Wednesday, April 03, 2013

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

"Jeb And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators"

"The Florida House on Tuesday debated a bill that will give parents a vote in turnaround options for failing public schools, as the measure continued to be assailed as a way to ease takeovers of public schools by for-profit companies."

The "parent trigger" bill (HB 867) likely will be passed by the full House later this week.

It would give parents a say on how to deal with a failing school through a signature drive. A companion bill (SB 862) is also moving in the Senate.

Democrats, though, attempted one last push against the measure that's a favorite of former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future.

"Under the bill, 'could we turn over a building that has been paid for by the taxpayers of Florida to a corporation that trades on the New York Stock Exchange?' asked Rep. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who opposed the bill last year when he was in the Florida Senate."
Trujillo responded that the school district would still own the building. He also noted that it would apply to only 25 schools rated as failing under the current system. Florida schools receive A through F letter grades based on how students perform on certain standardized tests.

But Rep. Mark Danish, a Tampa Democrat, suggested that a different rating system kicking into effect soon may classify as many as 148 public schools in Florida as failing.

"Fla. House sets up "parent trigger" for passage". See also "Senate committee approves Bean's Plan C for health coverage" and "Policy Note: Charter Schools".

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Note: The phrase "Jeb Bush And His Amen Chorus Of Goose-Stepping Legislators" appeared in a Daytona Beach News Journal editorial on March 17, 2003, which sadly is no longer available online.

"One of the better matches on the undercard"

"Gov. Rick Scott’s bid for a second term will be the main event of Florida’s 2014 elections, but a congressional race in North Florida is shaping up as one of the better matches on the undercard. Having knocked off Congressman Allen Boyd in 2010 and held off former state Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson in 2012, Congressman Steve Southerland has another major Democratic challenger looming in 2014 -- attorney and Leon County schools administrator Gwen Graham, whose popular father served two terms as governor and three terms in the U.S. Senate." "Bob Graham's Daughter Gwen Has Steve Southerland in her Sights". See also "Bob Graham's daughter to run for Congress".

"Crist's wife regains joint custody"

"Former Florida first lady Carole Crist has regained joint custody of her teenage daughters, her lawyer says, but contentious court fights with her ex-husband continue." "Charlie Crist's wife regains joint custody of her two girls".

Raw political courage

"Florida Senate moves closer to outlawing slots-like games". See also "Fla. poised to ban internet cafes despite outcry" and "‘Senior arcades’ under fire as Florida lawmakers move to ban slots-like game parlors". Background: "Policy Note: Internet Cafes".

"Patients will be transferred in waves"

"The state has been pushing to put nearly all existing Medicaid clients into private managed care systems -- a market worth an estimated $3 billion -- and in February the federal government gave tentative approval for the plan. Under the plan patients will be transferred in waves, with the elderly who require long-term care being the first group." "Policy Note: Managed Care for Medicaid".

The Whining is Up to Eleven

Barney Bishop is in full on whining mode: "The mainstream media have had it in for Gov. Rick Scott ever since he decided to run for office." "The Hypocrisy of the Mainstream Media".

Weatherford setting up a flip-flop

"As the Legislature weighs options for insuring the state's low-income residents, House Speaker Will Weatherford, for the first time, indicated Tuesday he might be open to accepting federal money." "Speaker Will Weatherford says 'never say never' to federal money for Medicaid alternatives".


"A Florida Senate panel is backing a stripped-down health insurance plan for Florida's poor."

The bill was approved on a party-line vote with Democrats opposed.

Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, is sponsoring the bill (SB 7144) as an alternative to expanding Medicaid. But Bean's approach does not rely on federal aid and would only cover about 60,000 people in the first year.

"Fla. Senate panel approves alternative to Medicaid".


"Efforts to drive fraud out of the state's no-fault auto insurance system may not get a full test run. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday began looking at the possibility of replacing the system, just a year after a major overhaul that is now tied up in court. may go" "Possible End of the Road Ahead for No-Fault Insurance". See also: "Senate panel ponders junking no-fault auto insurance".

"A habit Republican leaders aren't willing to break"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "For four years, Florida lawmakers unwilling to have broader discussions about raising revenue have used the same excuse to undercut the state's longtime commitment to affordable housing: Cash-strapped state budgets required them to raid affordable housing programs to cover other general government needs. Now it's a habit Republican leaders apparently aren't willing to break — and the House is even hiding behind the ill-gotten gains of the nation's biggest banks to do so." "Renew commitment to affordable housing".

Environmental groups now support water bill

"Environmental groups had urged opposition to SB 948, saying it would place a priority on agricultural water use over the environment during droughts. But after a series of amendments was adopted in a committee on Monday, environmental groups have lined up in support of the bill." "Agricultural water bill wins support from former environmental opponents".

"The state where common sense goes to die"

Scott Maxwell: "Florida is increasingly known as the state where common sense goes to die."

A bill that was dismissed last year as irrelevant — one that tries to prohibit Islamic and foreign laws from affecting Florida court rulings — is now gaining steam.

Even the bill's sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, struggled to cite examples of the problem he was claiming to solve. Instead, Hays called his bill "preventative."

The fringe-o-sphere, however, claims Islamic Shariah law is creeping into America. So they are backing a bill that would supposedly ban judges from relying upon any and all foreign laws.

Apparently patriotic Americans don't take kindly to foreign precedent (never mind the Magna Carta).

"Florida legislators join anti-Islamic crusade".

"Restrictions on the purchase of conservation lands is likely dead"

"SB 584 would have placed restrictions on state agencies, cities and counties seeking to buy conservation lands. Hays agreed to temporarily postpone the bill, saying, 'It's either TP the bill or it's going down in flames.'" "Sen. Hays says his state lands bill likely dead as Senate panel delays action". Background: "Policy Note: State Lands".


"Policy Note: The Everglades".

Good luck with that

"Two Miami-area members express frustration that there has been little movement with bills that would restrict the 'stand your ground' law. They also want a state investigation into black-market ammunition sales in their area." "Lawmakers want action on guns". Background: "Policy Note: Stand Your Ground".

"State leaders may go a step further"

"Local governments across Florida have been slashing fees charged for new development in recent years to spark economic growth. But state leaders may go a step further and temporarily abolish the fees altogether for small businesses under a bill gaining momentum in the Florida Legislature." "Panel passes impact fee bill".