Mica, Adams' Central Florida throw-down
"In a Central Florida throw-down, Rep. John Mica said Wednesday night he will run for re-election in the 7th Congressional District, pitting him against freshman GOP Rep. Sandy Adams."
In a Central Florida throw-down, Rep. John Mica said Wednesday night he will run for re-election in the 7th Congressional District, pitting him against freshman GOP Rep. Sandy Adams."John Mica, Sandy Adams to Face Off in CD 7 Primary".
House budget done
"The Florida House of Representatives has teed up its $69.2 billion budget for a final floor vote Wednesday after beating back eight amendments from Democrats and approving one that would restore funding for a Jefferson County prison." "House tees up budget for final floor vote".
"Legislature has never been serious about renewable energy"
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "The Florida Legislature has never been serious about renewable energy, or conservation for that matter, and pending bills in the House and Senate would only modestly advance the discussion. However weak, though, the legislation is a start in a tough political and economic climate. ... Florida is losing ground to other states with its voluntary approach to jump-starting renewable energy. " "Power up Florida's energy policy".
UN conspiracy theorists helps drive Tally Fla-bagger agenda
"Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities."
Fox News has also helped spread the message. In June, after President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Rural Council to “enhance federal engagement with rural communities,” Fox programs linked the order to Agenda 21. A Fox commentator, Eric Bolling, said the council sounded “eerily similar to a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a centralized planning agency would be responsible for oversight into all areas of our lives. A one world order.”"Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot". See also "American Planning Association representative warns of 'orchestrated' attacks against planners".
The movement has been particularly effective in Tea Party strongholds like Virginia, Florida and Texas, but the police have been called in to contain protests in states including Maryland and California, where opponents are fighting laws passed in recent years to encourage development around public transportation hubs and dense areas in an effort to save money and preserve rural communities.
Thursday Morning Reads
"Thursday Morning Reads: Budget details, medical malpractice and term limits".
Rubio's latest political stunt
"The White House insisted Wednesday that the president’s commitment to contraceptive access for women is "absolutely firm" even as Republicans from Capitol Hill to the presidential campaign trail assailed the policy as an attack on religious liberty."
Joining the chorus of Republicans in protest was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is sponsoring the Senate bill that would repeal the requirement religious organizations provide birth control. "Bottom line is ... churches should have a right to express themselves," he said.However, Rubio is merely carrying wingnut water.
“We’re not banning contraception, and we’re not even asking that the churches be told that they can’t fund this stuff." Rubio said. "All we’re saying is that if the tents [sic] of their faith are such that they say a specific activity of their faith is something they shouldn’t do, the federal government shouldn’t use its power to force them to pay for that. That’s all we’re saying."
A survey released this week by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that ... 52 percent of Catholics said religious institutions should provide coverage that includes contraception. The numbers were even higher among young people: 58 percent of people aged 18 to 29 religious institutions should provide health care plans that include contraception coverage. Women were "significantly more likely" than men to agree."Debate intensifies over requiring insurers pay for birth control".
Rubio is of course simply playing politics:
Catholic leaders and the GOP presidential candidates have intentionally distorted the Obama administration’s new rule requiring employers and insurers to provide reproductive health benefits at no additional cost sharing. Conservatives are seeking a way to politically unite Republican voters around a social issue and portray the regulation as a big government intrusion into religious liberties. "Many Catholic Universities, Hospitals Already Cover Contraception In Their Health Insurance Plans".
In reality, the mandate is modeled on existing rules in six states, exempts houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of faith, and offers employers a transitional period of one year to determine how best to comply with the rule.
Are Catholic universities next on Mr. Rubio's hit list? See "Nation’s Largest Catholic University: We Offer ‘A Prescription Contraceptive Benefit’".
Fred Grimm: "Senate Bill 1852 was rammed through the Senate Education Committee this week. Champions of public education can invoke that old Woody Allen line: Just because they’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t out to get them."
Committee Chairman Sen. Stephen Wise’s bill would devastate school district budgets, taking millions out of their construction and maintenance funds and sending the money to the private players, mostly landlords, behind the state’s charter schools. The bill would require school districts to share, proportionately, on a per-student basis, property-tax collections earmarked for construction, maintenance and leasing of educational facilities and equipment."Paranoia is justified on charter-school bill".
Every urban school district in the state would get walloped. Broward schools figure passage of the bill would reduce their next fiscal year budget by $20 million. ...
Most of the charters lease space, many from entities controlled by the same for-profit management companies that operate under the ostensibly not-for-profit charters. The landlords and the management companies, in a number of these charter operations, are just one big familial enterprise. One big happy familial enterprise, if this bill passes.
“Our major objection is that we have the public capital outlay funds going directly to private companies,” Hinds said. “Aside from the appropriateness of doing that, this raises, in my opinion, serious constitutional questions.”
