Florida Republicans open door to oil drilling in the 'Glades
"House Republicans — including Florida GOP lawmakers Allen West, Vern Buchanan, David Rivera, Tom Rooney, Steve Southerland, and C.W. Bill Young — voted against a measure that would have prevented oil and gas exploration in the Great Lakes and the Florida Everglades." "Florida lawmakers vote against measure to prevent Everglades drilling".
Grayson faces array of empty suits
"Florida's new 9th Congressional District is designated for 'Latino access,' but so far, the majority of candidates seeking the Central Florida seat are non-Hispanic."
Former Rep. Alan Grayson appears to have the inside track to the Democratic nomination. Having represented more than a third of the current constituency of CD 9 -- until he was ousted by Daniel Webster in 2010 -- Grayson has the name recognition and the war chest to shut down primary competition and wage a general election campaign."Republicans Line Up Against Alan Grayson in 'Latino Access' CD 9".
Adding to Grayson's built-in advantage, the district -- which encompasses Osceola and parts of Orange and Polk counties -- leans Democratic.
But Republicans aren't lying down.
"It's a Democratic district, but Republicans hold a majority of legislative seats here," says Jim Cook of the Osceola County GOP.
"This is the best chance to win the district. Because of the power of incumbency, if we don't win now, we've lost this seat for good," Cook said.
With 44 percent of CD 9 made up of Hispanics (versus 40 percent non-Hispanic white), at least two Latino Republicans are ramping up campaigns in the district that includes the cities of St. Cloud, Poinciana, Kissimmee and Celebration.
Julius Melendez, an Osceola County school board member, was the first to file.
John Quinones, an Osceola County commissioner and former state representative, says he expects to jump in once the district lines are finalized.
Businessman Mark Oxner is also running, as is Todd Long, who sought the GOP nomination in Grayson's old 8th Congressional District in 2010.
Republicans kill Florida DREAM act
"When the votes were tallied and the last lawmaker had left the room, the young adults wearing the paper graduation caps wept."
Their longshot hopes of winning in-state tuition for undocumented college students were dashed — at least for this year."DREAM act bill killed in the Florida Legislature". See also "Bill that would grant immigrant students in-state tuition dies in Senate committee".
The college-aged students had come from different parts of the state to change the law and faced a less-than-friendly Legislature.
With the law of the land still in place, undocumented students must continue to pay out-of-state tuition, which is nearly three times higher than the rates for Florida residents. Financial aid is rare.
A pair of bills in the Florida Legislature would have made things different. The Senate Higher Education committee defeated the first of the proposals last month. Late Thursday, the second bill died in a 4-3 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Dems allege GOP bias in district lines"
"Legislative redistricting battle goes to Florida Supremes; Dems allege GOP bias in district lines". See also "Redistricting legal battle begins in briefs filed with state Supreme Court".
Poor little rich brat
"Congressman Connie Mack has made penny-pinching debt-reduction central to his U.S. Senate campaign, but privately he has struggled at times with borrowing and paying his own obligations, court records show."
Mack sometimes appeared to spend more than he earned, had property liens filed against him, overdrew his bank account and didn’t have enough money to pay his federal income taxes after his 2004 congressional election, according to court records from Fort Myers to Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale."Connie Mack preaches penny-pinching on campaign trail, but has past of debt and liens".
His finances aside, the records also show that Mack in his youth got into four confrontations — from an arrest at a nightclub to a bar brawl with a pro baseball player. Later, while in Congress, his estranged wife accused him of not living in his Fort Myers district and of using his influence to strong-arm her during their divorce.
Mica embraces Trump plan
"Seeking to stop the hemorrhage at Uncle Sam's real estate holdings, Rep. John Mica says a Washington, D.C., deal with Donald Trump signals a healthy start. Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced that Trump would bring a 250-room luxury hotel to the largely abandoned Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue." "Donald Trump's Postal Hotel Gets Stamp of Approval From John Mica".
It "would have been the largest expansion of prison privatization in U.S. history"
Fabiola Santiago: "It’s refreshing to see some responsible government in Tallahassee for a change. Despite pressure from party leaders, nine Republican senators broke ranks and voted with 12 Democrats to defeat a hasty and irresponsible proposal to privatize 27 state prisons in southern Florida."
The state’s $2.4 billion prison system — the nation’s third-largest, with 146 facilities and 27,000 employees – is in need of reform, better management and more transparency and accountability, as investigations by the U.S. Justice Department have repeatedly concluded."Prisons don’t belong in private hands".
But those needs don’t justify placing such a crucial part of law enforcement, a central part of government, in the hands of who knows who in the private sector.
While government may not be a perfect watchdog, it is ultimately accountable to one boss: the public. The private corporations seeking to run Florida’s prisons are accountable to their investors and their owners. ...
And so it was easy for Republican sponsors to first try to sneak privatization last year into language in the 2011-12 budget, and after that failed, to speed a bill through two committees this session after some political maneuvering to remove an opposing legislator.
When the bill came to the Senate floor, supporters, led by Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, argued that for-profit prisons would save tax dollars and increase efficiency, and they criticized the Department of Corrections’ unwillingness to modernize. They used as a prop $30 million in savings, although they provided neither definitive nor independent proof of how corporations would achieve that feat.
But regardless, savings and efficiency are hardly the kinds of issues that should be driving the conversation about a function of government — incarceration and the delivery of justice — that is crucial to the founding values of this nation.
This drastic move to privatize a sector of our justice system — one that would have been the largest expansion of prison privatization in U.S. history — deserved more thoughtful treatment.
