"The parties involved in the lawsuit to block one of Florida’s 'Fair Districts' amendments from taking effect gather in a Miami courtroom at 10 a.m. [Friday] to present their arguments. At issue: Whether the U.S. Constitution forbids Florida voters from restricting how the state Legislature chooses to redraw congressional districts."
Friday’s hearing will feature the first oral arguments in the case brought by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, against Amendment 6, which 63 percent of Florida voters approved last year. Amendment 6 is one of the two so-called “Fair Districts” measures that supporters say will limit the Florida Legislature’s ability to draw district lines that favor incumbents and ensure one-party control."First real test of anti-Fair Districts lawsuit". See also "Congressional redistricting lawsuit in Miami federal court Friday". Related: "Odd couple of Floridians in Congress lead fight against redistricting amendment".
According to attorney Stephen Cody, who is representing Brown and Diaz-Balart, the U.S. Constitution grants the state Legislature the authority to draw districts however it likes. “The U.S. Constitution delegates to the state Legislature the power,” Cody says, “and what the state constitution did was to come in and say, in effect, ‘The U.S. Constitution gives the Legislature complete discretion. We’re going to take away some of that discretion.’”
In an April filing asking U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro to invalidate Amendment 6, Cody and lawyers representing the Florida House of Representatives (which is spending taxpayer dollars to fight Amendment 6) argued that the U.S. Constitution says that “election measures” are valid “only when passed ‘as part of the legislative process.’”
Race to the bottom
"Traditional schools across state push for same freedoms as charter schools".
J.D. Alexander sued for firing American citizens, hiring guest workers instead
"In the waning days of the 2011 legislative session, Sen. J.D. Alexander, one of the state's most powerful lawmakers, delivered an impassioned floor speech against a measure that would have required employers to check the immigration status of new hires."
Now Alexander, who owns a farm in Polk County, is facing a lawsuit from two farmworkers who say he violated federal law by firing American citizens and green card holders and replacing them with guest workers."State Sen. J.D. Alexander fired American citizens and green card holders, hired guest workers instead, lawsuit says".
Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, declined to comment for this story.
Sink stays in the game
"Alex Sink launches foundation, mum on possible 2014 run".
"Ploy to suppress participation of Democratic voters"
"Testifying in a congressional hearing Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson sharply condemned Florida's new election law as a ploy to suppress participation of Democratic voters."
Invoking the 2000 presidential election debacle, the Democrat said: "It was a painful experience and because of that, the state Legislature set about on a series of reforms. They made it easier to vote, they made it easier to register to vote. And they made it easier that someone would have the confidence that their vote was going to be counted as they intended. That has suddenly been reversed in the state of Florida.""U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson slams Florida voting law during congressional hearing".
The new law, pushed by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature and signed in May by Gov. Rick Scott, reduces early voting from 14 days to eight; eliminates early voting on the Sunday before the election; and imposes new registration requirements and shorter filing deadlines on third-party groups that register voters.
It also requires voters who move from one county to another to file a provisional ballot if they wait to update their voting address until Election Day.
"Round-up of media coverage of redistricting for 9/8".
West huffs and puffs
"After threatening to quit the Congressional Black Caucus over controversial remarks from colleagues about the tea party, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) says he’s staying aboard after all." "West to stay in Black Caucus".
Just let the boys down at the club decide ...
Kingsley Guy whines that "if ever there was a crowning example of the dangers of government by referendum, Florida's class-size amendment is it." "Education constitutional amendments a waste of money".
Scott shill defends "radically altered growth management law"
"The state's radically altered growth management law stood front and center Thursday as hundreds of planners attending a conference heard from the governor who signed it 25 years ago and the development lawyer hired by the current governor to overhaul it." "Florida Community Affairs chief defends growth law changes as Bob Graham assails them".
"We're talking about Chris Dorworth"
Scott Maxwell wonders "what kind of so-called 'public servant' would have the audacity to run for office while stiffing the very taxpayers he wants to represent? Well, how about a future speaker of the Florida House?"
Yes, the tale of one Central Florida politician — one who broke the rules, incurred a fine, refused to pay, ignored threats about docked pay and ultimately forced the state to turn to a collection agency — highlights a much bigger problem."Crackdown long overdue on Florida pols stiffing you" ("on Wednesday, I sent Dorworth a note, telling him I was going to write about his fine and asking why he hadn't paid. He didn't respond to me. But on Thursday — 11 months after he was first notified that he had violated Florida Statutes — he paid the 50 bucks.")
