"As a divided Senate struggled for a second day over a prison privatization plan, its biggest critic was stripped of a chairmanship and an 'extremely disappointed' Gov. Rick Scott twisted opposing senators' arms to no avail."
The chaos leaves a priority of Senate leaders in grave jeopardy a year after a similar plan was thrown out by a judge because it was tucked into the budget and not debated separately. Opponents said that such a massive expansion of privatization could not survive an up-or-down vote in the full Senate. ..."Fasano booted from committee". See also "Senator stripped of chairmanship in wake of prison privatization disagreement", "Haridopolos shakes up committee chairs amid privatization debate" and "Florida Senate president ousts committee chair for opposing prison privatization". Today: "Capitol Buzz: Prison privatization will be talk of Tallahassee".
Amid the mounting tension, Senate President Mike Haridopolos refused to bring up the bill for debate, a sign that it faced defeat. Ten of 28 Senate Republicans have voiced strong reservations or opposition to such a major policy shift, a serious rift in the GOP caucus.
The drama intensified as Haridopolos stripped Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, of his chairmanship of a budget subcommittee overseeing prisons, saying Fasano "was not rowing in the same direction" as Senate leaders on budget decisions.
"Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams said that 'it is a sad day in Florida politics when disagreeing with Senate Leadership on legislation can remove a Senator from a chairmanship or any leadership position.'" "Union groups call senator’s chairmanship loss ‘sad,’ ‘deplorable,’ ‘a shame’".
"Haridopolos: Senate budget allocations expected next week, cuts possible"
Meanwhile, "House panel approves budget that cuts jobs, preserves benefits" ("The spending plan would cut more than 4,700 state positions, limit some health care services and raise college tuition, while freeing up more than $1 billion in general revenue for education.")
The Sun Sentinel editorial board explains "Why Romney won Florida".
"Romney Focus on Economy Key to Florida Victory". See also "Plenty of lesson learned from the GOP primary" and "What we learned (or re-learned) from Florida primary".
Slots head North
"As two North Florida counties open the door for slot machines, bills moving in the Senate would clear the way for the games in Palm Beach, Brevard and Lee counties too". "Voters approve slot machines in two rural counties, but legal battle looms".
Why Newt flopped in Florida
"How Newt Gingrich's Southern Front Flopped in Florida".
Scott pisses away $115.5 million in revenue
"The proposed tax cuts would cost the state $48.1 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and $115.5 million in recurring funds for the following years, according to an analysis conducted by the committee. The committee chairman called them "the best way to help stimulate job growth." " "Tax cuts favored by Gov. Scott, businesses get House panel approval".
Fla-baggers were not players
"Romney's Florida Victory Unsweet for Tea Party". Speaking of Teabaggers: "With Florida Primary Over, Marco Rubio Returns to the Limelight".
Florida: money and negativity a winning formula
"Among the five things Floridians learned about the Republican primary are that money and negativity can be a winning formula." "Plenty of lesson learned from the GOP primary".
West on the run
"The Democrats vying to replace departing Rep. Allen West from his 22nd congressional seat — businessman Patrick Murphy and former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel — may miss the retired Army colonel and tea party crowd pleaser because his rants on Fox News fired up the left and delivered dollars to their campaign coffers."
But the soon-to-be- redrawn congressional district — absent “bogeyman” West — has also perked the political ears of other Democrats, likely setting up a Democratic primary dogfight this summer with multiple candidates."More Democrats may join primary fight for Rep. West’s seat". See also "Musical chairs in S. Fla. District 22: Hasner enters, Murphy may leave, 2 Broward Dems ponder".
The proposed 22nd district is a better fit for Democrats, said Robin Rorapaugh, a Democratic consultant who briefly ran for the seat after former Wilton Manors mayor Jim Stork dropped out in 2004.
“Needing a bogeyman to raise money is not as crucial,” he said. “It just upped the ante on the primary battle.”
