RPOFers worry about appearing "soft on crime"
"Florida lawmakers heard testimony Monday from Texas state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, who sponsored prison reform legislation in his home state. The overriding message: Save money by keeping people out of prison with programs that address drug addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. ... Madden also suggested giving judges more leeway in sentencing guidelines, creating school programs to stop high-risk children from becoming criminals, and changing penalties so that minor parole violations and possession of small amounts of drugs don't result in extensive time behind bars."
Several committee members, including Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, asked if such measures prompt criticism of being soft on crime. And Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said Florida lawmakers have considered some of Madden's suggestions in the past, but "it's politically difficult to do.''"Sentence reform could save state money". See also "Florida Senators Look to Texas for Prison System Cuts" and "Sens get advice on cutting prison expenses".
Public employees at work
"When two law officers were shot down Monday helping to serve a warrant on Florida's Gulf Coast, it stunned a state already mourning police deaths in Miami". "Fla. police deaths are latest in deadly span". See also "St. Pete police officers devastated by loss of 2 colleagues" and "Fla. police deaths are latest in deadly span".
Fred Grimm writes about the mourning in Miami: "Three children walked on stage to speak of their slain father, their Papi, they called him. As they stood together, arms interlocked, overwhelmed by grief, the violence and gunplay afflicting a community's forsaken reaches were distilled to a tearful essence. The memorial service for Miami-Dade police officers Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth unfolded with the sadly familiar trappings of a police funeral. A long motor procession of patrol cars and roaring motorcycles. Blue lights against a dreary sky. An American flag suspended from a firetruck ladder. So many police officers from so many departments, badges banded with black tape." "3 fatherless boys express what words could not". More: "Massive funeral procession, funeral honors slain Miami-Dade officers".
Even The Tampa Tribune ("The tragedies are all painful reminders of the enormous risks law enforcement officers take to protect the public. Their service, heroism and sacrifice should never be taken for granted") and The Saint Petersburg Times editors ("Their deaths shocked a city unaccustomed to such violence, and they remind us all of the danger police officers face every day") take a moment away from attacking overpaid public employees and their pensions.
Not to worry, they'll soon be back to slamming those greedy public employees.
Teabaggers betrayed, if only for a day
The haters ain't gonna like this: "Embracing the latest call for civility in Congress came easy for some in Florida's congressional delegation." "Florida GOP, Democratic lawmakers to sit together at speech". See also "Florida members of Congress choose comity over partisanship".
Florida's "slave-labor" wage statute not enforced
"Illegal immigration either costs or saves Floridians billions of dollars. It's inspired by racism. Or it's a fight to stop slave-labor wages. The polarizing views and stats clashed Monday at the Florida Senate's second fact-finding committee meeting over immigration. But one number wasn't disputed. Zero."
That's the number of employers who have been charged with breaking an 11-year-old Florida law that prohibits anyone from knowingly hiring a person "who is not duly authorized to work by the immigration laws or the Attorney General of the United States.''"Statute meant to protect jobs isn't enforced". See also "'Legal,' 'Illegal' Blur at Immigration Hearing" and "Senate panel hears more on immigration reform" ("Florida banned employers from hiring undocumented workers 11 years ago, but the law has never been enforced, a top law-enforcement official told legislators Monday.")
"From what I can find, from our statistics, the statute has never been enforced,'' said Michael Ramage, general counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Florida's anti-choice zealots emboldened
"Emboldened by the November elections, Florida lawmakers and their cohorts around the nation are pushing forward with measures to restrict abortions nearly four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court's monumental Roe vs. Wade decision made them legal."
Republican lawmakers in Florida have filed bills that would bar private insurance companies from covering the procedure and make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks except in cases where the mother's life is in jeopardy."Anti-abortion effort surges following Republican victories in November". See also "Abortion Foes Mark Roe v. Wade Anniversary" ("Marco Rubio and other pro-life Floridians weigh in on the issue ").
Lawmakers also have promised to revive a bill Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed last year that would force women to view an ultrasound of the fetus before having an abortion. Gov. Rick Scott has said he would sign a similar bill into law.
While Republican candidates largely made economic issues their focus last fall, they are now interpreting their successes at the polls as a mandate to make abortions more difficult to get, advocates on both sides say. ...
In Florida, Republicans increased their majorities in the House and Senate and took back the Governor's Mansion after Crist switched from the GOP to become an independent last year.
Since then, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has filed a bill (H.B. 321) that would ban private insurers from paying for abortions.
And freshman state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, has filed a bill (H.B. 97) similar to a Nebraska law passed last year that would bar abortions after 20 weeks based on the theory that a fetus at that stage of development has the capacity to feel pain. Trujillo's "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" also would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks unless they can prove that the mother's life is in danger.
