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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - April 26, 2013

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MORE FAILED LEADERSHIP: RICK SCOTT FLYS TO DC AS LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FLOUNDER

Mr. Scott Goes To Washington - Sort of - on Friday [Miami Herald] "As the Florida Legislature prepares to complete the next-to-the-last week of the session Friday, Gov. Rick Scott will be in Washington, conducting a round of interviews with national media outlets...Fox and Politico each have secured 90 minutes of Scott's time Friday. Most D.C. media outlets aren't particularly interested in Scott's priorities of a $2,500 teacher pay raise and a sales tax break for manufacturers."

Time Running Out on Manufacturers Tax Cut, Central Florida Expressway [Orlando Sentinel] "With Gov. Rick Scott flying to Washington D.C. Friday to do national media, the sponsor of his manufacturing tax cut conceded one of his top priorities -- a $141 million tax cut for manufacturers -- was unlikely to pass...Rather than spending Friday in Tallahassee pressing lawmakers, Scott plans to spend the whole day in D.C. meeting with CBS, FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO, and the National Review. Scott said earlier Thursday that he planned to give lawmakers' pet projects in the budget a tough review, and has suggested their priorities would depend on him getting his way on his. But Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, was unmoved."

 

AND SCOTT STILL SITS PASSIVELY BY AS GOP LEGISLATORS COMBAT MEDICAID EXPANSION AND TEACHER PAY RAISES

Scott Grumbles About His Agenda Adrift; Hints at Vetoes [Palm Beach Post] "[...]Scott’s biggest pitch — drawing Medicaid dollars to expand health care for low-income Floridians — looks doomed in the House. The House also has allowed to languish Scott’s push to eliminate the sales tax for manufacturers buying new equipment. Meanwhile, House and Senate budget negotiators also have dismissed Scott’s $2,500 across-the-board teacher pay raises. They want to hand out the dollars solely based on merit."

Gelber to Scott: Veto Budget if it's Absent Medicaid Expansion and Teacher Raises [Miami Herald] "Former state senator and attorney general candidate, Dan Gelber, has penned a letter to Gov. Rick Scott suggesting that it is his duty to veto the state budget if it fails to include, as expected, any expansion of Medicaid and fails to 'adequately fund the salaries of Florida's teachers.'...He notes that if the Legislature adjourns without implementing a plan to draw down the federal money from the Affordable Care Act, they will be 'leaving nearly one million low-income Floridians without even the prospect of health insurance. Not only is it inhuman to leave so many - including so many children -- without the health care safety net enjoyed by you and every legislator, but it also means Florida willnot begin to receive the $51 billion that comes with this health care expansion.'"

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: HOUSE MEDICAID BILL 'MORALLY AND FISCALLY INDEFENSIBLE'

Editorial: Will Tampa Bay Republicans Stand for Floridians on Medicaid? [Tampa Bay Times] "Two Pasco County Republicans, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Rep. Richard Corcoran, are expected to ram through the House their health care proposal today that would cover too few, cost too much and offer false hope to the uninsured. Other Tampa Bay Republicans should stand up to their leaders and demand better for their constituents...Weatherford and Corcoran refuse to accept the Medicaid money and stand against the Republican governor, probably the majority of the Legislature, a clear majority of Florida voters, local hospitals, the health care industry, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida. More reasonable House Republicans should not let them get away with stalling and hiding behind their inadequate proposal that is going nowhere. The House bill is morally and financially indefensible."

 

YET HOUSE REPUBLICANS MAINTAIN THEIR COMMITMENT TO REJECTING COMMON SENSE 

House Shoots Down Plan to Offer Health Care to 1 Million [AP] "The Florida House rejected an amendment Thursday that would have accepted tens of billions of federal dollars and provided health coverage to an estimated 1.1 million residents, setting up a standoff between the House and Senate in the final week of the legislative session. Republican Rep. Mike Fasano sponsored the amendment in hopes of ending a legislative stalemate and extending coverage to hundreds of thousands more Floridians. His amendment would have brought the House proposal in line with the Senate bill, but the amendment was shot down by a 74-45 vote. That was minutes after he asked his colleagues, 'Don't follow the script; follow your hearts.'"

House Republicans, Minus Fasano, Hold Firm on ‘CorcoranCare’ Medicaid Alternative [Miami Herald] "House Republicans united to defeat an amendment sponsored by one of their own that would have killed their proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion. Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, unsuccessfully attempted to gut the bill House plan, crafted by close friend Rep. Richard Corcoran, today.He was the lone Republican who fought against the plan to use only state funds to help the poorest Floridians who are uninsured. But the outcome was not surprising. Democrats supported Fasano’s 'strike-all' amendment that would have replaced the contents of HB 7169 with a Senate plan created by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. The Senate proposal qualifies for $51 billion federal funds to insure 1 million people, has bipartisan support in that chamber and is backed by Gov. Rick Scott and a host of health and consumer groups."

