"Scott, who killed high speed rail in Florida earlier this year, is pushing ahead with a major transportation plan that calls for speeding up road projects and relying more on new tolls to help pay for them." "Gov. Scott calls for road expansion, more tolls".
"The Week in Review"
Gary Fineout: "Among this week's highlights: Gov. Rick Scott hands out doughnuts and get a slight bump in his terrible poll numbers, Florida officially hands its Medicaid waiver to the federal government, and a tiny town challenges the state's new growth management law." "The Week in Review for Aug. 1-Aug. 5".
"Scott's Book of Revelations"
Steve Bousquet writes that "Rick Scott's election as governor surprised a lot of people. But it turns out nobody was more surprised than Scott."
Time after time, Scott has expressed surprise or outright shock at some aspect of being governor, and we've been keeping count."Surprising Gov. Scott".
You might call this column Rick Scott's Book of Revelations, and it began long ago.
Yesterday, Daniel Ruth bemoaned that, "since Scott is going to be around for at least another three years, unless he sells the state to Georgia, as a public service here are a few things the governor probably ought to know about Florida and his job."
There is more to Florida than Naples and swooning tea party acolytes of the Villages, who regard Scott as the Lady Gaga of budget cuts. If Scott thinks high-speed rail is such a lousy idea, he should try driving himself from Orlando to Tampa. Let's throw in some whining tots in the back seat just for fun."Here's a workday Scott should attempt".
Those annoying creatures who show up en masse on leashes held by lobbyists in Tallahassee every year should not be confused with Pomeranians. It's the Florida Legislature, although it is hard to tell the difference. Much as you would like, you can't ignore them. But you can rent them. ...
That large wet thing in South Florida is Lake Okeechobee. And no, you can't drill for oil in it. That would interfere with all the agricultural chemical pollution.
As governor, when you sign a bill you can't treat the event as something out of a secret fellow traveler Skull and Bones Society moment. Not everybody in the state is a right-wing conspiracy theorist. Well, most everybody. Still, a governor should at least pretend that he cares what people who didn't vote for him might think.
Governors need to take in the social flavor of the state. To that end, Scott should participate in Tampa's annual randy Gasparilla festival honoring a fictional pirate who pillages and plunders. It's similar to being an executive of Columbia HCA, only without Columbia's Medicare fraud charges.
Lipstick on a pig
"A bad poll for any governor but Rick Scott". "Most Floridians say they don’t like the way Gov. Rick Scott has handled his job, disapprove of his policies and object to his handling of the state budget, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Friday." "Poll: Gov. Scott’s numbers rise, but still low". See also "Scott's negative poll ratings go from "terrible to bad"".
"A punitive step backward"
The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "Cuba — a rigidly governed communist state — is changing more rapidly and progressively than the United States' policy toward the Caribbean nation. The signs of progress — including the Castro regime's plan to privatize property this year — contrast with America's frozen-in-time economic embargo and political isolation of Cuba."
The Foreign Affairs committee in the U.S. House recently attempted to further entrench American policy by approving HR 2583. That resolution calls on the Obama administration to reverse its modest move to allow some American tourists — accompanied by federally licensed tour guides — to legally travel to Cuba."Time to engage Cuba".
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from South Florida and chairwoman of the committee, contends that this authorization of limited tourism to Cuba enriches and empowers the Castro regime. ...
Revoking the moderate tourism policy, as the House committee proposes, would represent a punitive step backward by the United States.
"The other guy"
"South Florida politicians know who's to blame for FAA mess: the other guy". Related: "Bill passed to end partial FAA shutdown, longer-term negotiations still heated".
"Score one for clean water"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Score one for clean water. A federal appeals court Wednesday rejected a bid by polluters and their enablers in state government to block new clean water rules for Florida." "Victory for clean water".
Meanwhile, "Environmental groups say Stearns is ‘shutting out the public’ at water hearing" ("environmental law firm Earthjustice alleges that Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, is 'shutting out the public' and 'refusing to invite' clean water advocates to his upcoming hearing on water pollution standards in Florida. According to the release, only representatives from the sewage, agriculture and fertilizer industries have been invited to testify.")
