Monday, April 27, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

"Fiercest opponent of Medicaid expansion"

"Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, the fiercest opponent of Medicaid expansion in the House and the next in line to become House Speaker in 2016, defended his position in a series of tweets over the weekend."

The burst of 140-character messages slammed hospitals as profit-hungry, blasted Medicaid as a broken system and asserted he was the one standing up for the “working poor” by denying them sub-par health care through Medicaid.
"Corcoran defends anti-Medicaid expansion position in barrage of tweets."

Pro-Choice Republicans

"As Pro-Choice Republicans See It: Abortion Decisions Don’t Belong on a Legislative Agenda."

LeMieux May Want to Return to the Senate

Jeff Henderson writes, "Watch Out for Tough-Customer George LeMieux if He Wants to Return to the Senate."

"Legislative battle of wills"

"Legislative battle of wills means few bills passing." See also "Infighting is turning Florida GOP into a house divided."

"Dodge-style shoot-em-up dividing the Florida Legislature"

Nancy Smith: "Somebody fish Matt Dillon out of the Long Branch. Right now the Dodge-style shoot-em-up dividing the Florida Legislature on Medicaid expansion could use the gun-toting marshal to restore peace and a little common sense." "Fix LIP First, Work Out Medicaid Differences Later."

Pete Williams considering challenging Graham in 2016

"Pete Williams, who lost to longtime State Attorney Willie Meggs by a very narrow margin in 2012, is considering challenging Graham in 2016, sources close to the Leon County Republican tell Sunshine State News. Williams is a prominent figure in Tallahassee, having served as inspector general at both the Florida Department of Education, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Agency for Health Care Administration and having been named as a statewide prosecutor by then-Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist from 2003 until 2007. Before that, Williams was the director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and worked as an assistant attorney general for economic crimes and traffic homicides." "Pete Williams Mulls Over Challenging Gwen Graham."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

"Absurdity on steroids"

"The legislative fight continuing into the session’s final week is over a fund known as the low income pool, or $2 billion in federal money used to reimburse hospitals for care they provide to those who can’t pay. This year, federal officials have said they will not provide the money unless Florida expands Medicaid under Obamacare."

"The Obama administration is using similar tactics in Texas, Tennessee and Kansas, threatening to withhold the indigent care money unless those states get on board with expanding Medicaid, part of the president’s plan to provide health care coverage to more people. The Florida Senate supports the idea, but House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott oppose it." "Health care money divides Legislature." See also "House and Senate Far Apart on Budget as Health Care For Poor Becomes Bargaining Chip."

Scott Maxwell explains that "last week, absurdity went on steroids when Republicans realized that all their screaming about how they don't want no stinkin' federal money might end up with them getting their wish."

This was something they never really expected.

Yes, they want to rant about Obamacare. But they also wanted to keep sucking up federal health-care dollars.

So when the feds finally said: Fine, if you don't want our health dollars, we won't give you our health dollars, they flipped out.

"Gov. Rick Scott vowed to sue. Suddenly, he was no longer ranting about federal health-care money ... he was desperate for it."
House Republicans weren't sure what to do. So they staged a secret meeting where they passed out talking points for members to parrot. This way, if a pesky constituent asked why they were making such a mess, they could respond with prattle like: "We will continue to listen to new ideas . . ."

But House Republicans simply cannot get past the fact that this is "Obamacare" money. So they want to refuse insurance for others — even while enjoying taxpayer-subsidized plans of their own.

And now things are getting even messier.

See, the federal June 30 deadline for accepting Medicaid money is approaching. And if Florida doesn't take it, we'll also lose existing federal money that subsidizes hospitals around the state — more than $1 billion a year.

Much more here: "Secret meetings, threats, lawsuits — a Florida meltdown."

"Term limits have shown limited success"

"Term limits, popular among Florida voters, have shown limited success in breaking the cycle of career politicians. Nowhere is that clearer than in Hillsborough County, where one county commissioner is giving some thought to a first-of-its-kind move that could lengthen his total time in office to 20 years." "Hillsborough commissioners exploiting term limits loophole."

"Political pensions"

As folks whine about first responder pensions, perhaps they should consider the"legacy of Miami’s political pensions."

