"Willie Sutton robbed banks because 'that's where the money is.' Sometimes it seems as if Florida legislators head back to the Capitol for committee meetings for the same reason."
A captive audience of lobbyists is simply too much for many lawmakers to resist. Here it is September, with the next election more than a year away, and fundraising is approaching a fever pitch, with a long list of $500-a-person "receptions" this week."Money flows in Tallahassee".
Taxpayers are paying for all 160 lawmakers to attend an abbreviated three-day "week" of House and Senate committee sessions. As the afternoons wind down, though, Adams Street teems with commerce — the political kind.
Sorry Ricky ... more regulation needed
"Legislative report: State regulators need to shut down dangerous assisted living facilities — and stop bargaining down punishments."
With Florida’s elderly population expected to boom in the next two decades, state regulators must crack down on rogue assisted living facilities by shutting down homes where residents die from abuse, slapping harsher fines on places that repeatedly break the law, and boosting the qualifications of people who run ALFs, a legislative study says"Lawmakers: Regulators need to crack down on ALFS".
A report released by the state Senate calls for sweeping changes in oversight of ALFs, asking lawmakers to improve a state system that’s woefully underfunded, allows caregivers to work with “inadequate training” and relies on “deficient’’ enforcement to protect thousands of frail residents.
Fla-baggers in a dither
"The head of a tea party coalition in northwest Florida and the head of the Tea Party of Florida don't often agree on much, but they both are miffed at Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida GOP."
When the Florida Legislature passed and Scott signed a law that bans candidates for public office from switching parties, they effectively iced out many tea party brethren and registered "independents" seeking to run next year in newly drawn districts, said Henry Kelley, the president of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party and a potential candidate for a Republican House seat representing Crestview. ..."Tea party leaders upset about Florida's new law banning party switches".
Doug Guetzloe, the head of the Tea Party of Florida agrees. The onetime GOP political consultant from Orlando has become a thorn in the side of the Republican Party of Florida as he sought designation for a rival party, named the Tea Party of Florida. Kelley and other tea party activists also fought Guetzloe's attempts to create the separate party.
But Guetzloe recruited 21 candidates to run under the Tea Party of Florida banner. In November 2010, they collected a total of 310,000 votes, despite attempts to throw them off the ballot.
"Lawmakers want redistricting proposal by November". See also "Weatherford: We want redistricting options by November" and "Filing deadline set for House redistricting committee". Related: "Palm Beach County cities want to be kept whole during redistricting".
Stop the madness
"Privatizing state-run higher education, airports, seaports and toll roads were among suggestions proposed Monday by members of the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force." "Efficiency Panel Floats Privatization Ideas".
Sugar gets what it wants
"How Big Sugar gets its way".
Sinkhole Hike Sunk
"State insurance regulators late Monday rejected the basis for Citizens' sinkhole rate hike, slashing an increase that would have seen some Florida homeowners facing premium increases that topped $5,500." "Citizens Sinkhole Hike Request Sunk". See also "Citizens sinkhole rate increase slashed to 32.8%".
No Casinos Inc. revived
"The full-throttled push to bring casino gambling to South Florida has prompted the head of the No Casinos political committee to resurrect his organization to oppose expanded gambling in Florida. John Sowinski, an Orlando-based public relations consultant and president of the 'No Casinos Inc.,' activated the dormant organization late last week as legislators announced they are drafting a bill to offer three Las Vegas-style casino licenses in Miami Dade and Broward as part of a push to bring resort-style casinos to Florida." "No Casinos group re-emerges to fight new legislation".
Gaetz. The best they can do?
"GOP state senators choose Don Gaetz as their next leader". See also "Don Gaetz to Keep Florida Senate on 'Right' Course" and "Sen. Don Gaetz named Senate President-Designate as GOP elite look on".
Union haters dancing in the streets
The union haters on the Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial board gloat over "voters in Hollywood [have] approved sweeping changes in the city's pension benefits for police, firefighters and municipal employees. The referendum questions on pension reform for public safety employees and general employees were approved by about 55 percent of the voters who turned out for the special election." "Pension vote a sign that change is on the way".
"Casino work fits nicely with the new Florida"
Fred Grimm: "The Genting resort, designed to lure the world’s high rollers to South Florida, only confirms Miami’s niche in the new global economy. We suck up to the rich."
This is what we do. Our plan. Our future in a high-tech world. We work for tips."Making Miami the capital of tokes".
Genting promises to hire some 30,000 locals for its downtown resort, which includes four hotels, 50 restaurants, 12 swimming pools, condos, a lagoon, beach and waterfall, but the best jobs, of course, would come with the casino not yet allowed by the state of Florida.
The state Legislature undoubtedly will approve so-called “destination casinos,” because, well, that’s the only $3 billion job plan around. (Unless the governor, busy jettisoning rules meant to contain suburban sprawl, can conjure up another housing bubble.)
Besides, casino work, no degree required, fits nicely with the new Florida the Legislature and governor are creating with such deep and devastating cuts to the state’s public education budget. The same Legislature that wouldn’t consider raising taxes was happy to jack up tuition at state universities (15 percent a year, for three straight years) while cutting the Bright Futures Scholarships by 20 percent.
Florida obviously doesn’t plan a future economy based on robotics or genetics or nanotechnology or software engineering or microbiology or solar power or that other brainy stuff. But a cheap high school education’s plenty good enough to land work as a croupier or blackjack dealer or parking valet or hotel maid.
The swing state, yet again
Waldo Proffitt is "more and more frequently coming across stories in newspapers and on television that put 'Florida' and '2012 presidential election' in the first sentence."
