"A fast-paced 2011 legislative session hit a major roadblock Wednesday as budget talks between the House and Senate broke down over a series of differences." "State budget talks stalled until after Easter". See also "Budget Remains in Limbo Until After Easter Weekend".
Today in Tally
"Today in Tallahassee: Judiciary, seaports, septic tanks".
Cannon's "devious" political ploy
The Saint Pete Times editors: "The Florida House today is expected to debate a devious constitutional amendment to restructure the Florida Supreme Court that would undermine the independence of the judiciary."
House Speaker Dean Cannon's brainstorm would divide the court into criminal and civil divisions, add three justices to the seven-member court and create two five-justice divisions. Aside from practical problems, this is a political ploy to increase legislative control over the judicial branch and pack the court with more conservative justices who would be appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott."Resolution undermines courts".
There's a money saver for yah'
"State courts officials have determined that the proposed splitting of the Florida Supreme Court will cost taxpayers more than $14 million in remodeling and moving costs, not including the added personnel costs for a bigger court". "Splitting high court could run $14M".
Florida's judicial "scandals were so outrageous ..."
Martin Dyckman reminds us that, "Not so long ago, what Floridians were reading about their Supreme Court could have foretold one of John Grisham's conspiratorial novels. The scandals were so outrageous that the justices could look for approval only to their shaving mirrors." "The rotten record of politicized courts".
"U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney and Rob Andrews Team Up on Short Sales Proposal".
"Pink slip" Rick
The right wing Sunshine State News complains about "two groups that staged the 'pink slip' protest of Gov. Rick Scott last week aren’t content with getting rid of Florida’s chief executive. Florida New Majority, a coalition of state and nationwide left-wing immigrant and workers' rights groups, and Florida Watch Action, a group pushing for "progressive" -- or, ultra liberal -- policies, helped organize hundreds of unemployed and union workers to give 'pink slips' to Scott. The protesters gathered at the entrance to Scott’s office at the Capitol, but the governor was in Palm Beach, meeting with local officials." "Groups Behind ‘Pink Slip’ Protest Want More Than Rick Scott Ouster".
Have another beer, Ricky
"Scott: 'This Is the Best Time to Be Governor'".
Another Arduin Laffer
"Republican Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to cut government spending to address the budget shortfall, and then cut more to give corporations and property owners a tax break, is an experiment that no other large state is trying." "Gov. Scott only large-state governor cutting way to prosperity".
"Now he's not"
"Freshman Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, was a deputy majority whip. Now he's not. Why Grant no longer holds the position is unclear." "Deputy whip loses GOP job after vote".
I saw it with my own eyes
Fred Grimm: "Ten of the 13 innocent men cleared by post-conviction DNA testing in Florida were sent to prison by lousy eyewitness testimony in a state in obvious need of strict ID standards. (Of the 269 DNA exonerations nationwide, 75 percent of the wrongful convictions were based on erroneous witness identifications.) The Florida Innocence Commission, appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to look at the causes behind the state’s wrongful convictions, voted last month to ask the Legislature to put such ID standards into law."
Among other reforms, the rules would regulate the presentation of a photo lineup and require that the lineup administrator not know which mug shot belongs to the suspect."Fred Grimm".
A bill in the Florida Senate, championed by Sen. Joe Negron of West Palm Beach, embraced the reform recommendations.
But the House Judiciary Committee approved a companion bill Tuesday, with a 16-2 vote, that reduced the required standards to mere suggestions. Under this version, the state’s 400-plus police agencies (only four of which have adopted the best practices recommended by the U.S. Justice Department and the International Association of Chiefs of Police) would be told to do better. Exactly what that entails would be left up to individual departments.
RPOFers do the committee thing
"Trying to straddle a desire for an early presidential primary with the controversy it has provoked nationally, Florida legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed creating a committee to pick a date." "House Speaker Dean Cannon wants committee to pick primary date".
Even the knuckle-draggers ...
"Business groups say state legislation designed to curtail illegal immigration would hurt Florida's tourism and agriculture industries while reducing tax revenues. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association joined with a religious leader Wednesday to denounce the bills moving through the House and Senate." "Business groups oppose Florida immigration bills".
Although the knuckle-draggers oppose the bill, it is reasonable to assume that their motives are less than pure, to wit: Florida employers want continued access to a pool of slave labor. See the Palm Beach Post's series on Florida's "Modern-Day Slavery".
"Will we have voters?"
Jackie Bueno Sousa: "We’ve now got an election date. But will we have voters? There’s no telling the kind of turnout we’ll get for the May 24 special election, when Miami-Dade residents choose a new county mayor and commissioner, and decide on a host of possible changes to the county charter." "Miami-Dade voters must now show up to vote".
"Christian Groups Target FAU Prof for Dismissal".
Scott flops on Solantic
"Two weeks after insisting he was 'not involved in that company,' Gov. Rick Scott finalized a deal Wednesday to sell Solantic Inc., the Jacksonville chain of urgent care clinics he founded." "Gov. Rick Scott finalizes deal to sell his holdings in urgent care chain Solantic".
