"A proposed Constitutional amendment that could outlaw birth control pills in Florida looks a lot like federal legislation that state Attorney General Bill McCollum co-sponsored while in Congress."
McCollum, frontrunner GOP candidate for governor, took no stand last week when asked about the "personhood" question that anti-abortion activists are trying to place on Florida's ballot. The proposed amendment to the state Constitution would establish a human being's "personhood" at the start of biological development, which its sponsors define as fertilization."McCollum supported 'personhood' rights for unborn while in Congress".
That would outlaw abortion and, critics fear, might also lead to bans on oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices, because they can prevent a fertilized egg from developing,
Asked about the initiative, McCollum campaign spokeswoman Shannon Gravitte said that McCollum is firmly "pro-life" but "will not be commenting on hypothetical issues … if this proposal ends up on the ballot voters will certainly know where General McCollum stands."
But history draws a connection between McCollum and the "personhood" initiative, since he co-sponsored similar legislation in Congress in 1988. Then-U.S. Rep. McCollum signed on to California Rep. Bob Dornan's House Joint Resolution 529, which would have assigned to "preborn" persons the protections of the Fifth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments governing rights to due process, citizenship and freedom from slavery.
The resolution defined "personhood" to mean "from the moment of conception and without regard to age, health, or condition of dependency."
I feel better
"A special panel of lawmakers is finalizing a new long-range financial outlook that anticipates potential deficits in each of the next three budget years." "Lawmakers finalizing Fla. long-term outlook".
"Republican voters in Florida Senate District 8 will head to the polls today in a special primary election to replace longtime lawmaker Jim King, who died of pancreatic cancer in July. ... Candidates include Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham; Duval County School Board member Stan Jordan; Ponte Vedra Beach businessman Dan Quiggle; and former House speaker John Thrasher." "Special primary election today".
"he campaign to fill the Florida Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Jim King has turned nasty with biting, vicious television advertising and racially tinged mailers because of a court ruling that invalidated regulations against secretive political groups." "Senate campaign full of name-calling, negative ads".
Pay as you go
"Facing a likely future of dwindling gas-tax income, some Florida transportation officials are promoting a new way to raise money for highways and bridges: charging motorists by the mile." "New tax avenue? Florida motorists would pay by the mile".
Early voting cut in Jax
"Voting may soon get a little less convenient for Jacksonville residents. To deal with budget cuts, Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland is eliminating 10 precincts and scaling back early-voting hours." "Jacksonville early voting sites a budget victim".
Imagine that: "the interests of business above those of the public"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Pinellas County commissioners decided last week that before they grant a tax break to a specific company to spur new jobs, they don't need to know its name. The decision — based on legalities rather than sound public policy — illustrates why the law governing Florida's Qualified Target Industry incentive program must be changed. It is an affront to the taxpayer and elected officials, and puts the interests of business above those of the public." "Put a stop to secretive tax breaks".
"Crist suggesting heads will roll "
"The Public Service Commission is under even more pressure with a citizen demanding a commissioner recuse herself in the FPL rate case and Gov. Charlie Crist suggesting heads will roll if the panel approves a rate increase." "Crist puts still more pressure on PSC". See also "Crist to PSC: Rejecting rate hikes will factor in reappointments".
"The electric company is flying high ..."
"Armando Olivera, Florida Power & Light president, generally commutes by helicopter from Miami to company headquarters in Juno Beach. When he goes to Tallahassee, he travels on a corporate jet the company plans to replace by a new one paid by all of us customers to this monopoly."
In the critical debate over FPL's rate increase, its secret executive compensation policy and its questionable links to Florida's regulators, there has been no discussion about the core of the problem: The electric company is flying high in the chopper while its customers are down in the real world."FPL not being responsive to public".
"Utility regulators to consider plan to restore public trust".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "From religious and business leaders to local Republican and Democratic members of Congress to hip-hop artists -- all are calling on the Obama administration to grant temporary protected status to thousands of undocumented Haitians living in the United States." "Let the Haitians stay".
Related: "Haitians up pressure for special immigration status".
"'Any time you rock the boat, these scumbags come out'"
"Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano and a lobbyist who owns riverfront land with her in western North Carolina said Monday utility companies are trying to smear her for 'rocking the boat' about cozy relationships between the PSC and businesses it regulates."
"I've never said I'm 'Saint Nancy,' but I'm clean," said Argenziano. "Any time you rock the boat, these scumbags come out against you.""Argenziano partnership scrutinized".
Property records in Swain County, N.C., disclosed to Tallahassee reporters late last week by a confidential source, indicate Argenziano and Roger Pennington own property near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pennington is registered to lobby for the Florida Municipal Electric Association and, although city utilities are not regulated by the PSC, they sometimes intervene in PSC cases affecting investor-owned companies.
Pennington said he does not lobby the PSC and, although still registered with the House and Senate, "I don't think I've talked to a legislator about a PSC issue" for about two years. He said he has never talked with Argenziano about any regulatory matters.
Florida laff riot
"If a resolution filed in July garners enough support, Florida voters may be given the opportunity to amend the state constitution and essentially opt out of federal health care reform."
Filed by Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, and Rep. Scott Plankon, R-Longwood, HJR 37 would “protect Florida's citizens from being put into a federally mandated (health care) system that they may not think is best,” Baker said. ..."Florida voters could opt out of health care reform".
Marti Coley, R-Marianna, is one of the resolution’s 22 co-sponsors, and said it’s about sending a message to the federal government.