"Unclear why state leaders continued course of inaction for so long"

"There is no arguing, however, that the delay [in resolving the health care funding issue] is holding hostage the fate of health care for hundreds of thousands of working poor Floridians. They make too much money for traditional Medicaid but not enough to take advantage of tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama. The stalemate is rooted in ideology."

"The federal government is eager to have states implement provisions under the Affordable Care Act, but the state House and Gov. Rick Scott are resisting what he calls this 'Sopranos'-like coercion. The state Senate, meanwhile, is on board with expanding access to Medicaid. Still unclear is why state leaders continued this course of inaction for so long, knowing as they did that the feds had promised to reduce their contribution to the state’s coffers." "Documents: Many players contribute to standoff on Medicaid expansion."

State Elections Office Tosses Cases Against Flagler Commissioners

"Specious and Speculative: State Elections Office Tosses Out Kim Weeks Cases Against 3 Flagler Commissioners."

"Trying to save the state from Scott's failures"

The Sun Sentinel editors: "Gov. Rick Scott went to war last week — on the wrong side."

The governor should have been strong-arming House leaders, demanding that they expand health care coverage to nearly 1 million Floridians. Instead, Scott was threatening members of the Senate, which wants more Floridians to have insurance and is trying to save the state from Scott's failures.
"Scott on wrong side on health care."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Straw candidates: a Miami thing

"Federal prosecutors on Friday accused former Miami Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia’s ex-chief of staff of secretly financing a ringer tea-party candidate in 2010 to draw votes away from a Republican rival — an illegal scheme that appeared to inspire a more serious copycat case two years later."

Jeffrey Garcia was charged with conspiracy to give a campaign contribution of less than $25,000, a misdemeanor offense. Prosecutors say Garcia, no relation to the former congressman, put up the $10,440 qualifying fee for the shadow candidate, Jose Rolando “Roly” Arrojo, to pose as a GOP primary challenger to David Rivera.

Arrojo was also charged Friday with the same misdemeanor.

Rivera is suspected of following a similar playbook in 2012 to prop up a Democratic candidate against Joe Garcia. Rivera has not been charged, although two others in that case — the straw candidate and Rivera’s ex-girlfriend — were convicted.

"Jeffrey Garcia himself confessed his actions to prosecutors three years after the fact, his attorney said. The charge, filed in U.S. District Court, paves the way for Garcia, 42, to surrender to authorities next week and then plead guilty in the hope of receiving a light sentence. The same outcome is likely for Arrojo, 41."
The former congressman, identified in the charging document as “Candidate A,” has long denied any involvement and has not been charged. . . .

The scale of the case pales in comparison to the one surrounding Rivera, the Republican who preceded Joe Garcia in Congress. Rivera’s ex-girlfriend, Ana Alliegro, told a grand jury that he masterminded a scheme that secretly funneled more than $81,000 to the straw candidacy of Democrat Justin Lamar Sternad in 2012. Rivera covered their tracks and helped Alliegro twice escape to Nicaragua, according to Alliegro.

Both Alliegro and Sternad served prison time. Rivera has, for now, avoided a similar fate and maintained his innocence.

"Feds charge ex-congressional chief of staff with secretly funding 2010 ringer candidate." See also "Former girlfriend testifies against ex-Rep. David Rivera, questions lack of indictment in campaign scandal" and "Federal judge calls out David Rivera, sentences Ana Alliegro to six months of house arrest."

Blue-green algae bloom

"No water will be discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Canal until state agencies run tests on a possible blue-green algae bloom just outside the lake at the western end of the St. Lucie Canal, officials have confirmed." "Algae Bloom Tests Halt Lake Okeechobee Discharges into St. Lucie Canal."

Old men at work

"Abortion bill headed to Gov. Rick Scott." See also "Abortion waiting period bill goes to Gov. Scott."

"Free-market" fools

"With only a week left in the regular session, Florida lawmakers remain locked in a dispute Friday over health-care spending, putting billions of dollars on the line for hospitals and health-care access at stake for 800,000 low-income Floridians." "Talks, but no progress in health-care budget impasse." See also "Despite $600 million offer from House, Florida Senate refuses to back off Medicaid expansion."

Prison deform

"The Florida House approves a prison reform plan as lawmakers commit to creating a joint committee to finish the job." "Legislators take ownership of prison reform with new plan."