The dynamics of the race for the 22nd congressional district, which straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties, dramatically changed Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney announced he would move his campaign one seat to the north. West then announced he would run in Rooney’s 16th congressional district, which includes part of Palm Beach and is friendlier to a Republican.
"Gambling plans head for trouble"
"Rep. Fresen unveils House casino bill makeover". Meanwhile,"South Florida gambling plans head for trouble".
Rubio bill would extend religious dictates
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio believes that women who work for religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and charities should be subject to a religious agenda as a condition of their employment."
The Florida Republican introduced a bill this week that would allow any employer with religious objections to avoid covering contraception in its employee health insurance plan. Rubio claims this would promote religious liberty. But whose? Certainly not the religious liberty of female employees. Rubio's bill, which has 20 co-sponsors including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is an attempt to extend religious dictates beyond the confines of churches and religious orders and impose them on a secular staff."Bill imposes religion at workplace".
Romney shouldn't read too much into his victory among Hispanic voters
Andres Oppenheimer: "A kind word of advice for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney: Don’t read too much into your impressive victory among Hispanic voters in Tuesday’s Florida primary. You will face an uphill battle to emulate it among Latino voters nationwide."
Romney, the front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, won 53 percent of the Latino vote in the Florida primary. Comparatively, he won 46 percent of the overall vote in the state’s primary."Romney’s big win among Florida Hispanics hard to duplicate".
His wide victory among Florida’s Latinos raised eyebrows nationwide, because Florida is one of the key states with huge Hispanic populations that will figure heavily in who will win in November. The conventional wisdom among pollsters is that — because Latinos nationwide tend to vote heavily Democrat — a Republican candidate needs about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the general election.
But there are several reasons to believe that Romney will have a hard time reaching that magic figure unless he makes a dramatic U-turn in the tone — and the message — of his rhetoric on immigration, English-only, and other issues that Latinos care about.
A recent nationwide poll of Hispanic registered voters by the Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan group, showed that if the general election were held today, President Obama would beat Romney by 68 percent to 23 percent of the Hispanic vote. The same poll showed that, among the general population, Obama would beat Romney by only two percentage points.
An earlier ABC-Univision poll showed similar results. Both surveys reflect that the Democrats have held their ground among Latinos nationwide since Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote in the 2008 election.
Florida's GOP-nominating process called "shamelessly exclusive"
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said in Orlando on Wednesday that
"'One person, one vote' is being undermined by the minions and the Super PACs," Jackson said during an appearance at New Covenant Baptist Church on Rio Grande Avenue. "Not one Super PAC ad was on wiping out homelessness.""Rev. Jesse Jackson on Fla. primary: 'One person, one vote' undermined by money".
Jackson, who served as featured speaker at the church on Wednesday night, addressed reporters before his sermon, decrying big-money influence on politics.
The longtime civil-right activist called the GOP-nominating process, in both Florida and South Carolina, as "shamelessly exclusive," ignoring or degrading the needs and interests of the working poor and of minorities.
Blame the unions!
In a right-to-work state with non-binding impasse resolution, it is hilarious to read the Tampa Tribune editors blame local government economic problems on the
pension agreements between cities and police and firefighters' unions. The cities levy an insurance tax to help pay for their share of the pensions."Needed pension reform".
A 1999 law requires that any tax income over what was received in 1999 must be used for "extra benefits."
The law was intended to bring uniformity to state pension benefits, but it became a prescription for disaster, forcing the cities to commit to ever-increasing obligations that would not be sustainable should the economy go south — which, of course, is what has happened.
But the mandate was typical of lawmakers, who have routinely made concessions to public safety unions without regard for the costs to local governments.
increased school funding traded for Medicaid cuts
"$69.2 billion House budget plan trades increased school funding for Medicaid cuts".
"Water privatization proposal scrapped'
"Under pressure from environmentalists, water privatization proposal scrapped". See also "Language change in state bill would keep reclaimed water in districts' control".
"Mayors and city commissioners moonlighting as lobbyists"
Fred Grimm: "Good government got lost in the rhetoric. In Miami-Dade County, voters rejected a charter initiative on Tuesday that would have barred county commissioners from holding other jobs."
