Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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

Murphy running for Rubio’s Senate seat

"The Democrat from Florida’s Treasure Coast says he will run for the the U.S. Senate no matter what Rubio decides to do. He is the son of Thomas Murphy, owner of Miami-based Coastal Construction." "U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy is running for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat."

"The announcement sets the stage for a big-money, high-profile Senate race next year — whether Rubio seeks re-election or decides instead to run for president."

Murphy, 31, toppled Republican Congressman Allen West, a tea-party favorite, in 2012 before easily defeating former state Rep. Carl Domino in 2014. Murphy’s campaign said Monday that he raised more than $11 million for the two campaigns, hinting at his ability to pull in the massive amounts of cash that would be needed to win a U.S. Senate seat.

In the announcement, Murphy presented himself as a businessman who would be an “independent voice for Florida.” Murphy, who lives in Jupiter, represents a congressional district that includes St. Lucie and Martin counties and northern Palm Beach County.

"Democrat Patrick Murphy, Conqueror of Allen West, Will Run For Rubio’s Senate Seat in 2016." See also "Patrick Murphy Off and Running for Marco Rubio's Senate Seat in 2016."

"Um … no, not a done deal"

"Funny thing about the “will of the people” in Florida. Even when expressed via an overwhelming majority “Yes” vote on a constitutional amendment, the Legislature can and does subvert it."

That’s what’s happening with the environmental protections and preservations Floridians thought were a done deal after more than 75 percent of voters joined forces to pass Amendment 1 last November. But, um … no, not a done deal.
"Florida Legislature to Voters For Amendment 1’s Water Protection: Drop Dead."

Stop the madness

"Children would be allowed to enroll in any public school in the state that hasn’t reached capacity under a new legislative proposal." "Bill would give more choices to students about where they can enroll."

FRS deform dead again

"A move to revamp Florida’s $160 billion state retirement system is dead for the 2015 session."

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said questions about a new financial analysis of proposed changes to the pension fund have prompted him to call off any legislation this spring on the Florida Retirement System. Instead, Crisafulli said lawmakers will now put an extra emphasis on bills seeking to reform municipal pension funds for police and firefighters this year.

As in the past two years, House leaders had pushed legislation to reduce the size of the Florida pension fund for state workers, school system employees and county workers over the long term. The main emphasis was to encourage more workers to sign up for a 401(k)-type investment plan for their retirement rather than the more costly traditional pension with its guaranteed benefits.

"But to the House’s surprise, unlike previous reports in 2013 and 2014, the new financial analysis of the proposed pension changes showed it would cost the state more rather than projecting 'billions of dollars in savings to the FRS (Florida Retirement System) and the state.'"
Last year, lawmakers agreed on a local pension reform bill. But it died in the session when it became entangled with a state pension reform measure that was rejected narrowly by the Senate.

State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, said he was pleased by Crisafulli’s decision and he hoped it would mean lawmakers would look at other issues.

“It’s to Speaker Crisafulli’s credit that he sought out expert opinion on the proposals to change our healthy Florida Retirement System,” Taylor said. “I thank (him) for his decision, given the results of those studies, to focus this year on other pressing matters.”

"Florida’s pension reform efforts shot down."

"Whispers that Southerland could seek rematch"

"Whispers are growing louder that Steve Southerland could seek a rematch with Gwen Graham in 2016." "Steve Southerland Faces Uphill Battle in Possible Rematch With Gwen Graham."

FlaDem delegates will continue to be distributed proportionally regardless of primary date

"Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Thursday setting the primary date, which will give Republicans the option of making the election a winner-take-all contest. The law previously had the date set for March 1, but that would have meant the Republican delegates would be dispersed proportionally. Democratic delegates will be distributed proportionally regardless of the primary date." "Scott signs bill moving presidential primary to March 15."

"Jeb!" denies he's a wingnut

"Jeb Bush visits Daytona for fundraiser."

Budget blues

"Budget vote delayed over battle between House GOP factions." More: "Florida House releases nearly $76.2 billion spending plan."

Yee haw!

"Bear hunt expected to take place in October." More: "Senate Committee Agrees to Guns on Public School Campuses."

"Folly of the state’s write-in candidate laws"

Tampa Trib editors: "The folly of the state’s write-in candidate laws was on full display last year in the Florida House District 64 race in the Tampa Bay area." "Editorial: Lawmakers have chance to fix flawed write-in law."

"Under the Radar Democrat"

Kevin Derby: "Over the last five years, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continued his stint as the most consistently effective Democrat in Florida in recent years, even as he often took a supporting role on the political stage." "Bill Nelson, Under the Radar Democrat."

Tax credit program to end

"Tax credit program for blighted areas to end."

"The conversation no one wants to have"

"Talking taxes is the conversation no one wants to have. Not in Washington, where anti-tax sentiments prevail. And definitely not in Florida, where a Republican-controlled legislative and executive branch dismiss the idea." "Gov. Rick Scott and DOT reject talk of gas tax increase despite transportation deficit."