Oil Company shills in a bind
"Crist's call for a special session on oil drilling has put some coastal Republican lawmakers in a tough spot."
House leaders are generally cool to adding a proposed constitutional amendment banning on drilling to the ballot. They point out that Florida law already bans drilling in state waters. They call the governor's move a political stunt. ..."Special session on drilling poses hard choice for GOP lawmakers from the coast".
But lawmakers also know that banning drilling is a political slam-dunk in an election year with images of oiled pelicans, tar balls and empty beachfront hotels on voters' minds.
The Saint Petersburg Times editors acknowledge the oil company legislators' point that
State law already bans drilling in state waters, which stretch from 3 to 10 miles offshore. It is a policy that was long embraced by leaders of both political parties as necessary to protecting Florida's tourist economy. But during the past two annual legislative sessions — before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico — a push by a shadowy group of drilling interests prompted two Republican leaders to aggressively push to overturn the law. Incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, have since pledged to drop the issue for at least a year until more is known about what went wrong at Deepwater."Give voters chance to ban drilling". The Tampa Tribune editors agree: "Draw a clear line in the sand" ("Florida residents do not want near-shore drilling, but on this issue, their representatives can't be trusted.")
But that is no guarantee that the industry's assault won't resume in 2012 — particularly because its ultimate goal extends beyond tapping what limited reserves may lie under state water. The industry's greater interest lies in sending a signal to Washington that Florida is no longer a no-drill state.
The The Palm Beach Post editorial board adds this: "A special session to ban drilling shines a spotlight on Gov. Crist as the compassionate protector of Florida's environment, people and businesses. The more Republican leaders resist, the brighter the spotlight on Gov. Crist and the better he looks. Much of the Legislature's current and rising leadership is tainted. Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon had put Drill, Baby, Drill at the top of their to-do list - until the April Deepwater Horizon blowout spread its threatening oil slick." "Drilling ban isn't enough".
In the meantime, the RPOFers are whining at a record pace: "Republicans said again that the job Crist had in mind by calling the session was the one he hopes to win this fall: U.S. senator."
"I'm going to be governor for about six more months and I think I would not be doing my duty as governor if I didn't call for this special session," Crist said."Weekly Roundup: Gov, Lawmakers in 'Special' Relationship".
Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla disagreed, saying "the only future Charlie Crist is concerned about is his own political one."
Yet again, Crist’s biggest friends seemed to be Democrats.
"I commend the governor for agreeing to call for a special session to ban near-beach oil drilling, despite the resistance from special interests and some members of the Legislature," presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink said, leaving little doubt there would be unhappy elephants in the room when the session is convened.
Crist risks "runaway Legislature"
Gary Fineout: Crist is "running the risk that lawmakers could return and use the four-day session to strike back at the independent candidate for U.S. Senate."
Within hours after his announcement, there were groups already starting to urge legislators to use the special session to override some of Crist’s most recent vetoes, including his veto of a property insurance bill."Do-nothing session or runaway Legislature?".
Crist could also find his budget vetoes targeted. House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, initially threatened to sue over the budget vetoes, saying Crist exceeded his legal authority to wipe out mandates that were included in the state’s $70 billion budget. But a special session could give legislators a way to undo the veto without going to court. It takes a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override a veto.
An override, however, would require a handful of Democrats to vote with Republicans. Many Democrats are siding with Crist with the push for a constitutional ban and may be unwilling to go along with an override without getting something in return.
Scott, Arizona dreamin'
Beth Reinhard wonders whether"Rick Scott running for governor of Florida -- or Arizona?"
Scott, a multimillionaire healthcare executive who has never run for office before, landed on the radar screen in Florida with a blitz of television ads touting Arizona's popular but controversial crackdown on illegal immigration. ..."Candidate Rick Scott's focus seems fixed -- on Arizona".
