"Utterly and morally despicable"
"Let the record and the history books show that no matter what else the 2011 Florida Legislature does, wise or unwise, it has done one thing utterly and morally despicable, and beyond any excuse or redemption."
With greed and lust and arrogance, on March 24, 2011, the Florida Legislature voted to legalize the direct bribery of the Legislature itself.
"Appeal to people of Florida to stop direct bribery of Legislature".
That is what the history books will show.
As of that date — for legislators rushed to make it the law immediately — it is legal for the leaders of the Democratic and the Republican parties in our Legislature to run so-called leadership funds to accept direct, unlimited payoffs from those seeking favorable treatment.
Republicans looking to suppress Dem votes
The Palm Beach Post editors point out that Florida's Republicans are "pushing through election 'reforms' that would hamstring voter-registration efforts and make it harder to cast a ballot. HB 1355 and SB 2086, are not 'reforms.' These bills are an effort by the Republican majority to suppress what the GOP perceives as likely Democratic votes in 2012."
If a Democratic majority tried something so partisan and arrogant - such as tightening rules for likely GOP-friendly absentee ballots from soldiers overseas - Republicans justifiably would protest. In fact, these bills are so bad that they amount to an assault on all voters, regardless of party. Among other things, these bills would shorten early voting from 14 days to six days, force people with new names or addresses to cast provisional ballots and give voter-registration organizations just two days to submit completed registration cards. ...
"Stop assault on all voters".
At the polls, voters could encounter new problems under these proposals. For decades, people who changed their name or address since they last voted have been able to update their information at their precinct and cast a regular ballot. These bills would require them to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots take longer to fill out and are more prone to voter error, which in turn makes them more likely be discarded.
Because one of the groups most affected by this change is college students living away from home, pushing them to provisional ballots also favors Republicans. Never mind the logistical nightmare thousands of extra provisional ballots would create for canvassing boards, which must review each one.
Other changes would require voter-registration groups to register with the state, and would give them just two days instead of 10 to submit voter-registration cards. This would hamper registration efforts while solving no apparent problem.
Crist is "toxic" to Teabaggers who run the RPOF
"LeMieux is running for the U.S. Senate. And he's running away from Crist, whose name is toxic to many of the hard-core conservatives LeMieux is courting in a wide-open Republican primary." "LeMieux can't shake Charlie Crist legacy in Senate bid".
Florida doles out millions in tax breaks to retailers like Wal-Mart
Aaron Deslatte: "As the 60-day lawmaking session winds to a close next month, Gov. Rick Scott is relentlessly promoting his 'jobs' agenda and exuding confidence that he'll get a massive infusion of tax dollars to reel in new employers."
But behind the scenes, Scott's office and lawmakers are jockeying over who should control hundreds of millions in tax breaks that Florida has been doling out to biotech companies, retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores and Walgreens, and television producers.
"Do Florida's corporate tax breaks pay off in jobs?"
Leery of appearing to support "corporate welfare" while cutting nearly $4 billion from education, health-care and social-service spending, Republican budget writers have been pushing the Governor's Office to prove the effort will produce a bigger bang for the buck.
Teabagger hypocrites run wild in DC
"In just four months, rookie U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams ... has grown into a full-throttle supporter of every major GOP initiative".
She has co-sponsored legislation to neuter the new health-care law, fought efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and joined the crusade to slash the federal budget, positions consistent with the tea-party backers who helped her win a landslide victory over U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, last year."Adams has yet to match her rhetoric with real solutions, particularly when it comes to the budget, and that her opposition to the Democratic health-care overhaul rings hollow."
One left-leaning blogger labeled Adams a "healthcare hypocrite" for rejecting her congressional health plan, even though she is still covered by a government policy through her husband, John, an Orange County circuit judge.
"Freshman Rep. Sandy Adams is vocal conservative in Congress".
Adams defended the arrangement as "just a personal decision" and said it's not hypocritical because she never intended it as a protest against the health-care plan that passed Congress last year.
And though Adams campaigned hard against federal spending — and continues to do so — she has identified only one place where she would make cuts: climate-change research at NASA. Otherwise, she's a full-throated supporter of NASA's roughly $18 billion budget, including its manned space program.
Republican campaign contributors lick their chops
"Florida lawmakers are poised to make dramatic changes to the state’s prison system, turning over as many as 14 prisons to private companies in hopes of trimming the cost of housing the state’s criminals."
But as the Legislature moves aggressively to expand the reach of private prisons, fundamental questions remain unanswered. Such as: Do private prisons really save Florida taxpayers money? And if so, how much cheaper are they? ...
"Effort to privatize Florida prisons raises questions of cost". See also "Economics of private prisons draws scrutiny" and "">Effort to privatize Florida prisons raises questions of cost".
In the most ambitious proposal, the Senate’s budget chief, J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, wants to give private contractors control over all the Department of Corrections facilities in 18 counties south of Orlando, including prisons and work camps in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.
"Law requires secrecy"
"Despite a professed goal of increased transparency, the people who manage $156 billion in pension funds and other public money have taken steps to get in line with a law that requires secrecy." "Florida's pension administrator touts transparency ... with exceptions.".
"'The governor is clueless'"
"'He's clueless. The governor is clueless as to what is happening throughout the state, and the burden on homeowners and condominium owners and business owners,' said Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who opposes most of the insurance legislation offered by the industry this year." "Gov. Scott quietly trying to kill Citizens insurance".