We're talking about Chris Dorworth.
That may not surprise you. The Lake Mary Republican, after all, has had more financial pitfalls and personal bumbling than the Everglades has gators — everything from missed mortgage payments and unpaid tolls to multimillion-dollar judgments and a suspended drivers license. (A 2010 disclosure that showed Dorworth had monthly mortgage payments of $9,700 — and a monthly income of only $2,700 — told most people all they needed to know.)
But this isn't about Dorworth. Not just him, anyway.
Obama's proposal "particularly helpful in Florida"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "Obama recommended extending and broadening the payroll tax cut for workers as part of a package costing $447 billion, more than half the size of the original stimulus package and likely too large for Republicans to stomach. He also would extend unemployment benefits that are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. With consumer confidence at historic lows, those efforts would help put a bit more money into Americans' pockets and increase their purchasing power. But they would not directly put more people back to work."
More encouraging is the president's proposal to spend money to repair 35,000 schools and build transportation projects. That would be particularly helpful in Florida, where the Legislature failed to provide any money this year for public school maintenance. Even Republican Gov. Rick Scott has seen the wisdom of advancing road projects to create jobs and take advantage of lower costs. But at $140 billion, this portion is too small even though Republicans, who inaccurately label the first stimulus as a failure, can be expected to reflexively reject it."Obama's uphill battle".
"Massive bonus to managed care plans, out-of-state executives and investors"
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy reports that "The Medicaid legislation passed during the 2011 session aims to expand Florida's experimental managed care plan. One of the most controversial issues debated was the question of what standards should be used to regulate HMO profits."
The choice selected by the legislature—called “achieved savings rebate”—delivers a massive bonus to managed care plans and their frequently out-of-state executives and investors, at the expense of the most vulnerable patients and Florida taxpayers."Medicaid Plan Increases HMO Profits". See read the report here: "Bogus Bonus: Legislature’s Choice of Accountability Mechanisms Delivers Unearned Billions to Medicaid HMOs" (.pdf).
The option not selected—“medical loss ratio”—would have reduced HMO profits and provided more accountability that has been lacking for Medicaid managed care in Florida.
See you in Havana
"Expanded Cuba travel begins from Tampa".
Scott putting conservative agenda ahead of residents' needs
"Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature have rejected or declined to pursue more than $106 million in federal grant money and returned another $4.5 million for programs linked to federal health care initiatives, including cancer prevention, leading critics to say he is putting his conservative agenda ahead of residents' needs."
Scott ordered state agencies to reject any money tied to President Barack Obama's health care plan, which Florida is challenging in court, but Scott kept more than $13 million for a four-year abstinence education grant and for another program coordinating background checks for long-term care workers."Florida passes up $100 million in federal grant money".
The figures, which are totals of funds that could have been obtained over five years, were provided by the governor's office.
"Friday Morning Reads".
"Turf wars between universities"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Florida's 11 public universities have suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding cuts in recent years, and they've been raising their tuitions by 15 percent a year to make up the difference. They shouldn't be wasting any money duplicating each other's efforts." "Control turf wars between universities".
Teabagger carnies on way to Florida
"Texas Gov. Rick Perry's description of Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme' and "monstrous lie" for younger workers drew more fire from Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney on Thursday as the field of GOP hopefuls prepares to visit senior-heavy Florida for two more nationally televised debates." "More Perry-Romney Social Security fireworks expected at Florida GOP debates".
"Republican Party of Florida chairman David Bitner dies".
PSC hires ethically challenged executive director
"Braulio Baez, who served on the PSC from 2000 to 2006, agreed in 2007 to a public censure and to pay a $1,169 fine for accepting a dinner from a utility representative. PSC Chairman Art Graham cited the ethics violation in voting against Baez but other commissioners said he had dealt with the issue during an interview." "Split Public Service Commission hires Baez as new executive director".
"New plans for Everglades restoration"
"U.S. Fish & Wildlife announces new plans for Everglades restoration".
Nan Rich swings, Andy Gardiner whines
"With buzz growing that she is considering challenging Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston came out swinging this week at the redistricting process -- leading her Republican counterpart in the Florida Senate, Andy Gardiner of Orlando, to fire back." "Senate Leaders Andy Gardiner and Nan Rich Spar Over Redistricting". More: "Sen. Gardiner to Nan Rich: ‘You can’t rewrite history’".