"Despite the impending arrival of the final 2010 Census redistricting data, Gov. Rick Scott still isn't saying when or whether he'll seek federal approval of anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments passed by Florida voters in November."
Florida amendment backers accuse Scott of stalling implementation for political reasons by not seeking that approval. District lines drawn to favor Republicans are considered a major reason for the large GOP majorities in the state Legislature and congressional delegation."No movement from Scott on anti-gerrymandering amendments.
But Scott's spokesman denied that lack of action on seeking pre-clearance means Scott opposes seeking approval. He said Scott withdrew the state's application for approval, filed in December by former Gov. Charlie Crist, only so he could review it.
Dan Gelber, attorney for the Fair Districts Florida pro-amendment campaign group, which is now suing to force the state to re-apply for the federal approval, is among the amendment backers who don't buy that explanation.
"A look ahead at today’s Florida Legislature". See also Kevin Derby's "Political Bits and Pieces". Related: "Your government at work: What happened during week 1 of the Florida Legislature".
"A Cravenly Ambitious Pol"
Daniel Ruth pens another must read; here's a taste: "Perhaps in the riveting sequel to his blockbuster nonselling book, which could be titled My Pet Goat Meets the Florida Legislature, Senate President Mike Haridopolos might consider a chapter along the lines of: 'What a Cravenly Ambitious Pol Should Do When Caught Receiving a $152,000 Gratuity for Penning the Great American Drivel.'" "Scribblings from Balzac of banality".
Running with the dinosaurs
"Science education advocates are alarmed by a bill before the Legislature that they say could force teachers to challenge evolution at the expense of settled science." "More conservative Legislature considers evolution bill".
Under FRS "officeholders entitled to special treatment"
"For the hundreds of thousands of public workers in Florida's statewide pension plan, not everyone is treated equally — the best benefits go not to teachers or rank-and-file office workers, but to a small minority of high earners including judges and elected officials." "Florida pension benefits: Good for elected officials, judges".
"Sansom associate flips as trial nears".
West to stride national stage
"He's already a platinum YouTube star, Internet traffic generator and cable TV mainstay. Now freshman U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, has formed a federal 'leadership PAC' that could come in handy if he wants to lift his national profile any higher." "West forms federal 'leadership PAC'".
"Slammed and Praised"
"Department of Health Reorganization and Cuts Slammed and Praised".
"Sensible, albeit overdue, legislation"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Easing Florida's reliance on mandatory minimum drug sentences will go a long way toward reclaiming lives and saving money. Give state Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, and state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, credit for proposing sensible, albeit overdue, legislation." "Lawmakers propose bills that are smart on crime".
RISEP’s analysis of Florida’s unemployment system
The FIU Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy's Issue Brief on "Unemployment Compensation":
RISEP’s new analysis of Florida’s unemployment compensation system, co-released by Florida New Majority and the National Employment Law Project, shows that unemployment benefits are a key stimulus to Florida’s economy, putting over $9 billion into the state’s economy since the start of the recession."But Florida ranks low among states on key measures of how well benefits reach unemployed workers, ranking near the bottom among states on recipiency rate, average weekly benefits, and replacement rate". Read the report here.
"Scott's 'Efficiency Measures' Fund Miami Dredging Project".
Florida's conservative media has breakthrough year
"Was there ever a better year for a conservative media newbie in Tallahassee?" "Sunshine State News Marks Breakthrough First Year".
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy report on "Mismanaging Managed Care: Senate Medicaid Proposal Risks Even More Than Before".
Chamber attacks "standards to limit the waste entering waterways"
"The EPA has estimated that nearly 2,000 miles of the state’s waterways are affected by an excess of nutrients, which is unsurprising considering the lack of standards governing nutrient pollution."
Current regulations are based on a “narrative” standard, which simply states that “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna.” "The cost of doing nothing: How nutrient pollution harms small businesses".
Now, a new proposed set of standards to limit the waste entering Florida waterways — dubbed numeric nutrient criteria — have become the source for one of Florida’s fiercest political battles.
Nearly every major political figure and industry group in the state has publicly criticized them. Most of the criteria’s detractors argue that they would be too costly for a state still struggling with the effects of recession.
But what is the cost of not implementing them?
"Roadblock in the path of freed felons"
"Rick Scott, the governor who wants to remove regulatory hurdles, has helped put a big roadblock in the path of freed felons hoping to fully participate in civic life." "Roadblocks to restoring rights".
"Our non-blinking governor"
Myriam Marquez: "It’s now official. Our non-blinking governor is encouraging legislators to join him in this wide-eyed adventure to make government run like a business."
If this catches on, expect a spike in sales of Restasis, the tear-creating medication. Because no one in Tallahassee seems to be shedding a tear for the abused child, the sick senior or the poor unemployed stiff who would lose benefits as part of the governor’s “jobs creation” cut taxes program."Rick Scott’s ideological blinders".
"Republican governors jumping over each other"
"Newly elected officials Republican governors, including Gov. Rick Scott, are exerting power in dramatic ways and jumping over each other for a share of the national spotlight." "Keeping up with the GOP governors".
"Openness in state government? AP survey shows obstacles".
"Uninspiring political ladder climbers"
Chris Ingram, a political consultant and Bay News 9 analyst, writes that Florida's "Republican Party never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The current field of GOP candidates who aspire to run against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson represent another missed opportunity. They are all uninspiring political ladder climbers who lack a vision for anyone's future but their own." "An uninspiring Senate flock".
"In offering a rebuttal to Scott's budget message, Smith said Scott's budget plan would lay off 20,000 teachers. Make no mistake, Scott is proposing major cuts to education funding that even Scott's budget chief acknowledges will result in layoffs. But trying to estimate a number is tricky." "PolitiFact: No way to link Scott's education budget cuts to laying off '20,000 teachers'".