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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 16, 2013

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GOP REJECTS SCOTT'S LEADERSHIP

Fla. Senate May Fail to Confirm Some Scott Picks [AP] "Some appointments by Florida Gov. Rick Scott appear in jeopardy of getting passed up this year by the Florida Senate. Among those at the top of list: The state's surgeon general and leader of the state Department of Health. John Armstrong isn't alone. The Senate appears unlikely to confirm all 11 people appointed in the last year to the board charged with running fledgling Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater and chairman of the Senate panel responsible for screening appointments, said a decision was made against confirming the university board members because the fate of the school remains 'in flux.'"

 

HOUSE MEDICAID PLAN PANNED 

Shunning Federal Money, Florida House Adopts Plan that Covers One-tenth as Many Poor as Senate [Palm Beach Post] "A House panel approved a health coverage plan Monday that shuns billions of dollars in federal aid available for low-income Floridians, while also sharply dividing the state’s Republican leaders. The House proposal would cover 115,000 uninsured, low-income Florida parents, children and the disabled. It would cost state taxpayers $237 million annually. But the House approach pales compared to a sweeping plan advanced by the Senate and backed by Gov. Rick Scott. With the Legislature entering its final scheduled three weeks, the standoff looms as the session’s decisive policy clash — one whose outcome remains much in doubt. While the fight splits ruling Republicans, Democrats fired most of the shots Monday at the House proposal. 'It’s so woefully short of what needs to be done for the state of Florida,' said Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg. House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale condemned the plan as 'inadequate and insufficient to say the least.'"

Health Care Advocates Make Pitches as Lawmakers Hear Bills on Medicaid Alternatives [Orlando Sentinel] "As a House committee prepares to take its first look at a plan to offer health coverage to 115,700 low income Floridians, health care advocates are making their final pitches on why the state needs to accept $51 billion from the federal government and insure about 1 million people. 'I am sick and tired of Florida being a donor state,' said U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, who was in Tallahassee Monday to speak out against the House plan...Health care advocates quickly criticized the House plan because it covered far less than either traditional Medicaid expansion or a plan by Senate Budget Chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, that would take federal money and put 1 million people into private insurance companies. Brown, accompanied by House Democrats, SEIU and an PICO, an Orlando faith-based advocacy group, said the state was essentially paying for other states to expand Medicaid while their own residents got nothing."

 

ORLANDO SENTINEL: HOUSE GOP'S REJECTION OF MEDICAID 'POLITICALLY DRIVEN'

Don't Shun Federal Help in Expanding Health Care [Orlando Sentinel] "If lack of health insurance were a disease, it would be considered a pandemic in Florida. About one in four state residents who are too young to be covered by Medicare — 3.8 million people — is uninsured, the third worst rate in the nation. Congress and the president have offered a partial cure. Under the 2010 health reform law, the federal government would put up at least $51 billion over 10 years to cover at least 800,000 low-income Floridians. It would pick up the entire tab for the first three years and 90 percent after that. Even Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive who launched his political career fighting federal health reform, recognized the offer was too good to pass up — at least for the first three years. "I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care," Scott said in February, calling on state lawmakers to accept the offer...State House leaders, in contrast, are so politically driven to distance themselves from Obamacare that they're ignoring Florida's pandemic. They have cooked up a plan that would use only state money, but it would provide bare-bones coverage compared to the Senate's plan, and it would insure only 115,000 Floridians...The choice between the two plans isn't just about dollars and cents. It's also about whether state lawmakers would pass up a chance to provide health insurance to 700,000 Floridians for the sake of ideological purity. We expected better from the new House leadership under Rep. Will Weatherford. Mr. Speaker, do the right thing for the less fortunate."

 

GOP VS. GOP ON MEDICAID

Showdown Looms in Legislature Over Health Care Plans [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]A Republican-controlled House committee on Monday agreed to forgo federal health care aid and instead create a state-subsidized plan that House leaders say is more sustainable but also provides health care to far less people. The decision sets up a showdown between the Republicans in the House and Senate and Gov. Rick Scott, who each have different ideas on how to provide health care coverage to poor Floridians. With less than three weeks until the end of the legislative session, it's unclear what, if anything, will get done."

 

GOP VS. RICK SCOTT ON APPOINTMENTS

Fla. Senate May Fail to Confirm Some Scott Picks [AP] "Some appointments by Florida Gov. Rick Scott appear in jeopardy of getting passed up this year by the Florida Senate. Among those at the top of list: The state's surgeon general and leader of the state Department of Health. John Armstrong isn't alone. The Senate appears unlikely to confirm all 11 people appointed in the last year to the board charged with running fledgling Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater and chairman of the Senate panel responsible for screening appointments, said a decision was made against confirming the university board members because the fate of the school remains 'in flux.'"

 

GOP'S ELECTIONS 'SOLUTION' CREATES MORE PROBLEMS

Senate Elections Bill Draws Complaints that it Sets Up New Hurdles [Tampa Bay Times] "The long-awaited elections  reform bill (SB 600) comes before the Florida Senate today and a recent amendment has some voters groups clamoring that it has gradually become an election hurdles bill. A last-minute amendment added to the measure by chief sponsor, Senate Ethics and Elections chairmanJack Latvala, R-Clearwater, would impose new restrictions on volunteers who assist non-English speaking voters on Election Day...Sen. Oscar Braynon, a Democrat who represents the North Miami district, has proposed an amendment to remove the language from the Senate bill during floor debate on Tuesday. He said the change is intended to suppress people from voting because it denies them the option to get help to vote. 'I want them to get in to vote,' he said. 'Hopefully the deputies will be working to make sure people don’t tell people to vote.'"

 

RICK SCOTT'S ENVIRONNEMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY CANNOT BY TRUSTED TO DO ITS JOB

Editorial: Breaking Rules, Hurting Environment [Tampa Bay Times] "Regulators who break the rules cannot be trusted with enforcing them. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection broke the rules protecting the state's wetlands to benefit a well-connected landowner, then punished the one employee who challenged her bosses on it and tried to do her job. Gov. Rick Scott should remove DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard Jr. and at least one of his deputy secretaries, because Floridians can no longer trust the agency to protect the environment and fairly enforce the rules... The integrity of Scott's environmental agency is at stake, because regulators who discipline staff trying to enforce the rules, and then rewrite those rules with the help of the special interests who will benefit, cannot be trusted."

 

MIAMI HERALD: TWO GOP BILLS RESTRICTING ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS AN 'ASSAULT ON FLORIDIAN'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS'

Keep it Public [Miami Herald] "Every year the Florida Legislature can’t seem to resist whittling away at the state’s public records laws. This year is no different. A handful of bills seek exemptions from public records for voters’ email addresses and for public-school teachers’ evaluations...The sponsors maintain they are trying to prevent voter fraud, but we’re stumped as to what type of fraud might occur. State agencies already make clear that email addresses are public records, and the state’s Electronic Mail Communications Act of 2004 gives Floridians a way to contact the agency by phone or mail to have the email address removed from public record without, of course, making the communication itself secret. Would every public agency need to access the state’s voter registration database so that bureaucrats could determine if that email belongs to a voter? What for? And would this mean that emails from residents not eligible to vote would remain public but voters’ emails would not? Again, what for? This legislation seems to be a round-about way to delay public information from being released — one more assault on Floridians’ constitutional rights to know what their government is doing without long delays and hefty charges."