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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Saturday, February 06, 2016

Most of the state’s GOPers who endorsed Jeb are sticking with him

    "Most of the state’s GOP lawmakers endorsed former Gov. Jeb Bush back when he was being touted as the odds-on favorite to gain their party’s White House nomination. And they are sticking with him now, even as the odds for his flagging campaign grow longer."
    Some Bush stalwarts in Florida appear to be starting to hedge their bets in the wake of Rubio’s Iowa finish. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from Indian Shores, south of Clearwater, speaks highly of Rubio as he recalls his election to the U.S. Senate in 2000. . . .

    Yet Jolly is in the Bush camp for now, though not adamantly. “I still hope Jeb’s our nominee,” he said, before adding “but we would be a fortunate nation to have Marco as our president.”

    "It’s hard to gauge whether others might be struggling with their early endorsement of Bush. Most of Bush’s Florida congressional backers declined to make themselves available for questions."
    Among the 11 Republican lawmakers who’ve endorsed Bush for president, aides to two – Reps. Dennis Ross of Lakeland and Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville – did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

    Aides to four other Bush backers said their bosses were too busy to talk.

    “Unfortunately, the congressman isn’t available to chat today,” said Nicole Rapanos, a spokeswoman for Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Kendall. “Feel free to reach out for future requests!”

    Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key was similarly unavailable. “I'll try to get him to call you, but it may be difficult,” his spokeswoman, Gretchen Andersen, said Wednesday. Asked for an update Thursday, Andersen responded: “We’re going to take a pass on this right now. Thanks for reaching out!”

    Dan McFaul, a spokesman for Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla in the Panhandle near the Alabama line, said Wednesday he’d try to get hold of Miller but cautioned “it might be tough. Perhaps another day?” Thursday, McFaul did not respond to repeated requests.

    Rep. Ted Yoho, a tea party enthusiast from Gainesville, said he was disappointed that his preferred candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, had dropped out after Iowa. Neither Floridian in the race will draw his support, he said. Bush is part of the Republican establishment, which Yoho wants to shake up, and Rubio doesn’t have enough experience outside politics, Yoho said. “I see Ted Cruz standing for the things that I believe in,” Yoho said of the senator from Texas. “He feels the way I feel, that we’re in a constitutional crisis. In his arguments [as a lawyer] before the Supreme Court, he fought for core conservative principles and defended the Constitution.”

    Told that it sounded as if he were endorsing Cruz’s White House run, Yoho responded: “I wouldn’t dispute that"

    "Floridians in Washington stick with Jeb Bush despite Marco Rubio’s surge."

    Rubio whines about "sanctuary cities," except his own

    "Miami's two Republican presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both get applause when they campaign against federal funding for so-called 'sanctuary cities,' where local law-enforcement agencies limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. But advocates consider their home county of Miami-Dade to be such a sanctuary." "Jeb Bush says Miami isn't the same kind of 'sanctuary city' as San Francisco."

    FlaGOP "Bill gives Rick Scott military power over 'invaders'"

    "Gov. Rick Scott would be able to use military power to keep immigrants or refugees from entering Florida if they are from or have been near countries where "invaders" live or train if a bill a House committee approved Wednesday becomes law."

    The Prevention of Acts of War bill would let the governor declare that certain immigrants and refugees are "restricted people" if he determines they are from countries where he believes invaders want to come to the United States to attack people or property.
    "HB 1095 would prohibit any state or local government employee or any person receiving state assistance of any kind, including Medicare, from helping immigrants or refugees entering or resettling in Florida unless the immigrants were born in the Western Hemisphere. Anyone assisting a restricted person would have to turn that person's personal information over to the state. The state would be allowed to monitor restricted people."
    It was approved on a 9-4 vote with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. Instead of a simple "yes," Republican Rep. Charles Van Zant of Keystone Heights cast his vote with an emphatic "Absolutely."
    "Bill gives governor military power over 'invaders'."

