Saturday, July 07, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

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

"No trouble finding a stooge in the Legislature"

Carl Hiaasen: "A Miami federal judge has struck down the new law prohibiting Florida doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The ruling extends the legal losing streak of Gov. Rick Scott and right-wing lawmakers, who have set a pathetic record for unconstitutional bills."

A Miami federal judge has struck down the new law prohibiting Florida doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The ruling extends the legal losing streak of Gov. Rick Scott and right-wing lawmakers, who have set a pathetic record for unconstitutional bills.

Written by the National Rifle Association, the so-called Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act would have prevented concerned physicians from asking patients about guns kept in their houses. It’s a reasonable query in domestic situations in which children might be at risk.

But the GOP-controlled Legislature wants doctors to shut up about guns and stick to lecturing women about their abortion decisions. So much for privacy.

By necessity, doctors ask lots of personal questions. Are you using any illegal drugs? How much alcohol do you drink in a week? Do you smoke cigarettes? Do you suffer from depression?

We’ve all filled out the checklists while sitting in the waiting room. And, on the examination table, we’ve all heard doctors and nurses ask things we wouldn’t post on Facebook.

Say, have you noticed if your urine is changing color?

Uh, no.

Most of us have never been asked by our health-care providers whether we have a gun, or where on the premises we keep it. However, most of us don’t have bullet scars, needle tracks or booze on our breath when showing up for a medical appointment.

Some people do, and too often they have kids. Doctors who ask questions are usually just doctors who care, and the best doctors have more questions than others.
"The ban on asking about gun habits originated after an Ocala couple reportedly claimed their physician wouldn’t treat them anymore because they refused to talk about it."
Cue the NRA, which had no trouble finding a stooge in the Legislature [(that would be, Rep. Jason Brodeur)]to sponsor a bill that effectively prohibited physicians from raising the subject.

Republican supporters claimed that merely by inquiring about firearms in the house, doctors are infringing on a patient’s Second Amendment rights. The argument is embarrassingly lame. Suggesting that someone put a trigger lock on their handgun is not quite the same as confiscating it.

Extending the Legislature’s knothead logic, a doctor who promotes the safe use of condoms is violating your constitutional right to accidentally impregnate whomever you want.

The gun law was doomed in the courts from the day the NRA hacks delivered it. Still, it passed last year and was proudly signed by Scott, generating a swift legal challenge from the Florida Pediatric Society, the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and other groups.

In the media, the battle became known as “Docs vs. Glocks,” and on June 29 the docs won. ...

You certainly can’t be forced to answer those questions, just as your doctor can’t be forced to keep you as a patient. Take your funny-colored pee and move on.
"Florida loses another ridiculous legal battle".

"Scott says no"

"Scott continues to argue against setting up exchanges to help people find health insurance, saying they won't make coverage cheaper. Florida could influence the design of the exchange if it were to do its own, but Scott says no." "Scott: A 'no' on exchanges". See also "Gov. Rick Scott repeats that Florida will not implement health care exchanges".

Good luck with that

"Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson asks Tampa supporters to help him get on presidential polls".

Florida's wages have dropped more than in other states

"Floridians are earning less and taking more low-wage jobs than they were a year ago, with pay rates dropping more than almost anywhere in the country."

Scott spokesman Lane Wright said the governor welcomes all jobs.

"Gov. Scott has put a lot of focus on the high-tech sector, but he is not limiting Florida's growth to just that," Wright said. "We're not going to reject jobs just because they don't pay as high of a wage as they might in other sectors."

Why have Florida's wages dropped more than in other states?

Several factors may contribute, said Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Among them, Florida has made it more difficult for people to apply and retain unemployment benefits, which can shove more low-wage earners into the workforce and lower wages, Matthews said.
"Floridians' paychecks are smaller in 2012, Labor Department report shows". Related: "Florida Voices: National Unemployment Mark".

Meanwhile, "Rep. Young's response to minimum wage query: 'Get a job'". See also "U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's comments about minimum wage create Internet buzz".

Michelle Obama to speak at UCF

"First lady Michelle Obama to speak at UCF".

<Wait till "Jeb!" hears this

"This spring’s uproar over the FCAT has apparently reached Gov. Rick Scott’s ears. The governor on Friday said he is talking with state education leaders, district superintendents and teachers about possibly changing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, saying schools might be doing too much of a good thing when it comes to student testing." "Gov. Rick Scott appears to give support to chorus of criticism about too much emphasis on FCAT".


Frank Cerabino: "New state law meant to skirt rules against school prayer not very inspiring".

Red Dawn overdose

Nancy Smith: "Rick Scott should appeal U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke's permanent injunction against Florida's Firearms Owners' Privacy Act."

If he doesn't, doctors will have a right to refuse to treat you if you own a gun.

They will have a right to grill you about your gun and enter your answers into their medical records, including where the firearm is stored.

