"Rick Scott has instituted a dizzying series of policy reversals that could threaten the key promises that powered him to the Governor's Mansion."
With the legislature entering its final three weeks, Scott's pledge to cut regulations, shield businesses from lawsuits and enact almost $2 billion in tax cuts, mostly for corporations and property owners, hangs in the balance."Gov. Scott's reversals, missteps not helping persuade lawmakers to pass his agenda".
And just when his skills at schmoozing, cajoling and muscling legislators need to be at their peak, the governor's recent uncertain political steps, combined with his lousy poll numbers, appear to be damaging the first-year executive.
Florida Republicans press voter suppression measures
Howard Troxler: "The 2011 Legislature is considering, and its committees have approved so far, bills that would:"
• Cut Florida's early-voting period (nearly one out of five ballots were cast early in 2010) from two weeks to one.Troxler continues:
• Bar anyone who has moved or changed a name, such as newly married women, from updating their information at the polls on Election Day and receiving a regular ballot. They would have to cast "provisional" ballots instead.
• Crack down on, and expand penalties for, groups that try to register new voters — which used to be considered an all-American activity.
• Make it even harder for citizens to change the Florida Constitution by setting an earlier expiration date for petition signatures.
The line in Tallahassee is that these changes simply "clean up" voting in Florida, make it more "efficient," and prevent "fraud."
Yet as a whole, Senate Bill 2086 and House Bill 1355 are astonishing. They reverse a decades-long trend of making it easier to register and vote in America.
My Democratic friends claim it is a Republican plot. I do think that's part of it."Legislature cracks down on … voting?".
After all, even though Florida has more registered Democrats, the Legislature itself is two-thirds Republican.
And who is most likely to be barred from casting a regular ballot? Who moves more? College students, young people. Who is most likely to change a name? Women. The stereotype, with justification, is that they lean Democratic.
They will be the ones told on Election Day, sorry, you can't cast a regular vote — you'll have to fill out extra forms; you'll have to cast a "provisional" ballot; you'll have to wait to find out if your vote even counted.
And yet, I think this goes deeper than Republican-Democrat.
And the RPOF wants Firemen to retire at age 60?
"A fast-acting firefighter rescued a man trapped behind the burglar bars on his front door as his home filled with smoke late Monday, according to fire officials." "Tampa firefighter rescues man trapped in smoke-filled home".
"Aqua Utilities Florida Inc. serves 117,000 customers in 18 Florida counties, according to the company. The company's pending rate hike request before the Public Service Commission also has brought controversy to the Senate confirmation of PSC Chairman Art Graham."
Aqua Utilities Florida has a rate request pending for about 16,000 of its customers in several water systems, with a few rates doubling or tripling the current monthly cost for some customers while decreasing for others."Could finger pointing and PSC controversy drown water legislation?".
One customer filed an Ethics Commission complaint against Graham for his meeting with company representatives in February in Washington, D.C. Graham, who as a PSC member serves in a role similar to that of a judge during a rate request, told the Senate Rules Committee last week that his meeting was a "rookie mistake."
"Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet are meeting in the Panhandle." "Governor holds Panhandle cabinet meeting".
Today in Tally
"Today in Tallahassee: Action shifts to Panama City".
SunRail hangs on
"Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and other Central Florida leaders are compiling a list of backers that includes more than 80 cities, businesses and chambers of commerce to show Gov. Rick Scott that the region supports the SunRail commuter train." "SunRail backers plan to lobby Gov. Rick Scott".
DCA judges get breathing room
"House Speaker Dean Cannon says he wants to give the Judicial Qualifications Commission a chance to deal with judges at the 1st District Court of Appeal before considering an impeachment request." "Speaker Dean Cannon: Impeachment request should wait until panel gets chance to act on 1st DCA judges".
HMOs big winners in Tally
"As the Florida House and Senate transform the $20 billion Medicaid system, they will create winners and losers."
One winner is easy to predict. The House and Senate both want to put almost all Medicaid beneficiaries into managed-care plans, giving HMOs a flood of new customers."Who wins in Florida Medicaid overhaul?".
New criminal justice cash formulas needed
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "There's a disturbing element of chance, based on geography, in Florida's criminal justice system. Every judicial circuit in the state — there are 20 of them — has a state attorney's office and a public defender's office. However, the money those offices get from the state's general revenue fund to prosecute or defend criminal suspects varies widely." "Outdated formula for financing prosecutors and public defenders begs for change".
"Crist, 54, returned to the Capitol on Monday for the unveiling of his official portrait that is as realistic as it is stark. The three-quarter view of Florida's 44th governor will hang alongside those of his most recent predecessors in a first-floor walkway outside the office he held for four years." "Former Gov. Charlie Crist's portrait unveiled in Capitol".
Republicans swoop in on unemployment
"State labor officials asked their inspector general Monday to investigate why a Central Florida agency wants to spend public money to furnish the unemployed with capes."
Dubbed the "Cape-A-Bility Challenge," a $73,000 public-relations campaign by Workforce Central Florida features a cartoon character named "Dr. Evil Unemployment" and includes handing out about 6,000 red superhero capes to jobless Central Floridians."State launches probe into campaign to provide superhero capes to jobless".
The campaign, revealed Saturday in a report in the Orlando Sentinel, was met with derision by many unemployed who questioned spending more than $14,200 on capes and $2,300 on foam cutouts of "Dr. Evil Unemployment." They said the campaign's tone risked minimizing the severity of the region's labor problems.
