Sunday, July 12, 2015

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

Florida's "hyper-partisan Legislature" is filled with millionaires

"Nearly a third of state lawmakers are millionaires, with two members of the Senate having net worths that top $20 million, according to newly filed disclosure reports."

Almost half of the Senate is in the millionaires club, and more than two dozen senators saw their net worths grow in the past year. Some reports remain to be filed, but so far no senator sits in the red financially, according to the reports posted on the Florida Commission on Ethics website.

In the House, about one-fourth of the 120 members have net worths stretching to seven figures. Twenty-five House members — including seven of the millionaires — reported their net worths dropped in the past year. Another nine representatives have negative net worths, including six who each have negative net worths of more than $100,000, mostly because of student or home loans. . . .

The Senate has some of the wealthiest legislators, topped again by Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who co-founded VITAS Healthcare Corp. and reported a net worth of $26.99 million.

The next highest net worths belonged to Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, at $21.2 million, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, at $14.5 million.

"Millionaires make up nearly a third of Florida Legislature".

"Hope for ending the death penalty"

"The U.S. Supreme Court opinion that upheld a controversial lethal injection procedure used in Florida was notable for two other reasons. It included dissents from two justices who said the death penalty is likely unconstitutional and practically invited an appeal to revisit the issue. It also prompted Attorney General Pam Bondi to immediately push to resume executions in Florida even as most of the rest of nation abandons the death penalty and heads for higher moral and practical ground." "Renewed hope for ending the death penalty."

"Tampa to be key to U.S.-Cuba thaw"

"Tampa leaders have offered up the city as host for the first Cuban consulate in the United States in more than five decades. But even if it goes elsewhere, people here will keep the Cuban government busy." "Even if consulate goes elsewhere, Tampa to be key to U.S.-Cuba thaw."

On Grayson's Senate run

Scott Maxwell: "Grayson Senate run: Bad for Democrats and for him."

"Legislators remain silent about redistricting"

"The Florida Supreme Court gave legislators a swift deadline but also kept a tight leash on the redistricting process, limiting the ability of lawmakers to delay the process." "With options limited, legislators remain silent about redistricting plans."

"Sierra Club wants hike in gas tax"

"On the eve of a long-awaited decision to seek a sales tax increase for roads and mass transit, one of the key groups in the pro-transit alliance is now calling for an increase in gas taxes. In a recent policy paper, the Tampa Bay Sierra Club endorsed a local-option gas tax increase of 5 cents per gallon, which the club says would raise $25 million a year. If approved, the increase should go to cover road maintenance, the club said." "Sierra Club wants hike in gas tax for transportation projects."

Map drawing

John Romano: "Time to take map drawing privileges away from legislators."