The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Senate President Mike Haridopolos has used his procedural powers to kill a commonsense effort to impose a modicum of ethical standards on state legislators who can't recognize a conflict of interest when they see one."
For five years, Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, has waged a quixotic crusade for a reasonable proposal to ban state lawmakers from influencing bills that would have a direct financial impact on themselves, family members, friends or employers. The bill (SB 552) would go beyond banning legislators from voting on bills that specifically financially benefit them or others close to them (something the House already handles through a rule). Dockery's bill would also prohibit lawmakers with conflicts of interests from trying to influence their colleagues' votes."In Senate, an ethics shortage". Related: "Dockery Hopes 5th Time a Charm For Passage of Her Ethics Bill".
Haridopolos has effectively killed the legislation for the second year, this time by assigning it to five different committees for consideration, where it is certain to die by delay, indifference and cronyism. And he has deflected criticism by embracing another so-called ethics bill (SB 1560) offered by the former House speaker and current Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, that won't be nearly so effective in stopping insider dealing.
Waiving competitive bids
"Miami-Dade commissioners postponed a discussion Tuesday on something unusual: giving up some of their power. Commissioner Bruno Barreiro deferred his proposal to transfer to the county’s aviation department director, Jose Abreu, some of the commission’s authority to waive competitive bids and to award, negotiate and extend contracts. The ordinance would apply only to Abreu, and not to any future department head." "Miami-Dade commissioner defers plan to give up power on airport bids".
Weak water pollution rules
"Water pollution rules that some environmentalists say are too weak are up for a final vote in the Florida Legislature. The Senate is set for a roll call Wednesday on a bill that would waive a requirement for the Legislature to approve the rules. The bill (HB 7051) passed unanimously in the House last week." "Senate vote set on Fla. water pollution rules".
LGBTA mayors lunch
"Four of the most powerful mayors in Miami-Dade County will meet Thursday for lunch with the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political and business activists." "Top Miami-area mayors to lunch with gay activists, business people".
Housing and school bus ads
"Capitol Buzz: Housing and school bus ads are topics of debate".
"This shows contempt for women"
"The United States House of Representatives will today mark up a bill that would outlaw abortions sought because of race or sex."
Late last year, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011, which would “prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race, and for other purposes.”"House to mark up race- and sex-based abortion bill co-sponsored by two Florida Republicans".
Florida legislators are moving forward a bill that mimics Frank’s proposal. So far, sponsors have not been able to justify a need for the bill, but rather claim it is an effort to protect Florida from becoming a “safe haven” for race- or sex-based abortions.
Reproductive justice advocates have long denounced any efforts to tie abortion to race, which is the crux of this legislation. Efforts to frame abortion in America as “Black Genocide” have grown since President Obama’s election in 2008, and have resulted in elaborate campaigns that spread this association.
Loretta Ross — the president of SisterSong, a reproductive justice collective for women of color — said there is no evidence that supports the need for such bills. She believes these bills are a “blatant attempt for southern Republicans to look like they are champions of racial justice,” while they actually attacking women’s rights. Ross says that painting women as propagators of genocide in this way is an “attack on women’s dignity.”
“Ultimately,” Ross said, “this shows contempt for women.”
Tuition hike proposed
"Senate proposes 3 percent tuition hike for community colleges". Related: "Biden: Obama tuition plan unlikely to affect Florida".
Scott "trying to figure out what it does"
"Scott on Tuesday made clear he isn’t a fan of a House proposal that would make Florida’s 67 counties responsible for county health departments."
“I’m trying to figure out what it does,”Scott said at a media availability Tuesday ..."Governor opposes health care overhaul".
Palm Beach blues
Nancy Smith: "Back to Palm Beach County and Our Regularly Scheduled Election Night Blunder ...".
DW-S role in GOP primaries
"Democrat Wasserman Schultz plays national role in Republican primaries".