    More: "Florida bill would allow military force."

    What's wrong with Hillsborough?

    "Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a statement Wednesday decrying the possibility of a meeting in Tampa organized by controversial 'neomasculinity' blogger Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh through the website Return of Kings." "Anti-feminist Return of Kings group has no place in Tampa, Buckhorn says."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Will old scandal hurt Garcia’s new run? – FL’s Zika state of emergency – Rubio edges Bush in endorsements – Militarizing immigration fights – Hide your goats, Caryville." "Florida Playbook."

    "A preview of next governor’s race?"

    Joe Henderson: "there they were, Putnam and Scott, sharing smiles and compliments from the [Florida State Fair' annual Governor’s Day Luncheon] dais Thursday, even as Putnam wryly cracked, 'Last year’s luncheon for some strange reason ran late.'"

    Putnam is much at ease in front of a microphone while Scott still seems stiff, like someone starched his undershirt with super glue. And since he might (cough, cough) be running to replace Scott in 2018, the contrast is notable.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was also on the stage, receiving plaudits from the governor but no time at the microphone. Buckhorn will be scurrying off to New Hampshire today to campaign for Hillary Clinton and, gee, wonder why?

    On the off chance (cough, cough) Buckhorn wades into the 2018 governor’s race, today’s trip will be a marker he can call in from the Democratic National Committee — especially if Hillary is elected president.

    To be fair, there is a fair amount of skepticism whether Buckhorn will get in the race. It will be tough to win, especially if Putnam is the opponent.

    "Was head table at state fair luncheon a preview of next governor’s race?."

    Marco-mentum may be dragged down by Jeb's failing candidacy

    Vanity Fair: "One of the biggest wild cards for Rubio, ironically, remains the fatally staid Jeb Bush."

    The former Florida governor and his super-PACs have spent tens of millions of dollars on anti-Rubio ads, a largely ineffective strategy that has nonetheless been a boon for Cruz and Trump. Despite his collapsing poll numbers and a sixth-place finish in Iowa, Bush still has a massive war chest and a larger super-PAC, Right to Rise, which is expected to continue spending its money even as donors repeatedly signal that they would rather their own doomed candidate quit than bloody Rubio further. But if Bush himself is considering an early exit, his campaign is showing no signs: an internal memo leaked to Politico indicated that Bush plans to focus on South Carolina and Nevada, where he has a stronger ground operation and an advantage among Hispanic voters, and hopefully survive to face Rubio in their home state of Florida.

    This is a scenario that the Rubio campaign wants to avoid, making the next two weeks crucial. Now that they need to plan for a three-way slugfest, no one wants the Marco-mentum to be dragged down by a candidacy in its death throes.

    "How Jeb Bush Could Derail Marco Rubio."

    Meanwhile, "Hoping for the Silver in New Hampshire, Marco Rubio Can Expect to Feel the Heat in Saturday's Debate."

    Budget blues

    "Budget bills presage fight over Planned Parenthood funding."

    Guns, guns . . . guns on the roof

    "House overwhelmingly approves open carry gun bill."

    Florida's Media Poodles Taking Jeb's Failure Hard

    Alex Leary: "'Jeb Bush is a college professor in a used car salesman’s election'."

    A "college professor," really? To the contrary, Jeb's success in Florida suggests the Florida electorate that elected Jeb! - and the media poodles who adored him - were something lesser than "used car salesmen."

    "What’s the Point of Jeb Bush?"

    "What’s the Point of Jeb Bush Now?

    Old scandals in new bottles

    "Democrat Joe Garcia, who lost his 2014 congressional re-election bid amid two scandals tied to a former aide, has decided to run for his old seat against a one-time friend, Annette Taddeo. Garcia’s announcement for Florida’s 26th Congressional District prompted swift criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who said the fraud case that played into his election loss two years ago will haunt his effort." "Garcia seeking congressional comeback, but old scandal could hurt."