That figures. Florida will be the first big state with a significant number of votes in a GOP primary early in the 2012 election."Moving on to the general election, Florida will be one of the four largest states in terms of electoral votes. California will have 55, Texas 38, and Florida and New York, each 29."
The Associated Press, which services hundreds of newspapers, recently sent out an article which said it's quite plausible that front-runners Rick Perry and Mitt Romney could roughly divide the first four contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. In that case, Florida could prove to be a virtual tie-breaker in a state so big and so central to presidential elections that the loser would have to struggle to stay afloat. ...
... the Republican National Committee wants only the four states mentioned above to vote before March 6. States that vote earlier run the risk of losing half their delegates, as Florida did in 2008. Florida Republicans decided then that the risk was worth taking then and likely will do so again.
Florida will be the only one of the four largest states where the outcome is in doubt, so we are in for 14 months of pretty serious campaigning. ...Much more here: "Florida up for grabs in 2012". Related: "GOP underdogs retreat to early states".
Florida is a swing state. There are about a half-million more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, but Florida Democrats are somewhat more conservative than the nationwide norm. That, plus a considerable amount of gerrymandering, has produced Republican majorities in both houses of the Florida Legislature as well as the federal House of Representatives. But there is no gerrymandering a presidential election. It's the statewide totals that count. ...
My feeling is that Florida Republicans are better organized and more supportive of their party than Florida Democrats, and, all else being equal, likely to get a larger percentage of their members out to vote.
All else was not equal in 2008 and Florida voted for Obama and may well do the same in 2012 unless Republicans can make a persuasive case that it is in the enlightened self-interest of Floridians to vote for the GOP candidate.
Perry's Florida jam
Mike Thomas: "Normally, voters throw out the bum presiding over a bad economy. But things are so historically bad that shell-shocked seniors may cling to President Barack Obama like a security blanket if they see Republicans threatening their entitlements." "Seniors' depression over economy may bode ill for Perry".
"Florida's move could set off a chaotic scramble"
The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Here we go again. Florida lawmakers are picking a fight with national party bosses, just as they did four years ago, by scheduling the state's presidential primary earlier than party rules permit. And the bosses are again threatening to penalize the state by stripping it of delegates to the national nominating convention. This would really be a punishment for Florida voters, whose clout would be correspondingly diminished."
Florida is headed for a showdown with the Republican National Committee, which could find itself in the awkward position of penalizing the state that's hosting its nominating convention in Tampa. The state also would be facing sanctions from the Democratic National Committee, as it did four years ago, if Barack Obama wasn't the automatic nominee."Don't cut into line on presidential primaries".
Florida's move could set off a chaotic scramble for the front of the nominating calendar among other states also determined to maximize their influence. Arizona already has announced it will hold its primary on Feb. 28. At least three other states — Michigan, Missouri and Georgia — are considering their own early dates.
The supposedly "independent" Sun Sentinel editorial board has the identical editorial: "Florida, don't jump GOP primary line".
"Most Florida workers and small businesses" win under Obama plan
"President Barack Obama's plan to cut deficits and create jobs, which he submitted to Congress on Monday, would impact Florida more than most states because of its millions of senior citizens and its high 10.7 percent unemployment rate. The president's plan calls for $1.5 trillion of new taxes as part of a 10-year deal to reduce the deficit by more than $3 trillion. He would cut Medicare by $248 billion and Medicaid by $72 billion."
WINNERS: Social Security recipients and most Medicare patients."More Florida winners than losers under Obama plan". Related: "Congressman Deutch urges Obama jobs plan passage, to fix schools, employ workers".
LOSERS: Affluent Medicare recipients and some health care providers.
WINNERS: Most Florida workers and small businesses.
The plan would cut the 6.2 percent tax for Social Security/Medicare by half on the first $5 million in payroll. The idea is to put more money in the hands of workers and businesses to boost the economy.
LOSERS: Big businesses and affluent Americans.
The plan would limit deductions for families making more than $250,000 a year and close "loopholes" and special-interest tax breaks for some businesses. The tax cuts created in 2001 and 2003 would expire for upper-income earners, affecting an estimated 3 percent of households. ...
"I will fight these wrong-minded policies and any bill that comes to the Senate that spends money we do not have or raises taxes to pay for more spending — but I cannot do it alone," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a fund-raising letter on Monday.
WINNERS: Some of the unemployed, teachers and veterans.
LOSERS: Some farmers or growers who rely on federal crop subsidies, which would be slashed.
Moderates in the Republican party have "essentially vanished"
William March: "Some experts say a longstanding split between moderates and conservatives in the [Republican] Party, intensified by the influence of the tea party movement, is playing out in the nomination battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Others say that battle already has been won, and that the influence of moderates in the party has essentially vanished." "Perry vs. Romney shows split in GOP ideology".
Huntsman outa here
"Huntsman keeps fleeing Florida".
Another TaxWatch yawner
The Tampa Tribune editorial board drools over another TaxWatch yawner: "Cutting costs, better government".
"Rare water dispute"
"At issue is a proposed permit for Bay County to pump up to 30 million gallons per day from land in Bay County owned by The St. Joe Co. Washington County and the James L. Knight Trust, which owns 55,000 acres in the area, are opposing the permit. On Wednesday, the House Select Committee on Water Policy hears from a panel on water-use permitting statewide." "Hearing begins in rare water dispute in northwest Florida".
Editors make a silly point
The Daytona Beach News-Journal editors whine that "you know you have too many regulations when your state is being sued by interior designers." "Florida needs to remove unneeded business hurdles".
The nerve of these servants ... standing up to their masters
"School bus drivers upset over beverage policy".