"Trade organizations around the nation, including several that represent Florida firms, are suing the U.S. Department of Labor, demanding that it not raise the wages that must be paid to thousands of foreign guest workers imported every year."
With the national unemployment rate topping 9 percent and job creation for U.S. citizens now the top political issue, the importation of seasonal workers is a heated issue. The outcome of the case could affect how many foreign workers companies are able to afford and how many of those jobs might end up going to local workers."Industry associations sue Labor Department over requiring more pay for imported workers".
The first hearing in the case was scheduled for federal court in Louisiana today, but it was postponed Thursday while officials decide whether to move the proceedings to another jurisdiction. New higher wages were to take effect Sept. 30, but that also was pushed back, to Nov. 30.
Plaintiffs are asking for a preliminary injunction, or for new wage rules to be thrown out altogether.
The outcome will affect country clubs, private clubs and hotels in Palm Beach County, which imports more workers on unskilled labor (H-2B) visas than any Florida county. Last year, 1,552 such visas were approved for local hospitality industry employers.
"We definitely support the suit," said David Semadeni of the Palm Beach County Hotel and Lodging Association.
Florida Republicans: a legacy of failure
"Floridians had the biggest drop in income among residents in any state other than Nevada during the past three years of a recession and anemic economic recovery, according to Census data released Thursday."
The median income of Floridians dropped by more than 7 percent from almost $48,000 in 2007 to more than $44,000 last year."Census finds income drops for Floridians". See also "Census shows South Florida household incomes plummeted since 2007".
Only Nevada had a bigger drop in income, 7.3 percent. But Nevada residents were earning more than Floridians to begin with -- $55,000 in 2007 and $51,000 in 2010.
"Florida’s Tax System Hurts the Middle Class"
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy's latest report: "How Florida’s Tax System Hurts the Middle Class (.pdf)".
Scott promises jobs, delivers "mass layoffs"
"Florida second in nation in mass layoffs in August".
"St. Pete Times Morning Score — Special 'Presidency 5' edition"
"Good morning from Orlando, the center of the political universe for the next three days." "The POLITICO/St. Pete Times Morning Score — Special 'Presidency 5' edition". Related: "Reporter’s notebook: Presidency 5".
"State senator introduces 2012 session’s first anti-abortion bill".
Negron wigs out
"During a committee hearing yesterday, GOP members expressed outrage with the federal government for its request that the state include a 'medical loss ratio' in its Medicaid Reform Pilot."
The lack of a medical loss ratio has been one of the major complaints about the existing Medicaid Reform Pilot programs, active in five Florida counties since 2006. During public forums a few months ago, the Agency for Health Care Administration heard numerous complaints from residents about the absence of the standard in the Legislature’s plans."GOP lawmakers angered over federal request for profit cap in state Medicaid reform". Related: "Feds to state: Medical loss ratios are coming to Florida".
GOP members on the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations said they feel like the federal government is strong-arming the state on the issue.
Negron was particularly upset that Texas has not yet been required to have a medical loss ratio in its Medicaid overhaul plans.
Negron asked Senior, “If [the feds] are going to insist on the 85/15, are they then going to agree to continue the Texas model in Texas — because Texas has been allowed to have a shared savings model for several years.”
State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Destin, said that there should should be “equal justice under the law.” He even chastised members of the Legislature that have asked the feds to turn down the state’s Medicaid plan in its entirety. He later jokingly referred to the “folks in Washington” as “North Koreans.”
Senior told the committee that the federal government would have the final say. Negron accused the federal government of “commandeering” the state’s budget.
“Essentially the way this works [is], we are beggars,” Negron said. “They are dictating unilateral terms of surrender. They are commandeering our budget. We are supposed to be business partners. We are paying a little less than half of the bill; they are paying a little more than half of the bill. So, there should be some parity under federalism, and there is not.”
Negron added that this is why he “still supports” having the state run its own Medicaid program.
Listen to Vern's voicemails
"Two voicemails left by Rep. Vern Buchanan for a former business partner and obtained by The Florida Independent shed more light on the ongoing dispute between the two men over who initiated what the Federal Election Commission has called an 'extensive and ongoing scheme' to funnel 'secret, illegal contributions' to Buchanan’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns." "Listen: Buchanan voicemails shed light on campaign reimbursement dispute".
Carroll claims Christians persecuted
"Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll gave a rip-roaring, 6½-minute speech Thursday that could substitute as a Sunday morning sermon at most any evangelical church."
Carroll described an America where Christians are politically persecuted for their beliefs. She asked whether anyone would recognize Jesus if he appeared."Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll says Christians persecuted politically".