    Death politics

    "With executions indefinitely on hold in Florida, lawmakers hurriedly are considering legislation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the state’s capital sentencing law as unconstitutional. The House and Senate are divided on how far the changes should go." "Senate seeks unanimous juries in death sentences."

    Scott benefits from Obamanomics

    "National Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2008."

    Endorsement snafu

    Nancy Smith writes that, "At least two of three Florida City commissioners claim they did not endorse CD 26 candidate Annette Taddeo -- or any candidate -- even though Taddeo's campaign issued a press release in English and Spanish saying they did."

    Commissioner Avis Brown and Vice Mayor Sharon Butler told friends, in fact specifically sought out friends to say they attended a Taddeo event, even had their pictures taken with the Democratic candidate vying with Joe Garcia to challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo. But they had no idea in so doing they were giving permission for an endorsement.
    "Did Annette Taddeo Campaign 'Phony Up' These Endorsements?."

    More from Ms. Smith: "The Annette Taddeo Ultimatum."

    Ross would censure the President

    Climate change denier, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., "filed a resolution censuring President Barack Obama over his failure to implement the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act." "Dennis Ross Files Censure Against Obama Over Visa Waivers for Iran."

    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Hot Button Issues and Budgets."

    Poodles in love

    Carl Hiaasen, yet another chatterer who bought into Florida's poodle-press' Jeb-worship: The talented Hiaasen blabs that "A year ago this scenario was unimaginable. He had more money, more brains, more connections and more governing experience than any other Republican wanting to be president. Like many people, I thought his nomination would be a slam dunk."

    Really, Carl? Jeb has "more brains" than, say . . . fellow GOPer Ted Cruz, who graduated cum laude from Princeton University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School? Jeb's hold over the Florida's media never ceases to amaze.

    Jeb's fall was obvious - the moment someone looked at this man in the cold light of day - something most of Florida's media was and remains incapable of doing (because they, after all, wanted one of their own in the presidential fray . . . and perhaps an opportunity to ride on the big bus with the real journalists). Hiaasen continues:

    Jeb hasn’t made any huge, embarrassing blunders on the campaign trail. He’s not obnoxious or unlikable. True, he’s not an electrifying personality, but in most election cycles that wouldn’t disqualify him.

    Obviously, he misjudged the depth of the anger and division within his own party. He isn’t the only candidate to get caught off guard.

    But he is the only Bush on the ballot, and that’s probably hurt him more than it has helped. Jeb isn’t the one who invaded Iraq and basically exploded the Mideast. He isn’t the one who jacked up the deficit with war spending, then left the U.S. economy teetering on a cliff.

    That was his brother, but seven years later lots of voters haven’t forgotten. Before committing to Jeb, they need to be convinced that he’s way different from George W., that he’s wiser and more careful, and that he doesn’t have a Dick Cheney blow-up doll riding shotgun.

    Hiaasen seems to lament that
    there is no sign of a grass-roots pro-Jeb frenzy. The fact he was Florida’s governor for two terms isn’t wowing the masses — even in Florida.

    Polls here show Jeb trailing Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. He is only slightly ahead of the sleepwalking Ben Carson.

    Hiaasen wonders, "How is this possible?"

    Well, the better question is "why would anybody want to vote for President Jeb?" Florida has had enough of "King Jeb," and Republican primary voters apparently feel the same way.

    Hiaasen closes, however, with something most Floridians can agree on - Marco Rubio:

    Here’s a guy who has accomplished zero in the Senate, flip-flops when he feels the heat and can’t even manage his own credit cards. How is he beating an old pro like Jeb?

    By successfully casting himself as a fresh and electable alternative. Rubio’s only got one speech, but he’s good at it. Ironically, he grew up to be slicker and more calculating than his mentor.

    "When the applause dies for Jeb Bush."