"Dosal 'Tax' Dead"
"The sponsor of a bill to raise fees on Florida-based Dosal Tobacco Co. says the measure is dead -- again. Rep. John Tobia, R-Melbourne, said Gov. Rick Scott's vow last week to veto House Bill 1207 'pretty much closes the issue this year.'" "Dosal 'Tax' Is Dead, Bill Sponsor Says".
"The third annual Tax Day Tea Party Rally did not attract the crowd it had for its first two, but it attracted the same passion. Fewer than 100 people gathered at the Fort Walton Landing to discuss the political issues nearest and dearest to their hearts. The topics ranged from fair taxes to freedom of speech." "'Still making strides': Tea Party rally-goers support fair taxes, celebrate history".
"The 'F' word"
"As the Broward School Board contemplates how to slash more than $100 million from next year’s budget, one word keeps resurfacing – furlough. On Monday, Superintendent Jim Notter gave the board a chart showing how the district could save millions by asking employees to take off — without pay." "Broward schools using the 'F' word: Furlough".
New DOT Secretary
"Scott has named an 18-year veteran of the Florida Department of Transportation to head the agency." "Insider named as Fla. transportation secretary". See also "Goodin passed over as DOT secretary".
Scott "Bestows praise on himself"
"Bestowing praise on himself like a veteran self-aggrandizing politician, Gov. Scott on Friday all but declared himself personally responsible for the decrease in Florida’s unemployment. It had been 11.5 in February, but dropped to 11.1 in March."
If had taken questions, they might have been phrased like this: “Governor, just what do you think you have done? Isn’t is more likely that you took office as things were getting better, and the number might have dropped even if Charlie Crist were still in office?” ..."Credit Scott for unemployment drop?"
Chances are, Gov. Scott won’t be praising President Obama for the nearly 13 percent drop in the national unemployment since September.
Florida Power & Light compromise
"In a last-ditch attempt to revive legislation that would let them control the market for solar power development in the state, Florida Power & Light has proposed a compromise that would allow state regulators to determine if they are entitled to raise rates to pay the costs of renewable energy plants." "FPL's solar power plan gets new life".
Teabagger clown has a special place in Florida
Daniel Ruth: "This is a highly technical and sophisticated political science construct, but you can pretty much conclude a political party has just a pinch of a problem when one of its leading presidential candidates runs around with what looks like a golden retriever on his head."
When Donald Trump showed up at a tea party rally in Boca Raton over the weekend, it was hard to tell whether his adoring crowds should have applauded — or gone on point."But there the Donald was, along with a coiffure that is more intricate than the double helix, inveighing against all things Obama and suggesting he would make a better president than Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln combined."
What about Trump's many financial failures?
"Trump needn't worry too much about his association with red ink, especially in Florida. After all, this is a state that just elected Rick Scott as governor despite the fact he had overseen a company that paid a record fine for Medicare fraud. So it's rather doubtful the tea party politic will give a rat's patootie if Trump takes hairstyling tips from Ronald McDonald or had a few business deals go bad." "Hair-raising prospect of Trump as president".
"After a tour on Monday of FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear power plant, members of congress promised to keep a critical eye on the facility, but said they are reassured that it is safe." "FPL seeks to allay Congressional concerns over Turkey Point".
Marco's suit getting emptier by the minute
"Marco Rubio calls the news a warning to get serious on tackling deficit and debt". "S&P Offers Negative Outlook on Federal Government's Debt and Future Credit".
Tally to siphon millions of from local governments
"Out-of-state investors, business owners and first-time homebuyers could pay far less in property taxes under bills gaining momentum in the Florida Legislature. Supporters say the proposals will help attract home buyers and new businesses, boosting the state’s crippled economy. But critics say they will siphon hundreds of millions of dollars away from local governments and could force higher taxes on owner-occupied homes, while still not addressing flaws in the state’s current property tax system." "Property Tax Overhaul Gains Momentum".
Rooney wears a helmet
"Tom Rooney Joins John Boehner on Tour of Iraq and Pakistan".
Saint Pete Times editors: "In less than a year, a staggering $3.8 billion has been paid by BP to tens of thousands of businesses and people along the Gulf Coast for economic damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Yet that does not begin to cover all of the losses from this catastrophe or reflect the devastation to lives and local economies." "Too many still wait for BP". Related: "Oil spill claims administrator maintains "we're doing something right"".
Florida teabaggers run wild in DC
"Two 'tea party stars' from Florida say they're not scared by the doomsday scenarios over the national debt ceiling."
Saying he doesn't think much of "leadership by fear and intimidation" coming from the Obama administration and Wall Street financiers, U.S. Rep. Allen West calls the pending increase in the nation's $14 trillion debt a "debt suggestion.""Tea Party 'Stars' Stand Strong in Debt Showdown".
"This will be the 73rd or 74th time Congress has done this," West, R-Fort Lauderdale, said on ABC's "This Week with Christian Amanpour."
U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Tallahassee, was equally adamant.
"The administration is pushing for a single-subject vote, a 'clean' bill. I'm not voting for that," Southerland said.
"State to confiscate local expressway authorities"
The Tampa Trib editors: "Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos made the right call when he instructed his minions to drop a plan to eliminate the SunPass discount for motorists. But he should also jettison the slippery grab to have the state confiscate local expressway authorities." "Highway robbery".