"While a divided U.S. House prepares to vote on repealing the nation's health care law, Republicans as well as Democrats from Florida pledged on Tuesday to retain popular new protections for patients while trying to make insurance affordable."
Democrats in Congress rallied around the new law, and some Florida patients who already have benefited from its provisions urged Congress to save it.Here's the kicker:
"The Republicans in the House are willing to take away access to affordable quality health care for Americans just to score political points," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, who is spearheading a Democratic drive to keep the law. "Every minute that they spend fruitlessly trying to repeal health care reform is one less minute they are going to spend trying to create jobs and get people back to work."
The stakes are high in Florida because of its extraordinary rate of uninsured patients and a huge elderly population that depends on intense forms of health care and medicine. The latest government figures indicate that one in five Floridians is uninsured, a higher rate than any large state, except Texas."Florida legislators have much at stake in vote to repeal health care law".
House Republicans plan to fulfill their campaign promise to vote to repeal the law — probably Wednesday — knowing it has little chance of passage in the Senate. Even if the repeal bill emerges from Congress, it is sure to be vetoed by President Barack Obama.
"For years, former state Rep. Juan Carlos Zapata of Miami tried unsuccessfully to get his fellow Republicans in Tallahassee to pass a bill allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Florida's public universities."
Zapata left the Legislature last year due to term limits. But a version of his bill is back, this time pushed by one of his former colleagues from South Miami-Dade, state Rep. Dwight Bullard."Little hope seen for state DREAM Act".
Ten states have similar laws in place, but if past Florida legislative sessions are any indication, there is little reason to expect that Bullard, a Democrat, will have any better luck than Zapata in getting the bill passed in the GOP-controlled state House and Senate.
It's the Miami-Dade economy, stupid
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "Now that a recall election date has been set, let's start the rhetoric with a classic campaign message."
It's the economy, stupid."Economy may hold key to recall vote".
More specifically, it's our economic base -- or lack of one -- that's really at the heart of the recall election. Come March 15, Miami-Dade voters won't just be deciding whether to keep Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and County Commissioner Natacha Seijas.
They'll be casting a vote on the priorities of our leadership -- and, in turn, possibly determining the county's agenda for some time to come. That's because the tough choices that led to the recall effort -- whether to raise property taxes, what to do about compensation of county employees -- likely will come before county leaders again and again in the years ahead.
Ricky's first amendment problem
"Speaking to the board of the Florida Society of News Editors, nine Tallahassee correspondents said Scott's team is imposing an unprecedented level of control over access to Scott and to events that previously would have been considered open. The governor's office also has tried to 'cherry-pick' reporters to provide pooled reports to the rest of the press corps, instead of allowing the journalists to choose."
The journalists pointed to several examples, including a post-inauguration reception held on the scenic 22nd floor of the state Capitol, where Scott's staff restricted access to a select few. ..."Scott's media limits upset journalists".
A voice message and an e-mail seeking reaction Tuesday from Scott's communications director, Brian Burgess, were not immediately answered. ...
Jim Baltzelle, FSNE president and Florida chief of bureau for The Associated Press, said the incidents raised concern about the freedom of the press. He said FSNE would consider how to formally respond.
Aaron Deslatte, Tallahassee bureau chief for the Orlando Sentinel, said he's been given very little access to the governor because during Scott's campaign, his staff considered the newspaper "hostile.'' He said his only recourse has been to make several requests for public records. But the administration, he said, has been slow to respond and, in one case, said it would charge him $400 for printing by an outsourced provider even though Deslatte said the information is available electronically.
HCR repeal kerfuffle
"The new Republican majority in the U.S. House will vote Wednesday whether to repeal the health care law passed last year with the support of President Barack Obama. Florida’s congressional delegation is expected to mirror Congress as a whole and divide on partisan lines, with Republicans voting to repeal and Democrats voting to keep it in place." "Florida Congressional Delegation Splits on Party Lines on Health Care Repeal".
"Republicans pushing to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul warn that 650,000 jobs will be lost if the law is allowed to stand. But the widely cited estimate by House GOP leaders is shaky." "FACT CHECK: Shaky health care job loss estimate".
Conflicting signals about Arizona-style
"Conflicting signals from Florida legislators about the possibility of an Arizona-style law are leaving Florida’s immigrant rights community confused about what to expect in 2011." "Uncertainty over Arizona-style immigration law in Florida leaves immigrant rights activists guessing".
"Saying the FCAT creates more harm than good, a freshman state legislator said Tuesday she is championing a bill in the House that would do away with the annual state exams. But, kids, don't get your hopes up. It's not the first time a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to end the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test -- and each attempt has failed. Still, Rep. Daphne Campbell is not deterred." "Florida lawmaker pushes bill to end FCAT".
