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"With House-Senate budget talks stalled -- or, at least far from the prying eyes of Floridians -- House Speaker Dean Cannon and Mike Haridopolos said Monday that prospects for an on-time finish Friday are dimming."
Hundreds of millions of dollars in health and human services programs dealing with the state's most vulnerable citizens remain the sticking point between the two chambers."Frustrations rise as Florida Senate, House argue over how to bridge budget gap". See also "Update: Florida House, Senate agree on $68 billion budget", "Health-care funding stalemate could send session into OT ", "Budget Hang-Ups Could Throw Session into Overtime" and "Lawmakers race against budget deadline".
Work on the budget must be completed by Tuesday afternoon for lawmakers to finish by midnight Friday, the scheduled end of the session. State law requires a 72-hour cooling-off period after the budget is released before the legislature can vote on it.
Today in Tally
"Today in Tallahassee: Deadline for a budget deal for on-time finish". See also "House Continues Hectic Pace as Session Winds Down".
"'The latest effort to punish teachers'"
"The passage of the new bill, HB 7087, has angered some union leaders and school administrators who say it is an unfair, mid-stream change for teachers already on the job." "Teachers with no tenure by July 1 likely out of luck". Related: "Florida House Tackles Education Issues as Final Week Begins".
Nelson criticizes election law overhaul bill
"Sen. Bill Nelson visited Tallahassee to criticize an election law overhaul bill that he believes will undermine the voting rights of college students and those serving in the military." "Nelson blasts Florida Legislature's 2012 election-law fixes". See also "Nelson, GOP Wage Ballot War in Wake of Bin Laden Assassination".
Dems resist Cannon's court packing scheme
"The Senate handed House Speaker Dean Cannon a partial victory Monday in his effort to overhaul the Florida Supreme Court but only after stripping out the most controversial measure."
Cannon wanted to expand the court from seven to 10 justices and create two five-member divisions, one for civil cases and one for criminal, allowing Republican Gov. Rick Scott to fill the vacancies."Senate passes Supreme Court overhaul — without expansion plan". See also "Courts bill loses radical changes ", "Florida House's court overhaul bid stripped of most-dramatic changes, as Senate can't get votes" and "Florida Senate votes to put changes in state Supreme Court on ballot".
But the concept was unacceptable to Democrats who saw it as a scheme to pack the court with justices sympathetic to Republican causes, as well as Senate Republicans who questioned the need for the change.
"Daphne Campbell Demands Apology from Fellow House Dems".
With or without you?
"Central Florida's commuter rail project just took another step forward. The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday signaled it is ready to enter into a multi-year funding agreement with the state of Florida to build the $1.2 billion project. It would link downtown Orlando with Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties. Congress now has 60 days to review the project." "Feds move Orlando area's SunRail train project forward".
"House passes tax shield for online travel companies".
Haridopolos goes off deep end
"The fate of SB 2040, which was scheduled for a vote Monday and then was pushed back to today, hangs in the balance in the Senate, where leaders must weigh conflicting interests exemplified by the very senators who have tried to shepherd the bill through the chamber."
Last week, Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped the bill on Alexander's lap after yanking it from Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican who had initially put forth the measure. A Cuban-American, she could no longer back it after Haridopolos pushed for a more hard-line stance on cracking down illegal immigration."Florida Senate to decide controversial immigration bill". See also "Immigrant masses huddle in prayer and protest as Florida Senate considers tightening enforcement" and "Senate to decide immigration bill".
Failure of another large Central Florida bank
"Despite signs of recovery in the U.S. economy, the recent failure of another large, locally based bank in Central Florida is an indication the state's community banks are still reeling from the real estate slump and recession, experts said Monday. Winter Park-based First National Bank of Central Florida, closed late Friday by regulators, had struggled for nearly three years with sour real estate loans and shrinking capital." "Winter Park bank's failure a sign of trouble still ahead?".
Trial lawyers win case
"The Florida Senate on Monday blew holes in a medical-malpractice bill backed by doctors and hospitals, as the House overwhelmingly approved the proposal across the Capitol. Senators eliminated key parts of the bill, including one that would shield hospitals from liability if contracted physicians commit malpractice. Hospitals often contract with outside groups of physicians, such as radiologists, to provide care. Critics said that part of the bill could hurt patients who go to hospitals and have little choice in their physicians. If a hospital is not liable -- and a doctor lacks malpractice insurance -- the patient might not be adequately compensated if malpractice occurs, they argued." "Senate Removes Key Provisions From Med Mal Bill".