So much for the bad economy
"The net profit for FPL, the state's largest utility, rose 14 percent to $945 million, up from $831 million in 2009. That's higher than the 5 percent increase it reported from 2008 to 2009."
Meanwhile, "the state's Public Service Commission rejected a proposal by its staff to monitor FPL's profits in case the company earns more than what's allowed and customers are owed a refund." "FPL's profit was $945M last year, up 14 percent".
It's all about union busting
"House Speaker Dean Cannon says state pension reform is 'on the agenda.' But the subject promises to be contentious, as public-sector labor unions have already ramped up their defenses." "Unions vs. GOP in Pension Battle".
"Scott and Florida lawmakers are struggling to find dollars to close a $3.6 billion budget shortfall, but a state agency is considering walking away from more than $300,000 in fines owed by almost 300 former public officials." "Ethics Commission May Walk Away From $300,000 Owed in Fines".
"Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, appeared recently on the South Florida-based program The Shalom Show and said that Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim member of Congress, represents the 'antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.'" "Rep. West: Muslim congressman represents the ‘antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established’".
And how much do State Troopers make?
"As a candidate, Scott called it wasteful for the state to employ dozens of lobbyists. On MSNBC in August, Scott said: 'That's not what state governments ought to be doing.' But as governor, he's using those positions to reward political supporters."
• Jason Evans, 27, Department of Health, at a salary of $60,000. A Marine Corps veteran, Evans briefly ran Scott's northwest Florida field office before doing site advance at campaign events."From campaign to high-profile jobs". See also "Scott turns to campaign staffers to fill agency jobs".
• Christopher Chaney, 28, Agency for Health Care Administration, $60,000. The state Republican Party paid Chaney, a former Bill McCollum staffer, $9,000 for voter turnout efforts during the campaign.
• Curt Siegmeister, 22, Agency for Workforce Innovation, $58,122. A recent University of Florida graduate, Siegmeister made $13,000 for contract work for the Republican Party last fall, and coordinated inaugural invitations and payments.
• Michael Manley, 30, Department of Lottery, $60,000. Manley earned $7,900 for leading campaign field operations for Scott.
• Anthony Bonna, 23, Department of State, $48,000. A recent Georgetown University graduate, Bonna banked $3,200 from the Republican Party for mining opposition research on Scott's gubernatorial run.
• Allen Mortham Jr., the 37-year-old son of former Secretary of State Sandy Mortham, will earn a $75,000 salary at the Department of Corrections. Mortham, a registered lobbyist, has represented the Public Service Commission, Department of Business and Professional Regulation and other clients over the last decade. He was a corrections officer from 1995 to 1997.
• Darrick McGhee, 33, will earn $85,000 at the Department of Education. McGhee previously held that position at the departments of Business and Professional Regulation and Elder Affairs. He was also internships director for former Gov. Jeb Bush.
• William Booher, 29, moves from the Department of Emergency Management's external affairs office to the agency's legislative affairs position with an $85,000 salary. He has worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New Orleans.
"Rep. Mack fundraising for Senate run?".
Scott's "effective PR stunt"
"Less than a week after his 'Twitter town hall,' Rick Scott is getting critiqued by a fellow politician who many describe as a social media guru." "New Jersey mayor gives Scott advice on social media".
"Republican state legislators’ proposed Arizona-style immigration enforcement bills have stirred up a statewide discussion on the issue, including among law enforcement officials." "Sarasota sheriff: With an Arizona-type immigration law, where would you put detainees?". Related: "Senators hear from all sides in touchy immigration hearing" and "More doubts cast on an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida".
Congresswoman Adams on Judiciary Committee
"U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams announced Monday she will serve on two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives: Science, Space and Technology; and Judiciary." "U.S. Rep. Adams to serve on space, judiciary committees".
Perhaps Browner will return to Florida?
"President Barack Obama's top adviser on energy and climate matters is stepping down, two White House officials confirmed Monday." "Browner leaving as Obama adviser".
Property insurance "reform"
"Florida lawmakers are going back to work on a property insurance reform measure they believe will help state pay claims after a major hurricane or series of storms." "Lawmakers renew efforts on property insurance bill".
Fair Districts challenge
"Florida Democrats are sharply criticizing Republican state House leaders after a report by The Florida Independent [yesterday] revealed that the House is moving to assist in a lawsuit seeking the removal of one of the state’s two popular anti-gerrymandering amendments." "Democrats blast GOP leaders for intervention in suit targeting 'Fair Districts'".
"The federal court filing in Miami drew criticism Monday from Democrats. They accused Republican House leaders of trying to thwart voters who approved the Fair Districts amendment by more than 60 percent in November." "Fla. House challenges redistricting amendment".