Florida's right wingers gloat that
progressives' marginal results in the Badger State -- the cradle of collective bargaining -- should be a cautionary tale for Florida Democrats, and may further embolden conservatives.
"Wisconsin Recall Votes a 'Right' Sign for Florida".
Watch for Florida Republicans to take another run at "paycheck protection" to derail automatic dues-collections by unions.
Last week, at a national education-reform competition, Patricia Levesque, head of Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, may have tipped the state GOP's hand when she declared, "We'll tackle collective bargaining next year."
Business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, have accused the Florida Education Association and other public-employee unions of using "Wisconsin-style" tactics of busing in demonstrators from out of state to pressure lawmakers.
Unions deny the charges, but left-wing adjuncts such as Progress Florida continue to organize protests and stir the social media pot with Twitter tags like #ItGetsWorseFL -- an obvious play on the LGBT anti-bullying "ItGetsBetter" campaign.
Whether the Left's ad-hominem demonizing of Gov. Rick Scott will be any more effective than the quixotic efforts to take down Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker remains to be seen. For the next 15 months, Obama and the Democrats appear to have bigger and more immediate electoral challenges of their own.
Badly outvoted at the Florida Legislature, reactionary liberals will look to unelected judges to impose a "progressive" agenda over the duly enacted reforms of the people's popularly elected representatives.
"Florida leaders defend deterioration of state's waterways"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "As Florida leaders continue to defend the deterioration of the state's waterways, the federal government continues to clean them up."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's announcement last week that it would spend $100 million to buy development rights on working agricultural land north of the Everglades is a boon for the environment and tourism. It is also an important step to providing South Florida with the drinking water the region will need to grow.
"Feds step up to save Everglades, economy".
The money will be open to farmers and ranchers in four counties — Highlands, Glades, Hendry and Okeechobee — in exchange for them providing conservation easements to 24,000 acres of farmland.
Battle for Florida's crucial Hispanic voters
"The presidential election is 15 months away, but Republicans and Democrats already are going after the Hispanic vote with a zeal usually reserved for the final stretch. In late June, Crossroad GPS, a Republican organization, launched an estimated $5 million TV campaign targeted at Hispanics in Florida and other battleground states with large Latino populations." "Parties battle early for Florida's crucial Hispanic vote".
PolitiFact Florida decided to fact-check [Republican National Committee chairman Reince] Priebus' claim about national political conventions to see whether they are indeed four times a Super Bowl: "GOP convention's impact on Tampa not likely to be a 'Super Bowl times 4'".
"Super-conservative Svengali manages to sway state lawmakers"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Everyone knows what the legislators who run Tallahassee generally want: lower taxes, fewer regulations, weaker unions and a state that leans right on social issues like abortion and immigration."
How they get there is another story. Ask legislators during their campaigns which bills they're planning to write and often you hear, "I'm still working out the details."
"Lawmakers should open up about ALEC".
How, then, do Florida's Republican legislators manage to craft specific bills that would, for instance, make it tougher for labor unions to collect dues?
Or would limit the amount of money the state of Florida can collect, based on population growth and inflation?
Go ask ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a big business-backed nonprofit that drafts model legislation, which is then offered to legislators in Florida and other states.
Ask ALEC, which last week hosted scores of legislators at its 38th annual conference in New Orleans, for details about who attended. For copies of legislation it's hawking. For answers about how the super-conservative Svengali manages to sway state lawmakers nationwide.
Only you're not likely to get them. ALEC's agenda practically mirrors that of Tallahassee's ruling majority. But ALEC keeps secret from the public the policy drafts it hands lawmakers, who then turn the drafts into bills back home.
Talk about influence. Future House speakers Will Weatherford and Chris Dorworth registered for the conference. ALEC's fingerprints were all over Dorworth's bill prohibiting state employers from withholding union dues and requiring members to approve using dues for political campaigns.
