"Golf courses in state parks 'the worst idea in history'". See also ""2 Fla. lawmakers want golf courses in state parks". The Orlando Sentinel editorial board joins the "worst idea" meme with this editorial "Golf courses in state parks? Worst. Idea. Ever."
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Common sense is in order before tens of thousands of acres of public land are turned over to golfers." "Golf proposal out of bounds".
Haridopolos, Atwater wash teabagger feet
"A second wave of tea party activists gets back to work in Tallahassee Thursday, meeting with top state officials on budget and policy issues. In the wake of Tuesday's tea rally outside the old Capitol, 138 tea party leaders will set up shop in the Knott Building, where they will hear from Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and others." "138 Tea Leaders Take Party Inside Capitol".
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Scott's State of the State speech Tuesday hit all the expected notes - except one. He talked about budget cuts, tax cuts and job creation. But he was silent on immigration, the issue he exploited to defeat Bill McCollum in last fall's GOP primary."
Back then, Gov. Scott embraced an Arizona-style immigration bill, and his ads played - over and over - a clip of Mr. McCollum saying that would be the wrong approach for Florida. Mr. McCollum flip-flopped, appearing at one point with Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, who touted Arizona's approach. The move didn't save Mr. McCollum. But Rep. Snyder followed through with a bill the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will consider today."Think Utah, not Arizona: Utah's guest-worker program would be better than Florida's plan".
"Low turnout makes elections expensive".
"NRA handed rare defeat"
"The NRA was handed a rare defeat Wednesday when Senate Republicans scrapped plans to allow some people to bring guns on college campuses." "NRA handed rare defeat in Florida bill that would have allowed guns on campus". See also "Lawmakers: No guns on campuses" and "Senate committee changes mind about guns on campus".
Today in Tally
"The House Education Committee has scheduled a seven-hour hearing on a controversial bill (HB 7019) that would end teacher tenure and create a performance-pay system. It is the final committee hearing for the proposal before it can be debated on the House floor. The Senate version (SB 736) is scheduled for a final vote today. ... In the afternoon, the Republican-led House is expected to pass an unemployment tax cut along party lines. The bill, which would mean fewer benefits for out-of-work Floridians, would be the first substantial legislation approved by the chamber this session. Also Thursday:
Prisons: Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, will hold a press conference to promote their bills to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses and non-violent crimes. ..."Today in Tallahassee: Education and unemployment top the agenda". See also "Five biggest questions for the 2011 session" and "2011 Legislature summary".
Tax cap: A constitutional amendment (SJR 958) that would cap state tax collections ....
Chamber snaps its fingers ... unemployed hosed
"The Florida House of Representatives tentatively approved a plan Wednesday that would slash unemployment benefits for out-of-work Floridians and pass much of the savings on to businesses."
The sweeping legislation would both cut the maximum number of weeks unemployed workers could receive state payments from 26 to 20 and reduce the tax charged to businesses to pay for the program. It would also make it easier for businesses to deny benefits."Florida House gives first OK to reduce unemployment benefits". See also "House Sets Stage for Thursday's Unemployment Compensation Debate", "Senate Moves Less-Toothy Unemployment Comp Bill" and "Florida lawmakers look to cut unemployment benefits".
A top priority of the state's business lobby, the unemployment-compensation package was the first substantive measure taken up on the floor of the House in the 2011 legislative session, which opened Tuesday. An estimated 400,000 Floridians now receive unemployment benefits, as the state's unemployment rate remains stuck around 12 percent.
"More Madison Avenue ad exec than CEO"
"Scott wants to run government like a business. But so far, the governor has been more Madison Avenue ad exec than CEO."
Still, Florida faces a harsh reality. The state has a budget deficit approaching $4 billion, and Florida's once-dependable revenue sources — which pay for state services, whether its property taxes, various fees for services or the remaining federal stimulus funds — are coming up short."Gov. Rick Scott's call to arms".
Medicaid costs continue to take an ever-increasing bite out of the state's budget. And as Florida's jobless rate continues to hover above 12 percent, more Floridians are turning to food stamps and unemployment compensation for help. Cuts, deep ones in education programs and health and human services, are a foregone conclusion. There's no way to avoid it.
