Thursday, March 13, 2014

Please consider giving a newspaper subscription as a gift and/or buying one or more subscriptions for delivery to your workplace; whenever you visit a newspaper site online, please click on one or more of the advertisements and make an effort to patronize newspaper advertisers. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Askew Passes

"Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew dies". More from Bill Cotterell: "Gov. Askew dies at 85".

CD 13

Update: "Without President Barack Obama on the ticket, something weird happens to the Florida Democratic Party and its candidates in big midterm elections: They lose swing races." "Republicans' CD13 win gives Florida Democrats a bad case of déjà vu". See also "After David Jolly's Win in CD 13, Both Sides Spin the Results".

Republican David Jolly defeated Alex Sink by 89,099 votes to 85,642 votes (48.43% to 46.55%) for a congressional seat Republicans held for four decades until Bill Young's death last year. "The district is 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 24 percent independent." "Republican David Jolly beats Alex Sink in Florida special election". See also "Jolly defeats Sink in key Pinellas House race" and "Republican Jolly wins Fla. congressional race". Meanwhile, "Fla. House race could be warning for Democrats". The right wing's take, by Jeff Henderson: "Workhorse David Jolly, Blundering Alex Sink". More from the right: "Winners and Losers in CD 13".

Avoiding "a constitutional crisis"

"The proposal from Sen. Tom Lee would clarify that the winner of the 2014 gubernatorial election would select three Florida Supreme Court justices slated to retire on Inauguration Day for the winner of the 2018 gubernatorial election in January 2019."

If Gov. Rick Scott wins reelection, he could flip the typical 5-2 liberal decisions of the court on major issues, since Pariente, Lewis and Quince make up the liberal bloc on the high court. If former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, were to get his old job back, he could cement the 5-2 liberal majority on the court. Though Crist would have appointed all seven justices in that scenario, his conservative appointments during his stint as governor while he was a Republican - Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston – would remain on the bench.

Lee, though, sees legal headaches if Scott or Crist – or another Democrat – were to fight with the winner of the 2018 gubernatorial election over the court picks.

“There is a hole in our constitution right now that if we do not fix, we could be headed for a boatload of litigation in a constitutional crisis with a Supreme Court that has a cloud cast over every decision,” Lee said.

"Proposed amendment to clarify Supreme Court picks can't escape politics".

Medical Marijuana

Bill Cotterell: Views on medical marijuana change quickly

Nancy Smith: "The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved a medical marijuana bill Tuesday that takes a bolder path to legalization than its House companion." "Senate Medical Marijuana Bill Adds Muscle to HB 843".

On the attack in CD19

"Republicans Go on the Attack in CD 19 Primary".

Bigger budget surplus

"State economists latest projection adds an additional $170 million to a billion dollar surplus for next year's state budget. And an improving economy is expected to produce even more money for 2015 - 2016. " "Budget surplus expected to grow".

Book talk

"Gov. Rick Scott, long rumored to be writing a book, recently told reporters it won’t be available until at least November."

“Not until after the election,” Scott said a few days ago.

Scott’s campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, said: “There’s basically no book going anywhere until after the election. There are a lot of other things going on.”

Apparently the people at have other ideas. The website on Tuesday began taking advance orders for a book it says will be available by April 15. The book’s title is Chasing Sunshine: Remarkable People Who Found the American Dream in Florida, published by Greenleaf Book Group Press.

"Gov. Scott pens new book, but won’t talk about it".

"Chamber Doles Out Grades"

Kevin Derby: "U.S. Chamber Doles Out Grades to Florida Congressmen".

Florida Senate panel votes to allow teachers to pack heat

""An array of new gun legislation, including a proposal that would allow designated teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus, shows the NRA’s muscle in Tallahassee."

State lawmakers have a plan to keep kids safe at school: Allow teachers to pack heat.

The controversial proposal won the support of a Senate panel on Monday despite strong opposition from parent groups, school boards and the statewide teachers union.

It is one of several high-profile gun bills gaining traction in the Florida Legislature this year — and a sign that the National Rifle Association is once again flexing its muscle in Tallahassee.

"Senate panel approves guns for school employees".

Scott tangles with universities

"Currently, state universities can ask the Board of Governors for up to 15 percent higher rates, known as tuition differential." "Gov. Rick Scott, lawmakers tangle with universities over tuition costs".

"Rivera’s friend pleads not guilty"

"Ana Alliegro is charged with several campaign-finance violations in a case involving a proxy candidate in the Democratic primary of 2012." "Ex-Rep. David Rivera’s friend pleads not guilty to federal charges".