The Blog for Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"Candidates keep half an eye on Florida"

    "The Iowa caucuses are over, propelling Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio into serious contention for the Republican presidential nomination and setting up a long battle ahead between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side."
    Throw in the continuing dominance — at least in national polls — of billionaire businessman Donald Trump and you have a recipe for a hard-fought and nationally significant presidential preference primary in Florida on March 15.
    "Besides serving up a heap of red meat for political junkies in the state, a competitive Florida primary raises a host of questions:"
    ♦ Will Trump’s current lead in Florida polls hold up or will his meteoric candidacy flame out during the long slog of 20 or so state primaries before March 15?

    ♦ Can Rubio gain momentum following his strong showing in Iowa and arrive in his home state’s primary as the favorite to take all of Florida’s 99 Republican delegates?

    ♦ And can former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who picked up just one delegate in Iowa, survive long enough to mount a comeback in the state that boosted him onto the national stage.

    And that’s just the Republicans.

    "Candidates keep half an eye on Florida as primary season marches on."

    "Takeaways From Iowa and Why it Matters in Florida‭." The Sun Sentinel editors: "After Iowa, Florida candidates hopeful -- and desperate."

    "Cantera Doubles Down on Term Limits Pledge"

    Kevin Derby: "Now running for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera doubled down on his commitment to serve only two terms on Wednesday regardless if a the Constitution is amended for term limits." "Carlos Lopez-Cantera Doubles Down on Term Limits Pledge."

    Bad year

    "2016 could be a down year for South Florida’s economy."

    Demings holds 20 point lead over Thompson in CD 10

    "Former Orlando police chief Val Demings holds a commanding lead of more than 20 points over her nearest Democratic rival in the race for Florida’s newly drawn 10th Congressional District, according to a new poll commissioned by her campaign." "Demings campaign poll shows commanding position in Orlando race."

    Charter madness

    "Charter schools would fall under more accountability and performance guidelines under a bill by a Lakeland lawmaker that cleared a Senate education committee Tuesday."

    Those guidelines include automatic closure of schools that get two consecutive “F” grades from the state and prohibiting charter schools from denying a student enrollment based on the student’s current or previous academic performance.

    It would also allow charter school companies with an established high performance record to receive incentives and go through a more streamlined process to open new schools.

    "Florida lawmakers advance bill changing charter school process."

    "Legislators could carry concealed"

    "Legislators could carry concealed in official meetings" "Florida lawmakers add significant change to open-carry gun proposal."

    "hat's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Demings leads in CD-10 Dem race -- What the exit polls say about Rubio – Jeb takes on Trump – Scott’s tax-cut cornhole challenge – ‘BANANA’ BRAIN: Haiti’s president sang what?" "Florida Playbook."

    "Back to the Past with Rubio"

    "Back to the Past with Marco Rubio?" Background: "For a candidate who’s almost preoccupied with rhetoric about the 'future' and his willingness to break with old, 20th-century ideas, Rubio’s approach to energy policy is almost comically stale – the Republican wants to drill everywhere, pretend the climate crisis doesn’t exist, and scrap safeguards intended to protect the public." "Rubio looks backward, again, for his policy agenda."

The Blog for Monday, February 01, 2016

"Transforming school districts into parochial, back-biting, money-wasting fiefdoms"

    The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Florida lawmakers, who never seem to tire of blindfolding the public school system and giving it a spin, now want to divide countywide school districts into separate districts for cities and counties. To make this bad idea even worse, they also want to politicize school systems, allowing partisan elections." "Plan to give cities governance over separate school districts a bad idea."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Rubio crushes ‘Poor Jeb’ in fundraising – tough talk in CD-18 – DeSantis crows about fundraising prowess – snakes pile up in python hung, but is it enough?" "Florida Playbook."

    Scott's surgeon general under fire

    "The number of patients served at county health departments has plummeted in the five years since Gov. Rick Scott took office, the state's top health official revealed in a letter to a top senator last week, in a bid to keep his job as Florida’s surgeon general amid rising legislative opposition."

