"A measure that would bar state and local governments from collecting payroll deductions for union dues was narrowly approved Monday by a state Senate committee."
Pushed by the state's former Republican Party chairman, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, it also would allow public employee union members to demand a partial refund of any political spending if they didn't agree with where dollars were going."Union representatives have said it is part of a national effort aimed at scuttling the political influence of teachers, police, firefighters and public employees' organizations, which campaigned for Democrats last fall and are leading demonstrations against Republican policies this spring."
Unlike Wisconsin and Ohio, where state capitals have been engulfed in opposition to efforts aimed at ending collective bargaining, union membership in Florida is voluntary."Senate panel advances bill stopping government payroll deductions for union dues". See also "Florida Senate panel OKs halting automatic union dues payment" and "Union Dues Bill Squeaks Through Senate Committee".
The Florida Constitution shields workers from being forced to join a union. The constitution, though, also guarantees workers' right to collective bargaining, a provision Republican Gov. Rick Scott last month said he would like to see repealed.
Scott and lawmakers have taken no steps toward pushing for repeal. But unions feel under fire this spring with the union dues bill passed by the Senate Community Affairs Committee Monday and the state House poised Tuesday to begin debate on legislation that would eliminate tenure for teachers hired after July 1 and linking future pay hikes to student performance.
The drooling union haters at the Chamber are concerned about employees who feel intimidated, the poor little things: "What’s coercion got to do with union dues deduction ban?"
Bill Cotterell: "With labor's loss in Wisconsin and similar situations brewing in a handful of other capitals, labor in Florida has cause for alarm. A House committee last week approved a bill that would end union dues deduction by public employers, and a companion bill is up in the Senate Community Affairs Committee this week. There are also proposals to decertify unions ...." "Unions have good reason to worry".
Ricky on the run
As the session begins, our fearless leader runs: "Scott Heading to Panama to Talk up Florida Ports".
Today in Tallahassee
"Today in Tallahassee: Marathon House session on education reform".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "The embarrassing case of Socrates Maradiaga is more evidence that Florida has not built enough accountability into its school voucher programs." "Protect the state's money: Socrates Maradiaga shows danger of double standard".
"Against the advice of sheriffs and retailers, a Senate committee approved a stripped-down bill ... that would permit concealed-weapons permit holders to wear their guns openly in public." "Senate committee approves amended gun bill".
Rivera on the ropes
"Florida Rep. David Rivera, under an ethical cloud and facing an expanding investigation into his finances, is in a political squeeze from Republicans in Washington and Miami just two months into his congressional tenure. Republicans are already privately floating the names of potential primary challengers to Rivera, and on Capitol Hill he’s found himself increasingly isolated as leaders try to distance themselves from his troubles back home." "Republicans wary of Rivera scandal".
"Absurd political theatre"
"Marco Rubio’s got star power, but the freshman senator says he didn’t come to Washington for 'some absurd political theatre.' The Florida Republican pledged Monday that he would not vote for any more short-term spending bills, including one proposed by House Republicans Friday that would fund the government for three weeks and includes $6 billion in savings." "Marco Rubio: GOP bill 'political theatre''". Related: "Congress spending stopgaps face no-vote from tea party-affiliated Florida lawmakers".
"The left is taking to the streets."
The Tribune Company is in a dither: "Liberal, union activists staging protests against Republican plans for federal budget".
Unfair to The Three Stooges
"Stephen King compares Rick Scott and other governors to the three stooges".
"With its chairman promising 'a new day' in the state's Medicaid program, a House committee on Monday held the chamber's first hearing on a plan to overhaul the massive government insurance provider for the poor and disabled." "Bills to move Medicaid recipients to managed care advance".
Conspiracy to steal $6 million in tax dollars
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "A former Florida college president, after years of denials, finally has acknowledged the obvious:"
He conspired with a high-ranking legislator to steal $6 million in state tax dollars to build an airplane hangar sought by a prominent Republican donor. As is often the case, former Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg's revelations come in exchange for avoiding prosecution, and the arrangement is not entirely satisfactory. But at least taxpayers now have some additional hope that former House Speaker Ray Sansom and prominent campaign donor Jay Odom will be held to account for stealing from the public purse."Corrupt capital culture exposed". See also "Richburg's interview reveals he felt used by Sansom".
Richburg's acknowledgements, revealed Friday, confirm what public records have long revealed about the 2007 deal, and Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs deserves credit for his dogged efforts to criminally prosecute Sansom, Odom and Richburg.
Florida's new nuke debate
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Until Friday, the biggest issue with expanded nuclear power in Florida was shaping up to be cost. After what happened in Japan, safety will be a higher-profile part of that debate." "Nuclear debate on FPL had begun before Japan's plants' post-quake troubles". See also "Leaders Ponder Possible Nuclear Accidents in Florida" and "Questions raised about nuclear expansion plans in Florida". Related: "Gov. Scott calls on officals to review nuclear disaster response".
They said it
"US millionaires say $7 million not enough to be rich".
Good luck with that
"Some state senators haven’t given up on establishing a drug monitoring database, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s opposition." "Fight is on to save drug monitoring database". See also "Fasano pill mill bill passes Senate Health Regulation Committee".
Right-wing laff riot
Kenric Ward spins out of control this morning:
The only good Republican is a dead Republican. Or, if living, a Republican willing to attack another Republican."Vintage Whine From the Tallahassee Press 'Corpse'".
That continues to be the position of some members of the Tallahassee press "corpse," who pine away for the likes of Charlie Crist and Jim King.
A veteran Capitol scribe recently waxed nostalgic about King, the late state Senate president who was never so revered as he is now. The posthumous send-up of the Jacksonville Republican harked back to the good ol' days, when the Senate was so much more "civil."
