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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 8, 2013

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ORLANDO SENTINEL: DEMOCRATS WINNERS IN 2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SO FAR

Winners, Losers so Far in the 2013 Legislative Session [Orlando Sentinel] "Winner: Democrats—With increased numbers come more leverage to influence budget and election reforms, and Democratic lawmakers have enjoyed their most influential session in several years so far. In the House, Democrats have successfully offered floor amendments. Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, for example, got an amendment on an education bill that would expand arts education. But the good vibe could unravel over Medicaid reform.

  

GOP POLICIES HURTING FLORIDA ACROSS THE BOARD

Florida House Blows Past Facts to Pass Parent Trigger Bill [Tampa Bay Times Op-Ed] "It's all about the children. (Except the bit about turning a profit.) It's a way to empower the parents. (Except every major parent group hates it.) It's an idea whose time has come. (Except it's turned California into an educational war zone.) Yes, your state lawmakers are at it again. They look at legislation that appears to be a recipe for confusion and abuse, and somehow declare it a godsend. They say tomato, I say morons." 

Bright Futures Changes Could ‘Devastate' Minority Students [Gainesville Sun] "More than two-thirds of black and Hispanic freshmen and sophomores at the University of Florida who now receive Bright Futures scholarships would not have gotten them under new guidelines that take effect on July 1, an analysis by the University of South Florida shows. The analysis, which crunched data on Bright Futures scholarship recipients at all of the universities in the State University System, shows the increase in college test score results would shut out thousands of students across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic categories...The standards were changed as a way to help close a spending gap in the state budget. 'The Legislature and governor need to take a step back, take this change back and do a study on how to better invest the resources of the state to promote the students who are actually earning it,' [USF assistant VP of admissions recruitment and enrollment planning Robert Spatig] said."

Florida House Passes ALEC-Linked Anti-Sick Leave, Anti-Living Wage Bill [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting] "The GOP-led Florida House of Representatives passed a bill last night that would prohibit local governments in the state from implementing laws that extend paid sick leave benefits to workers. The bill is similar to others backed by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC and Florida’s anti-sick leave bill have a considerable amount of corporate support. Florida’s House Bill 655, which passed 75-43 Thursday, would also invalidate any move by local governments to mandate living wages for workers."

Changes to Water-quality Guide Would Risk Floridians' Health [Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed] "Last year the Sentinel ran a series of excellent reports by Kevin Spear about the condition of 22 Florida rivers from Miami to Pensacola. The prognosis was not good for a growing, thirsty state, heavily dependent on tourism for its economy. Now, Gov. Rick Scott's environmental agency is proposing pollution-friendly changes to our water-quality standards. These would adversely affect drinking-water sources, the fish that we consume, and the lakes and rivers in which we swim...The proposal to weaken the rule that governs against human-health-based toxins would not adequately protect Floridians' health. Most at risk would be children, pregnant women and those who enjoy eating a significant amount of local fish and seafood."

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: TWO GOP REPS 'LOSERS OF THE WEEK'

Losers of the Week: Jamie Grant and Jason Brodeur [Tampa Bay Times] "The Republican state representatives, 30 and 37 years old respectively, didn't even complete a single term in the Legislature before wrapping themselves in the stench of self-dealing sleaze. They created a company that won a $2.4 million government contract for economic development in Hardee County, which resulted in little besides a scathing state audit and questions about where the money went. Grant, top, R-Tampa, and Brodeur, bottom, R-Sanford, so far have offered no plausible explanation."

 

AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS, LABOR JOIN FORCES FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

Black Caucus Urges Leaders to Grab Federal Medicaid Offer [Tampa Tribune] "Members of the Legislative Black Caucus, backed by the NAACP and organized labor, urged Republican legislators Friday to find some way to use billions in federal money for expanding Florida's Medicaid program to provide health insurance for more than 1 million poor people. 'This is about saving lives,' Sen. Arthenia Joyner, the Tampa Democrat who chairs the 25-member caucus, said at a news conference in the Capitol. House Speaker Will Weatherford, the Wesley Chapel Republican, has opposed Gov. Rick Scott's reluctant acceptance of Medicaid expansion – a policy reversal by the governor that sent shock waves through his conservative Republican base."

