"Abortion will be front and center in the Legislature today."
The Judiciary Committee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment that would require appeals judges to receive a vote of 60 percent to remain on the bench when their terms expire. The same panel will also take up a bill that would make it easier for the Legislature to repeal Florida Supreme Court rules, and more difficult for the court to readopt rules that have been repealed."Today in Tallahassee". See also "Halfway through session, some issues still unsettled".
A rules subcommittee will hold a confirmation hearing for Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who also served under Crist.
And a measure that would allow utilities to raise rates to pay for renewable energy will also get a hearing, as will a plan to restrict communication between utility regulators and the companies they oversee.
"Bad news for the state workforce"
Bill Cotterell: "As the Florida Legislature enters the second half of its session this week, the pace picks up, and all eyes are on the budget. Both the House and Senate versions of next fiscal year's spending are bad news for the state workforce, differing only in how many positions will be lost and how deeply cuts will be made in one agency or another." "Facing uncertainty with dedication". See also "State cuts bad for Pensacola, even worse for Tallahassee".
"Remember King's fight for workers' rights"
Leonard Pitts Jr. reminds us that "Martin Luther King’s last public actions were in defense of labor and union rights." "Remembering MLK and the rights of labor". See also "Brevard events will remember King's fight for workers' rights". Related: "Activists to invoke MLK during WPB rally against Scott" ("Union activists will invoke Martin Luther King Jr. - and, more pointedly, his assassination 43 years ago today - to rally in West Palm Beach against Gov. Rick Scott's budget proposals and to show solidarity with stagehands who have been embroiled in a long-running dispute with the Kravis Center. ... King Center spokesman Steve Klein said the organization founded by King's widow is 'very comfortable' with linking the protests to the anniversary of King's slaying.")
"When the leisure-and-hospitality sector statewide added 26,100 jobs last month compared with February 2010, the industry eclipsed education and health services as the sector adding the most jobs in Florida on a year-over-year basis."
the region's job growth is being driven by the leisure-and-hospitality industry — the bars, restaurants, hotels and theme parks that typically rely on an army of low-paid workers to serve beer, sling nachos and clean rooms."Orlando leads state in job growth — but heavy with low-paying tourism jobs".
It's a sector dominated by young people and unskilled labor making relatively little money and, in many cases, working without benefits.
"Florida reporters and legislators don't spar, they frolic"
Nancy Smith: "You think the Capitol press corps is tough? Mean?"
Not here. Not even close."Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Press Corps?"
In Florida -- in the 21st century, anyway -- reporters and legislators don't spar, they frolic. They share jokes in the rotunda, leak secrets to each other in the food line in the Capitol's lower lobby, succumb to each other's relentless Tallahassee schmooze. They're all pals at the palace.
Smart legislators in Florida don't fear the press. They take reporters out of their pocket when they feel like it, dance them around on a string for awhile, then stuff them back in.
Rubio embarrasses himself ...
... on Fox News no less.
"A whole new meaning to the slogan 'Just say No'"
The Miami Herald editors: "Mr. Scott’s executive order [mandating that all state employees be drug tested] gives a whole new meaning to the slogan 'Just say No.' Only in this case, “No’’ is exactly where the federal courts have come down on the issue of random drug testing for public employees. It’s not permissible to test randomly, except for those in jobs that affect public safety and in cases where a reasonable suspicion of abuse exists, according to a 2004 federal court ruling in a case involving Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice."
Mr. Scott is the same governor who, despite vocal opposition even within his Republican Party, stubbornly maintains it is too costly and an invasion of privacy for the state to create a planned database to track oxycodone sales at Florida’s notorious “pill mills.’’ The information would help curb doctor shopping, where drug addicts get prescription pills from multiple physicians."‘Just say no’ to state employee drug testing".
When asked why privacy is an issue for pill mills but not for random drug testing of state employees, Mr. Scott said Monday: “It’s not a database that’s being put out to the public that can be hacked.’’
What bunk. The prescription tracking database would not be public. What it would be is a good use of public money to aid law enforcement, regulatory and healthcare professionals, ultimately saving lives. The same cannot be said for litigating unlawful rules forcing state employees to take drug tests to keep their jobs.
"With economic issues dominating Florida's political rhetoric, little was heard about abortion during the November election, but the results may profoundly affect abortion rights in the state. At least 18 measures that would restrict abortions have been filed in the Legislature and sponsors are optimistic about their chances of passing because of the Republican sweep in Florida." "Fla. Legislature likely to curtail abortion rights".
"Only 7 current House members have drawn opponents"
Kevin Derby: "While the 120 members of the Florida House of Representatives are primarily focused on the current session, the overhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwhelming majority of them are getting ready for 2012. The next general election may still be 19 months away -- and redistricting will impact a number of the current members -- but 101 House incumbents have already filed to run next year. With redistricting still up in the air, only seven current members of the House have drawn opponents so far." Much more here: "House Incumbents Gear Up to Run Again in 2012".
About that pill mill database ...
"Drug Databases Fail to Halt Abuse, Studies Find".
"The political crony who came to dinner"
The Saint Pete Times editors: "Carl Littlefield is Tallahassee's version of the political crony who came to dinner, "
a discredited bureaucrat with a shameful record of permitting the sexual abuse of the developmentally disabled on his watch as an official with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. But Littlefield will not go away. Instead, Gov. Rick Scott created a soft landing by creating for him a $78,000-a-year Department of Children and Families' paper-pushing job in Tampa as thousands of other state workers are facing the prospect of pink slips. Now that's real job creation. ..."Discredited bureaucrat's soft landing".
