Sunday, January 17, 2016

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

"A fantasy promoted by industry lobbyists and bought politicians"

Carl Hiaasen writes that, "Touted as an environmental breakthrough, the water policy bill passed last week by the Florida Legislature is actually a major win for polluters and the politicians they own."

Enforcement of clean-water rules is basically being replaced by the honor system. Big Agriculture couldn’t be happier. . . .

The Senate passed it with nary a single dissenting vote, reluctant Democrats saying this year’s version was better than last year’s awful bill, which didn’t pass. Even some environmental groups went along with the rewrite, asserting that it was the best they could hope for.

"In other words, the public will be paying farm corporations to do something they should pay for themselves — clean up their mess."
Another cynical move by GOP lawmakers was placing the Department of Environmental Protection in charge of periodically reviewing the water management practices, to see if pollution is actually being reduced.

It’s no secret that Gov. Rick Scott has made a priority of castrating the DEP. Only a sucker would believe the agency will be re-staffed and re-empowered to take on the task of monitoring corporate polluters.

There’s no denying the water bill is ambitious and far-reaching, and Big Agriculture isn’t the only winner. Developers seeking to tap into rivers and waterways, particularly in Central Florida, should send thank-you notes along with their campaign checks to Tallahassee.

A water plan with pollution rules set by the polluters is exactly what you’d expect from the same gang that betrayed the 4 million Floridians who voted for Amendment One.

"Some Democrats and environmentalists say they’ll strive to toughen the weak phosphorus rules and expedite cleanup actions. That won’t happen without an epic shift in political power."
Meanwhile the crap being pumped from Lake Okeechobee and surrounding farms continues to imperil the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, the Indian River Lagoon, Gulf Coast beaches and, most critically, the Everglades.

Under the new rules, some farmers and landowners will honestly try to improve the water they flush into our wetlands and our drinking supply. Others won’t, because it’s cheaper and easier to dump unfiltered waste.

If voluntary compliance really worked, we wouldn’t need any pollution laws. Corporations would care as much about clean, safe water as ordinary families do. Unfortunately, that’s not the real world. It’s just a fantasy promoted by industry lobbyists and bought politicians.

And now, in Florida, it’s going to be the law.

Much more here: "Polluters win again in the state Legislature."

Legislators argue anti-corruption bill unfair to business

"A major ethics and anti-corruption bill that advocates say is long overdue faces a rocky path in the Florida Legislature."

The legislation is now moving through the committee process in both the House and Senate and seeks to end what a 2010 grand jury called a "corruption tax" on Florida citizens. The panel said that amounts to millions a year in extra taxes, government fees and even highway tolls because of the cost of waste, fraud and misconduct by public officials.

Most legislators praise parts that redefine corruption in criminal law to make it easier to prosecute, but some also say the bill amounts to excessive government regulation on companies that contract with the state.

"Anti-corruption bill faces rocky path in Florida Legislature."

Pafford or Joyner?

Kevin Derby argues that "Mark Pafford Gives Democrats a Far Better Way Out of Political Limbo than Arthenia Joyner."

"Simpson vs. Legg could have been epic"

Tom Jackson: "So, it turns out the race for the redrawn state Senate District 10 seat will not come down to the Egg Man vs. the Legg Man after all. It’s not hard to figure out the politics of it, but let me say, nonetheless, rats. Wilton Simpson vs. John Legg could have been epic." "We’ll miss Legg Man vs. Egg Man."

The "death rattle" of Florida's death penalty

Scott Maxwell points out that, in the wake of Hurst v. Florida, the Supreme Court's ruling that "Florida's capital-sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment," Florida "politicians are already scurrying to try to get around this 8-1 ruling, trying to one-up each other to prove their zeal for executions. Let's get back to killing! The sooner, the better! It is the desperate death rattle of the death penalty. For state-sanctioned murder is in its last throes. This ruling was just another tightening of the noose." "Supreme Court takes Florida's death penalty closer to end."

At least $28.5 million has been funneled into legislative PCs

"As Florida legislators begin their annual session in an election year, at least $28.5 million has been funneled into legislative political committees in the last six months, fueling progress on priority legislation for many industries, and blocking other ideas from advancing, according to a Herald/Times analysis." "Special interests flood Florida legislative campaigns with $28 million in 6 months."

Rick Scott's "State of Denial"

The Miami Herald editors write that "Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State speech last week should have been called the State of Denial." "Gov. Scott’s state of denial speech."