"Sen. Mike Bennett, a Republican from Bradenton and one of Senate President Mike Haridopolos' top lieutenants, is putting immigration reform on the front burner this spring." "Fla. Sen. Mike Bennett files Arizona-style immigration bill".
Meanwhile, "Immigration-reform advocates in Orlando joined a national push Tuesday to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors." "Advocates push bill that would legalize immigrants brought to U.S. as minors".
"Medicaid inappropriate scapegoat for Florida's woes"
A report from the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy: "One certain target for budget cuts as legislators begin balancing next year’s Florida budget will be the Medicaid program."
In attempting to build a case for slashing Medicaid, however, critics have overstated and even misrepresented the nature of both recent trends and future projections."Medicaid Is an Inappropriate Scapegoat for Budget Woes".
Medicaid is an inappropriate scapegoat for Florida's budget woes, particularly because the health and well-being of the most vulnerable Floridians who must rely on it hang in the balance.
RPOFers likely to abandon early presidential primary effort
"Florida Republicans likely will abandon their effort to force the state into the ranks of early presidential primary states in 2012. If the event includes a straw poll, it could be the most important pre-primary test of the 2012 candidates, thrusting Florida into the campaign limelight in late 2011. If it doesn't include a straw poll, it could signal the end, at least for now, of the state's attempt to have an early influence on presidential politics." "GOP likely to abandon early primary, may revive straw poll".
This way to the septic tank ...
Steve Bousquet and Marc Caputo: "Speaker Dean Cannon summoned all 80 Republican House colleagues to a closed, two-day training seminar Monday, with no notice beforehand to the media or public."
The purpose of the party-funded retreat was to teach the finer points of lawmaking to the 41-member class of House freshmen, including a crash course in rules, amendments, floor debate and other arcane details of the legislative process."House Republicans close doors, have how-to session for new GOP legislators".
All about "Jeb!"
"Florida's Eric Smith is among education chiefs from five states on a panel created by former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education to push for public school policy changes." "Fla. education chief on Jeb Bush foundation panel".
Who says RPOFs don't have a HCR plan?
"If you've checked out your company's health-plan changes for 2011, you've probably seen higher co-payments, deductibles and premiums in the forecast. That's because Florida employers' health-care costs are expected to rise 6.1 percent next year — and they plan on shifting more of the burden to workers." "Companies prepare to pass higher health costs along — to you".
"Bring 'em on!"
"You've probably seen that Florida politicians are super-stoked about gearing up to fight and block health-care reform. And if these guys have better ways to deal with the millions of Floridians who lack health insurance, bring 'em on!" "Solutions, Mr. Speaker?"
Raw political courage
"Florida Congressmen Attack WikiLeaks for Posting Classified Documents".
"Some members of the incoming class of Republican congressmen are so frugal that they will sleep in their Capitol Hill offices." "Florida Freshmen Won't Bed Down at Capitol".
"The report from America's Promise Alliance found that Florida had 147 schools in 2008 where fewer than 60 percent of students who started as freshmen were still enrolled four years later." "Report: Florida has fewer 'dropout factories'".
Open season on the Florida black bear
"After a decade of wrestling over the protected status of the manatee, Florida wildlife managers adopted a new system of assessing extinction risks last year that essentially put them out of the controversial, litigious business of declaring things 'endangered.'"
The new approach split the old list in two. One simply adopted the federal endangered species list, which already ranks the manatee, Florida panther, wood stork, crocodile and many of the state's highest profile at-risk denizens. The second state-only list lumped 61 others under a single "threatened'' category -- a status subject to review under a new suite of biological measures."Debates persist over `threatened' species".
Now, some of those first reviews are in. The findings suggest the new approach could produce some of the same old debates.
Preliminary reviews, if they stand up, would knock half of 10 mammals off the state's list -- most notably the Florida black bear, an animal whose shrinking habitat has increasingly pushed it into potentially dangerous encounters with suburbanites.
"Two attorneys said Tuesday they will inform the Orange County Sheriff's Office and a state licensing agency today to expect lawsuits over a series of raids earlier this year at barbershops in the Pine Hills area. ... Johnson said his clients, 12 area barbers, are suing on essentially the same grounds." "Lawyers to announce suits over barbershop raids".
"Florida's favorite punching bags"
Scott Maxwell: "I know it's not terribly popular nowadays. But I thought I'd take a moment to say thanks and congratulations to one of Florida's favorite punching bags — the public school teacher."
The latest reports show that Florida has its best graduation rate ever. And there will be all manner of politicians, bureaucrats and pundits heaping praise upon themselves for supposedly making this happen."Thank you, teachers, for lifting grad rates".
But I had a novel idea — thanking the teachers.
See, teachers have become the boogeymen in most of the efforts to dismantle public schools. They are portrayed as lazy incompetents who don't care about education, their students or anything other than collecting a union-protected paycheck.
We see these unfair portrayals in the halls of Tallahassee, from think tanks eager to siphon money away from public schools and into private ones, and even in the pages of this newspaper.
RPOF stooges want more
"Energized by high-profile election victories of the people they most wanted to see win — Rick Scott for governor, Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, and Allen West for Congress — they want even more." "Tea party activists in South Florida hope to build on election sucess".
Meanwhile, the "spats-and-ascot set" are laffing all the way to the country club.
