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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 15, 2013

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WEATHERFORD, GOP 'IGNORING REALITY,' FAILING TO LEAD ON MEDICAID REFORM

House Speaker Will Weatherford in Control of Medicaid Decision [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]So, as the state Legislature heads into its final weeks with a solution still nowhere in sight, there is a critical detail that should not be overlooked. If low-income Floridians are without health coverage at this time next year, they will have Will Weatherford to thank. The House speaker has occupied a lower-profile role on health care in recent weeks, but it is fair to say no individual has done more to torpedo Medicaid expansion in Florida. The president and the governor are in favor of expansion. Polls say residents want it, the state's leading health care organizations have lobbied for it, and the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it. Even the Republican-dominated Senate has proposed an alternative plan that would use federal Medicaid funds. The sticking point is the Florida House. And the fault is Weatherford's...Weatherford is ignoring reality while riding on his ideological high horse."

Editorial: House Health Plan: Little Care, High Cost [Tampa Bay Times] "Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is failing the test of fiscal responsibility and compassionate leadership by rejecting federal money to expand Medicaid. The House alternative is no safety net for the uninsured and would cover a fraction of the 1 million poor Floridians who would qualify for expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It offers false hope and too little coverage at too much cost — all so Weatherford and other Republicans can continue an ideological fight with the Obama administration...Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, says he supports a strong safety net. But the House plan is no safety net at all for Floridians. It is political cover for Republicans still fighting a battle over health care reform that they already have lost in the courts, in Congress and with the public."

House GOP’s Balking at Medicaid Cash Could Hurt Party [Miami Herald] "'Republicans don’t care.” Lenny Curry, the Republican Party of Florida chairman, reluctantly acknowledged the criticism in an email. And he proposed an antidote. 'It’s not enough to say that we care about people,' Curry wrote, citing a conservative columnist. 'You have to show up.' The following day, Thursday, Florida House leaders showed up in the state Capitol, pitched a conservative health plan and played right into the don’t-care criticism. They said they didn’t care to take nearly $9.8 billion from the federal government over three years to help provide coverage to as many as 816,000 low-income Floridians. Their plan covers fewer people and costs the state treasury more money than proposals by Republican Gov. Rick Scott or the GOP-led Senate...Taking the Medicaid money (at least for three years) would help people find insurance, shield hospitals from cuts, help the budget, help the economy, help businesses, help people like Weatherford’s own family and perhaps help the GOP continue to attract Hispanic voters and anyone else who otherwise would think that Republicans don’t care.”

 

MIAMI HERALD, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: GOP SHOULD EMBRACE COMMON SENSE ELECTIONS REFORMS 

Editorial: Election Reform Lite [Miami Herald] "[...]In 2011, the Legislature, with Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing, curtailed early voting, mired voters in the quicksand of incomprehensible amendment language and, ultimately, rendered Florida’s role in the 2012 presidential election irrelevant. This after thousands of Floridians waited long after polls were closed to cast a vote. The fix is simple: Lawmakers just needed to restore the 14 days of early voting; allow residents who have relocated in-state to cast actual, not provisional, ballots and recommit to putting 75-word summaries of constitutional amendments on the ballot."

League of Women Voters: Take the Pain Out of Voting in Florida [Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed] "The next time Floridians go to the polls, I hope the pain will have faded from the long lines and long ballot that frustrated so many voters in 2012. Many of the problems were generated from 2011 election legislation passed by the Florida Legislature...One provision that has yet to be addressed in proposed legislation is whether a voter can make an address change at the polls on Election Day and still vote a regular ballot. Sound reasonable? It should...Unfortunately, under provisions passed by the Florida Legislature in 2011, that changed, and a problem was created...We ask the Legislature to pledge that no registered voter who expects to vote a regular ballot and have it count that day should be needlessly delayed at the polls on Election Day. Reinstate statewide voter-registration portability, and protect the voting rights of all citizens."

 

PROPOSED ELECTION-FIX DOUBLES DOWN ON VOTER DISENFRANCHISEMENT   

Election-Fix Bill Could Disenfranchise 100,000 Florida Voters [Sunshine State News] "After Florida once again surfaced as an error-ridden quagmire at the polls during the last presidential election, lawmakers crafted legislation attempting to end its starring role as late-night talk-show fodder. Now, however, a controversial proposal within the bill has critics crying foul and could force Florida legislators to take a second look. The Senate Rules Committee approved the elections bill on a 10-5 party line vote last week. It was the final committee stop for SB 600 before going to the Senate floor...critics counter that the witnessing provision could lead to roughly 100,000 ballots being discarded, potentially influencing the outcome of future elections."

  

IN TROUBLE, RICK SCOTT CONTINUES TO REINVENT HIMSELF

Gov. Rick Scott Beginning to Look a Lot Like Charlie Crist [Tampa Bay Times] "The closer we get to Election Day 2014, the more Rick Scott seems to mimic Charlie Crist, his potential Democratic challenger. We've already seen Gov. Scott tear a page from Crist's playbook by courting teachers and calling for across-the-board pay increases. We've seen him strike a newly proconsumer, populist tone on issues including expanding Medicaid and curbing Citizens Property Insurance rate increases. Now we learn that he's embracing Crist's penchant for sending all sorts of notes to people he comes across...It's a nice touch, and a bit more personal than the form letters Scott (his office, anyway) sends to countless Floridians mentioned in news accounts for assorted honors large and small. 'Congratulations on being named one of Tallahassee's 25 Women You Need to Know for 2013. Thank you for all you are doing to make our state the greatest place to live, work, and play. Your efforts are helping move our state in the right direction,' he wrote one constituent recently. But it's unlikely he earned her vote. She is Allison Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, and her efforts these days are mainly aimed at making Scott a one-term governor."

 

SEN. NELSON: SENATE WILL PASS BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR GUN PURCHASES

Bill Nelson Says Senate Will Clear Criminal Background Checks for Guns [Florida Times Union] "A day after the U.S. Senate overcame a filibuster to begin gun control debates, Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters he expects a bill requiring criminal background checks will pass. He doesn’t expect enough support though for a ban on assault weapons, which he said are used 'for killing.' The Florida Democrat also spoke to reporters in his Jacksonville office about the need for bipartisan support for air traffic control towers. A background-check requirement would stop potential gun buyers from crossing state lines to circumvent local laws. Nelson said the requirement keeps 'guns out of the hands of criminals and insane people.' Nelson said he hopes the bipartisanship that ended the filibuster will also prevent the closure of control towers in 14 airports statewide and 149 across the nation, including Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine."