"A Senate committee agreed Tuesday to tone down its pension-reform plan after local government unions warned it would have punished city workers and hurt healthy retirement funds."
Under the changes — proposed in an amendment by Sen. Jack Latvala, a St. Petersburg Republican — the Senate would no longer require that all new city employees enroll in a 401(k) style retirement plan and potentially threaten the financial health of traditional defined benefit plans."Senate agrees to loosen its pension bill". See also "Government Worker Unions Speak Out Against Pension Reform".
If cities want to end enrollment in their traditional pension plans, they can negotiate with unions to have new employees join a defined contribution plan.
The proposal also removes a requirement that employees’ final retirement benefit be based on five years of service, as the Senate bill originally planned, and allows cities to include up to 300 hours of overtime when calculating retirement benefits, since many cities now require police and fire to work overtime hours, Latvala said. The bill still prohibits employers from including unused leave and other forms of compensation when determing retirement compensation.
The changes were commended by many police and firefighter unions ...
Still unresolved are differences between the unions and the Senate over proposed changes to the Florida Retirement System, which handles pension accounts for all state, county, school districts and some cities.
Scott defends his pill mill decision
"Scott accused the private foundation raising money for a statewide prescription drug database of wasting money, his latest attack on the system created by lawmakers two years ago. But officers of the organization say they haven't misspent any of the more than $400,000 in private donations they've raised so far and they have an independent audit to prove it." "Fla. drug database fund-raiser disputes Gov. Scott's claim his group wasted money".
FMA fights NRA
"Emergency room doctors, psychiatrists and pediatricians should not be able to ask a patient whether he or she owns a gun, a panel of Florida lawmakers said Tuesday, giving the OK to a proposal that pits two of the state's most politically powerful lobbying interests - the National Rifle Association and the Florida Medical Association - against each other." "Doctors fight NRA, while guns on campus bill stalls in Fla. Senate". See also "NRA, medical establishment clashes in Senate committee debate" and "Doctors Fight NRA While Guns on Campus Bill Stalls" ("Florida's two most powerful lobbies clash ").
When can we expect Scott to get to work?
Ricky is having a real hard time getting to work:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has yet to name the state's top transportation official, but already he has installed the agency's chief of staff, hired its lawyer and pulled the trigger on a major decision to blow up plans for high-speed rail."Transportation secretary is one of many openings in Gov. Rick Scott's administration". See also "Governor’s pick for disabilities-agency chief resigns" ("governor’s pick to run the Agency for Persons with Disabilities steps down the day before he was to be questioned by the Senate about sexual abuse allegations at a group home he oversaw in his previous job") and "Carl Littlefield withdraws as Scott's nominee for agency".
Scott is planning an ambitious overhaul of how the state provides health care to 3 million Florida Medicaid recipients, but he still hasn't named a chief for the Department of Health or for the Agency for Health Care Administration.
The agency directors Scott has hired had little-to-no input on his controversial budget recommendation.
One, Carl Littlefield, resigned Monday only 17 days after being nominated as director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities ...
RPOF run legislature putting locals out of business
Scott Maxwell: "Florida lawmakers are helping put our local bookstores out of business — and putting brick-and-mortar stores of all kinds at a competitive disadvantage to online retailers. They do so by forcing local companies to collect sales taxes while giving a break to out-of-state retailers." "Internet tax break hurts local businesses".
Expect more posturing
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Assuming that Gov. Scott is willing to listen and not just keep posturing, he should hear out backers of the project about their plan to address his supposed concern that the deal would lack protection for state taxpayers. Unless the governor changes his mind by Friday, Florida could lose $2.4 billion for the 84-mile rail line that would link Orlando and Tampa. An Orlando-Miami link could follow." "Not quite end of line for high-speed rail: 'Privatization' plan could bring $2.4 billion".
"Amended bill would not increase compensation tax on some businesses". "Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill Passes Senate Committee Hurdle".
Shocker: teabaggers hate unions
"Tea Parties to Counter Public Employee Unions".
