"Reflecting the unease some Republicans feel toward their party's crop of U.S. Senate candidates, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said today that he's considering making a late entrance into the GOP Senate primary race." "Florida CFO Atwater, of North Palm Beach, ponders run for U.S. Senate".
"Florida is a national leader in passing crazy laws on the whims of deep-pocketed lobbyists"
Daniel Ruth: "Because Florida is a national leader in passing crazy laws on the whims of deep-pocketed lobbyists, more than two dozen other states approved their own versions of Oxbow Incident vigilantism. And the NRA was well pleased — until Trayvon Martin became the poster child for the all too intended consequences of 'stand your ground.'" "NRA shooting wildly from lip". Related: "Gun permits in Florida: A growth industry".
The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Lawmakers play fast and loose".
Luv 4 Sale
"Drawing on his nearly 20 years in Congress, U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park posted $450,000 in fundraising to start the year, giving him a big edge in his Republican primary fight against freshman U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams of Orlando." "Mica opens money lead over Adams in primary fight".
Demings doubles Webster
"Freshman Republican — U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden — had a lackluster quarter."
Webster raised about $148,000, less than half the roughly $330,000 collected by Democratic challenger Val Demings. The former Orlando police chief received contributions from more than 2,500 individuals last quarter, according to her campaign."Besides local donors — including several law enforcement officials — Demings received fundraising support nationally through the Democratic Party and Emily's List, a group that helps Democratic women who back abortion rights.".
"The plot to make Dave Aronberg the most powerful politician in Palm Beach County without having to face the voters has sunk to shocking depths." "Unseemly push for Aronberg".
"A cyber-squatting congressional candidate who controls nearly two-dozen Internet domain names of Republican rivals is under increasing pressure to release them, or face complaints with the Federal Election Commission."
Sunshine State News, which reported earlier this month that "Friends of Trey Radel" had purchased six website addresses of fellow candidate Chauncey Goss, on Monday obtained an expanded list of domain names owned by Radel's campaign."Domain-gate Furor Spreads as Rivals Demand Return of 'Names' in CD 19".
The roster includes nine additional Web addresses for Goss, as well as multiple domain names for candidates Gary Aubuchon, Paige Kreegel and Brian Owens.
The Radel camp also landed an Internet address for Gary Price, a Naples city councilman who considered a congressional bid, but decided against it.
With more than a half-dozen Republicans jockeying to succeed Rep. Connie Mack, who is running for U.S. Senate, the CD 19 primary is hotly contested. Whoever emerges on top will likely win the general election as the district is roughly 70 percent Republican.
The purchase of rival candidates' names by the Friends of Trey Radel has raised the temperature of the GOP race.
"Florida's approach to saving gopher tortoises from extinction a decade ago allowed developers to bury the docile reptiles alive in their burrows in return for what critics called 'blood money' that was used to buy and protect tortoise habitat elsewhere."
Now, as development throughout the state starts to show signs of recovery, nearly five years after government-sanctioned tortoise deaths were ended, defenders of the reptile say it is better off, though they don't yet know if the state's new approach of relocating tortoises when they get in the way will ultimately save the creatures from oblivion."Gopher tortoises are no longer buried alive, but will relocation save them?".
"The main thing is they are not being buried anymore," said Matt Aresco, a Panhandle ecologist who led opposition to the "entombment" of tortoises. "And the second thing is they are being put on protected sites."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows developers to move tortoises that are blocking construction just a short distance to an undisturbed area of the same development tract. Most of the time, though, developers pay the owners of designated ranches, timberland and other largely natural landscapes to take in tortoises from construction sites.
To get paid for adopting these long-living land dwellers, those landowners must permanently designate their acreage as green space and ensure it remains healthy — not overgrown with brush, for example — as tortoise habitat.
"State voters still can't get respect"
Randy Schultz: "From Palm Beach County to Tallahassee, regardless of party, elected officials are demonstrating how little regard they have for those who elected them." "In this election year, state voters still can't get respect".
"Importance of the Latino vote"
"Obama, Romney and the importance of the Latino vote".
"Fearless (some would say heartless) eliminator of budget minutiae"
Fred Grimm: "Scott loves to zap the so-called “turkeys” he sees lurking in the state budget. Last year, with considerable flourish, he exercised his line-item veto on a long list of what he characterized as 'short-sighted, frivolous, wasteful spending.'"
But last week, our great bird hunter, the fearless (some would say heartless) eliminator of budget minutiae, shrugged off a $2.2 billion turkey."Scott keeps biggest turkey in state budget".
