Saturday, June 29, 2013

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

Under Citizens United, Florida Corporations also have "freedom of religion"

A Republican federal judge (recommended by Senator Paula Hawkins) and nominated by Reagan has ruled that "that corporations do indeed have the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. . . . consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling that corporations enjoy freedom of speech protections that allow them to donate to political campaigns", in what the Tampa Trib editors call a "A triumph for religious freedom".

Meanwhile, "Florida Religious Groups Say Revised Obama Abortion Mandate Still Falls Short".

Same sex marriage in Florida?

"Will Florida Ever Pass Same-Sex Marriage?"

New laws

Bill Cotterell: "New fiscal year to usher in dozens of new state laws" and "Scott signs 47 new laws". Ewwww: "Scott signs bill paving way for more public-private projects".

Cal Legislature folds in face of right wing Florida lobbying

"A California bill that would have fined companies with employees on Medicaid appears dead for now, after opposition that included lobbying by Darden Restaurants Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis. The bill (AB 880) fell eight votes short of the two-thirds majority it needed Thursday in the California Assembly. The two-thirds vote was necessary because the measure dealt with budgetary issues. " "Medicaid-fine bill opposed by Darden dies in Calfornia".

Old Confederacy reviving Jim Crow

"Across the South, Republicans are working to take advantage of a new political landscape after a divided U.S. Supreme Court freed all or part of 15 states, many of them in the old Confederacy, from having to ask Washington's permission before changing election procedures in jurisdictions with histories of discrimination." "States promise quick action on election laws".

Robyn Blumner: "Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion blames Congress for the court's decision to neuter the preclearance enforcement mechanism in the Voting Rights Act. It's an understandable feint. Who wouldn't try to deflect blame for dismantling the most effective tool against election bias in the nation's history? You would have to be intentionally blind, as Roberts and Co. choose to be, not to see the ongoing danger to minority voting strength in the vast majority of the nine states and dozens of localities — mostly in the South — subject to preclearance before Shelby County." "Good until next election".

"Dangers of privatizing"

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "Florida's decision Friday to close a work-release center run by Goodwill Industries-Suncoast took longer than it should have taken. But it came less than 24 hours after Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri provided evidence that little had changed there despite nine months of high-profile scrutiny and legislative action. The entire episode should give state Republican leaders pause about the continued push to put more corrections operations in private hands and how those facilities operate. Public safety, including rehabilitation for soon-to-be-released prisoners, is more important than saving a few dollars."

An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times' Curtis Krueger and Kameel Stanley published last Sunday showed a more complete picture of how lax operations had become even in the months after the murders and rape. As recently as January, state auditors found inmates regularly left the facility for work but never showed up at the job. Sexual activity among inmates was a recurring problem, sometimes with center staff. Nearly half of the inmates did not receive the substance abuse treatment they needed. And just two months ago, the facility manager left the center unsupervised and failed to discipline a prisoner who had been caught stealing. Yet none of that stopped the Department of Corrections from renewing the center's contract on May 31 for another five years.
"Dangers of privatizing work-release".

Gun nuts freak

"Florida law has allowed people who voluntarily commit themselves to a mental institution to buy a gun once they are released."

The new law requires that before agreeing to voluntary treatment under the state's Baker Act, individuals receive written notice that if treated, they [believe it or not] may be prohibited from buying a gun or "applying for or retaining a concealed weapons or firearms license" while they're deemed a danger to themselves or others. Their names are then added to a national database of people prohibited from buying a gun. People who are involuntarily committed are already added to that list.

Despite the legislation's support by longtime NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer, Scott's email inbox was flooded with nearly 25,000 emails opposing the bill.

"Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to close loophole in firearm sales to mentally ill".

Entrepreneurs in action

"Sarasota Ponzi schemers to lose waterfront home".

Florida "again under national scrutiny"

"Florida election officials told a presidential commission Friday that a reduction in early voting hours, a limited number of polling sites and a lengthy ballot led to the long lines and counting delays last November that again put the Sunshine State under national scrutiny." "Florida election officials share suggestions".

Get yer raw sewage here

"DEP to award bonuses for employees who approve permits quickly". See also "DEP Bonus Program Approved Over Environmental Concerns", "Budget panel approves bonuses for DEP workers based on permitting speed" and "Reduced, reorganized DEP hands out bonuses".

The Week Ahead

"At the Capitol, the week ahead".

Wingnut loses tax evasion appeal

"Orlando-based political consultant Doug Guetzloe has lost his appeal of a 2012 conviction for tax evasion. Guetzloe, founder of the Ax the Tax conservative political organization, sometime radio talk-show host and a high-profile operative in some circles of conservative politics, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Orlando of two federal misdemeanor counts of 'willful failure' to file income tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006. The court concluded he failed to report $350,000 in income." "Federal appeals court upholds Guetzloe's tax evasion conviction".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for June 28, 2013".