Wearing sandals and hefting a wooden crosses
Nancy Smith writes about her fellow right wingers at the Republican convention in Orlando, beginning with a fellow who "trudged up the long steps to Presidency 5 wearing sandals and hefting a wooden cross."
There is something delicious, something exotic about hanging out this week at the Orange County Convention Center with the passionate delegates of Presidency 5. More than 3,000 Republicans, some with a taste for tea, came from towns and cities across Florida this week to join the biggest event in the Republican Party of Florida's calendar, the conventional, presidential debate and straw poll. More are expected this weekend."Passion High Among Delegates of Presidency 5".
"All eyes are on Rick Perry and Mitt Romney as Republican contenders debate in Orlando. This debate could put further distance among the leaders and the rest of the pack." "Rivals rev up debate". See also "All you need to know about the convention" and "Rick Perry Takes Hits in GOP Debate". More: "GOP Hopefuls Kick Off P-5 With Pre-Debate Rally" and "Fact checking the debate".
"Following the Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate held in Orlando Thursday night, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement...." "Democrats chime in on Republican primary debate in Orlando".
Brodeur living in another country ... "Delusionstan"
Scott Maxwell takes down one "Jason Brodeur, the freshman legislator recently went on a rather bizarre rant against the state's tourism industry."
After Florida hoteliers asked online travel agencies like Expedia and Travelocity to pay the same taxes they do, Brodeur went off the deep end, saying he was "disgusted" with this "supposedly pro-business group.""A scary mind".
Brodeur then asked if the leaders of the state's key industry if they had "just moved here from some socialist country." ...
Maybe Brodeur's the one living in another country … namely Delusionstan.
"An inquisition gussied up under American flags"
Daniel Ruth: "For death penalty supporters, the Davis case should give pause."
Because of the work of organizations such as the Innocence Project, 17 death row inmates have been exonerated through the application of DNA testing."Vengeance survives as justice slowly perishes".
Innocent people have been condemned to death. In all probability, innocent people have been put to death. That's not a judicial system. It's an inquisition gussied up under American flags, impressive Corinthian courthouse columns and hollow platitudes like "Equal Justice Under The Law."
For state legislatures contemplating abolishing the death penalty, the Davis case becomes exhibit A, raising a simple question.
Aren't we better than the travesty of state-sanctioned vigilante justice meted out to Troy Davis?
On Wednesday night at least, the answer was: apparently not.
Rene Garcia "loved it"
"State Sen. Rene Garcia spent his summer vacation doing research — at one of the World's largest gambling resorts in Singapore."
"I loved it,'' said Garcia, a Hialeah Republican and a likely "yes" vote for legislation to bring Las Vegas-style casinos to South Florida. He spent one week and more than $6,100 of his own money to make the lengthy trip to Asia in August to experience Genting's flagship casino."Legislator tours Singapore casino, readies push to bring one to Florida". See also: "Fla. House Speaker remains skeptical about casinos". But see "Vegas-style casino bill could get Senate vote, Haridopolos says".
Garcia produced receipts that show he was charged $4,398 in airfare and $1,765 for his hotel at Genting's Resorts World at Sentosa, where he stayed Aug. 6-11.
Garcia was one of several business and community leaders invited to visit the company's sprawling theme park and casino resort in the heart of Singapore. Legislators are prohibited by state ethics laws from accepting gifts and trips, civic leaders are not.
Latvala puts his foot down
"House attempts on the last day of the 2011 session to insert state law changes into budget conforming bills angered Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg to the point he staged a counterattack in direct defiance of his party's leadership. This coming session, Latvala said, he wants all substantive bills to go through the committee process in the proper fashion." "Shades of Latvala revolt color new committee tussle over expressway authority plan".
"Gaetz sets out firm guidelines as redistricting panel starts process".
This ... from the man who plead the fifth 75 times
"A prison inmate’s father told Gov. Rick Scott that she’ll die if not released soon so she can get better treatment for leukemia, but the governor denied clemency in her case as well as most of the other 99 he considered Wednesday. Scott, with Florida Cabinet approval, did grant a pardon, though, to a man who embezzled money from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office." "Scott won't release inmate with leukemia".
"Recommended Reading for Friday, September 23".
"Democratic members of the Education Committee raise concerns that pay raises tied to student scores will lead educators to teach solely for the tests. Department of Education officials rebut that argument." "Putting teacher merit pay in practice draws House panel questions".
"The House Select Committee on Water Policy is advised to avoid a situation that gives water-use priority to public utilities because it could leave farmers in an untenable situation seeking unaffordable alternatives to groundwater pumping. Also, Audubon of Florida urges revisiting water district property tax cuts." "Agriculture official warns House panel that water wars possible".