Then Scott used President Obama's recent speech on immigration reform to call for Florida businesses to use E-Verify, the computerized database that verifies -- with debatable accuracy -- if a job applicant is a legal resident. Scott's campaign noted that the system is currently in use in South Carolina, Mississippi, Utah and, of course, Arizona.
And this week, Scott blew up Florida politics by suing the state over its public campaign financing system, following a similar case in -- you guessed it -- Arizona. Florida's so-called "millionaire's amendment'' would allow rival Bill McCollum to subsidize his campaign with tax dollars if Scott spends more than $24.9 million of his own money.
In the Arizona case of McCormish v. Bennett, a trial court ruled that matching funds are a violation of the First Amendment. An appeals court reversed the decision, and the U.S. Supreme Court, without ruling in the case, blocked further distribution of state money to candidates.
"Health care executive Rick Scott, leading in the polls over Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said that he made a financial contribution to the state of Arizona’s legal defense fund to fend off a lawsuit from the federal government over new state immigration laws -- and urged Floridians to do likewise." "Rick Scott Infuses Arizona Defense Fund, Challenges Obama on Immigration".
Meek, Greene Medicare kerfuffle
"U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is trying to kill a fledgling program that the federal government claims will deflate Medicare costs by requiring competitive bids from companies that provide medical equipment like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs."
The Miami congressman's legislation -- which is backed by the medical supply industry and opposed by AARP -- has formed a new line of attack for rival Jeff Greene in the Democratic Senate primary. Greene pointed to tens of thousands of dollars that Meek has received from medical suppliers before and after he introduced the bill."Meek, Greene spar over Medicare costs".
"This is yet another example of a broken political system where corrupt politicians, like Kendrick Meek, put special interests ahead of the needs and well-being of Florida's citizens,'' Greene's campaign said in a statement.
Meek said the competitive bidding program needs to be scrapped because it would allow illegitimate and inexperienced companies to get into the game. He noted the program's 2008 false start. ... Meek's office pointed to the broad support for his legislation from 252 members of the House, including 18 of the 25 members from Florida.
Scott steps in it
"Rick Scott is reaching into his corporate past to woo a key electorate in the Republican primary for governor and bolster his claims as a 'pro-life leader.' But a father says Scott has 'grossly overstepped the bounds of decency.'"
As antiabortion issues begin to dominate Scott's contest with Attorney General Bill McCollum, Scott's lack of a voting record stands in contrast to McCollum's lengthy history from two decades in Congress and repeated bids for elective office."Family says Scott distorts their pain".
But as he courts core conservative voters, Scott is thrusting a Texas family's 20-year-old turmoil into an increasingly bitter dialogue on the topic of life.
The family suggests Scott is distorting its misfortune for political gain.
Wingers turn on Kottkamp
"Kottkamp is now a Republican candidate for attorney general, and he is coveting the very voters who despise Crist the most: conservative Republicans. " "Gov. Crist's rejection of GOP has complicated life for Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp".
Steve Otto: "You stare out across the sugary beach to the water and wonder what's coming, if anything. Remember that apocalyptic movie "On the Beach'' with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner? The world pretty much had blown itself up and a nuclear cloud was blowing slowly south toward Australia. The Australians spent their final few months whooping it up on the beach, singing Waltzing Matilda and waiting for the end to come. It's sort of like that on Florida's gulf beaches". "Column: No oil, so life goes on in St. Pete Beach".
See also "New cap, ships could contain Gulf leak by Monday; relief well done by end of July?", "Feds say new cap could contain Gulf leak by Monday" and "Value of oil skimming Gulf flotilla is uncertain".
Scott, McCollum debates set
"Republican gubernatorial candidates Bill McCollum and Rick Scott confirmed on Friday they'll hold at least two debates before their Aug. 24 primary, setting up early August showdowns that could reshape their race for the GOP nomination. The first debate will be held in Miami on Aug. 7. The second meeting, to take place Aug. 5, will be in Tampa." "McCollum, Scott agree to August debates in GOP primary for Florida governor".