Meanwhile, tighter state spending caps, whose fate voters will determine in a 2012 ballot, resemble ALEC recommendations. As does the coming privatization of state prisons that would house 20 percent of Florida's inmates.
"They got theirs, so what do they care?"
Tom Tryon: "Florida has the 48th-worst ranking in the United States for the percentage of people under 65 without health-care insurance."
Yet the state's elected officials — including representatives, senators, the governor and members of the Cabinet — as well as top management have easy access to taxpayer-subsidized insurance.
Much more here: "Lawmakers keep health care to themselves".
Even more egregious: Legislators, most of whom hold other jobs, and the highest-paid officials not only pay a pittance in premiums, they pay far less than rank-and-file employees.
So, maybe the efforts by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature to rebuff a federal program that would expand access to insurance in the state go beyond partisan or philosophical differences.
There are a lot reasons for Florida's ranking: a preponderance of jobs that don't include health-care benefits; relatively high rates of poverty; reasonable concerns about the costs of expanding coverage through the public sector.
But when it comes to that 21 percent who lack health-care insurance, perhaps the lack of urgency in Tallahassee can be explained by thusly: They got theirs, so what do they care?
"Political stories you should be reading"
Travis Pillow's "Six in the Morning: A six-pack of infobits you might have missed". Kathleen Haughney's "Monday morning reads: Five political stories you should be reading".
"Companies in the prison business that make substantial campaign contributions to legislators"
Bill Cotterell: "In the 2011 legislative session, budget managers decided to privatize operation of state prisons in the Department of Corrections Region IV. The policy probably originated with GEO Group or Corrections Corporation of America, or one of the other companies in the prison business that make substantial campaign contributions to legislators."
[T]he governor and Legislature were determined to move forward with the privatization. Not even a deputy secretary saying it "may cripple the agency" gave them any cause to pause."Privatization's $25 million glitch".
"Reform the state pension system: check. Drug-test welfare applicants: check. Cut taxes and government spending: check and check. Still, Scott has also made numerous course corrections along the way." "Scott's promises: Mostly delivered but some course corrections".
Taxpayer funded coverage of the governor to continue
"When Republican Rick Scott vetoed $4.8 million for Florida public broadcasting stations, program supporters mocked the governor as a penny-pinching enemy of Big Bird and other familiar PBS figures."
Despite the veto, Scott did allow $2.8 million to flow to WFSU-TV and radio in with the bulk of the money maintaining the Florida Channel, which features live coverage of the governor, Cabinet, legislature and state Supreme Court."PBS stations expecting a reprieve from state budget cuts face another shutout".
"Seismic shifts for Florida's public schools"
"[T]he 2011-12 school year will be anything but routine, with seismic shifts for those who work and study in Florida's public schools." "Seismic changes, challenges define new school year".
Attacks on Nelson gettin' desperate
"With many Floridians unsure about Democratic incumbent, pack of Republicans look to portray him on their own terms". "GOP Hopefuls Sharpen Their Attacks Against Bill Nelson". Related: "No clear GOP candidate emerging to challenge Nelson".
Florida stops weekly tests for bacteria at 58 beaches
"To save more than $500,000 a year, Florida health officials will stop weekly tests for bacteria at 58 beaches statewide, including Patrick Air Force Base." "State limits beach water sampling".
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, and chairman of the House transportation committee, "suggested the authority sell parts or all of its 105-mile system and use the proceeds to pay for the parkway." "Stars must align for Wekiva Parkway without higher tolls".
"Rep. Rouson awaits redrawn district".
"Reflection of how deeply the Florida Legislature is in the pockets of special interests"
The Tampa Tribune editorial board: "It is a reflection of how deeply the Florida Legislature is in the pockets of special interests that lawmakers have continually sought to eliminate protections for assisted-living facility residents, though abuse is widespread." "Ignoring the vulnerable".
Related: "Are poor suffering because of cuts at Jackson Health System?".
"While Other Public Schools Moan Over Cuts, Charter Campuses Expand".