"Jeb Bush says President Obama could win re-election in 2012 and that Republicans have yet to offer a “compelling alternative” to current policies." "Jeb Bush says Obama can win again".
"In a sign that negotiations between Walt Disney World and its largest labor group [approximately 30,000 employees] may be growing hostile, organizers with Service Trades Council plan to publicly air[ed] short film ... that boosters said 'documents the story of the workers who make the magic happen and their struggles in these tough economic times.'" "Disney union produces documentary, plans information picket". See also "Cast members reveal the dark side of Disney".
"Reality bites back"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Florida lawmakers have decided they want a say over many of the state's rules and regulations, grunt work usually left to state agencies. They think Florida's businesses need protection from bureaucratic Voldemorts and their diabolical regulations."
Makes a great sound bite, until reality bites back. Which it has."Pain clinic regulations fiasco doesn't bode well for Florida".
"Most politicians wait"
Scott Maxwell writes that, regarding Ricky, "most politicians wait until they get into office before they start breaking their promises."
Good luck with that
Mike Thomas: "The plot to weaken the class-size amendment failed when voters rejected Amendment 8. ... lawmakers must replace a political strategy designed to undermine the class-size amendment with a workable strategy to implement it." "Voters spoke, so make class-size law work". Meantime, "35 school districts face penalties for violating Florida's class-size law". Related: "State: Palm Beach County school classes among most overcrowded".
Not going quietly
"PSC's Nathan Skop Not Your Traditional Lame Duck".
"Talking points that deal with reality"
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "DREAM Act opponents need some talking points that deal with reality." "Wake up to reality of DREAM Act: Facts don't support opponents' arguments".
"Florida sued over sale of millions of drivers' personal info to private firm".
Public employee pensions in Ricky's crosshairs
"In his quest to meet with every state legislator before he takes office, Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Tuesday held sitdowns with 12 South Florida lawmakers to make introductions and to hear what was on their minds. ... His first question to each group: 'Can I ask you guys your thoughts on pension reform?'" "Scott meets with South Florida legislators at Fort Lauderdale hotel".
Jeff Davis smiling
"Cantor: States Need The Power To Overrule The Federal Gov't".
"In a bid to become the "tea party of the center," a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats has launched a "No Labels" movement. Banking on the idea that heightened partisan polarization will lead to more political gridlock and voter frustration, founder Nancy Jacobson believes the American public is hungry for a pragmatic approach to governance.
" "'No Labels' No Way to Win, Conservatives Say".
"Higher Education a Key to Creating Jobs in Florida".
LeMieux attacks federal employees
"LeMieux, Rooney propose tougher spending cuts; Big Labor hits from left". "GOP Devalues Obama's Puny Pay 'Freeze'".
But, aren't all men created equal?
"The Florida Times-Union ran a piece this morning on a Jacksonville groups’s renewed call to oust a Muslim man from the city’s Human Rights Commission, and now a man associated with that group is speaking out." "Jacksonville ACT! head discusses call to oust Muslim man from Human Rights Commission".
Where do Teabaggers stand on this?
"Recent reports of a proposed 'personhood' amendment that would potentially outlaw all types of abortion, as well as birth control, may have raised eyebrows, but the amendment doesn’t seem to be making much popular headway thus far. And while state legislators do have the authority to overrule the signature-gathering process, whether they plan to do so remains an open question." "Could the legislature push fetal personhood amendment onto ballots?".
"So much for blind justice"
Daniel Ruth writes that, as "recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens has noted, the process of determining who lives, who dies, hasn't always been fair. Or just. That is not only terrifying; it is a horrific indictment of judicial malfeasance on the high court."
Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 after a four-year moratorium, more than 1,100 people have been executed across the country, including 69 inmates in Florida. But Stevens, in an essay for the New York Review of Books, has argued he now believes the death penalty to be unconstitutional based on a pattern of "judicial activism" on the nation's highest court grounded in racism, a deck stacked toward convictions and political motivations grounded in hysteria."Restoring fairness to the death penalty".
So much for blind justice.
Bits and Pieces
Kevin Derby: "Political Bits and Pieces".
Anonymous attacks in RPOF race
"With Florida Republicans set to choose a new leader in January, an anonymous attack campaign has been launched against Hillsborough GOP chief Deborah Cox-Roush, who is running for state party chairwoman." "Anonymous attacks slam Hillsborough GOP chief seeking top party job". Related "Another candidate for Fla GOP Chair".
Entrepreneurs in action
"Minority firms worry high-speed-rail project will pass them by".
This bodes well for 'Glades restoration
"The South Florida Water Management District lost one of its strongest Everglades advocates on Tuesday -- but it could actually bode well for restoration efforts. The Obama administration tapped Shannon Estenoz, a district governing-board member and veteran environmentalist from Plantation, to be its point person on Everglades policy." "Obama administration taps Shannon Estenoz to help shape Glades policy". See also "South Florida water manager gets federal Everglades post".
"Members will have to vote to let Wilson wear hats in U.S. House".
The right to defecate
Mark Lane: "Florida is 30 percent wetlands, has a high water table and any place you might dig a hole isn't too far from a lake, swamp, river or creek. In a place like this, having a lot of poorly maintained, older septic tanks causes problems. They generate nitrates that pollute lakes and springs. This can set off algae blooms and fish kills." "Septic tanks a Florida dilemma". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Fix septic-tank bill".