"The state Senate committee poised to take up a bill to bring casino gambling to Florida heard a report Tuesday on how 13 other states collected millions of dollars in revenue after opening their doors to traditional Las Vegas-style games."
Whether Florida is ready to become the next casino state is "too early to tell," said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, chairman of the committee that heard the report authorized by Senate President Mike Haridopolos."Jones is sponsoring a bill to bring 'destination casinos' to Florida. He said the legislation will be ready in about two weeks."
Earlier this week, Haridopolos said he thinks there is a "50-50 chance" of the Legislature approving casino games this year.
Under the plan, Florida would allow four to five casino resorts to bid for a chance to operate full casinos, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps. The bidders would pay a $50 million application fee and be offered an exclusive contract to operate the games, with the resorts at least 75 miles apart."Casino impact on state revenue touted at Senate hearing". See also "" and "Casinos urge lawmakers to allow them to locate in Florida".
Fred Grimm: "Apparently in Florida morality allows limited casinos (slots and poker being moral, while baccarat, blackjack and roulette are deemed the devil's pastimes). But only if those casinos are miles away from the beach, the tourists, the wealthy snowbirds, and stuck around inland neighborhoods or on Indian reservations."
Florida's gambling strategy never looked so ill-conceived as last week, when Las Vegas gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson dangled the possibility of a $3 billion investment like fruit ripe for picking."As racetracks become irrelevant, Florida gambles ...".
Adelson envisions a $3 billion Vegas-style casino in Miami Beach, an oceanfront destination casino of the kind that would entice high rollers from New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago; not the sort of gamblers likely to opt for a 10-mile taxi ride to a slot machine warehouse attached to an aging dog track.
Florida's new governor flirted with reality last week, albeit briefly, indicating he might be open to rethinking state gambling policies. He quickly retreated, but surely a $3 billion promise has a certain resonance for a governor who promised to run the state like a business and to get rid of mindless, business-stifling regulations.
RPOFers fight health care reform
"Senate Republicans on Tuesday took the latest step to battle federal health care in Florida's constitution, one prong in state officials' multifaceted attack on President Obama's Affordable Care Act." "Senate GOP wages war on new health-care law".
Hello, Hello ... is this Waffle House HQ?
"Scott says he's working phones to bring businesses to state". See also "Scott: We're already bringing in new businesses" ("The governor said he already has one corporation interested in bringing its headquarters to the state, which he hopes to announce shortly. He gave no details".)
"RPOF Family Feud"
"Amid anonymous attacks, there's no clear front-runner in field of five candidates for party chairman". "RPOF Family Feud: Fluid and Ferocious".
Growth bill "fix"
"A Senate panel approved a fix for a 2009 law loosening state planning requirements and controls on urban sprawl that a judge has ruled unconstitutional. The Community Affairs Committee split the law into three measures, resolving the violation of a requirement that limits each bill to a single subject."
The 2009 law, favored by development and business interests, abolished the concurrency requirement in what are termed "dense urban areas." Environmentalists, growth management advocates and many local government officials opposed that provision because it defines dense urban areas so broadly as to include rural communities in many instances."Florida Senate committee approves growth law fix".
"FPL told federal regulators that it is making strides in improving 'safety culture' at Turkey Point and St. Lucie County nuclear plants." "FPL touts steps for safer plants".
"Hope and sadness"
"A year later, hope and sadness for Haitian evacuees".
You might try increasing wages
"States that crack down on illegal immigrants should also help farmers who need seasonal labor, the nation's largest farm lobbying group said today." "Farm lobbying group cautions states on immigration".
Nelson issues plea for greater civility
"U.S. Bill Nelson issued a plea for greater civility in political discussion during a town hall meeting in Tampa Tuesday – a meeting for which Nelson said there were unusual security precautions, including having plainclothes officers present." "Nelson, accompanied by police officers, calls for greater civility".
Chamber does lunch with West
"Guests at the West Boca Chamber breakfast were appreciative of Rep. Allen West's promises to help business in Florida, but gave mixed reviews to his discussion of bipartisanship." "West gets praise for business policies, mixed reviews on political rhetoric".
"Enough of the Marco Rubio for vice president chatter."
Florida's newly elected senator spoke with Panama City radio host Burnie Thompson last week and batted down the 2012 running mate speculation. The Miami Republican said he is not even leaving the door open a crack to that possibility."Florida job is enough, thanks".
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "A report singles out BP for mistakes but also found that the government lacked any real capacity to ensure the safety of offshore drilling operations." "Call to action on oil drilling". See also "Graham warns against drilling near Florida".
Ricky in a rail bind
"With Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos indicating they don't want to put any state money into a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando, the pressure is on private companies to pick up Florida's $280 million tab for the project." "Senate told building first high-speed rail gives state economic edge". Related: "Legislators Stress Jobs, Funding for High-Speed Rail Project".