The Miami Herald editorial board says that "State allows abuse of elderly or mentally ill Floridians in its care". "Florida’s shameful failure".
Coley fights for raw sewage
"Rep. Marti Coley was a step closer Monday to wiping out another layer of septic-tank regulations." "Septic tank deregulation bill moves forward in House ".
Cannon schools Haridopolos, Floridians suffer
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "It's bad enough that the Florida Legislature is determined to turn back the clock and blow up 25 years of bipartisan efforts to manage the state's growth."
It's even worse that Senate President Mike Haridopolos signed off on a devious scheme to deny his Senate colleagues the opportunity to help craft the legislation. A candidate for U.S. Senate ought to have more respect for representative government."Ploy to gut Florida growth laws ".
With four days to go in a most depressing legislative session, Haridopolos has been consistently outmaneuvered by House Speaker Dean Cannon. Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, is eager for the session to end on time Friday so he can campaign. Cannon, R-Winter Park, is in no such hurry. So in return for movement on budget negotiations, Haridopolos agreed to Cannon's demand that the Senate embrace House legislation to eviscerate growth management. The plan calls for the House growth management legislation to be part of budget conforming bills, which will be voted up or down in the final hours of the session and cannot be changed.
Legislature "has legalized direct bribery"
Howard Troxler: "No matter what else this 2011 Legislature does, wise or unwise, it has done one thing that screams for attention. It has legalized its own direct bribery."
The truth remains: "One last chance to stop 'leadership funds'"..
They have made it legal to pay off the Florida Legislature.
It is now legal for the leaders of both parties, in both chambers of the Legislature, to directly operate "leadership funds" that take unlimited contributions from those seeking favorable treatment.
This is the cold fact, no matter how much they talk.
I know their excuses. They are telling the voters, look, there's money in politics anyway. We already run all kinds of outfits that launder campaign money. So it might as well be legal to give it to us directly.
They claim this law is "transparent" because they will write down who is putting in the money. But that means absolutely nothing. That money is still going to be laundered into local elections so that the voters do not know whose dollars are really buying the campaigns of Sen. X and Rep. Y.
Before it adjourns, the Legislature should undo this.
Rolling in the dirt together
"The death of Osama bin Laden brought a rare moment of bipartisan unity for the Florida congressional delegation, but subtle differences in their reactions reflected political battle lines and an emerging debate over the U.S. exit strategy from Afghanistan. ... The debate starts with who gets credit for gunning down the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that traumatized the nation a decade ago." "Bin Laden death: Florida congressional delegation finds common ground".
"Fla. can't track child welfare contractors".
RPOF desperate in Jax
"Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Duval County and vice chairman of the state party, argued that the race had national ramifications." "GOP pledges $100,000 to Mike Hogan in Jacksonville mayor's race".
We don' need no stinkin' regerlation
"State agency failing to monitor for-profit colleges, audit says".
And use the fifth day to flip burgers?
"Lake County schools considering four-day week". Related: "Broward School Board considers 'gut-wrenching' $81 million school cuts".
"Florida lawmakers are poised to pass a handful of bills that, combined, would expand charter schools, virtual schools, a voucher programs for kids with disabilities and the opportunity to transfer from struggling campuses." "School choice bills making headway in Capitol".
"As the Democratic National Committee’s incoming leader, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz must rally her party to take back the U.S. House of Representatives from Republicans. She’ll need all her political experience and energy to do it." "Wasserman Schultz draws on experience to lead Democrats".
Haridopolos "funneled" tens of thousands to himself
"Lake Mary Representative Chris Dorworth and Senate President Mike Haridopolos reimbursed themselves tens of thousands of dollars from committees they formed to support other candidates."
WFTV investigative reporter George Spencer found out why they won't show receipts. "Funneled Political Contributions" (via Taking Names).
Two of Florida's most powerful leaders funneled tens of thousands in political donations back to themselves.
Haridopolos and future House Speaker Chris Dorworth created special committees. The money raised is supposed to help other political candidates.
But WFTV found Dorworth reimbursed himself more than $24,000 of his group's cash in just a year and a half. Haridopolos gave himself more than $37,000 over four years.
Raw political courage
"Florida Senate passes bill requiring walk-in clinics to post prices".
That's a relief
"State senators voted 39-0 to name the barking tree frog as the official state amphibian." "Stomping out the frogs".
And these guys have pensions?
"Dogs die in dramatic fire that destroys 90-year-old Daytona Beach home".
Miami-Dade charter change bill
"Senate rejects push to empower lawmakers to propose changes to the Miami-Dade charter".