Saturday, September 21, 2013

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

"Florida is ground zero for Obamacare"

"Florida isn’t just a battleground state for presidential elections; it’s ground zero in the nation’s Obamacare wars."

It’s all about demographics. And geographics.

Retiree-heavy Florida has a surplus of voting seniors nervous about Obamacare’s changes. But Hispanics — the state’s least-insured but fastest-growing population — tend to support the Affordable Care Act.

The fourth-most populous in the nation, Florida is the most-diverse political swing state and has the nation’s second-highest rate of the uninsured, nearly 25 percent.

Active Democratic voters, who outnumber Republicans by more than 500,000, learned last year from President Obama’s campaign that the law can be a political plus — especially among Hispanics — after it was a millstone in 2010.

"Republicans control the state power structure, and have fought Obamacare in court, with new laws, at the ballot box and on TV."
Two of the most-recognizable Republican figures in the fight against the act: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, who’s up for reelection next year and launched his political career four years ago by founding a group opposed to Obamacare.

So 2014 could become a political tie breaker over the Affordable Care Act, which has remained unpopular overall in Florida since 2009.

“Florida is ground zero for Obamacare,” said John Anzalone, President Obama’s Florida pollster.

"Fight over Obamacare is anything but over in Florida".

See also "House takes first step toward government shutdown, votes to cut Obamacare funding", "Obamacare insurance could cost as little as $100 a month", "Gov. Scott does his best to make Obamacare unnavigable", "Sink won't run for governor in 2014 election" and "Grass-roots Obamacare group seeks uninsured people".

Sink says no

"Alex Sink won't run for Florida governor". See also "Sink won't run for governor in 2014 election", "Alex Sink won’t run for governor in 2014; wants to ‘spend some hours’ with Dems Rich, Crist" and "Alex Sink not running for gov".

The wingers put it this way: "Alex Sink Bows to Reality and Stays Out of 2014 Race".

Yee haw!

"Anti-gun group study: In states with 'stand your ground' laws, justifiable homicide rates soar".

Enuf' wit' them thar uppity citirzens

"Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey has recommended changes to security at the Capitol that would prohibit future protests like the 31-day occupation of the building earlier this summer." "Proposed policy change could end Capitol occupations".

"More of the same"

"2014 Should Bring More of the Same to the Florida Senate".

Ugly rhetoric

"Opponents of immigration reform might make it seem like they're ensuring that foreigners don't take jobs from native-born Americans. Not only is such rhetoric ugly, it's just plain wrong. As 19 Florida university and college presidents made clear this week in a letter to the state's congressional delegation, the passage of comprehensive immigration reform should actually improve job prospects for all state residents. " "An education on immigration".

Weekly Roundup

"If there was a theme to the final full week of summer in Florida politics, it was staying put." "Weekly Roundup: Running (or not) in Place".

"Florida’s unemployment is rising, not falling"

"Gov. Scott’s PR machine starts spinning in apparent attempt to refute reality." "Nonpartisan report claims Florida’s unemployment is rising, not falling".

"Florida’s jobless rate dropped 0.1 percent in August to 7.0 percent even though the state lost 4,700 jobs, according to numbers released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity."

The report shows the main reason for the drop in the unemployment rate is the declining labor force. If the labor force levels had remained where they were in December 2011, the jobless rate would be 8.2 percent as of July.

“If job creation has been relatively stable, why has Florida seen a marked decline in its unemployment rate? The answer lies in the labor force participation rate," the report states.

A release from DEO chief economist Rebecca Rust this month notes that people leave the job market for several reasons -- retirement, giving up looking for work, leaving to pursue education or delaying entrance into the labor market -- and that those reasons aren’t measured in monthly job numbers. Nonetheless, the labor force has been shrinking at the same time Florida’s working-age population has been growing at a rate of 1.4 percent over the year.

"Florida's unemployment rate dips to 7 percent despite losing jobs in August".

Florida "more laggard than leader"

Aaron Deslatte: "Florida has a checkered past when it comes to social-equality movements such as women's suffrage or gay rights, more laggard than leader."

So if there was a bright spot on the American Association of University Women's income-gap report released last week, it's that pay for women is a little closer to equal in the Sunshine State than elsewhere.

The report still paints a bleak picture of what females face in the workplace. Women working full time on average earn 77 percent of what men make — a figure that hasn't budged in a decade. Florida is slightly above the average, at 84 percent.

The report also broke down the disparity by congressional districts.

Florida's worst? The rock-ribbed conservative, Brevard-based district of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge. The average annual wage for men was $45,694, while women earned $33,423, or 73 percent of that.

The smallest gap was in the West Palm Beach-to-Fort Lauderdale district held by U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, where men earned $32,291 and women $30,306 — or 94 percent.

The second-smallest gap belonged to U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, where women earned $31,720, 92 percent of men's $34,519.

"Despite economic recovery, gender pay-gap remains".

"Keeping the heat on GOP legislators"

"Liberal-advocacy groups as well as more center-of-the-road groups such as the League of Women Voters of Florida are trying to keep the heat on GOP legislators opposed to Medicaid expansion, which would cover roughly 1 million people and draw down around $51 billion in federal funding during the next decade."

Florida has until Dec. 31 to seek the extra Medicaid dollars in 2014.

"Florida is at a crossroads, and the clock is ticking," said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, in a conference call last week with Tampa business leaders.

Meanwhile, the SEIU, Organize Now, Florida CHAIN and others targeted Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa's St. Cloud district office, with a news conference and canvassing of downtown businesses to spotlight his opposition to the optional expansion, which Republicans argued would expand government without guarantees of future federal funding.

La Rosa is chair of the Osceola County legislative delegation, which is firmly Republican despite the county's slight demographic shift toward Democrats.

"Medicaid clock is ticking".