"The bill rewrites Florida's 25-year-old growth management law, principally by allowing developers in the most urban counties to add more housing developments without expanding roads and by allowing counties and cities to designate new urban areas that also would be exempt from certain road-building requirements."
Sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican and an electrical contractor, the bill passed both houses of the Legislature by wide margins."Crist signs controversial growth-management bill". See also "Crist signs bill loosening controls on growth", "Gov. Charlie Crist signs controversial growth bill" and "Citing job creation, Crist signs growth-management bill".
Business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Association of Realtors hailed Crist's decision. The Chamber said the legislation "updates Florida's growth laws without compromising environmental or land-use protections.''
In signing the bill (SB 360), Crist, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, acknowledged the divisions it has caused. He has noted that his growth management expert, Tom Pelham, who runs the state Department of Community Affairs, had misgivings about the bill.
The Palm Beach Post editorial board:
Crist has built a solid environmental record for his Senate run. He championed the U.S. Sugar buyout to help restore the Everglades, and he proposed Florida's first renewable energy standards. He tarnished that record Monday by signing what the Legislature named the "Community Renewal Act" but what more accurately should be called the "No Growth Management Act.""The governor can't hide"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "By signing SB 360 into law Monday, the governor clearly values the voices of developers and big business — and their campaign checks for his U.S. Senate campaign — over the concerns of environmentalists and local governments." "Governor Gridlock".
"The state Republican Party, which had hoped to clear the field to give Attorney General Bill McCollum an uncontested nomination for governor, now finds itself with at least two potential challengers, veteran legislator Dan Webster and state Sen. Paula Dockery."
Webster, a former state House speaker and state senator from Winter Garden, appeals strongly to social and religious conservatives. McCollum does also, but not as much."McCollum could face GOP primary foes".
"Webster is looked upon as one of the founding fathers of conservative politics in Florida," said Terry Kemple, a religious conservative activist from Brandon.
The state Christian Coalition recently held an appreciation banquet in Webster's honor.
Webster hasn't spoken publicly about the race, but told supporters to spread the word he's interested. ...
Dockery, meanwhile, built populist appeal over the last year with a crusade against a proposal for a state deal with CSX railway to form a Central Florida commuter rail system.
Does Blue Dog Boyd deserve a pass?
"If state Sen. Dan Gelber's selfless withdrawal this weekend from the U.S. Senate race is supposed to inspire Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson to put his Washington dreams on hold, it isn't working."
"Right now, I'm still running for Congress," Lawson said Monday afternoon."Sen. Al Lawson: 'Right now, I'm still running for Congress'".
Gelber, the former House Democratic Leader from Miami Beach, announced that he was dropping out so Democrats could unify behind Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek, who faces an uphill battle against Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer has been urging his candidates for months to do the same, unabashedly discouraging Republican primaries so the party can regroup in the upcoming midterm elections.
Lawson, an insurance broker from Tallahassee, faces a bruising primary against veteran Congressman Allen Boyd of Monticello.
Lawson said that he's been asked by his party to pull out of the race. Lawson said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman asked him to consider running instead for the Cabinet slots being vacated by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, or Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson, a Republican who is being forced by term limits to step down.
No escapin' it
"Debates for the 2010 governor and U.S. Senate races will be broadcast statewide on network television stations in all 11 media markets, an historic level of exposure for what promises to be an historic election year." "U.S. Senate, Governor debates to be televised on major networks".
Another fine Jebacy
"Nearly three years into a Medicaid privatization program former Gov. Jeb Bush said could be a national model, state officials say they do not have crucial data to measure the program's effectiveness, including how many patients' treatments and prescriptions have been approved or denied."
Patients and health care advocates have complained they can't get doctors appointments and medications under the program, which began in October 2006. An Associated Press study found nearly 25 percent of doctors in Broward and Duval counties, the two biggest counties in the pilot program, have dropped out because of red tape and an inability to treat patients as they see fit."Florida has no data 3 years into Medicaid trial".
The complaints have led to an outcry for accountability from the state's health care agency, especially after WellCare, the program's largest private health care provider, has admitted to stealing more than $35 million from the state under another program.
There's also been little evidence to show that the pilot, operating in five counties, has improved health care or saved the state money.
"Crist's disdain for the law, or his ignorance of it"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Charlie Crist's disdain for the law, or his ignorance of it, again has him thumbing his nose at it." "Restore the public's trust".
"Dems target Rooney"
"Democrats haven’t recruited a candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, rooneymugbut the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting the freshman House member with radio ads and automated phone calls that criticize his vote against a $787 billion economic stimulus plan." "Dems target Rooney with radio ads, robocalls". See also "Courier: Rooney one of six targeted by DCCC over stimulus opposition".
"State Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, sidestepped a U.S. Senate primary over the weekend but may be headed into a three-Democrat primary battle for the party's attorney general nomination. Gelber, state Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres and former state Sen. Rod Smith of Alachua are all continuing to explore runs for the state's top legal post in 2010, when Republican incumbent Bill McCollum runs for governor." "Attorney general's race could become crowded".
"A potentially spirited Republican primary"
"With Republican state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff running for the state Senate, the field is wide open to fill her House seat next year, already offering a potentially spirited Republican primary."
Three Republicans say they plan to run: Soil and Water Commissioner Oliver Parker, marketing company president Yomin Postelnik and attorney David Maymon."Republicans clamor for Florida House seat".
"What makes this one so different?"
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board: "Hurricane season begins today, but it will not be like any other hurricane season in recent years. What makes this one so different? The recession." "Storm season starts today in a financially weakened state".
Another Chamber hack
"The Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed former state Rep. Joe Negron of Stuart to replace state Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, as the qualifying period for the Aug. 4 special election begins Tuesday." "Florida Chamber backs Negron for state Senate on eve of qualifying period".
"Unless he is convicted before then"
"State Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, will be forced out of the House seat next year by term limits, unless he is convicted before then of the felony charges of official misconduct and perjury he presently faces." "Who'll run to replace Sansom? Here are some names".
"Crist on Monday signed into law one of his top priorities of 2009: a bill that allows all 11 state universities to increase tuition by as much as 15 percent a year." "Boost in tuition set for 11 Florida colleges". See also "Crist signs university tuition hike bill, vetoes delay for condo sprinklers".
Fewer anti-Semitic incidents
"The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Florida declined 2 percent in 2008, according to annual statistics from the Anti-Defamation League." "Anti-Semitic incidents down in Florida, figures show".
"A particularly rotten political excess"?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board this morning: "Crist can help right himself, and help restore the public's trust in those who govern, by signing a bill that would rid Florida of a particularly rotten political excess."
Somehow, county, city and school board officials got it into their heads that they are obliged to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on campaigns to support ballot initiatives they like, and kill those they don't.The Tallahassee Democrat editorial board sees it differently: "a legislative idea to muzzle local governments from communicating with citizens on public policy issues seems especially regressive and absurd." "Undo the muzzle".
A bill before the governor would put an end to that egregious practice.