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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 5, 2013

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SEN. NELSON: END DISCRIMINATION, MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR ALL

Bill Nelson: Ban on Gay Marriage is Wrong [Tampa Bay Times Op-Ed] "It is generally accepted in American law and U.S. society today 'that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.' I believe that. The civil rights and responsibilities for one must pertain to all. Thus, to discriminate against one class and not another is wrong for me...So I will add my name to the petition of senators asking the Supreme Court to declare the law that prohibits gay marriage unconstitutional.

Fla. Sen. Bill Nelson Supports Gay Marriage [AP] "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has joined the growing number of senators to endorse gay marriage...With Nelson's shift, only six Senate Democrats remain opposed to gay marriage. A handful of Republicans, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, have also changed their stance."

Bill Nelson changes position, supports gay marriage [Tampa Bay Times] "Florida Sen. Bill Nelson reversed his opposition to gay marriage on Thursday, joining a swell of moderate Democrats to do so recently as public support for gay marriage has grown... 'Like many others in the past couple weeks, he's decided to be on the right side of history,' said Kevin Nix, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. 'Once equality catches on fire, there's no going back.' Mark Ferrulo, executive director of the advocacy group Progress Florida, said: 'Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. In Florida that 'moral arc' can be a bit stiffer to bend, but Sen. Nelson certainly helped bend it toward justice, and equality, today.'"

  

HOUSE IGNORES PARENTS, TEACHERS, EXPERTS IN PASSAGE OF PARENT TRIGGER

FL Dems Statement on House's Passage of Corporate Trigger Bill Statement from Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux: "This afternoon the Florida House turned a deaf ear to parents, teachers, and education experts by passing the 2013 corporate trigger bill. After being killed last year through a bipartisan effort, this bill has been rammed through by the GOP and is nothing more than an attack on public schools while allowing for profit, out of state corporations to syphon off Floridian's tax dollars. Now it's up to the the Florida Senate to kill this bill which puts corporations before parents, students, and teachers. We must not let partisan politics cloud our children's futures."

Fla. House Passes 'Parent Trigger' Bill on Schools [AP] "[...]The "parent trigger" bill (HB 867), supported by all but seven Republicans, passed 68-51. The proposed law would give parents a say on how to deal with a failing school, with the actual voting done through a petition drive. Florida Education Association President Andy Ford immediately criticized the bill's passage as a gift to charter school companies. The teachers' union and some parent groups have agitated against the measure. 'It's all about creating an easy pathway so that for-profit charter operators can coerce parents to hand over our neighborhood public schools,' Ford said in a statement. 'This doesn't empower parents, it doesn't provide better education for students, but it will line the pockets of the charter operators.'...But Rep. Mark Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said the bill wouldn't be needed if Republicans had historically funded public education at higher levels. 'Don't look back here,' he said. 'For 16 years, this has been your gig, this is your party, and this is your failure. You've let the public education system slide away.'"

Parent Trigger Bill Approved by House [Miami Herald] "The Florida House approved the controversial parent-trigger proposal Thursday, setting the stage for a showdown in the Senate. If the storyline sounds familiar, there’s a reason: The bill, which would enable parents at low-performing schools to demand sweeping changes in how the school is run, won the support of the Republican-dominated House last year...Last year, the parent trigger died in the more moderate Senate. This year, the lawmaker shepherding the proposal in the upper chamber says she is counting on more support..But the Florida PTA, a coalition of grassroots parent groups, school districts and the state teachers’ union have fought the bill, saying it does little more than enable for-profit charter school management companies to cannibalize struggling schools."

Misguided School-choice Reform Will Backfire on Kids [Orlando Sentinel] "[...]Supporters of the parent-trigger bill will argue that the plan is about nothing more than giving parents control over their child's education. That it is about giving parents a choice. But there is much these advocates do not tell you. They do not tell you once a charter-school company gains control of the neighborhood school, there is no mechanism to wrest control back if parents want to return to a traditional public school...They do not tell you state law prohibits geographic attendance zones for charter schools...They do not tell you many charter-school-management companies are for-profit and charge fees of 10 percent to 15 percent for their services. This guarantees their profit regardless of student performance...Neither do they tell you local school boards are prohibited by law from limiting or capping charter-company fees and salaries, no matter how excessive...They do not tell you that under the proposed parent-trigger law, the decision whether to allow your neighborhood school to convert to a charter school passes to the state Board of Education — a board made up entirely of political appointees."

 

DANIEL RUTH SKEWERS RICK SCOTT OVER CAMPAIGN FINANCE HYPOCRISY 

Ruth: Sugar Daddy Kisses for Scott [Tampa Bay Times] "It was just a few days ago that Gov. Rick Scott worked himself into a full Cotton Mather lather over proposals sliming their way through the Florida Legislature that would raise caps on campaign contributions in legislative campaigns from $500 to between $3,000 and $5,000..Scott, who spent $75 million of his own money to buy the Governor's Mansion in 2010, was bereaved over the declasse infusion of unbridled money into the political process....Let's be clear. Scott cannot be bought for a measly $5,000. But he is available for a lend-lease deal if the check is at least six figures. The governor has his standards, you know. You're probably thinking it is the height of hypocrisy for Scott to decry the Florida Legislature wanting to fatten its pockets while he is rolling over to have his ears scratched by a brown bag of prominent Republicans."

 

REP. WILSON AND HOUSE DEMS CALL FOR STUDY OF FLORIDA'S VOTING PROBLEMS

House Democrats Ask GAO To Study Long Voting Lines In Florida, Virginia [Huffington Post] "Three congressional Democrats asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday to study the "underlying causes" that forced voters to wait in long lines at polling places around the country on Election Day last year. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia and Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida said the GAO study would help "inform both federal and state policymakers about the types of reforms that will most effectively reduce long waiting times and ensure that all Americans obtain equal access to the ballot box." They specifically asked the GAO to examine Virginia and Florida as cases studies."

 

FORMER SEN. BOB GRAHAM, ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS CLEAR HURDLE FOR MAJOR CONSERVATION PUSH

Environmental Groups Reach Signature Threshold for Conservation Amendment [Miami Herald] "Environmental groups announced a major hurdle Thursday in their attempt to put on the 2014 ballot a constitutional amendment to set aside $10 billion over 20 years to purchase and maintain conservation lands without raising taxes. The measure, known as the Florida Water and Land Legacy Amendment, received enough verified signatures to have the legal language reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court. The proposal is backed by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and 256 environmental groups across Florida. It would set aside 33 percent of documentary tax collected on real estate transactions for 20 years for land and water purchases, leases and restoration efforts."