Thursday, March 07, 2013

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

Weatherford's "arrogant power play"

The Tampa Bay Times: "Let's get this straight. House Speaker Will Weatherford opposes accepting billions in federal dollars to expand Medicaid and recalls that his family relied on a safety net to pay hospital bills for his brother — and that safety net turned out to be Medicaid. This is hypocritical at best, and Floridians expect more truthfulness and compassion from their elected leaders."

Weatherford, at 33 years old the state's second-youngest speaker in modern history, could not be off to a worse start. In an arrogant power play, a select House committee voted along party lines Monday to not even draft legislation to allow the Medicaid expansion. On the legislative session's opening day on Tuesday, Weatherford delivered a hard-edged speech laced with code words like "freedom" and "social experiment" as he ripped the federal government and Medicaid expansion.
"On Medicaid, family facts and fantasies".

Joe Henderson: "House Speaker Will Weatherford knows the stakes better than anyone, and he opposes expansion" of medicaid to provide health insurance to about 1 million Floridians.

Weatherford also tells the poignant story of how his family struggled with the illness that eventually took the life of his younger brother, Peter. The family didn't have health insurance at the time and would have collapsed under Peter's medical bills.

Weatherford said the family was saved from financial ruin by a "safety net" and stressed he believes in that. That net turned out to be the state-funded Medically Needy program. It is, according to the Florida Department of Children & Families website, a Medicaid program. You can look it up.

After the story blew up Wednesday, Weatherford had to issue a statement to clarify a rather delicate matter: Why would he fight against something that could help others the way his family was helped?

His answer was parsed.

"Health care is a basic right of citizenship". See also "Legislator: Don Gaetz Wanted to Expand Medicaid, Will Weatherford Ruined It", "Will Weatherford Clarifies Safety Net Story" and "Weatherford family got help from Medically Needy program".

More from John Romano: No facts, no logic, no reality in Will Weatherford's Medicaid stance

Meanwhile, "House Republicans searching for alternatives to Medicaid".

"Attack on courts"

The Orlando Sentinel editors: "Time for Fla. lawmakers to end attack on courts".

"Whatever Scott's motivation might be"

The Miami Herald editors: Whatever Scott's motivation might be, expanding Medicaid "is the appropriate course, despite House Speaker Will Weatherford’s strong opposition to expanding Medicaid.

Whatever his motivation might be, this is the appropriate course, despite House Speaker Will Weatherford’s strong opposition to expanding Medicaid.

Still left to do: fixing the voting mess that led to hours’ long lines during the 2012 elections. Nor did the governor mention protecting the environment or the Everglades, though his budget includes money for continuing to clean up Florida’s fabled River of Grass.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott showed a kinder, gentler side but also took a practical approach to governance.

It’s a welcome change.

"Kinder, gentler governor".


"'Anti-Sharia' law resurfaces in Florida Legislature".

"Politics often makes strange bedfellows"

"Politics often makes strange bedfellows, as will be obvious once again in the state Capitol Thursday. Here are five things to watch". "5 things to watch Thursday in the Legislature".

Wingers in a dither

Eric Giunta: "A left-wing group founded last year to campaign for the retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices has teamed up with liberal editorializers to slam the qualifications of a conservative jurist being considered for a judgeship by Gov. Rick Scott." "Is Rick Scott Being Pressured to Appoint Activist Judges?"

Background: "Governor should not put Alan Forst on the 4th District Court of Appeal".

Baby-speaker to gut FRS

"House speaker calculates pension savings in billions".


Nancy Smith: "Everglades Foundation's Bogus Stats Unworthy of Florida Audubon".

Why are the worst lawyers so expensive?

David Damron: "For taxpayers, the legal bills from Orange County's decision to keep a sick-time initiative off the fall ballot are just starting to arrive. Orange leaders have spent $70,500 so far on outside attorneys for a civil suit related to the ballot measure. Open-government experts say those costs could grow rapidly as the county's several legal wranglings grind on." "Sick-time legal fights could make taxpayers ill".

"Polite applause but not a standing ovation"

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial board: "An election bill approved Tuesday by Florida's House of Representatives deserves polite applause but not a standing ovation." "Repairing Florida's voting".