    Surgeon General John Armstrong included the data in his reply to a recent letter in which Sen. Don Gaetz, a Destin Republican, had pressed for details on the agency's budget request to eliminate 718 positions, asking if any of the positions were clinical and inquiring about rising HIV rates. . . .

    Armstrong came under fire in the Senate last year for refusing to answering Gaetz’s questions about Medicaid expansion and whether expanding the health care program under the federal health care law would improve Floridians' health outcomes.

    Eventually, the committee moved to defer a vote on his confirmation. Armstrong, like most of many of Scott’s agency heads, never got confirmed. If the Senate doesn't confirm him this year, he will have to leave his job, where he earns $141,000 annually.

    "Care cut back at county health departments under Armstrong."

    To Paraphrase "Poor Jeb," "Throw His Ass Out"

    "Bush’s supporters feel protective of him and grieved for his sake. They seem acutely aware that he was never supposed to be in this position—mired in the back of the crowded pack of candidates, struggling to be heard, on the edge of being counted out. A campaign that began with a frontrunner’s fanfare now averages less than 5 percent in national polls.

    It’s a situation that might be humbling or humiliating for your average governor or senator making a run at the title, but it takes on special resonance for a member of one of America’s royal families." "The Last Days of the Bush Dynasty?"

    "Crist is in one mother of a primary fight"

    Nancy Smith writes that, "Charlie Crist may still be the favorite. But mark my words, he knows he's in one mother of a primary fight." "Uh-Oh, Is Charlie Crist About to Make It 3 in a Row?."

    Anti-choice bill "is about as bad as it gets"

    The Miami Herald editors: "Many Floridians were undoubtedly flabbergasted to learn this week that the Legislature, in its wisdom, is considering a bill that virtually bans the practice of abortion in this state. Every legislative session sees its share of frivolous, time-wasting proposals, but this particular one is about as bad as it gets." "Sink this misguided anti-abortion measure."

    "Let the budget horse-trading begin. "

    "House, Senate unveil $80 billion state budgets."

    Wage theft ordinances

    "The city’s wage dispute office has been up and running for four months and is working as its supporters predicted it would."

    Wage theft typically involves people who are forced to work “off the clock,” are not paid for overtime hours, or are not paid at all. Often they are day laborers or work in hotels, restaurants, health care facilities, or construction and lawn service businesses.

    In St. Petersburg, complaints filed thus far have ranged from workers not being paid to how tips are divided for servers at restaurants. Once notified, Epstein said, employers have agreed to pay workers. One case went to mediation and was resolved. Another involved a restaurant that unfairly was dipping into the tips of a server. That case went the next step, to an administrative hearing, where the employer agreed to pay.

    "St. Pete wage dispute office gets employers to pay."

The Blog for Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oh Noes . . . More "Devious Plans"

    The Tampa Trib editors: "It is troubling to see the Florida Legislature plow ahead with a bill that would rob local governments of any control over fracking in their communities."
    Supporters say the measure is aimed at regulating fracking and would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to study what impacts fracking and related excavation processes would have, particularly on water sources.

    That sounds reasonable, but this industry-driven bill is primarily aimed at ensuring local governments don’t get in the way of the drilling industry’s plans.

    The House passed its fracking bill this week while a similar Senate bill also is progressing.

    It doesn’t matter to lawmakers that 64 local governments have passed resolutions opposing fracking, and have good reason to be cautious about the practice in Florida. In the process, a mixture of water, sand and caustic chemicals is pumped deep into the ground to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas.

    "A devious fracking bill."

    Hasn't Florida had enough FlaGOP "devious plans"? See "Governor Tells Of `Devious Plans' To Undo Class Size Vote"

    Welfare For the Rich While Punishing the Poor

    "The Future Is Here: Florida Wants Welfare For the Rich While Punishing the Poor."

    Raw political courage

    "The general counsel for the Florida House released an opinion this week stating that the chairman of the House rules committee, Melbourne Republican Ritch Workman — who moonlights as an Uber driver — would not have any voting conflict when it came to a bill that would bar local regulation of car-hail app companies like Uber." "House lawyer finds ‘no voting conflict’ for Uber driver-legislator."