Tea bag lunacy
The Palm Beach Post editorial board:
Those at Saturday's rally lost whatever credibility they might have had by depicting Mr. Obama in protest art flavored with racism. They lost credibility by showing up only now, eight months after Mr. Obama took office, to show concern about the nation's debt. They did not travel to Washington when the debt grew during the Bush administration from roughly $5.73 trillion to about $10.6''trillion. You also wonder why those who are unemployed and lack health care oppose reforming a system that bases health care on employment."Ignore these protesters".
Silly RPOFers "concerned about the liberal politics at play"
"Florida’s Medicaid population surged by about 300,000 this fiscal year as the overall budget shrunk and as the state lost population and became a national leader in home foreclosures and unemployment. Experts forecast that another 143,000 people will be added next year, regardless of congressional action."
Rising Medicaid enrollment would have been a budget buster for Florida and other states had Obama and Congress not approved the federal stimulus package that boosted the federal share of the program from 55 percent to 67 percent of every Medicaid dollar spent."Fla. legislators more worried about Medicaid expansion than with 'public option' care".
Legislators this spring shifted about $790 million in Medicaid stimulus money out of the program to prevent budget cuts elsewhere. They also transferred another $900 million out of the program after passing a new tobacco tax earmarked for Medicaid.
Without the two budget transfers, Florida would not face a $1.5 billion Medicaid deficit next year, said state Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who sits on the Senate’s health budget committee with Sen. Gaetz.
“The Medicaid deficit is a problem of the Legislature’s making,” Rich said. “But I’m very concerned with any talk of expanding Medicaid in Florida. We already don’t know what’s going to happen with the Medicaid program we have. So it’s a big concern when they start talking about growing the program.”
Still, Rich said, she supports expanding the Medicaid rolls as an alternative to a public-option plan.
Republican lawmakers say that’s a bad move. Rep. Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican slated to be Florida House speaker when the Medicaid expansion tab might come due, said he’s concerned about the liberal politics at play.
Charles Flowers, "Just one year after Florida lawmakers crafted a plan to compensate victims who were wrongly imprisoned, the extraordinary requirement that the victim prove 'actual innocence' of the crime he or she did not commit is frustrating the claim of the first to seek relief."
James Joseph Richardson, one of the most obvious petitioners imaginable for compensation under the 2008 law, was recently denied the $1.1 million the law allows. Already a casualty of the justice system, he is being wronged again."After two decades, justice still denied".
Richardson was falsely accused of poisoning seven of his children to death in Arcadia more than 40 years ago. Prosecutors claimed he did it for insurance money, though he had no policy. He spent 21 years in prison — four of them on death row — before he was freed in 1989 after new evidence showed prosecutorial misconduct and implicated the family babysitter, who had heated and served the children's food.
Raw political courage
"Utility panel chairman: No one should tell us how to vote".
Florida Chamber thugs in action
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Developers are lobbying the Cabinet's members - Gov. Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson - to put unneeded growth over state law. At issue is a case that would have allowed a Marion County landowner to build 20 times the number of homes allowed on 400 acres northwest of Ocala."
Two citizens, acting without lawyers, challenged the county's decision to allow nearly 800 homes. An administrative law judge ruled for the citizens. Susan Woods and Karen Lynn Recio argued that a 45-year supply of residential land more than adequately meets the area's growth needs. The judge not only found the county's analysis - prepared by the developers - to be wrong, he found that it covered too large a territory and too long a time frame."If no need, then no growth".
The Cabinet usually backs up such strong rulings. But Tom Pelham, who runs the state's growth management agency, worries that lobbyists for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Land Council and Florida Farm Bureau will persuade the Cabinet to overturn the ruling, a decision that would further chip away at Florida's growth management laws.
"While some Democrats press for a 'resolution of disapproval' against U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for shouting 'You lie!' at President Obama during a joint session of Congress last week, U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, hopes his party lets the matter die." "Wexler: Dems should accept Wilson’s “You lie” apology and move on".
"Is growth management in South Florida a lost cause?".
"Another wallop from Washington"?
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Even as the recession has cut into tax collections in almost every category, governments in Central Florida and across the nation are fighting for all the taxes they're owed from online travel companies. Now those governments are at risk of getting sucker-punched by Congress."
At issue are bed taxes that local governments impose on short-term lodging. The hotels and motels collect those taxes based on the retail prices they charge their guests. But online travel discounters, such as Expedia and Orbitz, have been remitting taxes on the lower wholesale prices they negotiate with hotels for rooms, instead of the higher prices they charge customers. The difference adds up to tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue for local governments. ..."Pay the taxman".
Congress has been considering a proposal, the Travel Promotion Act, to create a fund to pay for marketing the United States to international travelers. And lobbyists for the online travel companies have been trying to persuade federal lawmakers to get them off the hook with an amendment in that legislation.
A version of the act passed the Senate without the amendment. However, it could resurface when the House takes up the bill.
Florida members of Congress from both parties are supporting the Travel Promotion Act. They need to make it their business to ensure that the bill doesn't pass with a giveaway to the online companies.
Governments in Florida already have taken it on the chin during the recession. They don't need another wallop from Washington.
"FDLE: No credible reports of threats toward Fathima Rifqa Bary".
"The growing use of difficult-to-trace e-communications has raised concerns about public officials circumventing open-government laws." "Critics say technology is enemy of open government". See also "Phone flap raises public records issues".
State Board of Education
"The state Board of Education is meeting in Miami, where they will consider next year's budget request and revising high school accountability requirements." "Fla. Board of Ed meets in Miami; budget on agenda".