The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Gov. Scott and the GOP-led Legislature have put at risk the physical health of Floridians and the fiscal health of the state by rejecting, or declining to pursue more than $106 million in federal grants tied to the Affordable Care Act."
Nearly $1 million of that money was for a program that aids in cancer prevention and increases access to quality care for cancer patients. We understand that Gov. Scott campaigned against the health care law even before deciding to run for governor. We understand that Attorney General Pam Bondi, like nearly two dozen of her Republican counterparts in other states, is part of a legal challenge to overturn the law. We understand that the law will be a major issue next year in the 2012 election."Ideology no cure for Florida".
Yet is maintaining party loyalty more important than protecting Floridians' interests? Must Republicans resist implementing the law simply because a Democratic president and Congress enacted it? That's the only plausible explanation, given that much of the law mirrors Gov. Scott's own prescription for the American health care system. ...
We are confident of two things: Florida will have to scramble needlessly if the court upholds the law, and Florida has no alternative if the court strikes it down.
Haridopolos admits he didn’t tell the truth
"Testifying in a deposition, Senate President Mike Haridopolos admitted he didn’t tell the truth last year when he denied knowledge of a secret settlement that ended Jim Greer’s tumultuous tenure as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida."
The Senate president’s sworn testimony offers new glimpses into the elaborate behind-the-scenes machinations by top Florida Republican leaders in late 2009 and early 2010 to coerce Greer’s resignation, which included the sweetener of a $124,000 severance payment."Statement to Miami Herald writer haunts Senate President Haridopolos".
But the payment was never made and is now the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by Greer against the Republican Party of Florida.
A statewide grand jury has charged Greer with fraud and money laundering in connection with Victory Strategies, a Greer-founded firm that conducted party fundraising.
In his statement, Haridopolos says he had no knowledge of Victory Strategies at the time he helped orchestrate Greer’s removal.
Greer’s attorneys say their client is innocent and suggest that Republicans orchestrated the criminal charges against him to avoid paying his severance.
The severance deal is key to Greer’s defense, as are the poor memories of politicians such as Haridopolos, who might have to take the stand and admit under oath that he’s not always truthful.
Haridopolos said that in discussions with House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and party attorney Jason Gonzalez, he supported the severance payment "if [Greer] had not done anything wrong, nothing illegal … I thought that was fair."
Standing room-only crowd for Newt in Naples
"Speaking to a standing room-only crowd in Naples on Friday, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich detailed his views on immigration, just days after breaking with what has become a Republican hard line on the topic."
"I do not believe you can pass comprehensive legislation," Gingrich said to nearly 1,000 people gathered at the Naples Hilton."Hundreds turn out for Gingrich in Florida".
The event, which was moved from another location to the hotel to accommodate more people, was so crowded that some people left when they found out that they would have to listen to him from an adjacent room.
Do they even know what anarchists are?
"Up to 15,000 protesters are expected to descend on Tampa next summer for the Republican National Convention. Many will wave signs and march peacefully. Then there are the anarchists." "Tampa police prepare for anarchist attacks at 2012 Republican National Convention".
"Florida legislators turn their gaze toward 2012"
"As the end of 2011 nears, Florida legislators now turn their gaze toward 2012 with proposed new business-related laws and key issues in mind." "2012 legislative sneak peak".
"Up pops a state senator"
The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Wage theft is a problem in South Florida, robbing myriad employees, from hotel maids to private school teachers. Just as local governments are rising to address this scourge, up pops a state senator to exacerbate the problem."
SB 862 is more an affront to local control than a genuine effort to protect employees from unscrupulous employers. The one-page bill sponsored by state Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would bar counties and municipal governments from passing ordinances addressing wage theft, reserving the matter simply for the state."State needs a real wage-theft solution".
Wage theft occurs whenever an employee is not paid for work performed, forced to work off the clock, wrongly classified as an independent contractor, not paid for overtime or paid below the minimum wage. Unfortunately, the problem is spreading, particularly in South Florida's service-sector economy, where many low-wage hourly jobs are excluded from federal and state laws.