RPOFer PSC unanimously sides with FPL
"When a reconstituted Public Service Commission faced Florida Power & Light on Tuesday, it went against its own staff's recommendation and unanimously sided with FPL. At issue was whether to review the utility's profits, which exceeded a cap of 11 percent." "Public Service Commission sides with FPL over earnings review".
"New Party Boss Rod Smith Shares His Vision With House Dem Caucus". See also "Democrats’ new chair plans to turn party’s fortunes in ‘the most malapportioned state in the South’".
Assault on Florida unions continues
"Yes, Unions, Pension Reform is Coming".
West rejects "more civil rhetoric"
"Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, gave an 'impromptu press conference' before a speaking engagement Tuesday morning, mostly dealing with the Tucson shootings. He rejected calls for more civil rhetoric, and said that those making the calls were grandstanding, according to the Sun-Sentinel’s account." "West on Tucson vs. West on Fort Hood".
"Florida lawmaker wears passport to protest Arizona-style immigration law".
Arduin and Carter at the trough
"Two top advisors to Gov. Rick Scott were paid more than $250,000 by the Republican Party of Florida for two months worth of work, new campaign records show. Party filings turned in on Monday show that a company run by Mary Anne Carter, who was recently hired as Scott's chief policy advisor, was paid nearly $176,000 at the end of December. A company run by Donna Arduin, who led Scott's economic advisory team, was paid nearly $77,000." "Two top advisors to Scott paid more than $250,000 by party".
And there are many ...
"CFO Atwater on ‘Taj Mahal’: ‘One of the great embarrassments for Florida government’".
Thank you, Mr. Obama
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Restoring the Everglades depends on cleaning up Lake Okeechobee. Last week, the federal government dealt itself into that game in a big way." "Everglades restoration: Last big piece is big lake".
Haridopolos bowing at alter of teabaggery
"Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said Tuesday that Haridopolos' shift on the topic was sending them the wrong message and could have a chilling effect on how much money the competing companies were willing to bid."
But the high-speed rail project has more protections for Florida taxpayers, she said, and should be the project that "fiscal conservatives" support — a veiled shot at Haridopolos, who she said is trying to rile up tea party angst over the project."Haridopolos switch could hurt high-speed rail".
"Some of the nation's top Republican fundraisers, including Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg, are trying to oust Michael Steele, the chairman of the national GOP, saying he has mismanaged finances and threatens the party's chances in the 2012 presidential election." "GOP fundraisers urge Steele's ouster".
Scott fumbling proposed rules
"Scott's office is trying to rapidly develop procedures for reviewing 900 proposed rules – 53 of which were almost ready to take effect -- and hundreds of contracts worth over $1 million. All were put on hold by the new governor's office in order to get a better handle on contracts going out the door and rules taking effect." "Hundreds of state rules, contracts caught in freeze". Related: "New lottery game, Keys septic rules OK'd; other regulations to get public forum".
"Expanding the right to carry guns openly in Florida"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Just a week ago, political momentum appeared to be building in Florida behind a new bid to loosen what's left of the state's limits on guns. ... Last week a group dedicated to expanding the right to carry guns openly in Florida held rallies around the state, bolstered with a statement of support that Gov. Rick Scott made during his campaign. Key legislators, including Republican state Sen. Thad Altman of Melbourne, have said they would seek passage of a bill this year allowing holders of concealed weapons permits in Florida to carry their guns openly." "Don't loosen gun laws".
"Sunshine State is No. 1 in corruption"
The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board: "Gov. Scott, his staff and high-ranking legislators should spend some time contemplating this passage from the grand jury's report:"
"Since 2000, Florida's three federal United States Attorney's Office districts had more public corruption convictions than any other state's combined district totals. According to one witness ... Florida led the nation in the number of federally convicted public officials from 1998 through 2007." Florida had an 8 percent edge over the next closest state, New York, the report said."Grand jury report puts focus on ethics".
So the Sunshine State is No. 1 in corruption -- at least as measured by federal convictions. The possible consequences of this dubious distinction also are discussed in the report. "When the Legislature fails to act after its own members flagrantly abuse their positions, the citizens lose respect, faith and interest in government," the report said. "Vigorously attacking public corruption will begin to repair this breach of trust."
Scott has taken some initial steps to respond to the grand jury and begin restoring public trust. But he needs to go further and prepare to lead the charge for legislation that will strengthen Florida's anti-corruption laws and ethical standards.
The grand jury provided a good blueprint. Its recommendations include increasing penalties for public officials convicted of corruption charges, expanding the definition of "public employees" to include workers for private contractors engaged in government work and increasing the powers of the state Ethics Commission.
Currently, private contractors are beyond the reach of corruption laws.