The post comes just in the nick of time for Littlefield, who complained in his e-mails that his wife was getting concerned about a possible lack of health insurance. Scott vigorously opposes federal health care reform that will make it easier and less expensive to help people get coverage than by creating a state job, but that's another story.
Finding a job for an obsequious political foot soldier armed with more connections than competence is nothing new in Tallahassee. And the appointment of Littlefield appears to be little more than Scott thumbing his nose at Storms over not having his first choice to run Agency for Persons with Disabilities. But this is at odds with the governor's pledge to reduce the state work force and run government more like a business.
During his campaign, Scott promised he would create 700,000 jobs. One down, only 699,999 to go.
Sorry, editors ... that is if you can put down that copy of Freedom to Choose for jus' a second ... but "finding a job for an obsequious political foot soldier armed with more connections than competence" is precisely what it means to "run government more like a business."
"Rubio rejects 2012 vice president spot".
And so it begins
"Almost every potential or actual presidential candidate — most with names unknown to all but avid political junkies — is quietly slipping into South Florida." "Presidential candidates quietly court support in South Florida".
"Legislation that is a gift to the utilities"
The Saint Pete Times editorial board: "Market forces and competition are favorite conservative watchwords, except when it comes to public utilities. Bills that would give the state's largest electric companies incentives to essentially monopolize the renewable energy market are on the move. Lawmakers are embracing legislation that is a gift to the utilities, leaving it to the companies to make decisions on their renewable energy commitments while making it harder for the little guy to enter the field." "Utilities overpower the little guy".
The other side of the tracks
"UCF's Hitt among 10 highest-paid public-university presidents".
Gettin' mighty crowded ...
"Class sizes in Florida public schools may be getting much larger again next fall despite voter-mandated restrictions that went into effect just this year. Calculus, analytical geometry, anatomy, zoology, Spanish and dozens more of the toughest courses offered in high schools no longer would be considered "core" courses under a new interpretation of the class-size amendment to the state constitution that state lawmakers are pursuing." "Many classrooms in Florida could be getting more crowded again".
Good luck with that
"Appeal made to Gov. Scott to clear way for Naples Bay habitat island".
Privatization "fueled by lobbying and campaign contributions"
The Miami Herald editorial board argues that "one proposal featured in the Senate bill definitely needs to be stripped out of the negotiations now: a plan to privatize state prisons in 18 counties. Sen. J.D. Alexander, head of the Senate budget committee, slipped the privatization proposal into the budget at the last minute, claiming that it would reduce prison spending by 7 percent."
Prison privatizations have had mixed results across the country. In the Western United States, for instance, some private operators are struggling because inmate populations have dropped, in large part because the number of illegal immigrants is dropping as migration to the United States slowed during the Great Recession. This wouldn’t hurt a state-run system because it doesn’t need to make a profit."Dump the prison privatization plan".
And that’s always been the rub when it comes to privatization attempts in Florida. There is a deep-seated — and wholly justified — fear among taxpayers that they will end up paying more to feed the private companies’ coffers and stockholders. It’s why the Florida Department of Transportation’s plan a few years ago to lease Alligator Alley for 50 or 75 years to a private company to operate, maintain and collect toll revenue fizzled.
But the massive switch to completely privatizing 18 correctional facilities without debate, research or planning is a much more foolhardy enterprise than the FDOT proposal. It simply makes no sense and seems fueled more by lobbying and campaign contributions from private prison operators than from any reasoned approach to trimming the cost of incarcerating prisoners.
"When a disgraced executive becomes governor"
James C. Little, president of the Transport Workers Union of America, wonders: "Is Florida about to become Wisconsin with a suntan?"
You need a scorecard to keep track of the dizzying number of anti-worker bills in the agendas of Gov. Rick Scott and statehouse Republicans. The goal is to weaken the voice of ordinary Florida families while strengthening the hand of Scott and his fellow millionaires. The anti-union agenda makes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s program pale by comparison."Is Florida about to become Wisconsin with a suntan?"
What’s the plan for the Sunshine State? Eliminate dues checkoff for union workers; shut workers out of politics; cancel tenure for teachers; cut workers’ pensions; and force public-sector unions out of existence unless a union can show more than 50 percent membership in a workplace, each and every year.
On that last point, a question for Gov Scott: You only won 48.8 percent of the vote in last year’s election, more than a full percentage point below the 50 percent threshold you and your partisan cronies are demanding from public-sector unions. Does that mean you shouldn’t be governor anymore?
We’ve heard a lot about restricting, and even eliminating, labor unions out of Tallahassee. But we haven’t heard a word about any corresponding new regulations on corporations.
In Rick Scott’s Florida, working people — including members of my union who work for Miami-Dade Transit — will not be permitted to contribute freely to their own unions, or to candidates and causes of their choosing. But businesses will still be able to deduct money from employees’ paychecks for corporate political action committees, which can then donate funds to candidates hand-picked by company executives.
This unbalanced approach is what you would expect when a disgraced former corporate executive becomes governor.
Tax credit scam
"State tax credits could bring businesses to Brevard".
"Jobs lost and justice delayed"
"The budget ax being wielded in Tallahassee could have devastating effects on people who need to do business or seek help in the courts, local officials say. The bottom line, according to court officials, will be jobs lost and justice delayed." "Proposed cuts to courts could lead to delays".
"To the dismay of Gainesville, the Quran-burning preacher from that city is in the public eye, amid violence in Afghanistan." "Quran-burning preacher in spotlight".
"'These men and women ask for very little'"
"Veterans are the focus of about 50 bills this session in Florida".