Sen. Simmons' legislation might make sense if the state of Florida had an agency to watchdog wage theft. It doesn't; all that went away in 2000 with the abolishment of the Florida Department of Labor. Simmons' bill offers no state government alternatives, leaving aggrieved employees in Florida with either spotty coverage by the U.S. Department of Labor or the long odds that come with taking their allegations to court.
"In a narrow decision"
"In a narrow decision Wednesday, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled not to dismiss the case brought by public school students and parents and two advocacy groups that contend the Legislature is not providing enough money for schools." "Education lawsuit moves to Florida Supreme Court".
"Turkey on Tracks"?
"Predictions of a 1-cent sales tax increase in four Central Florida counties are greatly exaggerated. Or are they? Officials at Metroplan Orlando deny a TV news story that said an agency report will propose the tax hike to cover funding gaps for the SunRail commuter train in Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties. The one-penny boost would generate $488 million a year." "Turkey on Tracks: Will SunRail Gobble More Tax Dollars?".
"Trying to game Floridians"
Randy Schultz: "Schultz: Gambling supporters trying to game Floridians" "Gambling supporters trying to game Floridians".
The Miami Herald editors: "Just weeks away from the legislative session, very big questions need to be answered about bringing gambling casinos to South Florida." "Vital questions need answers".
"Benefits to Business With Little Accountability"
Imagine that, "State Provides Billions in Benefits to Business With Little Accountability".
"Local conservative talk radio host considers run for Congress".
Welcome to Florida: "low pay, lack of diversification"
Aaron Deslatte points out that "Nearly half of the new jobs created this year — 39,400 jobs — are in leisure and hospitality services, or as the Department of Economic Opportunity puts it, "food services and drinking places."
Secondly, whether you agree with President Barack Obama's stimulus plan or not, it is impossible to argue with the fact that the stim-bucks spent in Florida since 2009 have kept a lot of government workers and road-builders drawing paychecks and contributing to the economy."Florida's brighter job picture obscures longer-term problems like low pay, lack of diversification".
But the latest report released this week by the Collins Center for Public Policy shows that the stimulus ride is fast coming to an end.
Through October, Florida has spent $20.1 billion of the $24.6 billion it is expected to receive under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
State agencies have spent 78 percent of their $7.5 billion in stimulus cash. Cities, counties and other local organizations have burned through 60 percent of their $2.6 billion.
As the money runs down, jobs are being quietly cut. The regions with the biggest job gains this year are Tampa Bay, Miami and Orlando. Those with the biggest losses are metro areas more heavily dependent on state and federal government workers: Brevard County and Tallahassee.
In the third quarter, the jobs supported by stimulus cash declined by 15 percent, or 9,104 full-time positions. Most are teaching and support positions in public schools that have run out of federal funds. There were 40,762 education jobs propped up by stimulus bucks, a 16 percent decline from the previous quarter. And 80 percent of the education money has been spent.
Lawmakers will face a $1.9 billion budget shortfall in 2012, a figure that includes making up for some of those education stimulus dollars. But House Speaker Dean Cannon said this week that "there is probably no major policy area that won't see reductions."
Lawmakers will have to break bread, or belly up to a bar somewhere, and decide what's best for the kids.
"Nelson stands out like a sore thumb"
"In a state dominated by Republicans, Bill Nelson stands out like a sore thumb. He's probably used to it by now. For most of his two U.S. Senate terms, Nelson has been the only Democrat to hold a statewide elective office in Florida, with Republicans in the other Senate seat, the governor's office, usually the entire state Cabinet, and in big majorities in the state Legislature." "Once again, GOP hopes this is their chance to defeat Nelson".
Big of 'em
"A group of county officials, country club and hotel executives, and educators have raised the possibility of eliminating the use of all foreign guest workers in the hospitality industry in Palm Beach County over the next four years." "PB County officials aim to hire locals instead of foreigners".
"Florida wildlife officials slightly cringing"
"The good intentions of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson to help control the invasion of Burmese pythons in the Everglades has Florida wildlife officials slightly cringing." "Florida's new prisons chief gets down to business".
Fifth leader in the past five years
"Ken Tucker is the fifth leader of the Florida prison system in the past five years." "Nelson effort to ban interstate python trade concerns Fla. wildlife officials".