Leaning toward earlier primary vote
"In the runup to Friday's meeting, committee members deciding on the date say the state may gain more influence in picking a Republican presidential candidate via an earlier vote than by having its full slate of delegates at the convention next summer." "Florida's primary election panel members lean toward earlier vote date".
Bondi letting companies slide?
"Rep. Rick Kriseman says Department of Revenue and Attorney General Pam Bondi are letting such companies slide by not enforcing sales tax statutes that are imposed on small businesses." "Online travel businesses should pay all their sales tax, House Democrats say".
"And by the way ... trailers???"
Scott Maxwell is all over "Florida's crazy new gag law — the one that tries to ban doctors from freely speaking about guns with their patients."
In response, the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said he filed his bill to protect "young mothers who are scared to death that if they admit they have a rifle in their trailer that the Department of Children and Families will come take their baby because their physician is demanding to know if they own a gun.""Child-stealing state?".
Wow. That does sound scary.
It also sounds like fiction.
I asked Brodeur if he could cite a single instance — ever — of the state seizing a child because of a physician reporting a legally owned firearm. He could not.
Neither could state officials.
It says a lot about this fringy movement that their best argument is pure fiction.
(And by the way … trailers???)
Good luck with that
"Mike Hansen tells two House subcommittees that his department isn't able to provide services based on the amount of money it's getting from the Legislature." "Disabled-aid agency's new chief questions whether funding can sustain its mission".
Say what? UF opposes fertilizer restrictions
"Business groups have been pushing for legislation that would prevent local governments from restricting fertilizer use. The Sierra Club wants UF's Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences to turn over records relating to the institute's opposition to local fertilizer restrictions. The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association could push for restrictive legislation again in 2012." "Sierra Club sues University of Florida for records related to fertilizer dispute".
"Whether it's in a crowded field or one-on-one, Rick Perry is the man to beat in the Republican Party's race for the White House, a new poll shows."
The Quinnipiac poll differs from a survey released Wednesday from a Gainesville-based firm, War Room Logistics, that found likely Republican voters were evenly split between Perry and Romney, who also appeared to be a better general-election candidate in a race against Obama."Poll: Rick Perry surges as Barack Obama's approval ratings nose-dive". See also ""New Q Poll shows Perry leading Romney in Florida and "Florida now Perry country?"
The key difference between the two polls: War Room Logistics surveyed likely voters while Quinnipiac surveyed registered voters — a more common polling technique months before an election.
As voters focus on the Republican primary and Obama's job-performance, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has quietly remained in decent shape, according to the Quinnipiac poll. Unlike Obama, a plurality of Florida voters say Nelson deserves a third term, and he'd beat an unnamed Republican challenger by a 43-34 percent spread.
Who will that challenger be? It's unclear.
Nearly 60 percent of GOP voters are undecided. Right now, former Sen. George LeMieux leads the pack with 17 percent, followed by Mike McCalister (11 percent) and Adam Hasner and Craig Miller, who are stuck at 5 percent.
Crazy train heads to Daytona
"The agenda for this year’s Tea Party Florida Convention lists Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pat Bondi as slated to appear at a dinner event with a “life member” of the radical John Birch Society."
The event, held in Daytona Beach Nov. 4-6, will feature G. Edward Griffin, billed as the “author of The Creature from Jekyll Island.” Griffin is an anti-Federal Reserve, anti-United Nations and anti-communist conspiracy theorist who describes himself as a “life member” of the John Birch Society."Florida Tea Party Convention agenda lists Scott, Bondi, John Birch Society ‘life member’".
The John Birch Society is an infamous radical anti-communist group. Griffin defended his membership in the group in a 2007 post featured on the website of an organization called Freedom Force International. According to the site, Freedom Force is “a network of men and women from all parts of the world who are concerned over loss of personal liberty and expansion of government power.”
Dem pushes SoFla delegation to take position on immigration
"State Rep. Luis Garcia Jr., D-Miami, called on state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, to schedule a Miami-Dade legislative delegation meeting to consider taking a unified position on immigration." "South Florida Democrat calls for legislative delegation to take position on immigration".
Banks took Florida's pension fund for a ride
"Florida's giant pension fund took a $30 million hit from 2001-2010 because of lax oversight by a state agency and questionable trading practices by two large banks hired to safeguard the fund, records show."
A Florida lawsuit accusing one of the banks of shortchanging the state's pension fund was filed last month, and similar cases have been filed in California and Virginia."Florida pension funds take $30 million hit as big banks profit".
"What we are seeing across the country is evidence that these big banks took pension funds for a ride, hiding exorbitant markups from them and pocketing billions of dollars in unearned profits in the process," said financial fraud investigator Harry Markopolos, who is helping to build the case against the banks.