Weekly Roundup

"Weekly Roundup: Should I Stay or Should I Go?." See also "Education Week in Review: FSA Testing Glitches, Charter School Legislation."

"Lawmakers dismiss what Floridians need"

The Miami Herald editors: "State lawmakers continue to dismiss what Floridians need, want." "Misplaced priorities."

Charter madness

"A bill to allow students to cross county lines and attend the charter school of their choice passed through the Florida House Friday, expanding the options for student school choice in the state of Florida." "House Passes Bill Allowing Students to Cross County Lines for School."

Rubio on fire

"After launching his bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is moving up in the national polls though his campaign team is cautioning supporters about his momentum."

The Rubio campaign tampered down expectations after Quinnipiac University released a poll on Thursday showing the Florida Republican atop the GOP field and running closest against former U.S .Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Rubio takes 15 percent of Republicans, with former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., in second with 13 percent followed by Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., with 11 percent. No other Republican breaks into double digits.

The poll also has Clinton ahead of Rubio but the Republican running within the margin of error. Clinton leads 45 percent to 43 percent. The next closest Republican is U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at 4 percent behind Clinton. Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, do the worst against Clinton, losing by 7 percent each.

"Marco Rubio's Team Throws Cold Water on 2016 Poll Surge."

Clinton Staffs Up

"After launching her second bid for the White House earlier this month, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, is starting to staff up in the Sunshine State -- bringing on board a native Floridian and seasoned political operative to lead the charge here." "Hillary Clinton Staffs Up for Grassroots Assault in Florida."

Lincoln rolls over

"Hillsborough Republicans will welcome former Gov. Jeb Bush back to Florida as keynote speaker for their June 19 Lincoln Day Dinner." "Jeb Bush to appear at Hillsborough’s Lincoln Day Dinner on June 19."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Scott threatens vetoes

"Faced with a budget impasse and the prospect of losing his tax cut plan, Gov. Rick Scott cornered key senators on Wednesday to remind them of his priorities and, some said, suggest he could veto their bills if they don’t pass them." "Scott threatens vetoes as session impasse continues."

See also Gov. Rick Scott calls for special session, says tax cuts may be sacrificed to end stalemate."

Grubbing for wingnuts

Jeb Bush says "he would support repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) -- executive actions from Obama allowing around 5 million illegals to stay in the U.S. without facing being deported. As he nears a presidential bid, Bush has drawn fire from conservatives on immigration. Bush has been a vocal critic of the Arizona immigration law and has backed immigration reform." "Jeb Bush Vows to Repeal Obama's Immigration Executive Actions."

There's plenty of room in the clown car:

"U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., a possible U.S. Senate candidate in 2016, took a larger role in the fight against President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law on Wednesday, leading the charge to end congressional exemptions from the law." "Ron DeSantis Leads the Charge Against Congressional Obamacare Exemptions."

Florida farmers worry

"Congress will be talking up the possibility of expanding agricultural markets to Cuba – a shift encouraged by U.S. farmers and some members of Congress." "As some U.S. farmers see markets in Cuba, those in Florida see worries."

Privatization follies

"The company, American Institutes for Research, acknowledges it failed to follow its own protocols but says it has learned its lesson this time." "Florida lawmakers rip testing vendor after second round of glitches."

Chamber hops into the clown car

"As Gov. Rick Scott threatens lawmakers with a special session and vetoes of their bills, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, one of the governor’s biggest political allies, dropped its support of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare."

The chamber’s health care proposal had included drawing down $50 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid if the plan included spending protections proposed by the group. Scott and House Republicans oppose Medicaid expansion.
"Florida chamber withdraws support of Medicaid expansion."

"Waldo Bill"

"Legislature passes 'Waldo Bill' to outlaw ticket quotas."

"It is naked hypocrisy"

"It is naked hypocrisy -- and proof that they don't really want accountability. They just want to drive families away from public schools." "Florida private schools rely more on public vouchers - without public 'accountability'."

Old men

"Women who want an abortion in Florida will have to wait 24 hours under a bill that passed the House on Wednesday. The Senate will likely vote on its version of the bill, which mirrors the House's, on Friday. It is expected to pass." "Women likely to face 24-hour waiting period for abortion." See also "House passes 1-day wait before abortion" and "Florida House approves 24-hour waiting period for abortions."