Beyond the tough talk, there weren't many specifics in Tuesday's speech to convince Floridians that Scott's ideas will actually improve the state's economy and generate those 700,000 promised jobs.
Sorry Ricky, rail would've been a moneymaker
"Three weeks after Gov. Rick Scott put the brakes on high-speed rail, the Florida Department of Transportation on Wednesday released a study showing the line connecting Tampa to Orlando would have had a $10.2 million operating surplus in 2015, its first year of operation. The study showed the line would have had a $28.6 million surplus in its 10th year." "High-speed rail is profitable, study says".
RPOFers "shout down" tenure compromise proposal
"The Florida Senate has scheduled a final vote for today on a controversial education bill that could end tenure for teachers and tie their pay to student learning gains. The bill would also require a much more stringent annual review process for teachers." "Full Senate, House committee take up teacher tenure bills today". See also "Full Senate, House committee take up teacher tenure bills today", "Florida Republicans rebuff attempt to give 3-year contracts to teachers", "Revised merit pay bill set for Senate floor vote" and "Teacher merit-pay bill races toward passage in Florida Senate" (the executive director of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents' proposal to allow new teachers to get three-year contracts if they had good evaluations "was shouted down by the GOP-led Senate").
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Round 2 for Florida education reform a lot more promising".
Floridians must "dance with what brung us"
"Short of criminal conviction — and maybe not even then — at the state level, we pretty much have to 'dance with what brung us.' And maybe we deserve the consequences of our elections, at least for two or four years." "Bill Cotterell: Recall the governor? Not in Florida".
"Florida’s all-Republican Cabinet brings back Jim Crow"
The RPOF vote counters, not to mention the remnants of the Florida Klan (Recall that "Florida has one of the more active Klans, and its commitment to racial hatred and prejudice have not gone away"), are dancing in the streets today.
The Miami Herald editorial board puts it this way: "In record time, Florida’s Cabinet brought us back to Jim Crow-era laws Wednesday. Unanimously, the Cabinet undid a judicious measure that had partially streamlined the voting-rights restoration process for tens of thousands of felons convicted of nonviolent crimes."
The all-Republican Cabinet — Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — last month expressed support for Ms. Bondi’s proposal to repeal the voting-rights reforms instituted for some felons in 2007. On Wednesday, at a rushed Cabinet meeting the group of four made it official."Welcome back, Jim Crow". See also "Ex-Felons Must Wait 5 Years, Then Ask for Right to Vote", "State makes it tougher for felons to ask for rights back", "Scott, Cabinet end automatic felon rights restoration", "Gov. Scott, Cabinet okay civil rights restrictions for felons" and "Scott, cabinet roll back voting and other rights for felons". More: "Amended rules of clemency for state of Florida".
Now that the Cabinet, which also serves as the Clemency Board, approved it, the state has returned to a cumbersome, mean-spirited, prejudiced rights-restoration system that created years-long backlogs in processing clemency applications. Reversing the reforms will undermine felons’ rehabilitation. ...
Now felons will have to wait five years after completing a sentence to apply for rights restoration. This will return Florida to the Jim Crow era, when such hurdles were created to prevent blacks from voting.
Make no mistake: This proposal has racial and partisan implications.
A disproportionate number of Florida’s felons are African American, and in this state, blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The Cabinet has further alienated black voters by adopting these more-stringent restoration rules. What purpose does that serve the state or the Republican Party?
In the last decade, more than 20 states have eased the restoration process for people convicted of crimes. Florida should remain in this group of enlightened states. Instead it has gone back a century.
RPOFers go after judges
"House committee sets 60 percent vote re-election standard for judges".
TaxWatch conservatives want more
"With Gov. Rick Scott promising to bring 700,000 jobs to the Sunshine State in the next seven years and Florida lagging behind the nation with high unemployment, Florida TaxWatch unveiled an updated report Wednesday to help the state figure out how it can be more economically competitive." "Florida TaxWatch Study: State's 'Tax Burden' Lowers Its Economic Competitiveness".
"Scott's open contempt for the organization he now leads"
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board: "Scott tried to keep things upbeat and pro-jobs Tuesday in his first "State of the State" speech. But at heart, his government-disparaging message was depressing."
He all but said government is a failure — a "strangling web of regulations" that eats jobs. It can't live up to people's expectations, he asserted."Scott's other job".
