Friday, January 01, 2016

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

"And then there’s Florida"

"More and more, waiting in line at a neighborhood school or church to vote on a Tuesday in November is becoming archaic. Around the country, states are changing their laws accordingly, hoping to make casting a ballot as convenient as possible."

And then there’s Florida, a state that has shunned same-day voter registration and vote centers as an alternative to busy precincts. Citizens here have to request a mail-in ballot every other election year or set aside time to go to a polling place.

“We have a state that has a history of disenfranchising voters,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “We have to continually be on the watch for legislation that moves us backward instead of forward.”

Florida has developed a reputation for its long lines well into the night on Election Day and for rarely restoring voting rights to felons who have served their full sentences. But perhaps the biggest hurdle facing potential voters . . . is the state’s resistance to allowing voter registration on Election Day."How other states have modernized elections offers lessons for Florida."

Florida’s top 2015 political stories

"2015's Top Political Social Media Stories," and "How GOP Presidential Hopefuls With Florida Ties Did in 2015" and "Year in review: Florida’s top political stories from 2015."

Choice politics

"An administrative law judge has canceled a hearing in the case of a South Florida abortion clinic accused by the state Agency for Health Care Administration of improperly performing second-trimester abortions, records show. The case stems from a series of AHCA inspections in August, which produced similar administrative charges against the Aastra Women’s Center in Plantation, three Planned Parenthood clinics in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples and the Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center in Gainesville." "Hearing called off in Fla. abortion clinic case."

An elected state education commissioner

The Tampa Bay Times editors: "No issue is more important to Florida and its future than public education."

Yet voters are two steps removed from directly influencing the state education commissioner, who is appointed by the Board of Education, and whose members are picked by the governor. The move from an elected education commissioner to an appointed one has resulted in less public accountability rather than more and has not worked nearly as well as expected. The Legislature should give voters the chance to decide whether to elect the commissioner once again by putting a constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot.
"Consider electing state education commissioner."

Jeb's last gasp

"Can Jeb Bush Make a Comeback?" and "How Jeb Bush Hopes to Save His Candidacy."

Florida feeds at the public trough

"Florida eyes federal grants to help clear rape kit backlog."

Political Paths for Incumbent Senators

"Aside from chatter about the partisan skew of a Senate redistricting plan selected Wednesday by Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds, the biggest question about the new lines is how they might alter the future of incumbent senators who hope to run again in 2016." "Backroom Briefing: Political Paths Still Open for Incumbent Senators."

SoFla's congressional delegation turns a blind eye to Cuba problem

The Sun Sentinel editors: "With the exodus of Cuban refugees having reached a crisis stage, South Florida's congressional delegation — including our two U.S. senators — continues to turn a blind eye." "Pitiful lack of leadership on Cuban crisis."

More Redistricting

"Redistricting judge questions not using political data to draw maps." See also "Judge sides with voting-rights groups on new state Senate maps."

See also "Redistricting judge questions not using political data to draw maps."

Expect new water policy

"New Water Policy Expected to Flow in Session."

Pension deform

The Tampa Trib editors think its a great idea to push public employees into, what a Forbes columnist calls "one of the most egregious scams in modern finance."

Doing the bidding of a "trillion-dollar industry that has a lot of money at stake if people stop believing in the mythology bolted to the scam":

The investment plan default probably would be the best option for most workers. As House members point out, it takes eight years to be vested in the Florida Retirement System, the reason about 60 percent of the workers who enroll in the system never receive anything from it.
"Progress on pension reform."

2015 health care-policy review

"It's easy to forget now, amid the ongoing battle over redistricting, but health care issues dominated the regular 2015 legislative session. Lawmakers drew lines in the sand in a dispute over the state's Medicaid expansion, which short-circuited the session after the House of Representatives adjourned early due to the stalemate." "Medicaid stalemate, price-gouging, and pot: A health care-policy review of 2015."