"Time running out for Scott and House leaders"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Time is running out for Gov. Rick Scott and Florida House leaders to prove they will do more than talk about ensuring the safety of elders." "Elder care reforms can't wait".
As if slashing waiters' wages weren't enough ...
... a GOP "would prohibit Florida cities and counties from passing ordinances that crack down on wage theft, the practice of stiffing workers out of money they are owed." "Worker advocates want Senate to kill bill that prohibits local wage theft crackdowns".
"Daytona basketball star Vince Carter to host $30,000-a-plate Obama dinner".
"VIDEO: Fasano talks prison privatization defeat on Democracy Now!".
'Ya gotta problem wit dat?
"Dosal, a Miami-based tobacco company, reportedly spent around $800,000 last year to lobby the Florida Legislature, the Associated Press reports. According to the Sun Sentinel, the group spent the third most money last year on lobbying state lawmakers." "AP: Tobacco company spent $800K lobbying Legislature".
Republican state rep Precourt a "chump"
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board declares Republican state representative Steve Precourt a "chump":
The three-term Republican state representative from Orlando sponsored a bill that would make Florida businsses eligible for a share of $121 million in tax breaks — unless their employees are unionized. This might score political points with organized labor haters, but it would leave businesses out in the cold if their employees exercise their right to organize[*]. Opponents said the anti-labor provision would make the bill unconstitutional. Yet Precourt urged his colleagues to pass the measure now and let a judge sort it out. Legislators take an oath to uphold the Constitution, not ignore it."Our weekly CHAMP & CHUMP".
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*In Florida, the right to unionize and bargain collectively is a fundamental constitutional right.
Country clubbers like foreign laborers
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "It's hard not to be annoyed, even outraged, by some of Palm Beach County's finest resorts and clubs - The Breakers, the Mar-a-Lago Club - importing foreign laborers instead of hiring local residents, especially when they don't seem to be trying much to recruit locally. Thanks to new federal regulations, they will have to try harder." "Find those local workers".
"Political expediency over principle"
"Broward County Medical Association has written letters to legislative leaders saying it opposes the medical malpractice bill that now includes provisions to allow optometrists to prescribe certain controlled substances. In in a separate letter, the group warns the Florida Medical Association that it is putting 'political expediency over principle.'" "Medical malpractice compromise dividing physicians".
Scott gets "judicial spanking"
Scott Maxwell: "It's been said before that the Florida House is more like "Animal House": a bunch of immature party boys playing games with your rights and money. Last week, a 22-page court ruling helped confirm that comparison — specifically, that freshman state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, has been trying to do to the U.S. Constitution what John Belushi did all over the frat house's front yard."
District Judge Marcia
Cooke said Florida couldn't enforce the new gun-law gag order — the one that tries to regulate free speech between consenting adults — for the reasons that the sane and sober among us already knew: It's unconstitutional."Tallahassee is now Animal House, with party boys trampling your rights".
But Judge Cooke said more than that.
She essentially told Brodeur, legislators and Gov. Rick Scott that they didn't do their homework, didn't understand the issues and were trying to violate the U.S. Constitution.
Basically, she gave these boys a judicial spanking that would've splintered Delta Tau Chi's wooden paddle.
It's mind-boggling that this fringy law even got this far.
Treasure Coast GOPers could knock West off
"If 2010 election cycle trends hold true, St. Lucie and Martin County Republicans combined would have an edge over Palm Beach GOP voters in ultimately deciding the congressional primary showdown between U.S. Rep. Allen West and Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder."
The matchup pits a Broward County national tea party headline grabber in West against a near-half-century vet of Treasure Coast law enforcement in Crowder. Both have taken heat for stirring the pot, but on opposite ends of the political spectrum — West for slinging attention-grabbing anti-Democratic rhetoric; Crowder for publicly veering from GOP party-line loyalties."Election trends could give Treasure Coast edge in deciding West-Crowder outcome".
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican who represented parts of the Treasure Coast, said local voters will be in the middle of a national spotlight race.
The number of residents old enough to vote in the new district's primary would split in favor of the Treasure Coast — about 39 percent in St. Lucie, 21 in Martin and 40 in Palm Beach. But in Florida's primary scene, the party-affiliated need only apply.
Claims bills moving
"Claims bills move through Legislature".
"GOP is boldly marching backwards into the 1960s"
Carl Hiaasen: "In their unflagging efforts to distance themselves from mainstream America, Republican leaders have gleefully seized upon a social issue that’s guaranteed to backfire in November:"
Birth control."3-line hed goes here and here and".
If you’re mystified, you’re not alone. Ignoring years of public-opinion polls, the GOP is boldly marching backwards into the 1960s to question whether contraception is a legitimate health-care benefit.
The target, as always, is President Obama. He issued an executive mandate requiring that free birth control be included in health plans provided to employees of schools, charities and hospitals connected to religiously affiliated institutions.
Although the mandate excludes churches, Roman Catholic bishops are in a huff, saying the contraception provision violates the First Amendment and “freedom of religion.”
Never mind that Obama softened the rule so that the insurance companies, not the employers, will pay for the coverage. Never mind that many employees served by these healthcare plans don’t share the same religion as the institute for whom they work.
Republican strategists see the controversy as another opportunity to bash Obama’s healthcare reforms, and also to rile up white Christian evangelicals who don’t like the president anyway.
As political miscalculations go, this one could be epic. If you’re looking for a sure way to galvanize female voters against your own party, attack birth control.
Whom does the administration’s mandate help? Teachers, secretaries, nurses, lab techs — working women who can’t afford, or don’t choose, to get pregnant.
Yet to hear the yowls of outrage, you’d think these hospitals and schools were being ordered to round up their workers and force-feed them birth-control pills against their will.