He vetoed HB 177 that would alter the state’s infamously tough sentencing law to allow a limited number of non-violent drug offenders to leave prison and enter a drug treatment program after serving half, rather than the compulsory 85 percent of their prison sentence.
Buchanan trails Fitzgerald
Jeremy Wallace: "Despite his advantages as a three-term incumbent and finance chairman of congressional Republicans’ election efforts, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan trailed Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald in campaign contributions for the last quarter, records released Monday showed." "Buchanan trails Fitzgerald in first-quarter campaign contributions".
"Alcee Hastings Draws GOP Foe"
"Alcee Hastings Draws GOP Foe; Debbie Wasserman Schultz Loses One".
Law enforcement merger
"HB 1383, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on April 6, transfers 147 positions in DEP's Division of Law Enforcement to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which now has 720 sworn officers. Supporters said the move will save money and will result in better law enforcement. But some former state park managers say there may be a downside, too, depending on how officers are assigned in the future." "Law enforcement merger may save money, but will it protect state parks?".
Children of state employees to participate in KidCare program
"The Florida Association of Counties says its lawsuit to thwart the new Medicaid county billing requirements in HB 5301 will be surgically drafted so that the other provisions in the measure won’t be overturned, namely a change that would for the first time allow children of state employees to participate in the Florida KidCare program." "No severability clause? No problem. Counties say lawsuit will focus on county Medicaid billing only".
Bondi wants more
"Attorney General Pam Bondi wants a federal judge to delay the recently announced BP settlement because she says it doesn't give full compensation to Floridians." "Pam Bondi Wants More Floridians Included in BP Settlement".
"Redistricting briefs set stage"
"New constitutional provisions intended to protect minority voting rights emerged as key terrain in the legal contest over the state's revised Senate redistricting plan, as groups wrangle over what are sometimes conflicting standards." "Latest round of redistricting briefs sets stage for oral arguments".
Rubio strides world stage
"They rarely agree on contentious issues, but U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and President Obama had a similar mission at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend."
Each in his own way wants to exclude Cuba from such gatherings because its government has failed to respect human rights and pursue democratic reforms."Rubio and Obama agree on excluding Cuba".
Rubio, a Republican from Florida, passed around a letter from the Ladies in White, who silently march through Cuban streets in protest.
Representing the Senate’s Western Hemisphere subcommittee, Rubio met with presidents from Latin America and with the the Colombian Congress. He also toured the Port of Cartagena, a hub for trade between Florida and Colombia.
"It's important to understand that Cuba does not belong at the Summit of the Americas because it fully rejects the fundamental right of the Cuban people to elect their own leaders in free and fair elections," Rubio said.
Obama made similar assertions in the face of sharp criticisms of the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
He and Rubio still disagree on Obama's new rules that allow more U.S. travel to Cuba. Obama said he hoped U.S. engagement would lead to a transition in Cuba.
"Legislative sleight of hand"
The Miami Herald editorial board: "This year, the state will raid clerks’ revenues ..., taking back $31 million from the current budget because of a legislative sleight of hand that began in 2009. That year — in the guise of raising more money for courts and clerks — legislators changed the system. They hiked fees for foreclosures and instituted an awkward process that requires the clerks to send their revenues to Tallahassee, which skims off 8 percent for “administration,” and sends the remaining money back minus the general fund grab and allocations for the 30 special funds." "The price of justice".
West rakes it in
"Allen West Among Country's Top Campaign Fundraisers". See also "Allen West raises $1.8 million in 3 months".
"Gov. Rick Scott to sign state budget". See also "Rick Scott to Sign Budget Tuesday at St. Johns Elementary School".
"Education budget keeps spending at 2007 levels"
"Scott has said that the 2012-2013 state budget he will sign Tuesday, which includes a $1 billion increase for K-12 public education over the 2011 budget, is a significant investment, a statement the Florida Education Association disputes."
According to the union, the budget includes money “for expanding charter schools and increasing money for corporate voucher schools,” and “for the second year in a row, Florida’s traditional K-12 public schools will not receive money from the state for school maintenance, repairs or renovations, allowing our schools to fall further into decay. All of the trust fund allocations in the K-12 arena will go to charter schools. Higher education will receive a very small portion.” ..."Teacher’s union says education budget keeps spending at 2007 levels". Meanwhile, "Scott will be at a Jacksonville school to boast about more state dollars going to education".
The Education Association, which represents 140,000 state teachers and support professionals, said in December that if Scott’s “budget proposal is enacted, spending will still stand nearly $800 per student less than our state’s commitment to education five years ago, the unfunded mandates are still in place, pre-K remains woefully underfunded and the brain drain at our public colleges and universities continues as universities in other states continue to gobble up our professors.”