"State revenue projections are billions of dollars short of Florida's scaled-down spending, and a major hurricane could add billions more to the problem, a joint legislative panel was told Tuesday." "Florida revenue projections may come up short".
Not a hard call ...
"Attorney General Bill McCollum said Tuesday his office will start keeping all BlackBerry messages and announced creation of a task force to bring Florida's public records laws into the text-messaging age." "AG: Text messages public record".
"Florida has fewer people overseeing its pension fund than other states and annual independent audits may be needed, a new report said."
A report presented to Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet on Tuesday noted that Florida's pension fund has fewer people overseeing it than most other states, and that annual independent audits may improve public confidence in investment decisions."Report finds fault with Florida pension overseers".
The findings add new momentum for state officials to ask voters to expand the three-member oversight board to add diversity and to include financial experts, and for more aggressive audits of the fund.
The report analyzed the governing setup of a powerful but little-noticed agency, the State Board of Administration, which oversees more than $110 billion in investments.
"Overcoming a barrage of negative ads, former House Speaker John Thrasher won a Republican primary Tuesday night to replace the late state Sen. Jim King. By winning the four-man primary, Thrasher is virtually certain to become the next senator in District 8, which includes parts of Volusia, Flagler and three other counties. No Democrats ran for the seat, and the Republican nominee will face only write-in candidates in the Oct. 6 general election. Thrasher could be sworn into office quickly after the election." "Ex-House speaker wins primary for King's seat". See also "Thrasher poised to emerge from bruising legislative race".
"The Senate has sent Gov. Charlie Crist's office a long list of questions about his latest gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. The questions are mostly technical, like the definition of net gambling profits and the state's share of profits is calculated. There are also questions about legal liability, exclusive rights to games and more." "Senate sends Crist questions on gambling deal".
"South Florida student at center of ACORN hidden-cam scandal".
"Crist’s recent threats not to reappoint two Public Service Commissioners if they vote for a proposed $1.3 billion Florida Power & Light Co. rate hike could scare investors away from investing in the utility, an expert testified today." "Crist changes to utility regulation scaring investors, expert says".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "In their promotion of a harebrained scheme to tax motorists by the miles they drive, Florida officials seem ... unglued."
They're desperate to find money to replace the billions of dollars they're losing from the gas tax, which pays for building and maintaining bridges and roads. That money's proving increasingly hard to come by, thanks to fuel prices causing people to drive less, and shift away from gas-guzzling vehicles to more fuel-efficient ones."Steer clear of new tax".
But for all our searching, we can find no sense behind a move to impose a new VMT tax — or vehicle miles traveled tax — that would make drivers of high-mileage vehicles pay as much tax as gas-guzzlers. It also would do far more harm than good. Why?
It would likely thwart the progress being made to get people to drive cleaner cars. Why buy a new hybrid that can get you 50 or more miles to the gallon if you're going to pay as much for each mile as someone driving a Hummer? Why, anyone would be right to ask, did the federal government just unload billions of dollars to subsidize the "cash for clunkers" program, only to see states like Florida undermine it by imposing a VMT tax? A tax, essentially, that says "it doesn't matter anymore what you drive; now it only matters how much you drive."
"A group of 15 Democrats in the Florida House will try to roll back the flood of fee increases and higher license charges that angered drivers across the state last month." "House Dems and GOP members pushing identical bill to repeal Florida driver's fee increases".
Wading "into the debate over Florida's development future"
"With the state's housing market cratered and its population in decline, Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet waded into the debate over Florida's development future Tuesday when they rejected an appeal from developers of a 400-acre project outside Ocala." "Ocala development fight signals broader duel over Hometown Democracy".
"He settled for a single"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Barack Obama, who campaigned on 'change,' had a chance this month to hit a home run on change. Instead, he settled for a single."
Because of Mr. Obama's actions, Cuban-Americans basically can travel to the island as often as they want for as long as they want to visit not just parents, brothers and sisters but aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins. Cuban-Americans may send those relatives unlimited amounts of money and take up to $3,000 when visiting. Telecommunication rules with the island also have been eased."A missed chance on Cuba".
But this change applies only to those who have family in Cuba. Other Americans still can visit Cuba only on government-approved trips. It remains illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba through third countries. Travel to North Korea - for those who are into unusual, risky vacations - requires no special permission, despite the worry over the country's nuclear weapons. Travel to Cuba - which hasn't been a national security threat since 1962 - requires the government's permission
A St. Petersburg thing
"St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Bill Foster believes, contrary to the overwhelming majority of scientists, that dinosaurs and humans co-existed. He believes the world was created in six literal days, and he once complained to school officials when his son was taught about Darwin's theory of evolution in fifth grade." "Can Bill Foster's creation beliefs evolve into valid issue in St. Petersburg mayoral race?".
"Penny sales tax: Without it, Seminole schools will scramble for cash".
"In a perpetual state of trying to catch up"
Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "The magnificent energy and forward-motion of technology means that most of us, most of the time, are in a perpetual state of trying to catch up."
This is true not just in our personal and professional lives, but also in our laws and public policies. They must be steadily readjusted to accommodate the possibilities and challenges of technology."Text this".
Nowhere is this need to keep up more evident than in Florida's public records arena where once only paper documents, and maybe tape recordings, were sought by citizens and the media in order to confirm or find out more about an issue. A few years ago, it became self-evident that emails sent and received by public officials and personnel up and down the line were not private communications at all, but electronic paper trails.
"A Florida utility regulator apologized for some of her decisions and proposed new rules for conduct as the Public Service Commission sought to restore public trust."
In an emotional appeal, a utility regulator apologized Tuesday for casting a ``cloud'' over the Public Service Commission, but insisted she broke no rules in dining with an executive of Florida Power & Light as it sought a $1.3 billion rate increase."Regulator apologizes for `cloud' over Public Service Commission". See also "Fla. regulator won't step down from FPL rate case".
Commissioner Katrina McMurrian sounded choked up after Commissioner Nathan Skop suggested she had engaged in "completely unacceptable'' behavior by having a meal with FPL Treasurer Paul I. Cutler in New York before a March 10 utility conference.
The tense exchange came as the PSC proposed new rules to restore public trust in an agency that has been rocked by investigations and allegations of too-cozy ties and private discussions with the powerful utilities it regulates. FPL and Progress Energy are asking for rate increases of about 30 percent.
"Florida's method of grading high schools altered".
"Ga. sets appeal of water ruling in motion".
"Florida's top insurance regulator said Tuesday that the market is improving, but he acknowledged that many challenges remain." "Insurance companies await fate of State Farm policies".