Medicaid lawsuit gets Texas backing

"Gov. Rick Scott received the backing of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday over his intention to sue the federal government for allegedly “coercing” Florida to accept Medicaid expansion." "Gov. Scott lawsuit over Medicaid expansion gets Texas backing."

Big of him

"Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Tuesday the he does not support a proposal allowing private agencies to deny adoptions by gay and lesbian couples on religious or moral grounds." "Florida Sen. Gaetz: I don’t support bill allowing private agencies to deny gay adoptions." Related: "Senate committee doesn’t vote on whether private agencies can deny gay adoptions."

Senate rejects League of Cities' pension flip-flop

"The Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday revamping how local pensions for police officers and firefighters are funded, bringing closer to resolution a long-running debate over the retirement plans."

The bill (SB 172), which now heads to the House, cleared the upper chamber 36-0 after less than 10 minutes of debate. It relies on a deal struck between cities and unions last year --- one that cities have backed away from after the re-election of Gov. Rick Scott in November. . . .

The proposal has run into resistance this year from the Florida League of Cities, which supported the bill in 2014.

"Florida Senate Passes Plan to Shore up Local Pensions."

That privacy thing

"Amid an ongoing national debate about police tactics, Florida may soon place limits on who is allowed to access video taken by body cameras worn by law enforcement officers. The Florida Senate on Wednesday voted 36-2 for a bill that would keep confidential police videos that are shot in a house, a health care facility or any place that a 'reasonable person would expect to be private.'" "Florida Senate votes to limit access to police camera videos."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Health-care battle

"Health-care battle puts nearly everything in legislative limbo." See also "Gov. Scott to sue feds over Medicaid expansion" and "".

"Pied Piper of Humbug"

Nancy Smith: "Everglades Foundation, Pied Piper of Humbug and Hype."

Rubio "folded like a cheap shotgun"

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) pointed out that "the minute Rush Limbaugh criticized him, he folded like a cheap shotgun." "McCaskill: Rubio 'Folded Like A Cheap Shotgun' On Immigration Bill."

"Absurd election"

The Tampa Trib editors: "In absurd election, the Tribune recommends Jamie Grant for House District 64."

Online voter registration

The Miami Herald editors: "State lawmakers should approve online voter registration." "A vote of confidence."

"A new layer of skepticism"

"The Bush family name adds a new layer of skepticism to the lengthy, detailed decision process voters endure in the nation’s first primary state." "Bush follows Bush on campaign trail in New Hampshire." See also "In New Hampshire, signs of strain emerge between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio" and "Jeb Bush: Is he 2016's Mitt Romney?"

"It was a bro-mance"

Carl Hiaasen: "New Jersey Democrat and his doctor friend were just looking out for each other." "It wasn’t corruption — it was a bro-mance."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

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Rick Scott's triple twisting back flop-flip

Ed Dean: "From 2011 to 2012, Rick Scott was against Medicaid expansion in Florida. Then he reversed his position and, until last year, he supported it. It’s now 2015 and he has reversed his position again." "Pam Bondi, Dan Webster on; Rick Scott, Bob Buckhorn off."

Florida’s political parties rake in corporate cash

"Florida’s political parties are taking in millions of dollars from many corporations that have a stake in what happens during this year’s legislative session."

New reports filed late Friday show that . . . The Republican Party of Florida, along with a separate fundraising account run by the GOP senate president, took in nearly $7.4 million. . . .

The Florida Democratic Party received roughly $2.75 million in cash donations.

"Florida’s political parties rake in money during session."

Weekly Roundup

"On a week when Jimmy Buffett came to the Capitol, one major piece of legislation ended up happily ever after. But others were getting to where they might need to do the desperation samba. As for the fate of other legislation? Only time will tell." "Weekly Roundup: Bills Living, Dying and Somewhere In Between."

"Florida: comedy gold"

"Why does Dave Barry live in Florida? It's comedy gold, the humorist told Bill Maher on Friday's 'Real Time With Bill Maher.'"

We've turned strangeness into an industry. Perhaps the state should establish a bureau of weirdness and set up museums about Florida lore, crimes and elections. Gather all those late-night put-downs about Florida in one place and invite tourists in. Sure, we've been the butt of the joke often, but we're not boring. Come visit. You'll see. Imagine the commercials with Gov. Rick Scott: "Anything can happen in Florida. I was elected governor. Twice." . . . On the Maher show, Dave Barry joked that he had moved to Florida from the United States. Florida is different, and we have the comedy gold to prove it.
"Florida: We are comedy gold."

