FLORIDA POLITICS
Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary

 

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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.

 

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The Blog for Saturday, January 21, 2012

Organized labor goes after Romney in Florida

    "In what is organized labor's first major investment in the Republican presidential primary, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is spending almost $1 million in Florida on a television ad attacking Mitt Romney's business career."
    The new ad links Romney's business career to that of Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "Corporate greed. Medicare fraud. Sound familiar?" the narrator asks as Romney appears on the screen next to Scott, also a Republican former businessman.

    Facing similar attacks from his Republican rivals, Romney has been increasingly forced to defend his years at Bain Capital, a private equity company where the former Massachusetts governor accumulated his personal fortune.
    "Union spends big on ad attacking Romney in Florida".


    Imagine what Obama will do to him in a debate

    "Romney on Friday wouldn’t commit to Florida’s first 2012 presidential primary debate, further upending a campaign that has swung from perfunctory to unsettled in a span of 48 hours." "Mitt Romney won’t commit to Fla. debate".


    Romney alienating some Hispanic voters

    "Mitt Romney's promise to veto a measure that would create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants threatens to turn off some Hispanic voters, whose support could be critical in a general election match-up against President Barack Obama."

    The issue is gaining prominence as the GOP front-runner heads toward the Jan. 31 primary in Florida, even though most of the state's Hispanics are Puerto Rican or Cuban-American and, thus, aren't affected by U.S. immigration law, nor view it as a priority. Still, it's a state where 13 percent of registered voters are Hispanic, where the nation's largest Spanish-language TV networks are based, and where the nation's third-largest number of illegal immigrants live – intensifying the focus on Romney's position.

    "Latino voters, like all voters in this country, are interested in America being an opportunity nation," Romney said Monday night during a debate in South Carolina, when asked if his promise to veto the so-called Dream Act was alienating voters. "In my view, as long as we communicate to the people of all backgrounds in this country that it can be better, and that America is a land of opportunity, we will get those votes."

    Maybe not.

    His veto promise – first made in the days before the Iowa caucuses – has hit a nerve with prominent Hispanics, and some Republicans worry that the position will turn off the growing number of Latino voters in swing-voting states, particularly in the west, who are now on the fence after backing Obama in 2008. These Republicans suggest that Romney was trying to curry favor with hardline Republican primary voters at the expense of Hispanics whose support he would need come the fall.
    "Romney Stance On Dream Act Is Magnified In Florida". See also "Florida Latino Vote Pits Cuban-American Republicans Against ...".


    In the Legislature ...

    "Bills Align Judicial Panel Terms With Governor, Raise Judges' Retirement Age".


    Haridopolos, Alexander do bidding of privateers

    "Senate President Mike Haridopolos is under fire from fellow Republicans for his handling of a controversial prison privatization plan."

    Haridopolos, who decides which committees vote on which bills, sent two privatization bills to panels headed by loyal members of his inner circle, bypassing two committees that usually handle prison-related issues.

    The action is all the more controversial because the same outsourcing plan was nixed by a judge who said it was done too secretly.

    "It just really bothers me," said Sen. Greg Evers, who chairs the Criminal Justice Committee that was not assigned the bills. "Why are we not being as open with this as we have been with everything else?"
    "Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is chairman of the budget panel in charge of prisons, which also won't consider either bill. 'It was handled this way to avoid a battle,' Fasano said. 'It's an end run.'"
    Amid the criticism, Haridopolos on Friday also sent the bills to the 20-member Senate Budget Committee. In a memo to senators Friday, he said he would "proceed in an abundance of caution," and that the issue was "fully vetted" by the 2011 Legislature.

    The Budget Committee is chaired by Republican Sen. JD Alexander of Lake Wales, a strong supporter of privatizing prisons. That committee is scheduled to consider the two bills Wednesday.
    "Haridopolos taking heat for committee assignments on prison privatization bills". See also "Fasano to Haridopolos: Don’t fast-track prison privatization" and "Haridopolos adds committee stop for prison privatization bills".

    Aaron Deslatte: "Outsourcing government services has been on the conservative agenda for three decades, which is a blessing for Florida policymakers because it means there are lots of successes and missteps around the country to emulate or avoid."
    Florida has had its own missteps, which is why the Legislature in 2006 passed a law requiring state agencies, before privatizing most anything, to develop a "business case" to determine whether companies "can more effectively and efficiently provide services and reduce the cost of government."

    But what happened last year was hardly serious policy analysis.
    "Prisons may be privatized before taxpayers know consequences".


    Problem solved

    "The state Legislature’s Economic Affairs Committee yesterday passed a bill that would rebrand unemployment compensation as 'reemployment assistance.'" "GOP bill would rebrand unemployment compensation as ‘reemployment assistance’".


    Anti-choice crowd in a dither

    "A new survey released from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health found that 'strong majorities' of Latina/os registered to vote support 'access to legal abortion, affirm that they would offer support to a close friend or family member who had an abortion, and oppose politicians interfering in personal, private decisions about abortion,' the group reports." "New poll: Majority of Latina/o population supports reproductive rights".


    How long before Scott challenges this?

    "Federal authorities have rejected a request from Florida to get a waiver on a crucial reform requirement -- a move that could clear the way for state consumers to get more than $170 million in refunds on their health insurance."

    In a letter dated Thursday but released Friday, Steven B. Larsen, deputy administrator in the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty that he was rejecting McCarty’s request for reconsideration of the Affordable Care Act provision that insurers must spend at least 80 percent of premiums on healthcare, as opposed to administrative, marketing and profit.

