"A bill to overhaul the state Supreme Court has run into steep resistance in the Florida Senate, raising doubts about whether the top priority of House Speaker Dean Cannon will pass this session."
The proposal has become tied to a series of other high-profile bills, including the budget, which is the only measure legislators are required to pass.
"Court overhaul stalls in Senate".
On Thursday, Senate leaders spent the day cornering Republican colleagues on the floor of the Senate to persuade them to vote for the speaker's pet bill.
They have convinced some members who previously opposed it to sign on by agreeing to withdraw an anti-union bill that would have banned unions from using payroll deduction to collect their dues and use the money for political causes.
"As they tried to corral votes from their own caucus, GOP leadership offered not to bring up another controversial bill that would ban deduction of union dues from public employee paychecks."
"We'll see tomorrow" if the effort is successful, said Sen. John Thrasher, the St. Augustine Republican carrying the union-dues bill that has passed the House.
"Split Supreme Court plan jams up Senate". See also "Dean Cannon's Court Reform Runs Into Senate Opposition".
But Storms and others said the union-dues bill was already unlikely to pass, so using it as a bargaining chip made little sense.
"If people are trading their votes for that, we were already winning," Storms said. "That's like negotiating with yourself."
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board warns that Cannon's "radical, politically charged plan that would undermine the independence of Florida's highest court" might "pass as soon as today — unless more than 40 percent of senators decide they are less interested in pleasing the speaker than preserving the constitutional principle of checks and balances between the courts, the Legislature and the governor." "Senators should reject a radical plan to undermine the independence of Florida's judiciary".
Gaetz shows his aetz
"Here it comes again. A bill to ban public employee unions from using payroll deduction to collect their dues was considered all but dead on Wednesday when Senate leaders couldn’t get the votes to pass it."
Now comes amendments in the House and Senate on a slew of bills that impose the same restrictions on unions and require that they get annual written permission from every member to use dues for political purposes.
"Union dues bills rises again in Gaetz phoenix".
The irony: the amendments are attached to bills filed by Sens. Jim Norman and Jack Latvala, two of the staunch opponents of the union dues bill. (Norman’s is on SB 982 and HB 241.)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, the House sponsor of the anti-union bill, has filed amendments to the House companions of Norman’s bill related to wage [theft], which is scheduled for a floor vote in both chambers.
"Key last-minute decisions by select legislators in private"
"Lawmakers hit new snags Thursday as they worked to hammer out a budget deal, with money for schools and health care sticking points in the $66.5 billion spending plan."
The roadblocks provided late-session theatrics and raised the likelihood that key last-minute spending decisions would be made by a select few legislators, probably in private, to bring the 2011 session to a timely conclusion a week from now."New roadblocks hamper efforts for budget deal". See also "What to cut? -- Big issues stymie Florida lawmakers over how to make up for budget shortfall" and "".
Today in Tally
"Today in Tallahassee: All eyes on Senate and court proposal". Related: "Senate Readies Insurance, Gun Privacy and Abortion Bills for Final Vote" and "Insurance, Gun Rights, Abortion, Phone Dereg Bills Clear Florida Senate".
The best they can do?
"Two Republicans and a Libertarian ready to take on veteran Democratic incumbent". "Candidates Starting to Line Up to Take on Corrine Brown".
The Chamber says "jump!"
"Despite strong opposition from cities and counties, the House is set to approve on Friday a proposed constitutional amendment that grants business owners, landlords and investors a lower limit on how much their property tax bills can increase." "Florida House Poised to Approve Property Tax Overhaul".
A run on bulldozers
"HB 991 places the burden of proof on those who file legal challenges against agency permits and prohibits local regulation of rock mining. Rep. Jimmy Patronis, the bill's sponsor, said he has tried to work with environmentalists. He has an amendment to take out a controversial prohibition against local rock mining regulations. Two other controversial House bills were rolled over to third reading." "Environmental groups denounce "monster" permitting bill". See also "Environmentalists decry deregulation bill that House GOP suddenly fast-tracked".
Bondi embarrasses herself
In an incredible display of political hackery, Pammy Bondi, who one suspects has never seen the inside of a NLRB courtroom, let alone tried a case under the NLRA, claims that the NLRB's GC has issued complaint that is without merit and demands that he withdraw it.
"State Attorney General Pam Bondi joined eight Republican attorneys general from other states Thursday to oppose a National Labor Relations Board complaint launched last week against the Boeing Co."
NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon maintained last week that Boeing violated federal labor laws by seeking to expand operations in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, instead of in Washington back in 2009. Initially Boeing had planned to build 787 Dreamliner airplanes in a Washington-based factory whose labor force was affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). With orders for the airplanes backlogged, Boeing looked to add a second plant in South Carolina."
"Defending Boeing, Pam Bondi Stands Up for Right to Work".
“Florida has a vested interest in ensuring that businesses are not unfairly prevented from expanding their operations in right-to-work states, like ours,” said Bondi in a statement on Thursday. “Boeing has every right to consider the potential consequences unions may have on business and make decisions accordingly.”
Bondi signed off on a letter sent by Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina to Solomon which maintained that the NLRB’s complaint was without merit and demanded he withdraw it.