House Republicans Say No to Senate Health Care Plan, Compromise Uncertain [Tampa Bay Times] "House Republicans rejected a bipartisan Senate proposal to accept $51 billion in federal health care money on Thursday, diminishing hopes that lawmakers will reach a health care compromise before the legislative session ends next week. After five hours of targeted questions and impassioned debate, Republicans rejected an attempt by renegade Republican Rep. Mike Fasano to accept the Senate plan to provide federally subsidized health coverage to more than 1 million Floridians. The New Port Richey Republican urged his colleagues to 'follow your heart' and support the Senate plan, but only Democrats joined him. They accused Republicans of rehashing the debate on Obamacare and the national debt, while denying poor constituents access to health care. 'Frankly, this is disgusting that this chamber is not taking up something that has been thought out, something that is bipartisan, something that will save lives, something that will help the state save a few bucks,' said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach."

  

RICK SCOTT'S TEA PARTY UNEMPLOYMENT ASSESSMENT 'A VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS'

Federal Gov't Blasts Florida's Unemployment Compensation System for Denying Civil Rights [Miami Herald] "The U.S. Department of Labor has rapped the state of Florida for making it difficult for some unemployed people to get jobless benefits, particularly for the disabled and those who speak Spanish or Creole. Florida's decision in 2011 to make people who apply for benefits do so online and take an 'assessment' before getting a check are a violation of civil rights, DOL found. The Department of Economic Opportunity has agreed to enter negotiations with DOL to make appropriate changes, according to a press release from the National Employment Law Center, Florida Legal Services, the Miami Workers Center and other groups."

Florida Tea Party's Unemployment Tests Get Flunked by the Feds [Mother Jones] "[...]In 2011, the Miami Workers Center, represented by Florida Legal Services, filed a complaint against the state with the US Department of Labor, complaining that this new system violated the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act by discriminating against people with limited English skills and disabilities, thus denying them access to benefits to which they are entitled. The Labor Department's Civil Rights Center investigated the complaint, and earlier this month concluded that Florida's unemployment system was rife with civil rights abuses. The new system, it found, was nearly impossible for people with disabilities or limited English skills to navigate. Testers discovered that while the state claimed to have a multilingual telephone hotline to help people who couldn't figure out the online process, virtually no one could get through to a live person—and when they did, they couldn't get an interpreter...Not surprisingly, the denial rate for applications jumped nearly 70 percent in the first three months of 2012."

 

GAINESVILLE SUN: TEACHERS ARE RIGHT, EVALUATION SYSTEM 'A PUBLIC POLICY EMBARRASSMENT' 

Editorial: Fix Teacher Evals [Gainesville Sun] "First the Legislature had an evaluation plan to identify which Florida teachers deserved 'merit' pay raises, but it had no money. Now, lawmakers have $480 million earmarked for “performance-based” teacher raises next year, but they don’t have an evaluation system that is credible or even understandable. It is time that Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s legislative leaders acknowledge, once and for all, the evaluation system’s failures and fix what has become a public policy embarrassment. The courts could not figure it out, the state’s school boards and superintendents could not figure it out, and even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan weighed in this week, saying, politely, 'I think Florida can get to a much better place.' Florida’s teachers and teacher unions now are suing the state, arguing the evaluation program is unfair because it can evaluate teachers based on the performance of students they don’t teach or in subjects they don’t teach. They are right, and more and more Florida lawmakers are agreeing with them."

  

SENATOR BILL NELSON CONSIDERING TAKING ON RICK SCOTT IN 2014

Sen. Bill Nelson Considering A Challenge To Florida Gov. Rick Scott [Talking Points Memo] "Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is considering a run in Florida's gubernatorial race next year, his spokesman said Thursday. Roll Call ran a report on Wednesday evening that quoted local Democrats who said Nelson is seriously mulling a challenge to unpopular Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), which the senator's spokesman later confirmed. 'I’d say that’s true, that he’s considering it,' Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin told Roll Call. 'An awful lot of people have contacted him and asked him to do so. But — and as he’s said a number of times — he presently doesn’t have any intention of running. He’s got a job to do as a senator.' Polls have suggested that Scott is extremely vulnerable as he approaches 2014."

Nelson "Considering" Run for Governor [Herald Tribune] "With one word, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has set Florida’s political world on its ear. On Thursday one of Nelson’s most senior aides said the three-term Democrat was “considering” running against Gov. Rick Scott in 2014...Nelson is Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat and has shown an ability to win in regions that Republicans have typically dominated. In the Florida Panhandle, Jacksonville and Southwest Florida, Nelson has historically done better than almost any other Democrat in the state over the last 10 years."

  

MOTHER KNOWS BEST...

Bush Family at Odds Over Possible Jeb Bush Presidential Run [Chicago Tribune] "The Bush family, which has already produced two U.S. presidents, is at odds over whether there should be a third - former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Former first lady Barbara Bush, says son Jeb is the most qualified Republican to run in 2016 but told NBC's 'Today' show, 'We've had enough Bushes.'"