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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — February 19, 2013

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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING TODAY:

 

LEGISLATURE DEBATES EXPANSION OF MEDICAID WHICH 62% OF FLORIDIANS SUPPORT

Now Is the Time To Expand Medicaid [Tampa Bay Times, Editorial] "A detailed economic study from Georgetown University says expanding Medicaid will actually save money in Florida during the next decade because it will eliminate costly safety net programs while also increasing overall health with preventive care…Finally, it is estimated this expansion will create 54,000 new jobs in Florida. And yet Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature are undecided.”

 

State Should Grab Chance To Expand, Improve Care [Orlando Sentinel, Editorial] "Gov. Rick Scott has punted the decision on expansion to lawmakers. We share their concern about Medicaid's impact on the budget; that's why we've backed their efforts to rein in rising costs through managed care. But with 3.8 million Floridians still lacking health insurance, we don't see how lawmakers can turn down the chance to provide a quarter of that group coverage — especially when the feds will pick up all or most of the cost."

 

DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR FLORIDA FAMILIES

Gay-Rights Advocates: 'Times Are Changing' For LGBT Issues In Fla. Legislature [WFSU] "Tuesday will be the first time a Florida legislative committee will consider allowing domestic partnerships for all couples, gay or straight. Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) has sponsored the domestic-partnership bill, S.B. 196, every year since 2008, but it’s never gotten heard in committee, until Sen. President Don Gaetz (R-Destin) assigned it this year. . . [Rep. Joe] Saunders is sponsoring a bill, H.B. 653, that would ban employers and landlords from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

 

Florida Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, Proposes Statewide Domestic Partners Registry [Miami Herald] "Florida's Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on Tuesday will discuss proposed legislation from state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, SB 196: Families First, which would create a statewide domestic partners registry.”

 

RICK SCOTT EDUCATION POLICIES HURTING STUDENTS

FSU Students Rally Against Scott's Policies [Tallahassee.com] "A group of Florida State University students marched from downtown Tallahassee’s Kleman Plaza into the Florida State Capitol Friday to present the opinion of the FSU student senate on the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s recommendations for improving higher education in Florida…'The Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations would do nothing more than push students down more than we already have been,’ said Jeremy Funt, a member of Progress Coalition who spoke in front of the crowd. ‘They would weigh us down with more debt than we already have.'"

 

The Florida Polytechnic Fraud [Tampa Tribune, Editorial] "Last year Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott made a mockery of Florida's higher education system when they created a 12th university while cutting the existing universities' budgets by $300 million…It was all a big fraud, as is abundantly apparent now…Scott, in foolishly signing the Polytechnic measure, said he didn't expect the initial costs to be more than the USF branch. Scott, who never met with USF Polytechnic students or faculty opposed to the move, should have known better.” 

 

WEEK 2: GOP BAD HEADLINES CONTINUE

Has State GOP Learned From Greer? [Florida Today, Editorial] "The Jim Greer era of the Republican Party of Florida ended last week with a guilty plea to fraud, but its political impact could be felt for some time…There are political lessons from the Greer era, but I am not sure the RPOF or its local arms have learned them yet."

 

Marco Rubio Says U.S. Farmers Have No Way To Bring In Workers Legally [Politifact] “Rubio said the United States does ‘not have a system through which growers and dairies can bring a workforce legally into the U.S.’ There actually is a system for growers to legally hire foreign workers, so Rubio is wrong on this basic point.”

 

Few Blacks Appointed To Judgeships By Gov. Rick Scott [Miami Herald] “Gov. Rick Scott is on pace to appoint fewer African-Americans to judgeships in Florida than either of his two predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush. In his two years as governor, Scott has appointed 91 judges. Six are black, including the reappointments of three judges who handle only cases involving benefits to injured workers.”

Congressman's Former CFO Testifies Vern Buchanan Guilty Of Tax Fraud [WTSP] “’Vern was essentially operating a financial Ponzi scheme where he took money of one dealership to invest in another dealership to invest in another dealership.’ According to the former CFO, ‘You had the same capital reported three times.’ And if Rosa's allegations about the money being transferred from dealership to dealership are true, Rosa says that means the loan applications submitted by the Buchanan dealerships to get loans for new car agencies would be fraudulent and says that's a federal crime."

ELECTIONS TROUBLES CONTINUE IN FLORIDA LEGISLATURE

Democrats: Elections Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough [Tampa Bay Times] "’There's so much more we can do. The leadership on the other side is boxing us in,’ [Rep. Joe] Saunders said…‘Too many absentee ballots were rejected in the recent election,’ [Rep. Janet] Cruz said. ‘This bill in its current form does nothing to prevent disenfranchisement of those (voters).’"

 

Legislature Asks Supremes to Stop Redistricting Case [Saint Petersblog] 

“‘This appeal is just another attempt by the Legislature to hide its disregard for the Constitution from the voters of Florida,’ attorney Adam Schachter wrote in an email. ‘They don't want the public to know how they secretly involved highly paid partisan consultants in the redistricting process.’"

 

Voting Rights Advocates, Experts Criticize House Campaign Reform Efforts [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting] “While members of groups such as the Florida League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center for Justice have said they support the idea of cracking down on CCEs, they have also said that raising the contribution limit would be disastrous. According to experts during a conference call with the news media yesterday, the move would encourage legalized ‘bribery and extortion.’”

 

Legislature Appeals Florida Redistricting Ruling [AP] 

 

Florida Voting Woes [Miami Herald]

 

SPOTTED: Sen. Nelson in Gainesville, Tallahassee

At UF roundtable, Nelson explores improving lives of elderly [Gainesville Sun] "With U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson at the helm of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the Florida Democrat is prioritizing Medicare — both improving access to it and preventing fraud in its name. 'We have a very aggressive agenda,' said Nelson, at a roundtable discussion Monday with leaders from the University of Florida's Institute on Aging."

 

Sen. Bill Nelson Tours UF Aging and Rehabilitation Center [The Independent Florida Alligator] "Sen. Bill Nelson came to UF on Monday for part of his fact-checking tour as chairman of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging. Nelson toured UF’s Aging and Rehabilitation Research Center, where he met with UF experts for a Q-and-A session…'Tens of billions of dollars are lost to taxpayers from Medicare fraud,” he said. Nelson will continue his tour in Tallahassee, where he will visit the Claude Pepper Center.”

 

WEATHERFORD’S PENSION SCHEME WOULD COST TAXPAYERS

Weatherford's Pension Reform Could Cost More, Report Says [Tampa Bay Times] "But Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s aim to reform Florida’s current $136 billion pension plan, which has 145,000 member accounts, hinges on one key question. If you reform it, how much will it cost? Plenty, says a 50-page study that was released late Friday. The study was done by Milliman, a Vienna, VA firm that is among the world’s largest providers of actuarial services."

AFL-CIO Group Says Report Bolsters Case Against Weatherford's Pension Reform [Miami Herald] "The Florida Retirement Security Coalition issued a stinging rebuke on Saturday of Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s efforts to reform Florida’s pension system…It warned that the traditional pension plan, which Weatherford has vowed would remain intact, would rely on a shrinking payroll base on which contributions to retirees are made."