“This complaint represents an assault upon the constitutional right of free speech, and the ability of our states to create jobs and recruit industry,” the attorneys general wrote. “Your ill-conceived retaliatory action seeks to destroy our citizens’ right to work.
"A chilling insight into the Scott administration"
"When U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's office tried to contact Gov. Rick Scott's top lieutenant, Mary Anne Carter offered her cell number, her state e-mail address and a warning."
"I rarely check and almost never respond to work e-mail because of the open records law," Carter wrote from her private e-mail account.
"Top adviser avoids creating public records as she shapes Gov. Rick Scott's policy, e-mails show".
The admission stunned an open government advocate who said it was a chilling insight into an administration that has created roadblocks to Scott's own goal of accountability.
Haridopolos behind closed doors
"Behind closed doors, though, Haridopolos was laying the groundwork to weigh in and take the bill away from Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican who held the public hearings to produce a consensus product that stopped well short of an Arizona-style immigration bill."
Late Wednesday — with the 60-day session nearing its end —Haridopolos announced that Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander would carry the bill.
"Florida Senate president strips immigration bill from Hispanic lawmaker".
"It is clear that the Senate has decided to take a different position on the bill. I'm not aware of what that position is. I'm eager to see what these proposals may be," said Flores, who was one of the first state senators to endorse Haridopolos' U.S. Senate candidacy.
Running in a crowded Republican primary, Haridopolos needs the support of hard-core conservatives who have pushed for the bill.
Old white men
"Florida Senate approves abortion funding bans".
"Foes of the planned expansion of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant will hold a protest Saturday at nearby Homestead Bayfront Park." "Turkey Point protest planned".
"The House voted to renew a law that keeps private certain State Board of Administration records involving the growing number of private investments." "SBA records law renewed in House".
The "Sunshine State"
"Survey ranks District 17 lowest in nation in wellbeing".
"'Single Sales' Corporate Tax"
"Florida House and Senate budget negotiators have agreed to a tax shift that could benefit corporations doing business in the state." "Boon to Florida Economy? 'Single Sales' Corporate Tax In Budget".
And this guy wants be a U.S. Senator?
"Senate President Mike Haridopolos said 'a mistake was made' when the Senate quickly passed an amendment to provide $1.75 million in state funding for the prescription drug monitoring database." "Drug amendment called a 'mistake'".
Scott: never mind
"Scott takes down website detailing stimulus spending".
Medicaid changes flop
"The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Florida will not receive the go-ahead for statewide managed care as part of its renewal of a five-county Medicaid pilot program. Instead, Florida will have to submit a new statewide proposal that addresses myriad issues, including steps to guarantee that Medicaid beneficiaries will receive quality care, according to a letter sent to the Agency for Health Care Administration." "Federal agency: Florida Medicaid privatization not that simple". See also "Feds: Fla. can't expand Medicaid pilot statewide".
Obama visits Florida with an eye on 2012
"Today in Florida, Obama will address another big college crowd. It's a commencement speech, not a political rally. But his trip to Miami Dade College implicitly carries the same urgent message." "President Obama visits Miami Dade College with an eye on 2012".
Putting 1.3 million at the mercy of private insurers"
The Saint Pete Times editors: "In the South, the death toll from dozens of tornadoes passed 280 and keeps climbing. ... Some damage will be covered by federal flood insurance, but many property owners will have to rely on government loans or other assistance to recover. It takes a mix of community spirit, private insurance and government help to put lives back together."
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature tend to forget that calculus. Scott reportedly wanted to close down the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. as soon as possible and put more than 1.3 million policyholders at the mercy of private insurers, whose primary motivation is to make money. State senators counted Florida's blessings Thursday as they referred to the tornadoes — then railed against Citizens Property Insurance and the likelihood of large assessments on all sorts of insurance throughout the state to help cover damage claims after a major hurricane. In their fantasy, private insurers would cover every Florida home and business if the state would just let them raise premiums high enough and gouge property owners as much as they want. That is not a prescription for reviving the economy."Lessons from the storm lost in Florida". The Miami Herald editorial board: "Insurance nightmare".
"We'd be a lot better off"
Frank Cerabino: "It's too bad the Florida Legislature hasn't devoted more time this session to the barking tree frog. We'd be a lot better off." "Focusing on frog might have spared Florida bad legislation".
Poor Darden gets a tax break
"An expected vote today on a plan to help Darden Restaurants with its tax bill has been pushed back until tomorrow." "Vote on Darden tax break delayed a day".
Second amendment stoopid
"One measure restricts doctors from asking patients about gun ownership, and another prohibits local governments from passing stricter gun laws than the state. Those two already have been approved by the House and await Gov. Rick Scott's signature. The third, which began life as a proposed 'open carry' law, was modified to decriminalize the accidental showing of a concealed weapon." "Three bills concerning guns passed by Florida Senate". See also "Senate passes three bills easing up gun laws; two headed to the governor".
The Tampa Trib editors: "In a state in which six police officers were gunned down in the last four months, it staggers the imagination that Florida would give open carry serious consideration." "Open carry not needed".