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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 17, 2013

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DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS READY FOR MY ANSWERS?

Many Questions for Gov. Rick Scott, Some Answers [Sun Sentinel] "[...]The current Republican chief executive gave two basic answers to just about everything he was asked. His main answer on many topics was that he works on jobs and education 24/7. 'What I focus on are things that families care about.' Those two things are jobs and education. His other default answer was that he hadn’t read the legislation on a whatever topic he’s being asked about, so he didn’t have a view to offer."

  

REPUBLICANS CONTINUE WAR ON VOTING 

Florida Republicans Target Foreign-language Voting [Miami Herald] "Desiline Victor, the 102-year-old North Miami voter who became a symbol of Florida’s elections woes, could again find it tough to cast a ballot now that the state Senate voted Tuesday to keep a crackdown on foreign-language interpreters at the polls. The Republican-controlled Senate maintained the last-minute measure on what appeared to be a party-line voice vote while debating a bill designed to reverse the effects of an election law that helped create long lines and suppress the vote in 2012. On Election Day at Victor’s polling station, there were not enough interpreters for the Creole-speaking native of Haiti and hundreds like her. Turnout was heavy. And lines lasted for hours — partly due to a slew of proposed state Constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature. 'My mom is a victim of this problem,' said Victor’s godson, Mathieu Pierre-Louis, whom she raised as her own child. 'If they’re going to change something, it should be to make voting easier. Just make it easy.'"

Proposed Election Changes Don't Go Far Enough, Florida Democrats Warn [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]Fixing the problems that made Florida a national embarrassment last fall is a top priority of lawmakers. But Democrats say that the bill doesn't go far enough and that Republicans are missing an opportunity to make bigger improvements. 'Our election system broke,' said Senate Democratic leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. 'It's time to upgrade.' Democrats tried repeatedly to add more early voting sites, to require early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and to return to the pre-2011 law that allowed people who moved from another county to update their voting addresses on Election Day. Each time they failed. Democrats protested a provision that restricts the amount of assistance voters can receive at the polls. A person offering to assist voters can only help 10 people and must know them before helping them. 'I think that would make it harder for people who can't understand English in my community, specifically in the Haitian community,' said Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, who recalled a lack of Creole-speaking volunteers at voting sites in his district."

Elections Supervisors Could be Punished Under Bill [AP] "[...]The Senate made several changes to an elections bill the House passed on the first day of the legislative session, including language that would allow the secretary of state to send a notice of non-compliance to elections supervisors...But Democrats criticized the idea. Sen. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, said Diaz de la Portilla came up with the proposal out of frustration for his local supervisor and that the rest of the state shouldn't be punished. Others disapproved of allowing an official appointed by the governor to be able to punish an official elected by citizens. Of Florida's 67 counties, only Miami-Dade has an appointed elections supervisor. 'I'm concerned about politicizing the office of supervisor of election,' said Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando. Even some Republicans, including Senate President Don Gaetz, opposed the amendment, which was approved on a 22-18 vote. 'I voted against the amendment because I felt that supervisors of elections as elected constitutional officers ought not to be under too much of the thumb of an appointed official at the state level,' said Gaetz." 

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES, GOP REP: MATH FOR HOUSE MEDICAID PLAN DOES NOT ADD UP

Math for Accepting Medicaid Only Gets Better [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] "As the economy struggled, Florida deeply cut spending on public schools, higher education, land preservation, the courts and every other corner of discretionary spending. Now the state could save $430 million spent on a state health care program if legislators would agree to accept billions of federal dollars and expand Medicaid. But even those savings, which could be spent on other priorities, may not sway House Speaker Will Weatherford and other Republicans who refuse to accept federal Medicaid expansion money...Still, Weatherford and other Republican leaders haven't budged. The Wesley Chapel Republican continues to support a plan authored by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, that provides insufficient payments for a modest portion of poor adults to buy private health coverage. Florida Health Choices Plus would be paid for with state taxpayer dollars at an estimated cost of $237 million per year. The plan forgoes $51 billion in federal funding over 10 years that flows with Medicaid expansion, leaves hundreds of thousands of poor Floridians without health coverage and forces Florida taxpayers to continue paying $430 million annually for the state's Medically Needy program. The math does not add up."

House Math Doesn't Add Up: Fasano [WUSF] "State Rep. Mike Fasano of Pasco County went through the math of the House's health plan and showed how any family poor enough to qualify for it would be unable to afford it. But then the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed it anyway, with Republicans all voting yes and Democrats no...The plan, called Florida Health Choices Plus, would theoretically cover up to 115,700 adults who have minor children or are disabled and have incomes up to the federal poverty level...As Health News Florida has previously reported, the plan does not cover a majority of Florida's low-income uninsured, many of whom are either childless or middle-aged with no children under 18 still at home. The plan would cost $237 million a year in state general-revenue funds, while turning down an average of over $5 billion a year in federal funds that would cover about 10 times as many people."

 

FLORIDIANS TO WEATHERFORD, GOP: EXPAND MEDICAID

Ads Urge Republican House Members to Support Medicaid Expansion [Tampa Bay Times]"SEIU Florida has purchased TV and radio time in Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Tallahassee. The ads urge listeners/viewers to reach out to a handful of Republican House members and urge them to support accepting $51 billion in federal funding to lower the number of uninsured. One of the 30-second spots is dedicated solely to House Speaker Will Weatherford, who doesn't want the state to accept the federal money and supports a House alternative that uses only state funds. 'Typical politics,' the ad says. 'House Speaker Will Weatherford is putting politics ahead of working families. The Florida House is trying to block federal tax money that should go to expanding health coverage for hard-working families in Florida, instead letting it go to other states. Working parents go without health insurance, Florida taxpayers lose $51 billion, and Will Weatherford just plays poltiics. Tell him to stop the politics and expand Medicaid to 1 million hard-working Floridians.'"

Medicaid Expansion Saves Lives, Money [Miami Herald Op-Ed] "[...]Expanding healthcare is a major step toward changing the paradigm from 'sickness' care to 'wellness' care. Medicaid expansion will allow more access to healthcare, thus shifting the cost curve. Prevention and wellness are much more cost-effective than emergency rooms, not to mention the improvement in health and quality of life for our citizens...Expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare is an opportunity Florida legislators have less than three weeks to accept. With the federal government picking up 100 percent of the cost in the first three years (90 percent after that) and the potential for some 120,000 new jobs, it is a no brainer. We’re calling our legislators to urge action now. Anyone who cares about the health of our community should do the same."

 

BYE BYE: SOUTHERLAND POSTS ANEMIC FIRST QUARTER FUNDRAISING NUMBERS

House Dems Show Better First-quarter Fundraising than At-Risk Republicans [The Hill] “House Democrats are winning the early round of the 2013 fundraising battle over a number of at-risk Republicans. Several House Republicans facing potentially tough reelection campaigns reported lackluster results in first-quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, which were due Monday…Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) brought in just over $40,000 in the slightly Republican-leaning district... However, many more Democrats posted big hauls. Freshman Reps. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) and Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) all topped $500,000."