Thursday, May 07, 2015

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

Obama administration snubs Scott

"The Obama administration rebuffed Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to extend federal funds for hospitals that treat the uninsured, increasing the pressure on states that have refused to expand coverage for low-income people under the president’s health care law."

The decision means Florida’s already acrimonious state budget process will likely become tenser. The standoff also has implications for eight other states, including Texas, which draw billions of dollars from the same pool of hospital funds. And like Florida, several are also refusing to expand Medicaid coverage. Republican leaders in those states are adamant about not expecting any federal money tied to Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
"Florida’s funding is the first to expire on June 30 and Scott has filed a lawsuit, with support from Texas and Kansas, alleging the federal government is breaking the law by coercing states to expand Medicaid in order to get the hospital funds. The hospital funds are an optional program, not entitlement programs like Medicaid, meaning the federal government has broad discretion whether to grant them, experts say."
The snub from the Obama administration came Wednesday when Scott met with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in Washington. The Republican governor wants the administration to extend $1 billion in low-income pool funds for hospitals, but the federal government wants Florida to expand Medicaid, arguing its more efficient to give people insurance than to pay hospitals for caring for the uninsured retroactively.
"States watching Medicaid standoff between Florida, Obama." See also "" and "Gov. Rick Scott talks with feds over healthcare funding crisis — and comes up empty."

Special session games

"State lawmakers can expect to meet at the beginning of June to start a special legislative session, according to an email sent Wednesday from Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island." "Legislators Set Tentative Special Session Dates for June."

And how much to give wildfire firefighters a raise?

"Over the last four years, Lauren’s Kids, a non-profit founded by the daughter of top Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book, has become one the Legislature’s favorite charities, raking in nearly $7 million in taxpayer funds. If and when legislators reconvene to pass a budget, that total is slated to rise to $10.8 million." "Politicians send millions to charity of lobbyist’s daughter."

Believe it or not

The Tampa Trib editors: "One of the few things the dysfunctional Legislature managed to get accomplished last week was the passage of a bill that would provide a simpler and more secure way for people to register to vote by creating an online registration process."

The move is supported by the state’s supervisors of election and follows the example set by the 20 states that have successfully implemented online voter registration. The measure drew bipartisan support in the state’s Senate and House, which appropriated $1.8 million to implement the online system.

Now it’s up to Gov. Rick Scott to sign the bill into law. Believe it or not, that might not happen.

There’s good reason to suspect Scott was behind Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s absurd appearance before a Senate committee several weeks ago to urge lawmakers to reject the online voter registration legislation.

Scott should ignore bogus concerns and sign online voter registration bill."

Murphy goes after DeSantis

"Political organizations and potential rivals reacted to U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., entering the U.S. Senate race on Wednesday. DeSantis launched his bid on Wednesday morning, becoming the first major Republican candidate to officially get in the race to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is running for the Republican presidential nomination."

Murphy’s team was . . . aggressive in going after DeSantis with Josh Wolf from the Democrat’s campaign sending out an email against their new “extreme Republican opponent: GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis.” “Ron DeSantis is the poster child for Washington's dysfunction,” Wolf wrote. “He's embraced a radical tea party agenda that has ties to the Koch Brothers’ dark money group Americans for Prosperity. He’s anti-choice, opposes same-sex marriage, and voted no on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Florida deserves better from its next U.S. senator.”
"Conservatives Rally Behind New Senate Candidate DeSantis; Left Goes on the Attack." Related: "Ron DeSantis Enters Senate Race Vowing to Fight for 'Limited Government'."

Will unexplained departures weaken the environmental safeguards?

"Simultaneous and unexplained departures by four executives from the agency that protects Central Florida's wetlands, rivers and aquifer triggered complaints Wednesday that the moves were orchestrated to weaken the region's environmental safeguards." "Central Florida's water agency roils with resignations."

Campus Carry Bills

"NRA: Campus Carry Bills 'Will Be Back'."

Jeb Bush floundering in Iowa

Kevin Derby: "Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., is floundering in Iowa, home of the important first presidential caucus contest, while U.S Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is becoming a contender in the Hawkeye State, a new poll shows."

Qunnipiac University released a poll on Wednesday showing Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., leads the pack of Republican presidential candidates in Iowa with 21 percent followed by Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., with 13 percent each. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is in the mix with 12 percent followed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., the winner of the 2008 caucus who kicked off his presidential bid on Tuesday.
"Jeb Bush Collapses, Marco Rubio Surges in Iowa."

Meanwhile, "May 7, 2015 - What Trouble? Clinton Has Early Lock On Iowa Caucus, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Sanders, Biden Are Only Dems Over 3%."

Musical chairs

"In a move that could affect the sharp-elbowed House Speaker 2020 race, state Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, announced he would not run for Congress to replace U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, who announced his bid for U.S. Senate earlier Wednesday." "Rep. Costello not running for open DeSantis seat."

Tampa, not Miami

"Many in this city with long-standing ties to Cuba believe it is the natural gateway to new business opportunities on the island, not Miami." "Tampa ramps up to be a leader in the new relationship with Cuba."

Funny how that works

"The same day Gov. Rick Scott announced the creation of a new hospital commission and a Washington trip to secure federal hospital money, the state’s largest hospital chain gave $100,000 to the governor’s political committee."

The money was from Hospital Corporation of America, a Tennessee-based company that would stand to gain millions if Scott’s federal negotiations are successful. On Tuesday, the company wrote three checks totaling $100,000 to Let’s Get to Work, a political committee controlled by Scott.
"Contribution to Scott comes at unusual time."

Grayson's girlfriend inquires about Congress?

"POLITICO Report: Grayson's girlfriend inquiring about Congress."