bills that would boost regulatory oversight of the clinics and give police some of the tools they need to go after unscrupulous operators. It's about time.
... The report describes how Broward has recently become the unofficial national headquarters for a thriving black market in dangerous prescription drugs, especially oxycodone [Limbaugh's drug of choice]. ...
So far, lawmakers have little to show for their time in Tallahassee. They should be happy to pass a law that makes it harder for bogus pain clinics to operate with impunity.
The Tampa Trib editors: "State lawmakers who want to eliminate funding for the juvenile assessment centers - JACS - don't seem to know about one of the grimmest periods in the state's history." "Unjust cuts".
The latest from Immokalee
"Advocates had worried the regulations meant to counter identity theft and unpaid bills might block access to water for illegal immigrants and make it difficult for migrant workers to move from trailers into more sanitary apartments." "SW Fla. utility reverses ID rule for water access".
Heaven help us
"UF Jewish frat house vandalized with painted swastika".
Enough with the silly tax holidays
The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board: "The state of Florida, which is slashing billions from important programs and has hat in hand for federal stimulus money, is in no position to hand out sales tax holidays this year." "State can't afford any tax holidays for anybody".
Whate"Bill to ban state employees from 'double dipping' clears Senate committee".
"Palm Beach County commissioners won't seek advice from the business community before they start slashing next year's $4 billion spending plan." "Palm Beach County commissioners rebuff Vana's call to seek business groups' budget advice".
"Wexler tours west Boynton Beach home affected by Chinese drywall".
Stanton gets a job
"The former Largo city manager who was fired after her plans to have a sex change became public has landed a new job as the city manager for Lake Worth." "Transsexual city manager lands new job". See also "Susan Stanton picked as new Lake Worth city manager".
The Tampa Trib editors: "Before capping carbon, open eyes to local costs".
But we like the public teat
"Defense cuts could cost Central Florida even more jobs".
"A federal board investigating an explosion at Jacksonville's T2 Laboratories are trying to determine whether the accident that killed four workers and injured 33 was an extraordinary mishap or a disaster waiting to happen." "Investigators still looking at Jacksonville blast".