Medicaid cuts will cost the state in long run
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy: "Any Medicaid service cuts are unlikely to yield significant savings in state general revenue in the short term, as there is little to cut without reaching the bare federal minimum or causing significant harm to the Floridians who must rely on Medicaid. Beyond the short term, such cuts will cost the state much more than they save." "Cutting "Optional" Services Would Hurt More Than Help".
Dumping Industrial pollutants into state waters
"Environmental groups say the governor’s choice to head the Department of Environmental Protection has a conflict involving industrial pollutants dumped into state waters. ... Scott 'has appointed a man whose professional career has been dedicated to ensuring that the very regulations that he would now oversee are significantly weakened,' the petition to the EPA states." "Environmentalists complain over Scott pick for agency chief".
Environmental groups the target of "free market" wingnuts
"Florida voters shot down Amendment 4 — aka 'Hometown Democracy' — during last November’s election, but the group that sprung up to oppose it is still kicking, and has sent supporters a video to rally the troops for its next battle." "Anti-Amendment 4 group still around, hints at plans to 'take the fight to' environmental groups".
Stoopid of the day
Some genius named Don Oehlrich shares this wisdom with us today, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel:
The demonstrations in Wisconsin have made me reflect on how the workplace has changed over the past 100 years. When unions first appeared in the early 20th century, the country was very different than it is now. There were little or no government protections of workers, the work force was not mobile, workers could be fired at will, and media were limited to newspapers and radio."It's time for unions to go".
Ahem ... Mr. Oehlrich, Florida, mired in the past, remains an at-will employment state; that is to say: Florida workers can still "be fired at will".
One would hope the Sentinel would at least screen the astroturf for blatant errors, mistaken or othersise. For more about the joys of Florida employment law, see our ongoing project, "Take this job ...".
Speaking of Stoopid
The libruls on the The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board managed to juxtapose this asinine editorial cartoon with this hypocritical editorial: "Sacrifice and grief".
Here's the editorial page.
Believe it or not
"Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is now to the right of Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) on the question of allowing public sector workers to unionize." "FL Gov. Gives Thumbs Up To Public Worker Organizing". See also "Scott supports collective bargaining".
More: "Poll: 61% Oppose Cutting Collective Bargaining For State Employees" (Gallup/USA Today nationwide poll)
Plutocrats at the doorstep
"Tampa reflects growing trend: self-financed candidates".
An easy target
"As Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson ramps up his 2012 re-election campaign, a 'nonpartisan' group is working to soften up his Republican competition. Progress Florida launched a website -- DirtyHari.org -- to attack state Sen. Mike Haridopolos, Nelson's first announced GOP opponent. The PF-sponsored site, which bears the fetching headline, 'Haridopolos Exposed,' assails the Senate president for his 'cushy UF teaching gig,' 'extreme positions' and 'double-dipper hypocrisy.'" "Progress Florida: Bill Nelson's Left-Jabbing Fist".
Florida for sale
"Push on to privatize high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando".
"Good luck with that"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Trying to get a second date with someone who summarily rejects you the first time is never pretty. The repeated wooing of Gov. Rick Scott by supporters of an Orlando-to-Tampa high-speed rail line is fast becoming Exhibit A. ... Others hope they can get Mr. Scott to give high-speed rail another look by arguing, yet again, its virtues. Good luck with that." "Spurning rail advances".
Jobs, jobs, jobs!
"Orlando is fast-food capital of country". See also "Miami ranked No. 4 fast-food capital in US".
Inspector Clouseau in action
"Scott ordered an investigation into cost overruns at the state's agency for the disabled Tuesday, saying he wanted more information on continuing deficits." "Scott 'uncovers' ongoing deficit at agency for disabled". Related: "Scott would cut range of social-service programs".
"Scott on political crash course with J.D. Alexander
"Scott is on a political crash course with the Florida Senate's powerful budget chief, J.D. Alexander, who wrote a letter Tuesday asking the governor to cite the "legal authority" for the way he sold two state planes. Alexander said he believed the Feb. 11 transaction was unlawful." "Senator questions sale of state planes".
"Major cuts to school budgets as federal stimulus funding dries up. Tying teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests. Expanding vouchers and virtual school programs. The upcoming legislative session is likely to be a pivotal one in shaping the future of education in Florida." "Lawmakers to take up decisive ed issues in session".