"Round-up of media coverage of redistricting for 8/6".
Successful legislative session for Florida's anti-choice crowd
"A new blog post at 40 Days for Life – Pensacola that is credited to the Florida Family Policy Council describes Gov. Rick Scott’s ceremonial anti-abortion bill-signing in the governor’s mansion this past weekend, saying it marked 'the culmination of one of the most successful legislative sessions [for] the pro-life movement in Florida’s history.'" "Florida Family Policy Council blogs about Scott’s abortion bill ceremony".
"Fewer benefit payments to the jobless"
"A new set of requirements for people receiving unemployment benefits took effect this week. Combined with other changes to the state unemployment compensation system that recently became law, they will lead to fewer benefit payments to the jobless."
Beginning Aug. 1:"Some changes took effect as soon as Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 7005, such as an expanded definition of employee misconduct, which can be used to deny benefits to the newly unemployed. Others — such as a reduction in the length of time benefits last from 26 weeks to a maximum of 23 and a lowering of unemployment insurance levies on employers — will not take effect until the start of next year." "How changes in the unemployment system lead to fewer benefit payements".
- Recipients have increased requirements to demonstrate that they are looking for jobs.
- Recipients will have to conduct an initial skills review online, which is intended to help them connect with potential employers. If they fail to complete the skills review, their benefits can be denied until they meet the requirements. (Update: This portion has been clarified with input from the Agency for Workforce Innovation).
- A former employee’s severance pay can be used to offset unemployment benefits.
And then there's this, as described by the The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida lawmakers continue to make it tough on those among us who are suffering the most in the stalled economic recovery."
Now, starting this past week, Florida's unemployed had to start applying for benefits online. Filing for benefits could previously be done with a phone call to the state unemployment office. No longer."New online rule hurts the jobless".
Sure, online applications will be more convenient for some, and it could save the state some money.
But the inherent problems in making the application system online-only should have been obvious to lawmakers. Many of the unemployed either don't have computers, or they don't have a high-speed Internet connection. Some have had to eliminate their Internet service to cut back on expenses. A survey by Scarborough Research found that a quarter of Floridians in the state's metro areas lacked Internet access. ...
All of which just makes things more difficult for the unemployed, and adds to an already high level of frustration.
Finding work in Florida is tough enough for so many people. The state isn't making the whole process any easier. The online-only requirement is a bust. Change it.
Buchanan scandal spiraling
"Two former employees of a car dealership once owned by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, allege that he pressured co-workers into donating to his campaign and then offered reimbursements with dealership funds." "More former Buchanan employees speak out about pressure to donate, reimbursement scheme".
Former GOP chairman wants charges tossed
"Ousted Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer returned to court Friday and asked an Orlando judge to throw out the criminal charges against him and much of the evidence seized by state agents. Circuit Judge Marc Lubet said he would rule in about two weeks." "Ousted Florida GOP chairman asks judge to toss charges".
"That 'is so untrue'"
"Advocates are not accepting explanations Florida legislators are giving for their rejection of federal grant money for a program aimed at curbing child abuse and neglect."
Florida policymakers have recently received scrutiny for rejecting home vising grants from the Affordable Care Act. The grants would have gone to Healthy Families Florida and Healthy Start. Both organizations provide home visiting services to at-risk families."Advocates contest claims that federal home visiting grants would lead to ‘duplicating services’".
Among the list of reasons legislators rejected the money is a fear that "by taking the federal funds, it would be duplicating services already in place with added administrative requirements and costs," according to Katie Betta, communications director for Speaker of the House Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
State Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, the chairman of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, echoed that sentiment in an interview with The Florida Independent. Hudson said there are already home visiting programs in the state, adding that if the state accepts the federal grants, it runs the risk of "duplicating services."
Judi Vitucci, president of the Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions, says that "is so untrue."
Country clubbers in a dither
"The U.S. Labor Department is raising the wages employers must pay foreign guest workers and is proposing other major changes that could diminish the number of foreign citizens imported to work in the hospitality industry in Palm Beach County. ... Local critics of the H-2B program say the resorts and country clubs are using the program to depress wages and save money." "U.S. tightens visa rules to give citizen applicants better chance against foreign guest workers".
