Monday, April 01, 2013

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

"Lawmakers are revving up this week"

"Lawmakers are revving up this week, roughly the halfway point of the 2013 session." "Five things to look for in Monday’s legislative session".

Related: "5 things to know in Florida for April 1". See also "5 things to know in Florida for April 1".

"Harmony hasn’t yielded much consensus"

"In the weeks leading to the start of the legislative session, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz seemed inseparable. They made joint appearances. They shared a page of policy priorities. And while leaders often speak fawningly about others’ smarts and skills — sometimes while plotting against them — the Weatherford-Gaetz matchup was real, not schtick, according to those close to both. But, with the Legislature halfway to the finish line, harmony hasn’t yielded much consensus." "Florida's legislative harmony yields few achievements".

Aquifers inadequate to meet projected demand

The Sarasota Herald Tribune editors: "State environmental officials predict that by 2030, Florida will be consuming nearly 8 billion gallons of water a day. That is about 1.6 billion gallons a day more than we currently use. They also say traditional sources of water supply, that is, Florida's aquifers, are inadequate to meet that projected demand." "Wasting time and water".

Affordable Care Act would create more than 121,000 permanent Florida jobs

"The state's hospitals made the pitch Friday that accepting federal Medicaid dollars to insure more poor people under the Affordable Care Act would be an economic engine for Florida. The Florida Hospital Association released a report by the University of Florida that shows extending health care coverage using the $51 billion in federal funds available would create more than 121,000 permanent jobs over the next 10 years." "Medicaid expansion would create jobs".

Not to mention that "Florida Would Shortchange 1 Million Uninsured without Medicaid Expansion: Prof".

"Hispanic-Americans lean to the left naturally, no matter what Republicans do"

Nancy Smith: "Republicans wrestle with immigration for good reason. They are between a rock and a hard place."

Since a ringing defeat in the November 2012 general election, Republicans have made a priority of luring Hispanic voters. Leaders claim they feel confident. They argue that once the party puts immigration reform behind them, the ethnic group will be open to the GOP’s conservative message.

But experts on Hispanic demographics caution that merely capitulating on immigration reform -- even with Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio shining a light on the wound and standing by with a Band-Aid -- isn't going to stop GOP bleeding. The party can't jump on the reform bill bandwagon, sit back and wait for minorities to come shelter under the Republican tent.

The fact is, information from the latest U.S. Census tells us that immigrants generally, and Hispanic immigrants specifically -- even first-generation Hispanic-Americans -- are going to lean to the left naturally, no matter what the Republicans do.

"Is Immigration Reform a Voter-Registration Drive for Democrats?".

"2013 session a re-greening year"

"The 2013 legislative session is proving to be a re-greening year of sorts for Florida's once-beleaguered environmental community." "Environmentalists call this a greener Legislature".

Teacher Pay Fight splinters GOP

"A debate over how to boost the pay of public school teachers that had largely been centered on generalities gained clarity Friday, as House and Senate blueprints for the state's $74 billion budget for the coming fiscal year were released."

For weeks, lawmakers had signaled that they agreed with Gov. Rick Scott's plan to increase teacher pay, but wouldn't go along with his plan for an across-the-board raise of $2,500 after waging a brutal battle to push through performance pay just two years ago.

In their own spending proposals for the year that begins July 1, leaders on both sides of the Capitol drew a specific contrast with fellow Republican Scott -- and with each other.

"Budget Brings Clarity to Teacher Pay Fight".

Trujillo's statement "False"

"A Republican lawmaker said he doesn't know why his "parent trigger" bill isn't gaining more support from Democrats in the Legislature."

"This legislation was drafted by President Obama's top advisers. It was drafted by President Clinton's top advisers," said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, at a recent hearing on his bill. "Gov. (Jeb) Bush is a big supporter of this, so it's not a partisan issue. I'm not sure why it's turned into that."

We wondered whether Trujillo was right about the roots of the parent trigger bill. Did top advisers to Obama and Clinton help write it?

The bill in question is HB 867, "Parent Empowerment in Education." The legislation allows parents at failing schools to demand changes, including asking for public schools to be turned into charter schools.

Well, what does the normally timid PolitiFact have to say about the bombastic Mr. Trujillo's claims? They rate
Trujillo's statement False.
To be fair to Trujillo, a cabal of Democratic pantywaists, including "Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa . . . support the concept, as well as Obama's former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel." "PolitiFact Florida: Parent trigger bill didn't come from White House efforts".

"Teachers are being judged by the performance of students they've never met"

"The problem: Teachers have serious issues with a new formula that will be used to evaluate them and determine pay raises. Some teachers, for instance, are being judged by the performance of students they've never met." "Debate grows over merit pay plan for teachers as deadline nears".