Florida Senate leadership rolls out tax-breaks for corporations
"The Florida Senate leadership rolled out an economic development budget Tuesday that boosts tax-breaks for corporations ... The Transportation and Economic Development budget would give Gov. Rick Scott $79.6 million for business tax-breaks he could award without the approval of the Legislative Budget Commission, and another pot of $50 million that would require LBC approval." "Florida Senate budget includes $129 million for tax breaks". See also "Senate economic development budget proposal questioned by appropriations panel".
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Pill mill law sends 'pillbillies' packing".
Wingnuts in a tizzy
"Clint Eastwood defends Super Bowl ad, denies Obama link".
Latest on the ed budget
"The budget proposal would put $1.18 billion more into school spending than would otherwise go toward primary and secondary education, about $80 million more than the House proposal." "Senate wants to spend slightly more on education than House". See also "Florida Senate aims to restore school funding, but with social programs pared".
Gaetz says Carroll not "effective"
"There is worry that Eglin Air Force Base's 46th Test Wing could be moved to California's Edwards Air Force Base and Sen. Don Gaetz says Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll hasn't played an effective advocacy role." "Gaetz critical of lieutenant governor's role with military task force".
DEm primary heats up
"Well-financed Democrats Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy have spent nearly a year running for the same Palm Beach-Broward congressional seat, but it hasn't been much of a primary campaign. Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs' entrance into the race, however, could heat up the Democratic battle for the District 22 nomination." "Democratic primary for West's congressional seat may heat up with Broward commissioner's entry".
Grubbing for millionaires
"Switch proposed to put St. Lucie 130-acre enclave in Martin County".
Homes overvalued to raise premiums?
"Some homeowners have filed a class-action lawsuit against Citizens Property, charging that it overvalued their homes to raise premiums." "Citizens boosted home values to raise premiums, suit says".
Limbaugh-Plakon pillow fight
"Who would have thought Rush Limbaugh would draw flak from his right flank? But then, who knew about Scott Plakon, a state representative in the Florida Legislature who has a bone to pick with the talk radio icon over accusations that the Legislature went after Allen West in redrawing the congressman's political district." "Rush Limbaugh's Allen West comments draw flak from a far right lawmaker".
'Super exemption' dies
"Pared-back 'super exemption' property tax cut dies in House committee".
"New frontier for political 'robo-calling'"
"Go ahead and sign up on the Do Not Call Registry, but it won't help. Cellphones are the new frontier for political 'robo-calling,' and politicians work the system to make as many of these cheap and easy contacts as they like." "Politics may be lurking in your cellphone".
"State gambling regulators are in a bind. They have indirectly authorized the expansion of gambling in the past six months as lawyers for parimutuels found holes in state laws and opened the door to slot machines at parimutuels across the state and table-game look-alikes at existing race track casinos." "Regulators worry gambling loopholes threaten $233 million from Seminole Tribe of Florida". Related: "Senate Panel Rejects Proposed Slot Restrictions".
Meanwhile, gambling will be "Back at the table in 2013".
Sunshine State loses ground
"A new national study provides more evidence that school improvements may have stalled in Florida -- yet the overall grade appears to be incomplete. After a decade leading scholastic reform [sic], the Sunshine State lost ground on the 2011 Education Performance and Policy Index compiled by the American Legislative Exchange Council[*]." "With B+ Report Card, Have Florida Schools 'Hit a Wall'?".
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*The utility of anything produced by ALEC is of course suspect: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "members, speakers, alumni, and award winners are a 'who’s who' of the extreme right. ALEC has given awards to: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark Foley (intern sex scandal), and Congressman Billy Tauzin. ALEC alumni include: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Joe Wilson, (who called President Obama a 'liar' during the State of the Union address), former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, Andrew Card, Donald Rumsfeld (1985 Chair of ALEC’s Business Policy Board), Governor Scott Walker, Governor Jan Brewer, and more. Featured speakers have included: Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie Helms, Pete Coors, Governor Mitch Daniels and more."
"Snapshot of a divided state"
"Scott’s Facebook page is intriguing because the comments to a question about the Florida Legislature provides a snapshot of a divided state." "Gov. Scott’s Facebook page draws praise and protests".