    The law provides that starting in 2011, insurers who spend less than 80 percent on healthcare would have to refund the difference. The refunds will be given to purchasers of individual and family policies, with the money arriving sometime this summer.

    The law provides that starting in 2011, insurers who spend less than 80 percent on healthcare would have to refund the difference. The refunds will be given to purchasers of individual and family policies, with the money arriving sometime this summer.
    "Floridians could get $170M in health insurance rebates".


    "The insurance company that the ruling class in Florida hates"

    Randy Schultz: "The new chairman of the insurance company that the ruling class in Florida hates but the state needs has this politically inconvenient but realistic attitude about hurricane insurance: 'We're all in this together.'"

    Carlos Lacasa served in the Florida House, where insurance agent/legislators from less hurricane-prone areas scold South Floridians - Mr. Lacasa is from Miami - for supposedly placing the entire state at risk by building so much near the coast. Most of those properties secure wind coverage only from Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which Mr. Lacasa helps oversee.

    Everyone wishes that Citizens didn't have to exist. Everyone wishes that Florida didn't need a "last-resort" state-run insurer that has more policies than any other company. Everyone wishes that Florida had a competitive private hurricane insurance market.

    Such a market, though, hasn't existed for 20 years, since Hurricane Andrew punched through southern Miami-Dade County. The state had to create a $16 billion - increased at one point to $28 billion - subsidy for private companies to help pay claims in bad years, and then came 2004 and 2005. Last-resort Citizens has become only-resort Citizens for 1.5 million Floridians.

    This drives the free-market ideologues crazy. It annoys the agent/legislators who covet Citizens policies. Citizens, though, is here to stay, and the main reason is economics.
    "Citizens of Florida need Citizens Property Insurance".


    Scott takes credit for merely "being there"

    "Gov. Scott boasts unemployment nudge down to 9.9 percent".

    "With the campaign trail heading for Florida, economists and voters are sharply divided on whether the Republicans or President Barack Obama — or any politician — can relieve Florida's distress." "Florida jobless rate dips to 9.9 percent". See also "Florida’s jobless rate drops 0.1 percent".


    Teabaggers can't find the word "casino" in the Constitution

    "Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party and state coordinator for the Florida Tea Party, this week announced his support for the casino bill that would allow three Las Vegas-style casino resorts in South Florida." "South Florida Tea Party announces support for GOP casino bill".


    "Disney doesn't deserve help from a cash-strapped state"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "By now, it's not exactly a news flash: Money is still tight in Tallahassee."

    To balance next year's state budget, Florida's Republican legislative leaders are promising another round of cuts in health care and other basic services instead of any tax hikes. So lawmakers shouldn't even think about creating any more tax breaks that would reduce future revenues unless it's a slam dunk for Florida.

    A proposed package of tax breaks that could be worth millions to two of the state's titans of tourism, Walt Disney World and NASCAR owner International Speedway Corp., doesn't even reach the rim. ...

    But Disney and ISC don't need or deserve help from a cash-strapped state government to expand or improve their offerings. In their most recent budget years, Disney earned a company record profit of $4.8 billion, and ISC banked $54.5 million. Their success suggests they are savvy enough to let the market, not state tax incentives, dictate their investments. They'll build it, if people will come.
    "Tourism giants don't need new tax breaks".


    Will governor or chief judge appoint new SA?

    "Following his bombshell announcement Tuesday that he'll take a private job rather than seek reelection in 2012, Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe said today that he plans to leave office before his term expires in January 2013. McAuliffe has not set a specific date for his departure. Once he does, a state attorney spokeswoman said, Gov. Rick Scott would appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of McAuliffe's term."

    McAuliffe, a Democrat, abruptly ended his 2012 reelection campaign this week and announced he has taken a job with West Palm Beach-based Oxbow Carbon, which trades in carbon and industrial products and is headed by Palm Beach billionaire Bill Koch.

    "Understandably the company wants and needs me before January of 2013, so as a result I will be unable to complete my full term," McAuliffe said today in a brief interview with The Palm Beach Post.

    In a midday e-mail to his staff, McAuliffe said he is "finalizing a transition plan and timetable" to ensure a smooth hand-off to his successor.

    McAuliffe said he plans to talk to Scott's office about his departure. Scott is a Republican.

    The Florida constitution gives the governor power to fill vacancies in state and county offices. But a statute also says that the chief judge of the judicial circuit can fill a vacancy by appointing an acting state attorney.
    "McAuliffe will not finish state attorney term; Governor or chief judge could appoint successor".


    More Scott stoopid

    "Scott on Monday will release a ranking of the state’s 67 school districts based on standardized test scores, his office confirmed late Friday. Top school officials in Florida are fuming. They argue that test scores alone overlook factors like poverty and racial diversity, which have been shown to affect educational outcomes." "School officials critical of Gov. Scott’s school ranking plan".


    Florida bank failures slowed in 2011

    "Failures of Florida banks slowed in 2011, a welcome respite for the state's financial industry and for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." "Failures of Florida banks slowed in 2011".


    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Senate Draws Lines; House Draws Purse".


    Redistricting may lead to "'profound' changes"

    "New legislative maps call for 'profound' changes in Central Florida".


    GOPers eye Florida

    "With the race [in South Carolina] seemingly between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Republican rival Rick Santorum is bracing for a setback and looking ahead to the next contest: Florida." "Santorum already eyeing next stop: Florida". See also "Gingrich, Santorum set Brevard visits" and "In tight S.C. GOP primary, Newt Gingrich feels confident, eyes Florida".


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