Gay adoption ban

"House, Senate take different approaches on gay adoption ban." "House passes religious exemption to block gay adoptions."

"Detzner's trivial opposition to online registration characteristic of his inept handling of his election responsibilities"

The Tampa Tribune editors: "A microphone picked up a frustrated Pinellas Sen. Jack Latvala calling Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s testimony about online voter registration as “so much ...” — with Latvala using a salty term to finish his comment."

If he was a bit profane, Latvala was on target. He, his fellow lawmakers and all Florida voters have good reason to be upset with Detzner, whose trivial opposition to online registration is characteristic of his inept handling of his election responsibilities.

Even as Detzner made an uninvited appearance before the Senate this week in an effort to sabotage online registration legislation, his department was trying to explain the inadvertent release of voter information from high-risk individuals, including law enforcement officials, judges and crime victims. The department’s media release tried to minimize the blunder, but there was no hiding that these individuals’ personal information had been compromised.

"Worry about voters, not bureaucrats."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Batista-dead-enders run wild

"Florida lawmakers have lambasted efforts by President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba,"

an initiative that continues today with Obama’s appearance at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
And what about that Cuban Consulate?
Local leaders in Miami, with the nations biggest population of Cuban-Americans, have also said they have no interest in seeing a Cuban consulate there. But many leaders in Tampa — a city with historic ties older than Miami’s and also just a short plane flight away — have embraced the idea.

Both the Tampa chamber and the Tampa City Council have spoken out in favor of a consulate here, as has U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat.

"Lawmakers' Cuba condemnation may hurt Tampa's outreach." More: "Warming Cuba relations may bring consulate back."

Meanwhile, "Miami mayor would fight putting Cuban consulate in the city ." See also "Miami Rejects Hosting Cuban Consulate, But Tampa Wants It."

Related: "Cuban dissidents heckled at Americas Summit," "Cuba, Venezuela tensions rise in run-up to hemispheric meeting," "Poll in Cuba: Obama more popular than Fidel, Raúl Castro," "How secret poll in Cuba was done," "Abel Prieto: Cuba does not dialogue with puppets of the United States" and "Orlando airport will offer flights to Cuba on July 8."

"Gay adoption bill facing showdown"

"A proposal allowing private agencies to deny gay adoptions by claiming religious or moral objections passed the state House on Thursday but faces uncertainty after the Senate signaled opposition to similar language." "Gay adoption bill facing showdown in state Senate."

"There’ll Be Less Testing. But Not Much Less"

"Rejoice, Students: There’ll Be Less Testing. But Not Much Less. House Approves Roll-Back.." See also "Legislature approves scaling back of school testing" and "House votes to reduce number of state-required school tests."

And then there's this: "Bill to Cut High-Stakes Testing Heads to Rick Scott for Signing."

Good luck with that

"The South Miami city commission unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Mayor Philip Stoddard in support of removing barriers to customer-sited solar power and support for the Floridians for Solar Choice ballot petition." "South Miami mayor, commission: Floridians should have greater choices to buy solar energy."

Its called Employment-at-will

"Workers say Methodist church day-care center fired them for being gay."

Nary a spine in sight

"The Florida House overwhelmingly passed a $690 million tax cut package, but the Senate shows no signs of agreeing to the plan." "Florida House passes $690 million tax cut package."

Second amendment stoopid

"House gambling bill clears first hurdle." See also "Bill for concealed carry in evacuations headed to Gov. Rick Scott."

"Rubio gets a Super PAC"

"Sen. Marco Rubio has already used his Reclaim America PAC, which is limited to $5,000 donations, to build a political team that will run his campaign as well as grow a national fundraising network." "Marco Rubio gets a Super PAC, fueling 2016 money race."

Batista-dead-enders in a dither over terror designation

"Decision on Cuba terror designation will come soon, Obama says."

Senate committee proposes to expand gaming

"While the House scales back its broad bill, a Senate committee took its narrow bill and broadened it to expand gaming" "Turmoil continues over fate of gambling bills."