"Florida's 'destination casino' bill could be destined for a court challenge if it is not drastically redrafted or defeated outright at the Legislature, gaming observers say."
"My reading of the bill is that it will not stand a constitutional challenge," said William Thompson, an industry analyst at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "It is unconstitutional to charge one casino 10 percent and another 35 percent for the same kind of gaming.""Does Florida's 'Destination Casino' Bill Need a New Deal?"
House Bill 487 designates three destination resorts in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with each venue's casino revenues taxed at a 10 percent rate. The measure, as written, would keep the gaming tax for pari-mutuel casinos at 35 percent.
Thompson says the principle of "horizontal equity" -- "equal taxes on equal objects" -- was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court struck down an Iowa law that had set a 35 percent tax rate on slot revenues at racetracks and a 22 percent rate on slots at other casinos in the state.
Meanwhile, "the Florida Retail Federation has joined the group of pro business groups opposing an effort to bring destination casinos to Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Federation Chief Executive Officer Rick McAllister said the group is concerned that three Vegas-style casinos in the South Florida market would negatively impact existing businesses." "Retail Federation says no to casino proposal".
Florida's Cain dead enders
"A top Florida supporter of Herman Cain says the Republican presidential candidate deserves the benefit of the doubt after a woman today publicly accused Cain of reaching under her skirt and pulling her head toward his crotch 14 years ago, when she was seeking employment help."
"Herman Cain has said categorically that he didn't do this In our country you're innocent until proven guilty," said state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, the first Florida legislator to endorse Cain and one of four statewide campaign chairmen for Cain's campaign. ..."Florida politicos weigh impact of accusations on presidential contender Cain". See also "Despite accusations, Herman Cain supporters stand by their man".
"The fact she chose to use Gloria Allred means she's not credible. Glorida Allred is a liberal assassin who chose not to defend any of Bill Clinton's accusers," said Dinerstein.
Orlando consultant Sarah Rumpf, who provided some early help to Cain but isn't affiliated with the campaign, said she has met Cain several times and never seen signs of the kind of behavior alleged by Bialek.
"I'm not saying this person's lying," Rumpf said. "But it doesn't reconcile with my conversations with him and what I know of him."
Chilling development challenges
"1st District Court of Appeal refuses to hear challenge of December ruling against 1000 Friends of Florida and the Martin County Conservation Alliance, which had sued over Martin County comprehensive land-use plan changes. Some observers and a dissenting judge say the case could have a chilling effect on development challenges." "Court rejects appeal of environmental group ordered to pay developers' legal costs".
"7 Florida facilities run afoul of EPA air quality standards".
Big of them
"Despite sweeping growth law changes made by the Legislature this past session that reduced state oversight of land-use changes, the DRI process has remained in place since 1972. Tallahassee lawyer Nancy Linnan said developers don't want to eliminate the DRI process but they do want to streamline it and make it less costly without changing the planning outcome." "Senate panel urges keeping 'Development of Regional Impact' process".
"The Florida Legislature's upcoming fight over gambling may already be creating an economic boom for lobbyists."
Lobbyist registration records back up Scott's contention: More than 100 lobbyists have signed up to represent various gaming companies. And this doesn't count the dozens of lobbyists already registered for business groups that have vowed to fight the proposal. ..."Former aide to Fla. House speaker lobbying". See also "Former Cannon aide, longtime legislative staffer enters gaming fray" ("A longtime legislative aide and former staff member of House Speaker Dean Cannon is now lobbying for a player in the gaming debate.")
Many of the lobbyists hired so far have ties to Scott or legislative leaders. They include such figures as former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and former Republican Party of Florida chairman Al Cardenas.
One of the latest lobbyists hired is Julie Fess, a former aide to House Speaker Dean Cannon. Fess left her job as Cannon's legislative aide in September. Last month she registered as a lobbyist for Arcola Systems Florida, a company that makes software used by Internet cafes.
State legislators and many top employees in the Florida Legislature are banned from lobbying state legislators for two years after leaving the government. But the law does not cover employees like Fess, who was a legislative aide.
"As Florida faces legal obstacles in its plan to turn dozens of state prisons over to a private firm, a second privatization venture faces harsh criticism."
The Legislature not only decreed that 29 prisons in South Florida be privately run — a plan declared illegal by a judge — but ordered all inmate health care statewide to be handled by private firms."Privatizing of Florida prisons' health care hits snag".
The outsourcing of physical and mental health care, dentistry and prescription drugs to more than 100,000 inmates was a campaign pledge of Gov. Rick Scott, who called for competitively bid health care contracts. ...