"Not in the darkness of a closed room"
"The recent dispute over a cancelled appearance by Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, in an LGBT-friendly Broward County community has inspired the creation of a new organization, the Coalition for Fairness & Equality, and a new invitation to West 'to address the community in his own words, and meet with his constituency.'" "West kerfuffle inspires new group: Coalition for Fairness & Equality".
Florida's infamous robo-signing on 60 Minutes
"The CBS news show 60 Minutes will re-air a segment Sunday featuring a Palm Beach County homeowner fighting an allegedly fraudulent foreclosure that exposed the now infamous robo-signer Linda Green." "'60 Minutes' to re-air show featuring Palm Beach County foreclosure case".
Ricky blabs...does anyone care?
"Rick Scott said Friday that he would like to see the field of Republican presidential candidates expanded, and he praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry's ability to create jobs."
However, he stopped short of saying he'd support Perry, who is expected to announce soon whether he'll run for the White House."Fla. Gov. Scott wants larger presidential field". See also "Rick Scott likes Perry, but isn't endorsing".
Scott addressed Republican National Committee members attending the GOP's summer meetings in Tampa, where the 2012 presidential nominating convention will be held. He told the members he talks to Perry about every two weeks.
"All I think about every day is how I'm going to beat Rick Perry at job creation," Scott said.
Teabaggers call RPOFer a traitor
Freshman U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent "told residents in Zephyrhills and Dade City today that his vote to raise the debt ceiling limit was 'one of the most difficult of my life.'"
"The tea party has accused me of being a traitor because I voted to raise the debt ceiling," he said. "I served in law enforcement for 33 years. I'm not a traitor. Those types of words don't add to the substance of the debate.""Brooksville Republican takes heat over debt ceiling vote".
Rubio grubs for cash
"Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio has hopped on the PAC bandwagon. The Florida Republican filed paperwork this week with the Federal Election Commission to create Reclaim America PAC, joining other Senate tea-party favorites who have created similar political action committees to influence races and elect like-minded conservatives in the 2012 cycle." "Sen. Rubio launching a PAC".
Florida ranks in the bottom 20 percent nationally
Another fine Jebacy: "Florida faces a crisis in higher education, ranking in the bottom 20 percent nationally in the number of college degrees it awards.".
"Romney leading the pack in Florida"
"Mitt Romney leading the pack of GOP presidential candidates in Florida and depicted a wide-open Republican U.S. Senate primary as Plant City tree farmer Mike McCalister held a slim lead. Obama’s 44 percent approval was down from 51 percent in May after news that Osama bin Laden had been killed." "Poll: Romney has early lead in Florida GOP race".
When it comes to the Hispanic vote, "Florida says it all"
"Hispanics are the country's fastest-growing demographic, and Republicans and Democrats are jumping in to harness the vast potential. Florida says it all: Hispanic voters are predicted to top 1.6 million in 2012, a 34 percent increase in four years."
Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote nationwide in 2008 and captured 57 percent in Florida, where Hispanics have typically favored Republicans. "Sí, se puede," Obama shouted to a crowd of 600 who showed up to hear him in Kissimmee that year. "Yes, we can.""Obama, conservatives woo Hispanic vote as deciding factor in 2012".
Today there are about 138,000 more registered Hispanic Democrats than Republicans in Florida, with younger Cubans and Puerto Ricans making up a large share of the growth. (A substantial amount, 31 percent, of Hispanic voters are independent, more than any ethnic or racial group.)
But the GOP got the Hispanic vote in 2010, even as now-Gov. Rick Scott campaigned for tough immigration laws that many Hispanics found offensive. Democrats appeared to be taking past success for granted, only getting serious about outreach late in the campaign.
Think tank's leader steps down
"After facing an involuntary dismissal by the Collins Center board of trustees, Rod Petrey signed a separation agreement Friday and was immediately replaced as the think tank's president by former Miami-Dade County Manager Merrett Stierheim." "Collins Center's president agrees to step down".