    Legislature's rival spending plans

    "Republicans in charge of the Florida House and Senate have drawn up rival spending plans that differ on everything from money for schools to spending on incentives to lure businesses to the state."

    The Florida House and Senate on Friday released their official budget proposals for the coming year.

    Legislators have until March to reconcile their rival spending plans and pass a budget that covers spending from July 2016 to June 2017. Last year a clash between the House and Senate over health care spending resulted in a deadlock that wasn’t resolved until the middle of summer.

    Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli insist they will get their work done on time this year.

    "Here are a few highlights of the two budgets as proposed:" "Florida House, Senate air rival budgets."

    Don't forget the "unjustly imprisoned"

    John Romano: "10-20-Life is being reformed, but let's not forget those unjustly imprisoned by it."

    "Legislative assault on transparency"

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Stop the legislative assault on transparency."

    An "over-sized say," really?

    Scott Maxwell writes, it's time to change Iowa having an "over-sized say in electing the next leader of the U.S."

    He argues that,

    Iowa's demographics don't even remotely mirror America's. I've seen snowmen less white than The Hawkeye State. We're talking 90 percent. This isn't a state that's reflective of America; it's reflective of the PGA Tour.

    Iowa also gets it wrong. Like really wrong.

    In 2008, Iowa Republicans declared Mike Huckabee the runaway winner. In the 2012, they chose Rick Santorum. Neither man could get elected chief button-presser in an elevator in most parts of America. But Iowans were ready to put them in the White House.

    "Iowa caucuses: Holy corncobs, they're weird."

    Which begs the question, if Iowa also "gets it wrong," how is it that they have an "over-sized say in electing the next leader of the U.S."?

    And Maxwell's suggestion that Florida be part of the mix - because "we're diverse. We're purple. Heck, we usually end up deciding who wins anyway" - appears to be a joke . . . one hopes.

The Blog for Friday, January 29, 2016

Florida open carry passes final House committee

    Over the objections of 47 of 67 sheriffs, "concealed carry permit holders would be able to openly carry handguns -- as long as they are holstered and not just stuck down a waistband -- under a bill that passed its final House committee Thursday." "Floridians one step closer to being allowed to openly carry handguns."

    Demings gets unanimous backing of the Congressional Black Caucus

    "Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings got the unanimous backing of the Congressional Black Caucus in her bid to win the Democratic nomination for Florida's redrawn 10th Congressional District. The influential organization, established in 1971, is comprised of black members of Congress." "Congressional Black Caucus backs Val Demings bid for Congress."

    New's flash: Florida's Clinton supporters think Hill will win Florida

    "Prominent Florida Democrats agree Hillary Clinton is stronger candidate in the state than Bernie Sanders."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Jeb’s best debate night – ‘Rubio or bust’ for GOP? -- Florida budget fights begin – Medical marijuana campaign ‘will be different’." "Florida Playbook."

    Immigration tussle

    "Rubio, Bush tussle over immigration."

    "Senate budget contradicts transparency bill"

    "The House and Senate transparency bills would both bar the state from implementing an all-payer claims database — but despite the prohibition, the Senate spending plan Sen. Rene Garcia unveiled Thursday includes $4.5 million to fund one. Gov. Rick Scott and the state Agency for Health Care Administration submitted legislative budget requests asking for $5 million for such a database, which Scott needs to implement his health care transparency proposal." "On all-payer claims database, Senate budget contradicts transparency bill." See also "Senate HHS Appropriations OKs Health Care Price Transparency Bill."

    Backroom Briefing

    "Backroom Briefing: Pot Debate Goes from 'Trojan Horse' to Lutheran Towers."

    Florida Republicans fight to preserve executions

    "Saying it's time to put the "death penalty" debate to rest, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature began taking its first steps Wednesday to find a way to preserve executions in the state." "Florida legislators vow to keep death penalty, fix law."

