"The 2009 legislative session appears headed toward overtime. House and Senate leaders were unable to reach agreement Friday on key budget issues, making it extremely difficult -- if not impossible -- to pass a spending plan before the session's scheduled end next Friday." "No budget in sight as clock ticks". See also "No agreement reached yet on state budget plan".
"Florida lawmakers' budget standoff grinded on Friday, with Senate President Jeff Atwater conceding it would be 'very difficult' to bridge big-ticket decisions on higher cigarette taxes, Seminole gambling and spending cuts on time." "Lawmakers' budget talks break down over billion-dollar tax decisions". See also "Budget talks between Florida House, Senate drag on", "Negotiations on Florida budget stall" and "Closed-door budget talks halted for weekend break".
In the meantime, Charlie dithers in his empty suit: "Crist plants tree for Arbor Day" and "Crist knows where the cameras are".
Welcome to JesusLand"Florida would issue a license plate with the image of Jesus and another with a cross if lawmakers pass a bill now in the Legislature.". See also "Florida could get cross and Jesus license plates".
Update: "Senate approves religious license plates".
"A legendary Tallahassee restaurant that fed politicians and lobbyists for decades has closed its doors, a victim of the economy." "Tallahassee's storied Silver Slipper serves its last meal".
Obama steps up to the plate for Florida
As the RPOFers whine, "Florida schools can forestall budget cuts. Cuban immigrants can visit relatives back home. Construction can start on a long-delayed Interstate 4 connector road. Some homeowners may avoid foreclosure."
These are the most tangible effects in Florida of President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office. Most can be traced to Obama's economic stimulus plan, which is expected to funnel $13.7 billion to Florida over the next two years."Obama makes mark on Florida in first 100 days".
"Our state budget would be in total collapse without it," said Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, a Democrat and early Obama supporter.
From the "values" crowd
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "The Florida House's plan to virtually scrap a petroleum cleanup program will endanger the state's water supply, pollute rivers and bays and end up creating costly bills for taxpayers." "Draining cleanup fund won't save tax dollars".
"South Florida gambling sites wage 'fun, friendly' war for Palm Beach County's business".
"The Florida House of Representatives approved legislation Friday that would increase almost all homeowner insurance rates statewide." "State House passed bill to hike home insurance prices".
Haridopolos crawls back under his rock
"House Majority Leader Adam Hasner said Friday that his chamber will not revive the debate over a highly contentious, last-minute elections bill. ... Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, said he would take a fresh look at the proposal over the weekend. But he acknowledged the long odds at salvaging something before time runs out." "House leader says controversial elections bill is dead".
More: "Election bill stalls during house session" and "Elections bill unlikely to pass".
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board calls it "a loser of a bill." "Voting bill offered at 11th hour".
"State-run insurance plans for the poor and disabled can't be forced to pay for a treatment if they disagree with a doctor over whether it's necessary, a federal appeals court ruled Friday."
The decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said state Medicaid officials can't be excluded from determining the care of a 14-year-old Georgia girl who suffers from near-daily seizures. Her mother filed a lawsuit after the state cut the number of hours the girl was seen by a home nurse."Court says insurance plan has final say in treatment disputes".
The ruling applies to Alabama, Florida and Georgia, where health-care advocates fear it could allow state health agencies to overrule doctors' reccomendations. They also worry it would allow for-profit Medicaid contractors to decide on treatments based cost instead of health needs.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Belle Glade and South Bay may add a twist to the maxim of robbing Peter to pay Paul. They may rob both Peter and Paul to pay themselves. Here's how it would work:" "EDITORIAL: Lifesaving help for Glades".
They have a point
"State workers: Pay cuts amount to 'income tax'".
RPOFers in action
"A bitterly divided House gave preliminary approval [Friday] to a controversial plan by Republican leaders to allow oil and gas drilling as close as three miles from Florida's beaches." "Offshore drilling passes first hurdle in House".
Armed and chauffeuring
The Miami Herald editorial board notes that "the number of police officers that commissioners have at their disposal has tripled since 2002; and the cost of having these officers chauffeur commissioners around South Florida has climbed to $743,845 from $211,000 annually. In too many instances, the officers serve little purpose other than to accumulate hundreds of hours of unnecessary overtime pay." "Pols who need ride should call a taxi".
"Florida Senate approves bill to track prescription drugs". See also "Senate votes to track pain pills" and "'Doctor shopping' bill passed in Florida Senate".
Truth be told ...
"Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair claimed in a lawsuit filed in March that current Commissioner Kevin Beckner had damaged his reputation during their campaign last year."
Beckner responded in court papers Friday, saying Blair couldn't be defamed because his reputation is disreputable."Beckner calls Blair's reputation a 'discredit'".
In support of that argument, Beckner's lawyers presented 24 exhibits that included newspaper articles, ethics complaints and a 25-year-old sheriff's report, all meant to show Blair in a bad light.
Big of him
"State Senate President Jeff Atwater responded Friday to criticism about secretive budget negotiations, saying that he may propose rules to make the process more open." "Atwater hears calls for openness".
Carlos Saladrigas, chairman of the Cuba Study Group: "By lifting all restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba, President Obama fulfilled a key campaign promise, did the right thing, but also made a very smart strategic move. These restrictions never made any sense, as the United States should have never been in the business of dividing families. That's the Cuban regime's doing." "Much more needs to change".
Frank Calzon, the executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba: "President Obama is right that the ball is now in Raúl Castro's court. President Obama insists on maintaining the embargo but lifting some restrictions opens up the way if, as the president hopes, Havana responds in kind. It is emblematic of U.S.-Cuban relations that Havana demands concessions and when they are made, responds by saying they are not enough." "Will Havana reduce repression?".
Waiting on a handout
The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board: "Somewhere in the Capitol, there are a few individuals — including our governor — who have reason to believe that Florida school districts will be granted an 11th-hour reprieve through several short-term infusions of cash. Should this venture succeed, Florida may be spared catastrophic cuts to its K-12 public education system. But if any part of it fails, our luck will have finally run out." "At the ready".
"Dosal Tobacco gets good news from Florida House leaders as workers protest a possible tobacco surcharge in Tallahassee". "Opa-locka tobacco firm wins reprieve on extra 45-cent tax".
Welcome to Orlando
"More porn shops, strip clubs for Orlando?".
Mommy catches a break
"Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum did nothing wrong when she called the police chief in the middle of the night as her son was being pulled over by a patrolman, the Florida Ethics Commission ruled Friday." "Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum cleared in ethics case over son's traffic stop".
Josh Culling, the state government affairs manager for the National Taxpayers Union, rides his one trick pony this morning: "Proposed cigarette tax hurts everyone".
Whoop - dee - doo
"Prompted by reports of nepotism and lax financial controls, the Florida Senate unanimously passed a plan Friday to make Florida's more than 360 charter schools more accountable in their classrooms and on their financial statements. Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, would no longer be able to hire and do business with relatives, and they would be forced to communicate students' academic performance even when the state does not give the schools a letter grade." "Charter-school crackdown advances in Tallahassee".
The majesty of the Legislature
"Age raise for Florida watercraft operators defeated".
"Florida Senate OK's $30.76M award in case against BSO".
Paintballers go to the jury
"Closing arguments in Fla. terror trial of 6 men".