Lately the project has run into so much resistance from private vendors, who have bombarded the state with more than 600 questions, that the Department of Corrections has pushed back its schedule to implement the project by several weeks.
Claim of Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, is "Mostly False"
"State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, ignited a firestorm of criticism when he said congressional districts should not be drawn to benefit potentially illegal Hispanic immigrants and that the state should first check their citizenship."
Hays said that Florida doesn't require "any proof of citizenship necessary before you register to vote.""PolitiFact Florida: Sen. Alan Hays says proof of citizenship isn't necessary to register to vote".
There is a kernel of truth here: According to the state Division of Elections, state law doesn't require new voter applicants to prove their citizenship in some physical sense. They simply must sign a sworn statement attesting that they meet the voting requirements — including being a citizen.
But there are a couple of critical caveats.
First, lying on a voter registration form about your citizenship status can lead to a felony conviction. Second, the most common way to register to vote in Florida is during the process of obtaining a driver's license. And during that process, people are asked to verify their citizenship.
Lastly, we have to consider the experiences of two supervisors of elections, who said there is no widespread problem of illegal immigrants registering to vote.
Industry stalls reforms
"A task force charged with helping clean up rogue ALFs told the state to get tougher on homes but was split on other crucial issues."
While the group agreed on a host of improvements, including boosting training hours for ALF managers, battle lines were clearly drawn during the meeting between industry representatives on the task force and advocates for elders and disabled people."Task force pushes some ALF reforms, delays others".
Bones for the locals
"Tampa's 2012 RNC host committee unveils networking plan to help small businesses".
"30-year old loophole"
"Florida gambling regulators are hit with legal challenges over their decision to expand horse and jai alai permits because of tangled interpretations of state gambling law and a 30-year old loophole" "State draws round of lawsuits over gambling permits".
Tuition rate increases
"Florida's rising tuition rates".
"Foreigners who secretly deposit money in U.S banks"
"In a rare show of solidarity, all 27 members of Congress from Florida — 20 Republicans and seven Democrats — have united against a plan proposed by the Internal Revenue Service to collect details about foreigners who secretly deposit money in U.S banks." "Would IRS rule prompt foreigners to yank billions from Florida banks?"
Former Crist aide seeks House seat vacated by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral
"Dane Eagle, longtime travel aide to former Gov. Charlie Crist and a Cape Coral mortgage broker, announced this week that he will seek the open state House seat vacated by fellow Republican Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral. ... Eagle's immediate challenge could be explaining his loyalty to Crist to fiercely conservative Republican voters in Aubuchon's district." "Crist aide wants House seat".
Feds cut Florida a deal
"State officials said Tuesday that the federal government has agreed to allow use of the low income pool money for the next three years to help pay the health care costs for people without adequate insurance coverage." "Florida works out deal to preserve $1 billion for health care".
Florida conservatives like Mississippi strategy
The failed Mississippi anti-choice strategy of treating a fertilized human egg "as a person under the state constitution, [is] an antiabortion strategy that a group of Christian conservatives are hoping to mimic here in Florida." "Florida antiabortion group wants its own 'personhood' amendment, faces long odds". Related: "'Personhood' effort still alive after Miss. Defeat".
"Florida has sacrificed its proud tradition of open government"
The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "If Tallahassee is ready to be more accountable to taxpayers on economic development deals, the proof will be in the details. For too long, Florida has sacrificed its proud tradition of open government to the secrecy that insiders insist is necessary to lure businesses with public money." "Open up incentives to scrutiny".
"Drilling will remain off limits near Florida’s shores"
"Offshore oil and gas drilling will remain off limits near Florida’s shores under a five-year plan released on Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. ... Interior is moving cautiously to allow more drilling in waters off Alaska and the central and western parts of the Gulf of Mexico. But the department -- despite pressure from oil interests and Republicans in Congress to significantly expand the drilling zone -- does not plan to open up most the eastern Gulf or south Atlantic waters." "Oil drilling to expand - but not near Florida". Related: "David Rivera Takes Aim at Cuban Drilling off the Coast of Florida".
Getting around Florida's new voting law
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami has a "plan to get around Florida's controversial new voting law", she "wants people to vote absentee, because that does not require a state identification card. 'We're not calling it 'absentee ballots,' because people don't like that,' ... 'So, it's 'vote from home.' And we have a postcard that you can mail today to be placed on the list to get an absentee ballot when it's time for them to be released.'" "Dem urges 'vote from home'".
Florida's federal handouts slowing
"Florida jobs at stake in defense cutback".
Florida Family Association to "closely monitor" TV show about Muslim families
"A major Florida conservative organization plans to 'closely monitor' a new show -- 'All-American Muslims' on The Learning Channel."