    Tallahassee on Uber

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "The Florida Legislature should learn from Broward County as it tries to set statewide rules for Uber and other ride-hailing companies. After setting rules so stringent that Uber threatened to leave, the Broward County Commission heard from tens of thousands of residents who like the service." "What Tallahassee should do on Uber."

    House, Senate far apart on transportation and economic development budget

    "The Senate’s transportation and economic development budget is nearly $800 million larger than the plan put forward by the House, a difference that will no doubt be one of the last issues debated during the final weeks of the legislative session." "Nearly $800M separates House, Senate economic development budgets."

The Blog for Thursday, January 28, 2016

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

    Florida Legislature set to boycott BDSers

    "The Florida Legislature is set to ban the state from doing business with any company that boycotts Israel. The bill is a response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, which calls for boycotts of Israeli products and companies. " "Florida lawmakers OK bills targeting anti-Israel boycotts."

    "Plot to Destroy Rubio"

    Ryan Lizza in the New Yorker: "The Plot to Destroy Marco Rubio."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Medical marijuana makes FL ballot – Is Bush surging, Rubio falling in NH? – Rick Scott, blizzard warrior – FL gets an AK-47 factory." "Florida Playbook."

    That's our Jeb: "Campaigning in style: How Jeb Bush blew through his warchest"

    "In the world of Jeb Bush, the campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination has at times been a whirl of private planes and high-end affairs, according to the federal filings of Bush’s campaign and his Super PAC, Right to Rise, which can raise unlimited funds for Bush as long as it does not coordinate directly with him." "Campaigning in style: How Jeb Bush blew through his warchest."

    More Jeb: "Terri Schiavo's Husband: New Jeb Bush Ad 'Disgusting'" and "Jeb Bush Pauses Policy Speech to Ridicule ‘Poor Little Donald’ Trump."

    "Floridians knew it was a disgrace"

    "Floridians knew it was a disgrace when it was revealed earlier this month that more than 13,000 rape kits have gone untested statewide. It looks like lawmakers might be getting the message, too." "At last, lawmakers pushing rape kit testing."

    House kills moratorium on fracking

    "Fracking inched one step closer to becoming a reality in Florida Wednesday when the Florida House of Representatives passed a pro-fracking bill by a vote of 73-45." "Bill to Regulate Fracking Gets Green Light in House."

    "Seven House Republicans joined 38 Democrats Wednesday in voting against an oil and gas fracking bill, but the measure easily passed with overwhelming GOP support."

    HB 191 would establish a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while a study is conducted and regulations are developed. It also pre-empts local governments from banning the oil and gas extraction process.
    "Despite some Republican dissent, House easily passes fracking bill."

    "Killing the Sunshine"

    "Killing the Sunshine Law before our very eyes."

    $1 billion in tax-cuts

    Jim Turner: "Several House Democrats expressed apprehension Wednesday about a nearly $1 billion tax-cut package that Republican leaders unveiled this week." "House tax-cut package: Too much or not enough?"

    Medical MJ

    "Medical marijuana will be on the 2016 Florida ballot."

    Funny how that works

    "Black motorists in Florida are nearly twice as likely as white drivers to receive tickets for seat belt violations, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union"

    The ACLU report specifically criticized Tampa Police and Miami for failing to follow Florida law by not providing racial data to the state on seat belt citations.
    "ACLU says racial disparities in Florida seatbelt citations."

    If the James Madison Institute likes it . . .

    "Direct primary care arrangements allows doctors to collect fees from patients on a monthly basis. In direct primary care arrangements, doctors do not bill insurance companies. The fees cover a variety of primary care services that can be provided in doctors’ offices."

    The bill's sponsor, Rep. Fred Costello, said that most primary care contracts don’t require any written notice before being cancelled.
    "The bill is endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business and organized medicine such as the Florida Medical Association. It also is supported by the conservative James Madison Institute." "Health committee advances ‘direct primary care’ bill."

