Wednesday, February 06, 2013

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

Rubio recycles "ideas he denounced when running for the Senate as tea party darling"

Rhonda Swan: "If the principles for immigration reform that Sen. Marco Rubio has been touting all over TV and talk radio this week sound familiar, it's because you've heard them before."

That's not to say the proposals aren't valid, they just aren't new.

You wouldn't know that, though, the way Rubio takes credit for the same ideas that he denounced when he was running for the Senate as a tea party darling. Or by the way some conservatives are gushing over the 2016 presidential contender, whom they consider their Great Hispanic Hope. . . .

Make no mistake that's what Rubio's new sense of urgency on immigration is about. We know this by his flip-flopping. And we know this by his denial.

"I'm not pursuing reforms to our immigration system, because of the last election or future elections," he wrote on the conservative blog RedState. "I'm doing what I can because I believe it's important for our country."

Why, then, didn't he pursue these important-for-our-country reforms during his first or second year in office?

For the first time since 1986, the U.S. is poised to have comprehensive immigration reform and that's good. But don't insult our intelligence by asking us to believe it's being done in good conscience as opposed to political consciousness.

"Rubio's immigration position is for his own political benefit".

Regressive taxes? No problem

"An annual legislative effort to collect taxes on all Internet sales began again Tuesday in the state capital when a Senate committee agreed to offset any new revenue with other tax breaks, in a bid to appease anti-tax lawmakers." "Sales-tax bill for online shopping moves in Senate".

Scott "stubbornly in the dark"

The Miami Herald editorial board writes that Rick Scott is "still stubbornly in the dark is on healthcare reform and its implications for Florida’s uninsured — and our economy."

He has used some funny math to try to make a case that expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, would be a bad deal for the state. Yet that key part of the new healthcare law, which kicks in next year, would be a bargain for Florida because the federal government would be paying the lion’s share of the bill. And with preventive care, the state would save on the costs of much more expensive emergency care.

Instead, 900,000 Floridians will be left in the lurch, uncovered by Medicaid. That inevitably will lead to more emergency care costs for those who get sick with preventable diseases. Another troublesome proposal: drastically cutting payments to safety-net hospitals like Jackson Health System.

Mental health services are another dire need, especially after the Sandy Hook massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut brought the issue to the limelight once more. Governors across the country are looking at hiring more mental health experts at schools and in community settings. Not Mr. Scott — even though school shootings in Florida are not an anomaly.

"The governor’s investments".

"Wasting no time"

"State Rep. Doug Holder is wasting no time getting a jump on his next political campaign. Holder, R-Osprey, has filed papers to run for the state Senate in 2018, making him the only candidate for any state office to file this far out." "State Rep. Doug Holder looking far down the line".

"Death penalty system is terribly flawed"

The Miami Herald editors: "Florida’s death penalty system is terribly flawed."

Lawmakers have known that since at least 2006, when the American Bar Association released an exhaustive report calling the system “fraught with problems,” including racial disparities.

But almost no fixes were made. Meanwhile, evidence of a system gone awry has piled up.

Last year, Florida sentenced 22 people to death, more than any of the other 32 states that impose the penalty. It’s the second year in a row the state has reached that stark benchmark. Yet Florida also leads the nation in the number of Death Row exonerations, with 24 since 1973, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

"Justice denied". More from The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Time to repair busted death-penalty system".

So much for "integrity"

Nancy Smith writes today about how "faux-free marketers Americans for Prosperity (AFP) went to Integrity Florida as if Integrity were a hired gun, contracting for [a] study to be done for a price." "Enterprise Florida Has Made Mistakes, but It's on the Right Track to Make Good Things Happen in the Sunshine State".

"Companies gaming Florida's economic-development system"

"With mounting evidence of companies gaming Florida's economic-development system, lawmakers are advancing legislation that would apply more scrutiny to whether the state's myriad tax-cuts, incentives and breaks are creating real economic benefits." "Lawmakers vow more scrutiny of economic-incentive money". More: "Group blasts business incentives".

State worker pay scrutinized

"House budget chief Rep. Seth McKeel expressed concern about paying different classes of state workers different raises and bonuses in Gov. Rick Scott's budget." "House gets first look at Scott budget; McKeel scrutinizes state worker pay".

Dramatic rescue of two from truck dangling from overpass

"A bakery truck dangled from a Fort Lauderdale highway overpass as authorities [read fire-rescue workers] conducted a dramatic rescue of two people trapped in the cab." "Dangling truck back on road; driver saved, 1 dead". More: "Dangling box truck pulled away from I-95, one dead, huge delays persist".

And these fire-rescue workers have the audacity to expect the pensions they were promised when hired?

Detzner nearly initiated election fiasco

"Secretary of State Ken Detzner says he was 'very, very, very close' to suspending a few supervisors from office last year, but didn’t because current law makes such action extremely difficult." "Ken Detzner Was 'Very, Very Close' to Removing Supervisors". Related: "GOP proposal: Give Gov. Scott power to remove county election supervisors if problems arise".


"A proposal to police assisted living facilities and punish those that that abuse or neglect their residents was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee Tuesday." "ALF reform bill moves forward".

From the "values" crowd

"In the latest skirmish over Florida’s tattered safety net, a judge says the state is denying help to foster children who are in dire need of mental health services." "Florida refuses aid to molested foster child, judge says".

Menendez mess

"A former aide to Sen. Bob Menendez might benefit from a major overseas port deal that’s supported by the powerful Democrat and is tied to a South Florida donor whose offices were raided last week by the FBI."

The one-time aide, Pedro Pablo Permuy, is a key official in the security firm ICSSI, according to a defender and relative of Dr. Salomon Melgen, an investor in the company.

Melgen is under FBI scrutiny, partly for his relationship with the New Jersey senator, who ran afoul of Senate ethics rules by taking freebie flights on the eye-doctor’s plane to the Dominican Republic.

"One-time aide to Sen. Bob Menendez could benefit from contract tied to donor under FBI scrutiny".