Frank Cerabino reports that "Florida's new voter suppression laws have claimed their first victim."
Jill Cicciarelli, a high school civics teacher in New Smyrna Beach, has been nabbed for the terrible offense of registering 50 of her students to vote."The laws passed by the Republican-led state legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott were promoted as a way to prevent voter fraud."
Cicciarelli, like many Floridians, was not aware of the obstacles put in place by the Florida Legislature to suppress new voter registration.
She found out the hard way this month when Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall forwarded the teacher's name to the Florida Secretary of State's Office for engaging in unlawful voter registration. ...
Cicciarelli had no idea she became "a third-party voter registration organization" when she passed out registration applications to her high school seniors at the beginning of the school year and then delivered a completed stack of them to the local elections office weeks later - long after the 48-hour deadline had passed.
It meant she could face a $1,000 fine for late submissions, and an additional $1,000 for not registering as a third-party organization. The state could further prosecute her for a third-degree felony if it found the noncompliance was willful and she could be barred from registering future voters.
These are the new laws that have persuaded the League of Women Voters to not risk trying to register new voters in Florida anymore.
McFall, who is a board member of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, calls herself "Republican and proud of it." But she isn't proud of the new law, which she sees as a Republican effort to suppress the vote in the state. It's a way to keep groups such as ACORN from registering Democrats in Florida, she said."Civics teacher tried to register kids to vote - and broke law".
"This is a partisan piece of legislation," she said. "It's not done to stop fraud. If someone was trying to register more than once, or register a bogus person, our system would catch it."
Mitt romping in Florida
So much for the Fla-Baggers: "Florida will hold its primary on January 31, voting fourth in the primary and caucus calendar. According to the poll, three out of ten Republicans say they back Romney, with Cain at 18%. Gingrich and Perry each grab 9% support, with Paul at 6%, Bachmann at 4%, and Huntsman and Santorum at 1%." "Poll: Romney at or tied for top spot in first 4 states to vote". See also "CNN polls: Romney has big lead in Florida and New Hampshire; barely up in Iowa, South Carolina".
Enough with that protest stuff ...
"Police arrest 3 Occupy Tampa protestors". See also "Occupy Tampa protesters charged with pushing officer, police said".
"Before more money is wasted"
The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "A federal judge this week shot legal holes through Florida's requirement that all welfare applicants undergo drug testing. We hope Gov. Rick Scott, who promoted the ill-advised tests, backs off the policy before more money is wasted defending it in court." "Unreasonable drug testing".
"Kenric Ward: "Rick Scott: Casino Tool or Economic Leader?".
Mack exposes weakness of GOP' bench in Florida
"By suddenly and unexpectedly jumping into Florida's Republican U.S. Senate primary, Connie Mack has at least made a lackadaisical race more exciting."
But while the congressman with the familiar last name may have changed the game, he hasn't ended it. Whether the field of major candidates is four men or five, the race seems as wide open as ever."Mack's candidacy not a game-ender".
It is already starting to get nasty: "As Connie Mack Tests Waters for Senate Race, GOP Rivals Point to Record". See also "Senate race wide open, even with Mack on the ballot" and "PolitiFact Florida puts U.S. Rep. Connie Mack news through the Flip-O-Meter".
The Disney Chamber
"When the Florida Chamber of Commerce unveiled its legislative agenda this month, it included some interesting additions. The chamber, arguably the state's most influential business group, pledged to lobby against allowing casinos in South Florida and for preserving a controversial tax advantage for Internet-based travel companies. On the surface, the two issues are unrelated. But they share an important common denominator: They are also priorities for Walt Disney World, one of the Florida Chamber's biggest benefactors." "Critics say Disney wields too much influence in the Florida Chamber of Commerce".
Don't let the door hit you on the derriere
"Two subsidiaries of Des Moines-based American Enterprise Group Inc. are leaving the state in part because of a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare." "Obamacare Helps Drive Two Health Insurers from Florida".
Buchanan's "campaign money and special favors"
The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is a tireless advocate for cutting the federal deficit. Three times in the past five years, he's filed a bill calling for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. But his actions on behalf of NASCAR racetracks clearly demonstrate why reducing the federal deficit has proved to be so difficult: campaign money and special favors."
Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, filed a bill to create a permanent tax break for the racetracks three months after he was scheduled to attend a fundraising event at Daytona International Speedway."Buchanan out of balance".
Buchanan's staff would not say whether he went to the event as expected, but this much is certain: "He collected at least $11,500 in racing-related campaign donations in the last quarter," Wallace noted.
More than that, proceeds from the fundraising event — which cost attendees as much as $25,000 — were targeted for two political funds Buchanan created, according to the invitations. Amounts donated to those funds won't be reported until January.
Buchanan has used one of the funds to donate more than $150,000 this year to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which contributes to the campaigns of other Republicans seeking House seats.