I doubt they did it because they were all that comfy with commissioners hiring on with outfits that do business with the county."When voters speak with forked tongue".
In Broward County, voters in three cities approved deceptive charter amendments that would allow their town officials to weasel out from under the county’s tough new code of ethics.
I doubt that the voters really wanted their mayors and city commissioners moonlighting as lobbyists.
The citizens spoke. What they actually said was a little obscure.
Fifty-four percent of those voting in Miami-Dade Tuesday rejected the reform initiative. Let me rephrase that. Fifty-four percent of those who bothered to vote rejected the charter amendment. The election was yet another monument to apathy. Only 83,562 of the county’s 1,214,351 registered voters voted “no,” but on a day with a 13.82 percent turnout, that piddling amount translated into a solid majority.
West "retreating" from Frankel
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Congressman and former Army battalion commander Allen West bragged that to protect his soldiers he would 'go through hell with a gas can.' Apparently, though, he won't even go through the hell of running against Lois Frankel."
Yes, the Allen West who compares politics to a battlefield is retreating. The tea party icon whose fans tout him for either spot on a national ticket, who raised more money than any Republican congressman except the House speaker, won't fight for reelection in his soon-to-be-redrawn Palm Beach-Broward District 22. As part of what clearly was an orchestrated GOP strategy announced Wednesday under cover of the Republican primary, Rep. West and Rep. Tom Rooney will shift districts to save their seats."This battle is for survival".
Haters running wild in Tally
"A Senate panel voted down a bill to extend in-state college tuition to state residents who are U.S. citizens with undocumented parents."
His home ravaged by earthquake, 16-year-old Renato Lherisson returned to his birthplace, the United States, to finish high school and earn a college degree."Senate panel rejects in-state tuition for children of non-citizens".
The Haitian student envisioned studying political science all the way to the doctoral level and maybe working for the United Nations one day. But now he’s just hoping to afford one class this semester.
Lherisson is one of many students — the number is impossible to determine — who must pay out-of-state tuition even though they are U.S. citizens and Florida residents. It is because they are dependent on their parents, who are not citizens. And in Florida, it is the parent’s status that counts.
A bill that would have extended in-state tuition to such students, if they lived in Florida for at least two years, was voted down Tuesday in a Senate Higher Education Committee meeting.
GOPers luv the early voting
"More than 40 percent of Florida primary vote was in before polls opened".
Southerland's "gift to polluter-lobbyists"
"A coalition of Florida environmental groups is speaking out against a new bill introduced by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, that would, he says, 'empower Florida officials, rather than bureaucrats at the EPA' to implement water pollution standards." "Environmentalists call Florida congressman’s bill ‘a gift to polluter-lobbyists’".
Big of him
"Florida’s governor says he will extend the life of the group looking into ways to eliminate deadly abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities." "Scott wants to renew effort to reform ALFs".
"Florida Senate approves school prayer bill". See also "Florida Senate approves school prayer bill" and "ACLU, Anti-Defamation League denounce state Senate’s school prayer vote".
Romney kicks Hasner and the Maestro in the teeth
"One of the unexpected winners in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Florida wasn’t even on the ballot: Congressman Connie Mack."
The leading Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race, Mack earned national media exposure stumping across the state for Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor went so far as to anoint the 44-year-old Mack in campaign stops as "the next senator from Florida.""Mitt Romney boosts Connie Mack’s Senate bid". See also "Hasner to run for Congress".
That endorsement helped drive Mack’s opponent, Adam Hasner, out of the race this week and into a congressional race in South Florida. Another GOP challenger, Craig Miller, exited to run for a congressional seat, too, leaving only former Sen. George LeMieux as a serious challenger.
Other Republican candidates may remain in the race, but Mack is acting the part of frontrunner, and is backed up by polls. Among likely Republican voters, Mack leads former Sen. George LeMieux 38 to 12 percent, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Jan. 27 and conducted for the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13. Mike McCalister registered 7 percent in the poll.