The bill also requires the district to distribute federal funds directly to the charter schools, without, Hinds said, any oversight from the district to insure that the money for, say, handicapped kids, actually gets spent on their needs. Yet the school district will be held responsible for the charter’s errant expenditures.
West on the run
"Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy is following Republican Rep. Allen West up Florida's east coast to take on the first-term congressman in his newly adopted district." "Democrat Trails Allen West Into 18th Congressional District".
"The Senate health care budget includes cuts to hospitals and limits on emergency room visits but budget chairman says he wants headlines to point out that overall spending is up." "Negron: Don't call our budget a cutback".
"They led some folks on"
"Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Wednesday that it was the House's"
"choice" to kill a destination casino resort bill, but that they had "led some folks on.""Haridopolos says House 'led some folks on' with destination resorts".
"Given all the signals they were sending, what committees they sent it to, it’s pretty obvious they led some folks on and they weren’t really going to vote on it,"Haridopolos said.
He added: "What we said all along is we wanted to give it a vote up or down."
The two chambers are continuing to grapple with the issue of Internet cafes though. The Senate has signaled it prefers to regulate Internet cafes, while the House is forwarding a bill that would outlaw them.
The Senate's version could jeopardize the roughly $233 million per year that the Seminole Tribe gives the state though.
"During debate before the House’s final approval of the appropriations bill, state Rep. Chuck Chestnut, D-Gainesville, introduced an amendment that would remove the $2 million crisis pregnancy centers are slated to receive."
The House budget currently includes $2 million, yet again, for the state’s crisis pregnancy center network."Legislature shoots down amendment that would strip CPCs of state funding".
Crisis pregnancy centers, or CPCs, are mostly religious centers whose intention is to dissuade women from having abortions. Some Florida centers have been found to distribute inaccurate information about abortion to women seeking help.
These centers have not lost a dime of state funding in the past six years, while other health services have suffered deep cuts.
Folding in their cheap suits
"House avoids closing one prison". See also "House approves budget amendment to save Jefferson Correctional Institution".
Obama gives Florida a hall pass
"President Barack Obama on Thursday will free 10 states from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, giving leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students, The Associated Press has learned." "Florida, 9 other states to get No Child Left Behind law waiver".
More tax dollars for GOPer lawsuit
"In case they needed any more lawyers in the fight, House Republicans voted Wednesday to give their presiding officer explicit authority to join in the legal challenge to the federal health-care act now pending with the U.S. Supreme Court."
House Democratic Leader-designate Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, had offered an amendment prohibiting the Legislature from spending more money on a federal lawsuit challenging the Fair Districts reforms. The chamber has been fighting the amendment in federal court for the last year."House joining federal health-care litigation?".
But House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, offered a replacement amendment deleting Thurston's language and adding language specifically authorizing House Speaker Dean Cannon to use taxpayer dollars "as necessary to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
An overwhelmingly GOP Legislature in a state in which only 36% are registered Republicans
The Tampa Tribune editorial board wonders whether "the work of the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature sufficiently nonpartisan to withstand legal challenge?"
After accounting for race, the redistricting is supposed to produce compact divisions that respect county lines. Critics of the process say that despite the rules, politics crept in. They predict that the new maps will continue to produce an overwhelmingly Republican Legislature in a state in which only 36 percent of voters are registered Republicans."Fair-minded attempt to draw political lines". The editors have more to say in a separate editorial: "The Democratic minority" ("Let's look at how Republicans have turned their minority registration into a commanding majority in Tallahassee. Redistricting to weaken Democrats has played a part, but there are other factors.")
Statewide, 41 percent of voters are registered Democrats, and 20 percent are independents. The rest belong to minor parties.
In [the editors'] view, the new House districts appear reasonable. But the complaint of partisan tampering deserves review. If rules have been violated, the courts should tell the Legislature how to make corrections and why.
Republican majority rules in Tallahassee are outright loony
The Miami Herald editorial board: "Florida, short by billions of dollars each year to meet its most important public obligations, such as funding education, now has an opportunity to collect as much as $1 billion from out-of-state companies that sell their wares on the Internet."
And finally, after years of stalling, legislators seem interested in bringing fairness and parity to in-state retailers that abide by the law and collect the sales tax — only to see their out-of-state competitors skirt the tax obligation."Another loony ‘jobs’ bill".
But then this is Florida, and apparently the rules under the Republican majority in Tallahassee are not only different but outright loony.
Instead of requiring all goods (whether bought at a big box store, a small business or on the Internet) to carry a 6 percent sales tax to go to Florida’s near-empty coffers, one proposal in the Senate would close the Internet loophole and then require the Department of Revenue to track the money collected and offer a sales-tax holiday for about the same amount.