In other words, it appears that Buchanan is taking money donated for his benefit and using it to try to boost his own influence in the House.
Browning full speed ahead with voting restrictions
"Fresh off a court victory over the ACLU on Florida’s voting law changes, Secretary of State Kurt Browning has no plan to ask legislators to reconsider the new laws they made in the 2011 session." "Nelson Asks Scott to Reconsider Changes to Florida Voting Laws".
Stearns has nuthin' better to do?
"U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns' bill forcing states to recognize valid concealed-weapons permits held by visitors from other "concealed-carry" states has passed a key committee and appears set for a House floor vote. The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed the Ocala Republican's bill 19-11, almost exclusively along party lines. Rep. Dan Lungren was the only defector, as the California Republican joined 10 Democrats in opposing Stearns' measure. It's unclear when Stearns' bill, known as the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, might come up for a final vote." "Stearns' gun bill moving along".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Gov. Rick Scott seems never to have met a tax he likes. He's still pushing for tax cuts, even with lawmakers facing a $2 billion budget shortfall next year and the prospect of slashing more spending from education, health care and other basic services. But Scott's skepticism of at least one tax — paid by some property owners to operate or subsidize local hospitals in Florida — is well founded." "Time to rethink need for hospital taxes".
Loss ratio kerfuffle
"Patient advocacy groups urged federal regulators to reject Florida's request to grant insurers more time to come into line with new requirements by the Affordable Care Act. The new rules would require a high percentage of premiums to be spent on actual medical care or reimburse policyholders the difference." "2 medical insurers to pull out of state as advocates urge new hearing on loss ratios". Meanwhile, "Insurers float plan to whack attorneys fees and license health care clinics".
Chamber laff riot
"U.S. Chamber study: Tort reform could create up to 162,000 jobs in Florida".
Kurlander misses the boat
Steven Kurlander rushes to Little Marco's defense, arguing that he is "the latest victim of a debilitating ethos of character assassination rampant in our press and blogosphere that wrongfully dissects a politician's rendition of his personal history, taking facts out of context to destroy his or her credibility." "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio need not apologize for way he told parents' story".
"Missing link and step-child" of 'Glades effort
"Restoring the central Everglades - long considered the missing link and step-child in clean-up efforts - is the centerpiece of a radical new process for deciding which projects are most important and making sure they get done as quickly as possible." "Corps' new plan should speed central Everglades cleanup".
FlaDems face "serious challenges"
Lloyd Dunkelberger: "Despite having a president in the White House and the largest share of the state’s voters, Florida Democrats open their three-day state convention on Friday facing some of the most serious challenges in the party’s political history. They may lose the presidency. They may lose their only statewide seat — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s." "Florida Democrats open convention facing serious challenges".
Cardwell carries bankers' water
"A proposed federal rule that would require the automatic reporting to the Internal Revenue Service of interest earned on accounts held in U.S. banks by foreigners would create 'serious safety and soundness concerns to banks' in Florida, a former state commissioner of financial regulation told Congress on Thursday."
Tom Cardwell, who was commissioner of financial regulation in Florida for two years until August of this year, planned to testify to the House Financial Services Committee in Washington and raise the concerns of Florida banks, which hold lots of deposits of "nonresident aliens.""Florida Banks Fear Proposed Foreigner Account Reporting Rule".
In prepared testimony, Cardwell said Florida has looked at foreigners' deposits and determined they aren't particularly associated with money laundering or other crimes. Foreigners often want to park their money in the United States because of fear of uncertainty or instability in their home countries, or because of fears of corruption there that could lead to their money being plundered. In many cases, they're also trying to avoid paying taxes in their home country -- something that would be put in jeopardy by the proposed regulation.
Cardwell planned to tell the Financial Services Committee that the proposed U.S. Treasury rule to require the collection of additional information on interest earned -- which could be shared with the depositors' home countries -- would lead those depositors to pull their money out of Florida banks. How much those banks have in nonresident alien deposits isn't totally clear. Cardwell says in his prepared remarks that it is more than $14 billion. The state's banking association says it's anywhere from $60 billion to $100 billion.
"Welcome to Las Vegas East"
The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and Rep. Erik Fresen of Miami claim their legislation to add three destination casinos to Florida is aimed at reducing gambling in the state. But based on the 142-page bill the pair finally unveiled Wednesday, that's misleading at best. If the Legislature approves HB 487 in anything close to its initial draft, the state might as well put a sign at the border: Welcome to Las Vegas East. The least Bogdanoff and Fresen could do is be honest about the impact of their sweeping legislation." "Don't be suckered by casino bill". Related: "On heels of gaming bill, audit finds pari-mutuel oversight problems".
Andres Oppenheimer: "Las Vegas-style casinos would hurt Miami".