The kinder, gentler comparison has long been a staple of left-leaning pundits and politicians, who ritually declare that the current generation of Republicans is so much more venal than the one that preceded it.
This game is played nationally by President Barack Obama, who has shamelessly taken to channeling Ronald Reagan.
But even as liberal and progressive elites bemoan today's "mean-spirited" GOP, the rank-and-file rabble is spewing spittle.
Ricky doles out the spoils of politics
"Most are young, fresh out of college, with no previous government experience. Some asked why they were being placed in agencies where they had no background. But in a classic case of a campaign taking advantage of the spoils of victory, they're now holding down state jobs paying $40,000 a year and up."
Many of the youngest campaign staffers found themselves slotted as legislative affairs directors, or in-house lobbyists, for state agencies – a position Scott had called a "waste" of taxpayer money during his campaign. Asked in January about his apparent shift in thinking, Scott said "I feel good about the ones we've hired.""Scott's hiring of 'outsiders' didn't go smoothly".
Public records audit
"Local governments in Fla. improve in public records audit".
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Guns don’t belong on campus".
Who needs stinkin' water safety rules
"The health department continues daily monitoring of levels of enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause stomach problems and aggravate infections on the skin. The park is closed to beach swimmers." "High bacteria levels keep PBC beach closed | Video".
Meanwhile, "EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation." "EPA administrator: Federal nutrient criteria a ‘myth’".
Dumb and dumberer
"Universities across Florida, knowing that hard times are about to get harder, are beginning to target a wide range of degree programs as the Florida Legislature begins slashing education, social services and other critical programs to make up a nearly $4 billion budget shortfall." "Florida universities may cut some degrees".
Movin' on up
"With the Legislature not tackling redistricting until early 2012, a crowd of familiar faces from both past and present sessions of the Florida House will be looking to make the jump to the Senate. As one of the consequences of redistricting, all 40 seats in the Senate will be up in November 2012 -- giving 14 House members, past and present, a chance to head over to the other side of the Legislature." "Current, Former House Members Look to Move Up to Senate in 2012".
Scott bushwhacks one of his earliest supporters
Mike Thomas: "SunRail has been a dead train chugging since Rick Scott became Florida's first Maximum Leader."
It's how he is going about this that is so awe-inspiring."Rick Scott holding SunRail hostage to push his agenda through".
He could have derailed it without warning. That's what he did with the super-duper high-speed train to Tampa, bushwhacking one of its biggest supporters, Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland.
Dockery was one of Scott's earliest backers. She was mentioned as a possible lieutenant governor. He picked her for his transition team.
This is how he treats his friends.
His enemies get much worse.
"Not something Florida should do"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "House Speaker Dean Cannon doesn't think much of the Florida Supreme Court, and he is, through legislation, threatening to change the court's jurisdiction, composition and structure."
The Winter Park lawyer proposes dividing the court and creating two courts of last resort: one five-member court to take care of criminal appeals, primarily death-penalty cases, and another five-member court to handle civil matters. Cannon claims he's pushing this change to make the justice system more efficient and to speed up the legal process."State high court ambush".
This is a façade. ...
But diminishing the authority of the Supreme Court diminishes a co-equal branch of government. That's not something Florida should do.
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The cities of Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando and Miami are performing a valuable service by exploring a final effort to save high-speed rail in Florida. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has generously given Florida another chance. The cities will need to be creative, but the project’s enormous potential is worth a last-ditch pitch." "Last-ditch pitch for rail". Related: "Cities Spin Wheels for High-Speed Rail Funds".
Florida GOPers pushing measures severely restricting choice
"Fueled by the November elections and their opposition to the federal health care law, Florida GOP lawmakers this spring are pushing a record number of measures severely restricting access to abortions." "Fla. Senate committee part of national trend in passing anti-abortion bills".
"First shot at a spending plan"
"With $24.2 million in general revenue cuts and another $200 million cut in trust fund revenues, a Senate budget committee on Monday unveiled its first shot at a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year." "Senate Releases Its Economic Development Budget".
"The insidious threat of pasture paparazzi"
Fred Grimm: "Priorities? You ask about legislative priorities. Obviously, you refer to the insidious threat of pasture paparazzi — the surreptitious skulks threatening unwitting farm animals. Thankfully, our state legislators are not so intent on ridding the state of school teachers, immigrants, growth management, gun regulations and the Everglades that they’ve ignored this great looming menace to Elsie the Cow." "Warning: Don’t photograph this cow".
Tom Tryon: "The proposal to create in Florida a high-tech biomedical research institute appears to depend financially on the old-fashioned design of a three-legged stool." "Jackson fits Scott's vision".
From the "values" crowd
"Florida May Take Ax To Many Mental Health Programs".
"Recall could trigger change in entrenched Miami-Dade County politics". See also "Fate of Miami-Dade mayor on line in recall vote".
Hasner to jump into U.S. Senate race
"Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner has formed an exploratory committee for an expected U.S. Senate run, the latest sign that Florida may have a sizable crowd of Republicans running to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson." "Adam Hasner all but declares U.S. Senate run".
Never mind your papers, please
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "The Senate's top bill would direct state and local law-enforcement officers trained by federal authorities to check the immigration status of people after their arrest and incarceration. A bill approved Friday by a Florida House committee would limit such checks by police to people who are the subject of a criminal investigation. In either case, cops would not be in the un-American position of demanding the papers of people they stop for traffic violations or other minor offenses." "Better than Arizona's immigration law".
However, "A committee Monday relaxed a requirement that the state and all private employers check the immigration status of any prospective employee by using the federal government's e-Verify system." "Business wins a round in immigration debate". Related: "‘Patchwork’ pressure on immigration", "Democrats Dig In Against Immigration Reform" and "Florida Senate immigration proposal gets first hearing".