On Tuesday, David Caton, executive director of the Florida Family Association, sent out an email to supporters focusing on the new show. The first of eight episodes of “All-American Muslims” will launch on Sunday."Florida Conservative Group Pledges to 'Monitor' New TLC Show on American Muslims".
“The program will profile five Muslim families who live in Dearborn, Michigan,” Caton wrote. ...
“Florida Family Association plans to closely monitor this show and contact advertisers,” added Caton in closing.
Florida falling behind
"During a town hall hosted by Florida health advocates today, policy experts warned that the state is falling woefully behind on plans for a state health insurance exchange program. By law, the state is required to have a fully operational exchange program by January 2013." "Town hall participants warn that Florida is falling behind in creating health insurance exchange".
Another Scott Junket
Gov. Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida are heading to Israel: "Scott’s office deferred comment on the Dec. 8-14 mission to Enterprise Florida. Enterprise Florida spokesman Stuart Doyle said details of the mission continue to be crafted, nor is a list available of those joining Scott. ... This will be Scott’s fourth foreign excursion since taking office in January." "Israel Next Stop on Rick Scott's Travels to Promote Florida Business".
"Gov. Rick Scott punted a question about Sen. Mike Fasano's bill (SB 836) that would ban television blackouts for sports teams that take public money during a wide-ranging radio interview Monday."
Rather than say whether he supported the idea, Scott told WNRP-AM host Rob Williams that taxes should be "fair" and talked about his push to give more tax breaks to businesses."Scott talks dance, but is silent on TV blackout bill".
During the interview with the conservative Pensacola station, Scott said he supported the idea of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as a vice presidential candidate.
Weinstein does the developer dance
"Cities and counties would be barred from enacting transportation or school impact fees until mid-2015 under a measure filed Tuesday by a Jacksonville Republican. ... Representatives of local governments, however, say now is not the time, if ever, to further restrict the ability of cash-strapped local cities and counties from using impact fees to pay for the infrastructure needed to accommodate growth." "Rep. Weinstein Bill Aims to Limit Impact Fees on Development".
"Another tool for redistributing income and wealth upwards"
The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy at Florida International University: "Tax incentives designed as economic development tools do not work."
But they are not only failures in that regard; they are actually destructive forces in the economy."Tax Incentives Don’t Create Jobs, But Help Redistribute Income Upwards".
Their failure is proved by the lack of jobs that have been created and the costs associated with their enactment. The simple fact is they do not CREATE jobs. At best, they simply move them from one state or locale to another. And if Florida can induce a company to relocate a job here, another state can induce another company to move a job there.
It is at best a zero sum game. For us. But it is not a zero sum game for the corporations.
These tax incentives should be seen for what they really are: another tool for redistributing income and wealth upwards.
Florida Republicans fight wage theft ordinances
"State Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, yesterday filed his first bill for the upcoming 2012 legislative session: House Bill 609, which preempts all local laws, ordinances or rules that address wage theft in the state."
State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, yesterday filed the Senate version of the bill. He and Goodson want to prohibit Florida municipalities from “adopting or maintaining” local ordinances that crack down on wage theft, the practice of stiffing workers out of money they are owed."Goodson joins Simmons in fight to block local anti-wage theft ordinances". See also "GOP state senator files bill to prohibit local ordinances that crack down on wage theft".
Samantha Hunter Padgett, deputy general counsel for the Florida Retail Federation, told The Florida Independent Tuesday her organization supports Simmons’ bill because “existing state and federal laws address the issues raised in local wage theft ordinances.”
Goodson filed a similar bill during the 2011 legislative session; that measure would have done away with a Miami-Dade anti-wage theft ordinance passed in 2010 that created a process for workers to recover stolen wages. The Retail Federation has a pending court challenge against Miami-Dade’s anti-wage theft ordinance; it supported Goodson’s bill during the 2011 session. ...
The Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University issued a report that documents almost 3,700 wage theft violations from August 2006 through August 2010 in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, with more than 1,600 violations from 2008 through 2010 in the accommodation, food services, construction, health care and social assistance industries.
"Florida still eating the dust of pacesetters like Massachusetts"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Florida has made extensive changes to boost academic rigor in public schools and buff its national reputation, but benchmarks such as the National Assessment of Education Progress show that Florida's still eating the dust of pacesetters like Massachusetts." "Boost FCAT scores, and funding, too".
"The State Department official who oversees the U.S. relationship with Cuba on Tuesday defended the Obama administration’s policies toward the communist island nation, including policies that allow Americans to send more money there." "Confirmation hearing focuses on Cuba".