The Blog for Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"State coddling for-profit colleges"

    "Miami lawmaker Rep. José Javier Rodríguez blasted Florida’s for-profit college oversight agency on Tuesday — questioning whether it has the 'political will' to crack down on misbehaving schools."
    Rodríguez’s harsh words came nearly three months after the disastrous closure of Coral Gables-based Dade Medical College. Dade Medical’s roughly 2,000 students were left in limbo because the school never gave the state a plan to “teach out” the students at another college, which is required by Florida law. Violating that law is a misdemeanor.Florida’s for-profit oversight agency, the Commission for Independent Education, has the power to refer Dade Medical owner Ernesto Perez to prosecutors because of how the closure happened. But so far, the CIE — which is dominated by for-profit college executives — has taken no action.
    "In a letter e-mailed to CIE Executive Director Samuel Ferguson, Rodríguez wrote he was “deeply disappointed” in the agency’s response."
    “Most telling is the commission’s repeated and continued failure to simply be available to students in Miami,” wrote Rodríguez, who is a Democrat. “Despite repeated assurances to me since early November that plans are underway to send staff to South Florida to meet with and assist affected students, three months after the closure we continue to wait.”
    "Under its own agency rules, the CIE is supposed to send a staffer to any school that closes."
    The CIE is part of the Florida Department of Education. Its next board meeting is on Thursday. Rodríguez urged the agency to consider referring Dade Medical’s “improper closure” to law enforcement — an action that, he said, would send a message that the state takes the issue seriously.

    “In my view, such a signal has so far been seriously lacking,” Rodríguez wrote.

    Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said Dade Medical’s closure will be discussed by the CIE on Thursday. She did not provide any response to Rodríguez’s letter.

    A recent Miami Herald investigation, Higher-Ed Hustle, showed how the CIE routinely dismisses student complaints — even those alleging fraud or other illegal activity.

    "State coddling for-profit colleges, lawmaker says." See also "Higher-Ed Hustle."

    "What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

    Marc Caputo: "Rubio’s ‘Survivor’ campaign – Bush’s big spending, low return – Todd Wilcox’s big-name finance and campaign team – Clinton names FL press secretary from de Blasio World." "Florida Playbook."

    Pastor Protection Act

    "Senate Judiciary Committee approves Pastor Protection Act, which would allow clergy to turn away gay couples seeking to marry." "Florida lawmakers OK religious protections, delay LGBT rights vote." See also "Senate panel passes 'Pastor Protection' bill."

    Bill would end automatic fees for public records violations

    "Advocates decry bill ending automatic fees for public records violations." See also "Senate committee approves bill that weakens public records law."

    Horse racing

    Nancy Smith: "Legislators, Don't Vote to Kill Horse Racing -- Demand Facts."

    What will NRA want next?

    Joe Henderson: "Leaders at the National Rifle Association always think several moves ahead and they are relentless. With the consent of the Legislature, Florida has morphed from a state with reasonable gun restrictions 10 or 15 years ago to what we have now, and it’s not stopping." "If the NRA wins on open carry for Florida, what will it want next?"

    House backs fracking

    "The House on Tuesday voted down 20 amendments offered by Democrats to a bill that would bar local governments from banning oil and gas fracking, setting the stage for what could be a contentious debate and vote on Wednesday." "House votes down Democrats' fracking bill amendments."

    Senate considers larger education budget

    "Senate budget writers are considering a larger education spending increase than Gov. Rick Scott sought, though lawmakers are still considering how to offset an increase in local property taxes that helps pay for the historic number." "Senate Unveils Boost in Education Spending."

    House goes after "sanctuary cities"

    "Immigrant groups are on the edges of their seats this week as a bill which could significantly impact their way of life makes its way through the Florida House of Representatives." "House to Vote on Cracking Down on 'Sanctuary Cities'."

    "Committee ejects speaker for outburst"

    "Senate committee ejects speaker for outburst over divorce bill."