Wingnut laff riot
Jac Wilder VerSteeg: "People who last year were chanting 'Drill, baby, drill' have an interesting new defense:"
Environmentalists are responsible for the BP spill because they forced oil drilling so far offshore instead of letting oil companies drill on land and closer inshore, where the technological problems of dealing with blowouts would not be as daunting."VerSteeg: Worry about nuclear power".
By that logic, people who advocate for increased U.S. dependence on foreign oil would be the most blameless because they're for drilling in Saudi Arabia and other places so far away a disaster wouldn't be our problem.
Haridopolos sits on his hands
"State Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos said he came to Thursday’s Clean Energy Summit not to talk, but to listen. True to his word, he spent much of his time as moderator scribbling notes as participants discussed the economic and environmental benefits of reducing Florida’s dependence on fossil fuels — and the challenge of making it happen. For the most part, Florida policymakers seem stuck on the latter, torn between politically powerful utilities and their frustrated customers." "Clean Energy Summit: Florida lawmakers lack political will to push renewable projects". Meanwhile, "Rep. Rehwinkle Vasilinda calls for alternative energy discussion at special session".
Bud Chiles is "hoping to capitalize on his family’s name recognition. But instead of tapping into the goodwill his father built up over the years in his political party, Chiles III filed as an independent. As a result, his decision to run has put his family in an awkward position: whether to back a family member who many feel has a slim chance of winning and will likely siphon votes from Democratic candidate Alex Sink, or to endorse the party Lawton Chiles helped build, after more than a decade of Republican control of the governor’s mansion." "Bud’s run forces Chiles family, friends to pick sides".
Right wing SCOTUS may put McCollum in money bind
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "Floridians who doubt the necessity of the state's public campaign finance law should consider the maneuvers of Rick Scott."
Scott, in a battle with Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination for governor, has spent more than $20 million of his personal fortune in the race, according to reports."Florida needs campaign finance option".
McCollum, meanwhile, is at a big financial disadvantage, though he's actually raised more money from contributors.
But under Florida's constitution, McCollum - and other candidates - will be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match from state taxpayers should Scott exceed a $24.9 million limit set by the "Millionaire's Amendment."
It's called that for a reason - to prevent multimillionaires such as Scott from buying elections. The amendment gives lesser-financed candidates the chance to "compete effectively," as the amendment passed by voters in 1988 states. ...
But this week, Scott sued to have the law declared unconstitutional. He argues the law has "significantly chilled" his First Amendment rights. ...
Scott may prevail because of a recent decision by the nation's highest court. Ruling on a challenge to an Arizona law that is similar to Florida's, justices stopped Arizona officials from allocating matching public funds to candidates in its public campaign finance program. The justices agreed with a lower court's opinion that the law violates the First Amendment rights of candidates relying on private money.
RPOFers have other plans for the session
"State Rep. Kevin Ambler of Tampa is drafting an Arizona-style immigration enforcement bill that he wants the Legislature to consider during its special session later this month." The geniuses running the Legislature are in a dither, with the Teabaggers nipping at their heels:
It remained unclear Friday afternoon how House and Senate leaders would respond to Ambler's proposal. Senate President Jeff Atwater did not respond to a request for comment; Jill Chamberlin, spokeswoman for House Speaker Larry Cretul said only that he is still reviewing the governor's special session proclamation."Ambler hopes his Arizona-style immigration bill will get look in session". See also "Fla. officials ponder Ariz. immigration law" ("A Rasmussen poll last week showed 62 percent support for Arizona's law in Florida, with 24 percent opposed.")
"The federal government is touting progress made on the president’s goal to double national exports in the next five years, and a prominent Florida business advocate says that the state could be following suit if it makes the right choices. " "Florida, Nation on Track to Double Exports in Five Years".
What's wrong with Hillsborough?
"Hillsborough County Republicans today filed the second of two lawsuits seeking to block Democratic candidates from competing for county commission seats." "GOP files 2nd suit, this time to keep Saul-Sena off ballot". See also "Lawsuit filed against Saul-Sena".