This isn't tough love; it's open contempt for the very organization Scott now leads. He sounded a hair too much like a belittling parent who tells people his child is a loser who will never amount to anything.
Citrus growers, not the 'Glades, to benefit
"Citrus growers, not the Everglades, may get some of the earliest benefits from farmland acquired in an environmental restoration deal that cost South Florida taxpayers $197 million." "U.S. Sugar land bought for Everglades restoration could get leased to another grower".
"Feds not so incompetent after all"
"Mike Thomas: "The Gulf appears to have survived. The federal government is not so incompetent after all. BP did a decent job cleaning up its mess. Much of what you saw in the media was not reality. It was a scripted show." "Truth about oil spill: Hype was disservice to everyone". Related: "Castor heads Congressional caucus to protect Gulf".
McDonald's says "jump!"
"Senate panel quietly adopts McDonald's-backed provision that prevents fast-food-toy bans".
Vern has a meeting
"Buchanan plans town hall on jobs".
"Florida Sen. Ronda Storms demands answers in child deaths".
"For the first time anyone can remember, a Florida Senate president was admonished by his own Senate in the first week of session for breaking ethics rules — specifically failing to fully and accurately detail his finances as required by the state Constitution." "Mike Haridopolos ('the senator from the 26th') admonished by Senate". See also "Senate admonishes Haridopolos on ethics".
Hillbilly heroin dealers tango with teabaggers
"One of the country’s largest drug manufacturers is offering a $1 million donation to help pay for a prescription database to combat Florida’s illegal trade in painkillers. But with the future of the database now in doubt in Tallahassee, the state is not likely to accept the offer from the maker of OxyContin." "Scott rejects money to fund drug database".
She'll get over it
"No Ann Scott first lady doll in Pasco's Pioneer Florida Museum".
As Florida burns ...
"Two Republican legislators want to make sure Florida courts aren't tainted by what one of them calls foreign 'shenanigans': Muslim sharia or legal codes from other nations."
Neither Sen. Alan Hays nor Rep. Larry Metz, though, could name a Florida case where international law or Islamic law has caused a problem in a state court. They said they weren't targeting sharia, a body of law primarily based on the Koran and the Hadith, the sayings of Islam's founder, Mohammed."Two Florida lawmakers target 'sharia' law". See also "State Rep. Metz joins ‘anti-Shariah’ fight".
But the legislation, which resembles efforts in a dozen other states where Islamic law is under scrutiny, was copied almost word-for-word from the "model legislation" posted on the website of a group called the American Public Policy Alliance.
"American Laws for American Courts was crafted to protect American citizens' constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law," the group's website says.
Hays, R-Umatilla, said he just wants to protect the rights of Floridians.
A matter of priorities
"Several Florida GOP reps pushing to end birthright citizenship".
But "crack-smoking and whore-mongering" OK?
Fred Grimm: "In a place with a daunting history of bid-rigging scandals, kick-back scandals, voting scandals, bribery scandals, zoning scandals, witness-tampering scandals, sex scandals, drug scandals, gambling scandals, theft-of-public money scandals, a gold-bathtub-fixtures-paid-for-with-school-funds scandal and one rather hard-to-characterize scandal involving a crack-smoking, whore-mongering county commissioner absconding to Australia, the petty political missteps of Carlos Alvarez would not seem the stuff of wild-eyed voter conniption." "Voters forgive a lot, but not arrogance". Related: "County leaders should stay out of political fight".
"With legislation now filed to allow for casino games in five regions of Florida, one top lawmaker is proposing the state do what every other major gambling state has done: create a gambling commission." "Bill calls for statewide commission to oversee gaming".
Haridopolos wigs out
"The Senate on Wednesday gave a thumbs-up to President Mike Haridopolos' proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee Floridians wouldn't have to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty, which is mandated by the federal Affordable Patient Care Act." "Florida Senate pushes back against health care mandate". See also "Fla. Senate approves amendment to block health care mandates".
Feds looking at Scott firing of advocate
"Federal officials said today they are probing the removal of the state's chief advocate for nursing home residents, who was let go after butting heads with the administration of Gov. Rick Scott." "Probe begins in removal of state nursing home advocate".
"Scott's shift of emergency management authority changes very little".