They will have a right to press your children on whether you own a gun.

"Now we've got Obamacare, the government owns our health care," Molly Johanssen, a 58-year-old Tallahassee business owner, told Sunshine State News. "They can coerce the names and habits of gun owners out of doctors' medical records, that's what scares me most. Maybe it won't happen today or tomorrow, but the ability to do it is there."
"Florida, Appeal Flawed Decision Overturning 'Docs vs. Glocks' Law".

Forgive me, but these people have seen Red Dawn way too much. Recall this curious exchange early on the film (after the Commies have parachuted onto the Culver High School football field):
KGB Major: Do you want to see me?

Colonel Ernesto Bella: Yes... yes. Go to the sporting goods store. From the files obtain forms 4473. These will contain descriptions of weapons, and lists of private ownership.
See also "Red Dawn, a movie about gun control".

"A tale of two stimulus acts"

Aaron Deslatte: "It's a tale of two stimulus acts, and reality depends on who's telling it. After the 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress and President George W. Bush passed a stimulus plan to provide money to bail out state-government budget deficits." "'Stimulus' is in the eye of the beholder".

The 8 Million Dollar Cabinet

"Florida’s three Cabinet members -- Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- are worth a collective $8,846,996, according to recently filed financial disclosure reports."

The overall mark is slightly down from the prior year, 2010, with Putnam, the wealthiest, dropping $300,000. Bondi has the least but now is able to report an income, showing the largest single-year gain at $200,000.

The annual disclosure reports require descriptions of assets, liabilities topping $1,000 and for sources of income. But other than to say the source of the asset or liability, little disclosure is really required.

Putman, who has been the focus of recent reports for a 2005 deal in which the South Florida Water Management District paid $25.5 million for 2,042 acres of his family’s ranch, saw his net worth drop from $6.8 million in 2010 to $6.49 million last year.
"Florida’s $8.8 Million Cabinet".

"A more user-friendly way to read and understand Florida’s complicated law books just launched online. has features that the state’s official website, Online Sunshine at, does not. For example, there is an easy-to-understand description of each law’s history and hyperlinked text that shows the definitions of terms in other parts of the law." "Website sheds more light on Florida’s laws".

"Industry lapdogs in Tallahassee"

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "It comes at a steep price, but finally someone appears to have been held accountable for the mismanagement of Progress Energy and its nuclear power debacles. Duke Energy abruptly parted ways this week with Bill Johnson, the former Progress Energy chief executive who was supposed to be the top official for the merged companies. If the Florida Public Service Commission and the Legislature had been similarly aggressive, ratepayers would not be on the hook for billions in costs tied to one nuclear plant that's broken and another that may never be built."

Compare Duke's decisionmaking with the failure to grasp reality in Tallahassee. In February the PSC approved a limp deal with Progress Energy that provided a modest refund but still raised rates and let customers continue to be billed in advance for the Levy project for the next five years. And the Legislature has not lifted a finger to repeal the 2006 law that foolishly allowed electric utilities to bill customers for these advance nuclear construction costs even if the plant is never built.

This is what it has come to in the Sunshine State: The best hope utility customers have to protect their wallets comes not from regulators or legislators but from the new CEO of the nation's largest electric company. That speaks well of the highly regarded management from the old Duke Energy, but it reaffirms the toothlessness of the industry lapdogs in Tallahassee.
"Hope for Progress Energy customers".


"Rep. Jason Brodeur is a 37-year-old first-term legislator who drew national headlines and punch-lines passing a court-blocked 'Docs vs. Glocks' bill. Fellow Republican John F. Bush, 70, is a former Winter Springs mayor who says the incumbent hasn't been visible in the district and unfairly tried to punish Seminole's prized but financially challenged schools this year." "Brodeur-Bush race features rivals who once supported each other".

Conservative groups align in Dade

"Two of Miami-Dade County’s best-known conservative groups have launched an alliance to elect like-minded candidates this fall."

“If any candidate wants to get elected to public office in Miami-Dade County and all of South Florida, then they need to work with fair-minded, pro-life, pro-family citizens of this community,” said Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalition, which has united with the Catholic Cultural Fund for the 2012 election cycle.

Flanked by a half-dozen endorsed candidates, Verdugo and Eladio José Armesto of the Catholic Cultural Fund announced the pact at a news conference on Friday.

The coalition came together “through tedious planning and hard work,” Armesto told The Miami Herald. “There’s a great need to share with the electorate the fact that their right to vote is more than a right. It’s an obligation. It’s a duty. It’s a responsibility to our community and to future generations.”

Armesto, also director of the conservative Florida Democratic League, said the Christian Family Coalition and Catholic Cultural Fund “are going to be mobilizing churches and parishes and organizations within the county to ensure the widest participation possible.”

Verdugo says his group represents 100,000 voters and that 29 percent of CFC members say they voted in the 2011 elections.
"Conservative Christian groups form election alliance".