Not so bright
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Aim Bright Futures scholarships toward brightest, neediest".
Pigs at the trough
"Flanked by business organizations hungry for tax breaks, Gov. Rick Scott threw another monkey wrench at the Legislature in the push to overhaul [read: gut] public pension plans." "Scott pushing for further pension-benefit cuts".
"Troubled-Teen Programs Save $160M"
"Study: Troubled-Teen Prevention Programs Save Florida $160 Million a Year".
This ought to please Teabaggers and billionaire car dealers
"The Miami-Dade School Board on Wednesday voted to cut more than 200 jobs from its facilities department and give hundreds of maintenance workers a 20 percent pay cut." "School Board approves job cuts". See also "Future looks 'bleak' for families, caretakers of disabled" and "Video: Proposed cuts would leave some disabled homeless".
No gambling for now
"An attempt by Las Vegas' largest casino operators to bring resort-style casinos to Florida appeared all but dead Wednesday as a Senate committee killed the bill, rejecting promises that the effort could bring new jobs and revenue." "Florida Senate panel forces casino expansion plan to fold for session". See also "Bills would allow gambling without greyhounds".
Florida's Senate Prez raises $2.6 million
"And the 2012 U.S. Senate race is on. Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos reported raising about $2.6 million in his debut fundraising quarter, compared to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's nearly $2 million haul." "2012 U.S. Senate race is on with Bill Nelson, Mike Haridopolos announced candidates".
Floridians for Fair and Impartial Courts
"Bob Graham, a former governor and U.S. senator from Florida, plans to speak out against a proposed overhaul of the state's Supreme Court at a news conference in Tallahassee. Graham, four retired Supreme Court justices, the former presidents of The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association, and others will speak Thursday. They have formed a bipartisan group called Floridians for Fair and Impartial Courts." "Former Sen. Graham, others to speak out on courts".
Labor fight heats up
"A Senate committee Wednesday barely passed a bill to weaken the political power of Florida's public employee unions as Republican Party leaders continued the pressure on a handful of moderate Republican senators who could stand in the way of final passage."
Gov. Rick Scott has spent the week dining with lawmakers who hold pivotal votes. Republican Party of Florida officials have told legislators that passing the bill is their top session priority. And the governor has enlisted the support of his sympathetic tea party groups."Florida Republicans employ new tactics to push anti-union bill".
The goal is to put into law a bill that would ban public employee unions from collecting dues through payroll deductions and require unions to obtain permission from members each year to use their dues for political activity. Unions fear the provisions add a layer of complexity that will discourage people from joining their ranks. Backers say it is simply a question of legislators pursuing a conservative goal of less government.
"The simple issue of this bill is the state ought not be in the collection business for political organizations," said Sen. John Thrasher of St. Augustine, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
He sponsored the bill after his re-election was vigorously opposed by his local teachers union. ...
But the 11-9 committee vote is a sign the bill is in trouble. Senate President Mike Haridopolos used a rules maneuver to send Majority Leader Andy Gardiner to the committee to vote on the bill and break a potential tie that might have occurred had Sen. Evelyn Lynn been present.
It was the second narrow victory for Thrasher, who won approval for the bill from a previous committee by a 4-3 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate Rules Committee, which Thrasher chairs.
The Senate vote came after a three-hour debate that was at times raucous and boisterous as union members from across the state traveled to Tallahassee to voice their opposition. The House version has already passed that chamber 73-40 but the vote is much closer in the Senate.
As it stands now, Florida's public
"Employees automatically have money taken out of their paycheck to pay for all kinds of things. Some deductions are voluntary: student loans, charitable donations, health insurance, life insurance, union dues. Some deductions are not: taxes, alimony and other court-ordered deductions. The state of Florida currently has 364 groups or agencies that have the ability to take money directly from employees' paychecks."Moreover,
Legislative analyses of the bill determined that removing automatic deduction for union dues really wouldn't save the government any money. One state House study, for example, said the measure "may result in a positive, but insignificant, fiscal impact on public employers." Another said it "may result in a neutral fiscal impact to public employers.""Labor Battles Heat Up In Florida Against Gov. Rick Scott". See also "Union Dues Bill Gets Narrow Approval from Florida Senate Panel" and "Cuba, Thrasher go head-to-head in Florida union bill fight" ("The House has already passed a version of the bill. The Senate's legislation passed the budget committee Wednesday and will see its final committee hearing Friday.")
Neither Thrasher's office nor the Florida GOP returned a request for comment.
Florida is in a different situation than Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP allies were recently able to push through a measure that stripped the collective bargaining rights of most public employees. Florida's constitution has a provision protecting state workers’ rights in that area.
According to Tiffany Ricci of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Thrasher's bill is expected to get voted out of committee on Wednesday [it did] and come before the state Senate for a full vote within a week or two.