What's a teabagger to do?
Myriam Marquez remarks that Trump is "polling better than all but Mitt Romney in the GOP field — scary because Romney has the better hair." "The Donald: his life, hair, royal affairs".
Labor relations experts
Funny how these alleged journalists are suddenly experts in labor relations. Don't worry Mr. Mayo, the promotion is in the mail.
"Rubio’s role model? Jesse Helms"
Lesley Clark: "The Florida senator, a Republican, tells National Review Online that the late Sen. Helms, 'the firebrand conservative from North Carolina,' is his foreign policy model. 'Politicians are not heroes,' Rubio says. 'But if you look at Jesse Helms, he had a tremendous amount of influence in this place.'" "Rubio has a role model".
We don' need no stinkin' regerlations
"State doesn't check background of some health professionals".
Mike Thomas: "Angry about fuel prices? Blame speculators".
"Images of starved pelicans are fading"
Carl Hiassen observes that "politicians fronting for the industry are counting on $4-per-gallon gas prices and a short public memory. Their optimism is well-founded, if recent polls are accurate. The images of dead sea turtles and starved pelicans are fading." "Year later, little in Gulf has changed". Meanwhile, "Tar balls wash up on two South Florida beaches".
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "More questions than answers on spill".
"Florida needs adults in Tallahassee, not petulant children"
Randy Schultz: "The Florida House held a kangaroo trial and convicted the Florida Supreme Court."
Through two days of "debate" on April 15 and 16, the grand inquisitors in the House made up their case for turning the seven-member Supreme Court into two divisions of five justices each and allowing the Legislature - that would be the legislative branch - to set rules for the courts - that would be the judicial branch. Some of the main Republican conspirators in this attempted coup are lawyers, and if they had been in court their arguments wouldn't have lasted a nanosecond.
Much more here: "House sinks low trying to take down Florida's high court".
They ducked questions. They invented evidence. They used demagoguery. ...
[Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Destin and Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa]boasted that they had gone to Tallahassee to be "bold" and "unique." Sigh. We heard all that from Jeb Bush, who was "bold" by enslaving education to the FCAT and by issuing large privatization contracts that resulted in poorer service for more money. Bold, yes. Smart, no. And now we have Reps. Gaetz and Harrison, who are similarly "bold" and uniquely reckless.
Then there's Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, the sponsor of House Joint Resolution 7111 and another lawyer. He reeled off cases in which rulings supposedly had been delayed for unconscionable lengths of time - 874 days, 750 days, 812 days. Conveniently, he didn't cite case numbers, which made it hard to question him. Conveniently, he rolled out his list near the end of debate, to make any response even harder.
Of course, Reps. Eisnaugle, Gaetz and Harrison are just stalking-horses for the vengeful lawyer who is House speaker, Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park. He can't get over the Florida Supreme Court siding last year with those who challenged three of the Legislature's politically manufactured constitutional amendments, including a symbolic slap at the federal health care law.
From Rep. Cannon's tantrum comes HJR 7111, a constitutional amendment that would create two five-member divisions of the court (civil and criminal) and allow Gov. Scott to fill the three new seats. Conveniently, the two justices who voted to allow those amendments on the ballot would sit in the civil division - the one that would review amendments - and Gov. Scott could name someone he believes would complete a harmonious majority.
Alex Sink could have saved us all this trouble by winning. ...
Indulging this political tantrum would cost taxpayers another $3.7 million a year, as the state faces nearly a $4 billion budget shortage, and $21.5 million in unneeded one-time expenses. At a time when Florida needs serious adults in Tallahassee, petulant children have taken over the Florida House.
"Less affluent families may have to get loans"
"The Florida Legislature is poised to cut the popular Bright Futures scholarship program, meaning thousands of college students and their parents will be paying higher costs and less affluent families may have to get loans, seek other financial aid, get jobs or maybe go on a low-cost diet." "Legislature eyes cuts in Bright Futures".
"Florida Republicans are taking advantage of the state's size and swing-voting status to try to make this the decisive state in the 2012 Republican primary contest. If they're successful, Republicans in Florida, more than any other state, could pick the nominee to run against President Barack Obama in 2012."
In the last two weeks, party leaders have acted to hang onto an early presidential primary date, despite opposition from the national party.
"Florida's presidential straw poll could help pick GOP frontrunner".
They've also set up an early presidential straw poll for this fall that insiders believe could shape the primary contest – a straw poll designed to be a more valid test of the candidates than most presidential straw polls.
A little late to whine
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Scott proposed a budget in February that would slash public school funding by $1.7 billion. The GOP-led House and Senate passed rival spending plans this month that each would cut school funding by at least $1 billion."
The governor and legislative leaders haven't just ruled out any tax increases. They've shown no interest in joining an effort among states to force Internet retailers to collect state sales taxes. Florida could be losing more than $2 billion a year from unpaid sales taxes on purchases made online. But who cares?
"When tax cutters are elected, school closings shouldn't come as a surprise".
The top brass in Tallahassee also has refused to take a critical look at hundreds of tax breaks — including exemptions on sales of bottled water and skyboxes — that divert billions from state coffers.
Scott made his opposition to tax hikes crystal clear to voters last year. So did the Republican legislator on last year's ballot whose district includes the Longwood Elementary attendance zone. Scott campaigned on a promise to cut business and property taxes. ...
Voters in the zone must have liked what they heard.