No joy in "Nub City"
"Gov. Rick Scott brought his jobs message to the Panhandle on Tuesday, telling local business leaders he will keep his promise to make Florida the best state for job creation." "Gov. Scott takes jobs message to struggling Panhandle".
49 percent increase in short sales
"South Florida's short sale market heated up in 2010 with a 49 percent increase in purchases of the discounted properties compared to the previous year. ... A short sale is when a buyer pays less for a home than what is owed to the bank on its mortgage. Relatively rare before the real estate crash, short sales now make up about 32 percent of the South Florida market." "South Florida short sales increased 49 percent in 2010".
Scott favors politics and ideology over competence*
"George Sheldon, the popular chief of Florida's Department of Children and Families whose leadership helped bring national praise for the state's child-welfare reforms, is out of a job."
Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday named a new secretary to replace Sheldon: David Wilkins, a recently retired global managing director of sales for Accenture Health and Public Service, a management-consulting and technology-services company."Scott appoints new chief for Department of Children and Families". See also "Gov. Scott taps Accenture executive for head of DCF", "Scott picks Wilkins to lead social services agency" and "Scott picks new social services chief" ("A businessman who helps lead a social service group with strong Christian fundamentalist roots is Gov. Rick Scott's choice to be the new secretary of the state Department of Children and Families.")
Most recently, Wilkins, 50, served on Scott's transition team. He is also the finance chairman of the nonprofit Florida Baptist Children's Home, which offers residential care, emergency shelters, adoption help and other services for kids in the state's custody.
The announcement came late in the day and caught many by surprise. Sheldon, 63, had been one of only a few state agency leaders that Scott had asked to stay on after initially calling for mass resignations — a common practice when a new administration takes office. The transition team's briefing to Scott noted that the $3 billion-a-year child-welfare agency "is widely recognized by many Floridians as the best-run department in the state."
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Related: The Palm Beach Post editorial board warned in this January 12, 2011 editorial about Scott's judicial appointments process that it was seeing "bad early sign[s] that he favors politics and ideology over judicial competence."
"If hypocrisy were an Olympic sport ..."
Scott Maxwell writes that "if hypocrisy were an Olympic sport, Tallahassee would win gold. Remember back in 1992, when Floridians decided legislators needed term limits? Well, the politicians have now decided you were wrong." "Term limits for you, not for me — what hypocrites!".
Race to the bottom
"More states join Florida lawsuit against healthcare law". More: "White House says 7.8 million Floridians at risk".
Books and stuff
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Give libraries some slack".
All together, now
"Ray Sansom, Jay Odom and Bob Richburg will go to trial together in March after a judge ruled in favor of a state motion to consolidate the cases." "Odom won't be on trial alone".
"Posada is charged with making false statements after he sneaked into the United States and sought political asylum. Prosecutors say Posada - considered to be Fidel Castro's nemesis - lied about how he reached American soil and failed to acknowledge his role in 1997 Cuban hotel bombings that killed an Italian tourist." "Tapes from '05 key to Posada federal perjury trial".
Follow the money
"For those following the money, another Rick Scott veteran has been hired to lobby the governor and Legislature: Lanny Wiles — a longtime Washington political operative, advance man extraordinaire for Scott, and husband of Scott's campaign manager, Susie Wiles — will be cashing in on his newfound Tallahassee clout." "Scott's advance guy will lobby".
Scott slams up against things he can't buy
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Last year on the campaign trail, Gov. Rick Scott and other Florida Republicans ran on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration. Now in office, they're running into the limits, practical and political, of a state trying to set its own immigration rules." "Editorial: Gov. Scott tackles employment verification effort".
Meanwhile, the RPOFer flip-flopping is getting mighty loud: "Florida legislator may dial back proposed Arizona-style law".
"Political 'hacktivists' attack city websites in North Miami, Hillsboro Beach".
RPOFer fights for raw sewage
"A Florida lawmaker wants to escalate the growing feud between the federal government and the state over controversial water standards. Rep.Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, has sponsored a bill that would ban the state from implementing new federal water quality criteria that were adopted in November." "Bill would block DEP from implementing new federal water rules.".
Orlando bullet train
"A consensus may be forming -- which includes Gov. Rick Scott -- that a long-proposed Tampa to Orlando bullet train should roll if private businesses wants to pay for the remainder of the ride." "Rep. Mica: Scott Will Support High Speed Rail if Business Pays".
Workers are just more compliant in South Carolina
"A Florida home warranty company is adding 100 jobs to its call center in South Carolina." "Fla. home warranty company adding 100 jobs in SC".