Black Caucus, Labor, NAACP Join Medicaid Push [Florida Current] "Members of the Legislative Black Caucusteamed up with the NAACP and organized labor leaders Friday to begin a late campaign for expansion of Florida's Medicaid program, hoping to extend coverage to about 1.2 million poor people. 'For me, it's not about politics,' Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, said at a news conference in the Capitol rotunda. 'It's a life-and-death situation.'"

 

 AS FLORIDA UNDERGOES 'CULTURAL SHIFT' ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY…

Cultural Shift Underway in Florida [Herald Tribune] "Florida is a diverse state with a generally conservative political leadership. But there were signs this week of a major cultural shift under way as it pertains to same-sex couples. First, the state Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs passed the “Families First” bill (SB 196) — sponsored by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood — that would create a statewide domestic partnership registry and establish rights for unmarried couples, including hospital visitation, correctional facility visitation, end-of-life decisions and burial arrangements. The bill passed on a 5-4 vote, marking the first official action by the state Legislature in endorsing legal protections for same-sex couples...Meanwhile, in another sign of the shifting attitudes, newly re-elected U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, announced he was changing his position to support gay marriages. In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Nelson said the American society was founded on the concept of equality for all."

…THE GOP REFUSES TO FOLLOW SUIT

Buchanan and Rooney Firmly Against Same-sex Marriage [Herald Tribune] "The growing ranks of Republicans and Democrats in Congress switching their positions on same sex marriage is having no affect on the two men who represent Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Congress. Both U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney remain firmly against against same-sex marriage."

Editorial: On Gay Marriage, Rubio Should Follow Nelson [Tampa Bay Times] "Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's remarkable announcement this week that his beliefs have evolved to embrace the cause of gay marriage is a welcome one. Now Florida's junior senator, Marco Rubio, should join Nelson and a growing number of Democratic and Republican senators who recognize that equal protection under the U.S. Constitution includes all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation." 

 

NY REPUBLICAN TO RUBIO: AFTER VOTING AGAINST HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF, DON'T COME TO NEW YORK

Peter King Says He’ll Never Forgive Rubio, Republicans For Opposing Sandy Aid [Talking Points Memo] "Suggesting his relationship with Congress — and members of his own party — has been irrevocably damaged, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Friday once again blasted Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for voting against disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy. 'My relationship with Congress will never be the same again. They made us wait 90 to 100 days to give the most basic human aid that is required. It's absolutely disgraceful,' King said during an appearance on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.' 'And when I see these Republicans, we slap each other on the back, all the camaraderie, "hey, we're great friends." All I know is there were people who were close to dying in my district and no one gave a damn.'"

Peter King: Marco Rubio ‘Can Stay Home’ [Washington Post] "Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is still angry at Republicans who voted against a Superstorm Sandy relief package early this year — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whom he attacked for raising money in New York after voting against the aid...He said it was particularly galling to see a senator like Rubio, from a state familiar with disaster, vote against the aid package and then visit New York to raise money. Rubio said the package was filled with pork; he supported a much smaller relief package."

 

SEN NELSON ANNOUNCES PLAN TO 'LASSO' ASTEROID

Senator: NASA to Lasso Asteroid, Bring it Closer [AP] "NASA is planning for a robotic spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and park it near the moon for astronauts to explore, a top senator said Friday...Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the plan would speed up by four years the existing mission to land astronauts on an asteroid by bringing the space rock closer to Earth. Nelson, who is chairman of the Senate science and space subcommittee, said Friday that President Barack Obama is putting $100 million in planning money for the accelerated asteroid mission in the 2014 budget that comes out next week. The money would be used to find the right small asteroid."