Santorum's Florida supporters vindicated
"Rick Santorum’s victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado on Tuesday vindicated his supporters in Florida who told anyone willing to listen that their candidate should not be discounted in the on-going campaign. Many conservatives in Florida expressed their disdain for front-runner Mitt Romney, and some refused to coalesce around Newt Gingrich. That leaves Santorum as an alternative." "Santorum wins vindicate Florida supporters".
GOPers go after overpaid waitresses
"The Florida restaurant lobby is pushing a bill that would drop the minimum wage for the state's restaurant servers and other tipped employees from $4.65 to $2.13 an hour, creating the rare possibility of a legal wage floor being lowered rather than raised."
The bill under consideration by the state's tourism and commerce committee, SPB 7210, would allow restaurants to ditch the state's minimum wage for servers in favor of the lower, federal one, provided the businesses guarantee that their workers will earn at least $9.98 per hour after tips. The backers of the bill include
If the bill were passed, servers would end up taking home less pay, and customers would be paying a greater share of the salary burden.
Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners, owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill chains. OSI Partners gave more than $120,000 to 32 Florida Republicans -- and $500 to one Democrat -- during the 2010 election cycle, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics."Florida Minimum Wage Could Be Slashed For Restaurant Workers". See also "Florida bill would cut minimum wage of restaurant workers" and "Senate bill could cut hourly wages of servers, bartenders".
Fighting for the "right" to pollute
"Critics of federally mandated water pollution standards continue to challenge the costs and benefits of implementing the new water rules, while environmental groups maintain that the standards are necessary to ensure the health of Florida’s waterways, and its economy." "Free Market Florida releases new ad attacking EPA water rules".
Senate: We don' need no "Everglades restoration"
"Proposed Senate budget language leaves out money for land acquisition, Everglades restoration".
Raw political courage
"Bondi, lawmakers push human trafficking legislation".
"Longtime state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has been eying a run for Congress for years. He nearly ended up with a district that was virtually gift-wrapped — an open seat where two-thirds of the population live in Pasco. But the district was shifted west to pick up coastal Pinellas County — and incumbent congressman Gus Bilirakis' hometown of Palm Harbor."
If the court ends up redrawing the congressional map, the new districts likely wouldn't take effect until the 2014 election."Divided on redistricting".
"I'm very disappointed in the final product," Fasano said.
Others speculate the district was changed at the last minute to punish Fasano, who had a very public falling out with the Pasco Republican Executive Committee over his support of Charlie Crist in the 2010 Senate race.
WWJD? Not this
"The faith community appears to be delving into the prison privatization debate. "
Claudio Perez, president and CEO of South Florida Jail Ministries, Wednesday, delivered a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon advocating that the state move ahead with a plan to privatize correctional facilities in an 18-county region in South Florida.Mr. Perez shares his wisdom:
The bill has gotten tied up in the Senate, which Haridopolos has said is split down the middle. He cut off debate on the issue last week instead of taking it to a vote as originally planned. He has said he is not sure when or if he will take it up again.
The House also pulled it from its Appropriations Committee agenda when it appeared that the Senate's version of the bill was in trouble.
"The Department of Corrections doesn’t need to perform any specific numbers or save any specific amount of money.," he said. "When you privatize, they have to perform because they are under competition. It allows companies like us, faith based to have the resources of the faith community, bring them in so all the programs could be focused and integrated so it is the outcomes that matter of the inmate, not necessarily cost savings.""Faith group urges Legislature to pass private prison legislation".
Perez said he has already had conversations with some of the prison groups about his company providing some services should the bill pass, though he did not specify which company.
"Senate leaders inserted last-minute language in a budget bill Wednesday to immediately split the Lakeland campus of the University of South Florida into the state's 12th university."
This move would fulfill a top priority of Senate budget Chairman JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who, because of term limits, is in his last legislative session. It would allow the 1,300-student branch campus in Lakeland to almost completely sever ties with USF and become "Florida Polytechnic" this year."Alexander, who has publicly pushed for a new state university in Polk County since last summer, did not attend Wednesday's meeting and did not return a call seeking comment. But as USF Poly's biggest backer, he clearly influenced the move."
The creation of the university was placed in a budget conforming bill, which changes state law to carry out how the Legislature wants money spent. Senators have criticized the volume of conforming bills in recent years, noting that they have started to stray from their primary purpose and receive scant scrutiny."Bill makes USF Poly independent".
Senate President Mike Haridopolos signaled ahead of the 2012 session that leaders might steer away from using conforming bills to pass substantial legislation: "We can improve that part of the process," he told reporters.
Wednesday's bill earned quick disapproval from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano has been critical of the push for independence for USF Poly.
"This is so irresponsible, this move by Chairman Alexander and anybody else that's behind it," Fasano said.
Asked where this bill came from, Lynn said she and her staff wrote it.
And why go this route?
"Conforming bills appear, you know," Lynn said. "And things happen."