Friday, March 01, 2013

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

"The sky is falling" in Tallahassee

"In its first hearing since Gov. Rick Scott announced his support for Medicaid expansion, a House committee heard state officials Thursday describe a range of complexities they face in enacting new requirements of the federal health care law."

The Office of Insurance Regulation described the “conundrum,” the agency faced in enforcing state regulations on insurance companies looking to comply with federal demands. A lawmaker, Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven, said the relationship was “Orwellian,” with federal officials playing the role of “big brother.”

But House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale said Republicans and some business leaders who have long opposed the Affordable Care Act were still chiefly trying to cast changes in the worst possible light.

“We are like Chicken Little crying, ‘the sky is falling,’” Thurston said.

"Florida lawmakers warily assess implications of Medicaid expansion".

Wingnuttery on parade

"Associated Industries of Florida backs Gov. Rick Scott's tax plans, but punts on his support of Medicaid expansion." "Business lobby lays out session goals".

Weatherford may primary Scott; imagine the bloodbath

Nancy Smith: "When asked if he has any plans to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in the 2014 GOP primary, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford mostly said no -- mostly -- but he didn't emphatically rule it out."

Weatherford said he's too busy right now going into the 2013 legislative session to think of such things. He and Scott are friends, Scott is doing a good job, and besides, they agree on most things anyway, Medicaid expansion excepted.

Not an "absolutely, positively not interested," Mr. Speaker.

"Will Weatherford's 'No' Does Nothing to End Speculation on a Rick Scott Challenge".

Privatization follies

"Abuse charges dog GEO prison company".

"Friendless in Tallahassee"

Nancy Smith: "Friendless in Tallahassee: Now the House Wants a Halt on Internet Cafes, Too".

Dumb and Dumberer

"Two Republicans in the U.S. Senate who have their eyes on the presidency in 2016 -- Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida -- were in the spotlight this month, and it was enough to draw presidential-suitability comparisons." "Marco Rubio Had the Edge on Rand Paul in February".

State temps no longer a bargain

"Faced with the possibility of huge penalties under the federal Affordable Care Act, the Florida House appears likely to support offering health-insurance coverage to about 8,700 temporary state workers." "More State Workers Could Get Insurance Coverage". See also "House PPACA committee supports health coverage for OPS employees".

Meet the "Florida Republican money man"

"Meet Harry Sargeant, Florida Republican money man".

"Just do more on election reform"

"A coalition of groups representing ministers, seniors, students and civil rights activists say reform bills gaining traction in the Legislature do not go far enough." "Activists to lawmakers: Just do more on election reform".

Grayson pitches immigration reform

"Rep. Grayson to pitch immigration reform".

FAU's "Owlcatraz" embarrassment

The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "the burden will be on Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders to show why the $6 million stadium naming rights deal with the GEO Group is good for the university. That burden is very heavy."

On Tuesday, Dr. Saunders said she “didn’t know everything” about the Boca Raton-based private prison/detention company. In fact, she appears to know almost nothing, except what she has heard from GEO. Since a GEO public relations executive reportedly deleted critical information about the company from its Wikipedia entry after the stadium deal became public, and since GEO did not confirm or deny reports of that deletion, the company is hardly a credible source.
"FAU owes many answers on GEO Group stadium deal".

Meanwhile, "Florida Atlantic University students both in favor and opposed to 'Owlcatraz' are expected to flock to a meeting with their school president Mary Jane Saunders tomorrow to debate the issue roiling their campus." "At FAU, opinions divided over naming stadium for prison company that pledged $6 million".

Just do it

"Congress should stay in session through the weekend and for however long it takes to agree to a plan to replace the automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to take effect Friday, a trio of South Florida Democratic freshmen said Thursday." "South Florida Democratic Congressmen: fix the budget, don’t take breaks".

Rivera saga heats up

"A key suspect in a criminal case tied to former Congressman David Rivera will officially switch his plea to guilty in three federal charges for illegal campaign activity. Justin Lamar Sternad’s admission of wrongdoing next Wednesday will be another sign that he’s cooperating with the federal government in its investigation of Rivera." "Suspect in Rivera campaign-finance probe to change plea to guilty".

On the hustings

"Gov. Rick Scott handed out $14.2 million in oversized checks to some of the best schools in four counties Thursday, and continued stressing his support for teachers as he talked about his priorities for the legislative session." "Scott brings education funding campaign to PBC, handing out $14,2 million in ‘school recognition’ checks". See also "Gov. Scott touts advantages of cutting taxes for manufacturers".

FlaBaggers in a dither

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Scare tactics, lies and political threats have been defeated by mainstream science, public health and common sense." "Today, fluoride is once again being added to Pinellas County’s drinking water to help prevent tooth decay.".

"Scott wasting state’s money"

The Palm Beach Post editors: "Scott’s administration has now received two stern rebukes from federal judges about his unconstitutional push to drug-test Florida’s welfare applicants." "Scott wasting state’s money on failed push for welfare drug testing.".

Firefighters punch back

"Orange County lawmakers agreed Wednesday to support an effort by Reedy Creek Improvement District firefighters to gain a measure of leverage over the Walt Disney World-controlled government. The county’s legislative delegation voted unanimously to send a bill to Tallahassee that would require both the Reedy Creek firefighters’ union and district management to abide by recommendations of an independent mediator when contract negotiations reach an impasse." "Local lawmakers back bid by firefighters to gain some leverage over Walt Disney World’s government".

Permitting madness

"For the third year in a row, Rep. Jimmy Patronis has introduced a comprehensive environmental permitting bill backed by business groups. Audubon Florida, the Sierra Club, cities and counties are raising concerns." "Rep. Patronis is back with another permitting bill -- and some groups are not thrilled".