Florida Democratic Party News Clips — March 12, 2013
REPUBLICANS REBUKE GOV. SCOTT, COMMON SENSE POLICY IN REJECTION OF MEDICAID EXPANSION
Florida Medicaid Expansion Rejected by State Senate Panel [Reuters] "Florida Governor Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a potential death blow on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee. The Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted 7-4 to reject the expansion, with all of the committee's Republican members voting against the plan championed by Scott...Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant called the Senate committee's rejection of the expansion a 'stunning rebuke of Gov. Rick Scott and the common-sense policy that ensures more Floridians have access to the health insurance coverage they need.'"
Senate Committee Rejects Medicaid Expansion, Joins House in Seeking Alternative [Miami Herald] "Instead of expanding Medicaid, Florida should create its own program that helps the uninsured buy private insurance policies, the Senate select committee on the Affordable Care Act decided today...The debate was very similar to what played out in the House one week ago. Once again, Republicans spoke against Medicaid and voted against expansion while the Democrats, who are in the minority, took the other point of view."
Florida Healthcare: Gov. Scott Gets Blocked by His Own Party [MSNBC] "Florida Gov. Rick Scott surprised the country last month when he stopped trashing health care reform to announce that he wanted to opt in to a federally funded expansion of Medicaid...Now it appears he may have to raise that flag to the Republicans in his own state legislature. On Monday, a Florida State Senate committee rejected Scott’s proposal on a 7-4 party-line vote. The setback comes just a week after an even sharper rejection by a Florida House committee, and it leaves little chance that the state’s Medicaid program will expand to cover the hundreds of thousands of residents who would have qualified for coverage under Scott’s plan."
Senate Panel Joins House in Defying Scott, Rejecting Medicaid Expansion [Palm Beach Post] "A Senate panel Monday joined its House counterpart in rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s push to expand Medicaid to bring health coverage to another 1 million lower-income Floridians...Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the Senate panel that has been exploring the Affordable Care Act, said he sees using the Florida Healthy Kids program to expand health coverage to lower-income Floridians. Negron likened Medicaid currently to a 1950s-styled Soviet program."
Negron: My Goal is to End Medicaid As We Know It [Orlando Sentinel] "The Florida Senate panel examining implementation of Obamacare Monday rejected expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care law and debated a new proposal put forth by committee Chairman Joe Negron that would try to put low-income people on private insurance plans."
Negron Wants Florida to 'Get Out of the Federal Medicaid System As We Know It' [Treasure Coast Palm] "A committee led by Sen. Joe Negronhas opted against Gov. Rick Scott’s suggestion to offer Medicaid coverage to about 1 million more low-income Floridians. But Republican lawmakers, including Negron, still think billions of dollars could be available for care under President Obama’s health law. On Monday, they steered the conversation toward new plans providing vouchers for patients to buy private insurance. Negron didn’t just oppose expanding Medicaid. One of his key goals, he said, is 'to get out of the federal Medicaid system as we know it.'"
SEN. SOBEL'S DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BILL UP FOR A VOTE *TODAY*
Sen. Sobel Calls For Across-the-state Rights For Domestic Partners [Orlando Sentinel] "A bill that would establish a statewide domestic partner registry – which would allow long-time couples to own property together and make health-care decisions for each other – comes back before a Senate committee Tuesday with its sponsor saying she’s optimistic it will pass. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said at a press conference today that SB 196 would solve the 'patchwork' problem of some counties and cities having domestic-partner registries and others that do not."
Domestic partnership bill gets a second chance Tuesday [Miami Herald] "A bill that would give domestic partners certain rights, including hospital visitations, property rights and end-of-life decisions, will have another chance at passing its first hurdle on Tuesday. At a press conference Monday, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said Senate Bill 0196 has been revised and 'narrowed' to mirror domestic partnership registries outlined in 18 Florida jurisdictions, including Sarasota and Pinellas, Broward and Miami-Dade counties."
Domestic Partnerships Vote May Be Close [Lakeland Ledger] "A senator who last month opposed a bill that would create domestic partnerships for unmarried couples will support a new, narrower version when it comes up today in the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said Monday she was satisfied with the reworked bill (SB 196) by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood. The measure would create a statewide domestic partnership registry and allow registered couples to visit their partners in hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and mental health facilities. They would have the right to be notified in the case of an emergency involving their partners and to be health care proxies for them. In cases in which no will exists, a surviving partner could oversee the remains of a deceased one."
WTF: LATVALA GOES ON 'PROFANITY-LACED TIRADE'...
Public Records Request Brings Profanity-laced Response From Florida Ethics Chairman [Florida Times Union] "Sen. Jack Latvala has been in the spotlight for quickly passing out of the Senate sweeping ethics reform legislation that he says will clean up Tallahassee. He isn’t, however, keen on giving any attention to exactly how the bill came together. In a profanity-laced tirade Monday, the St. Petersburg Republican blasted a reporter for filing a public records request he called a 'fishing expedition.'...He was not happy because he had to spend 'a solid hour of personal time' going through personal emails to fulfill the request. 'I don’t like [expletive deleted] requests that waste my [expletive deleted] time,' said Latvala, who has called his bill the most sweeping ethics reform in nearly 40 years...During a set of brief phone interviews, Latvala threatened to cut off access to the reporter who requested document related to the legislation. 'I can [expletive deleted] choose who I talk to, and those who file records requests like that are not on the top of my list,' Latvala said."
...AND LEAVES LOOPHOLE IN ETHICS REFORM FOR HIS OWN LOBBYING
Senator Pushing Lobbying Ban for Lawmakers is a Lobbyist Himself [Orlando Sentinel] "Fueled by cases of legislators cashing in on their public offices, Florida Senate Ethics Chairman Jack Latvala has pushed for months to expand an ethics reform bill to place tighter lobbying prohibitions on lawmakers when they leave office. But the bill is silent on lawmakers working as federal lobbyists. And Latvala happens to be one. Federal lobbying disclosure records show the Clearwater Republican has been paid around $540,000 over the last five years to try to win defense appropriations for two non-profits."
YOUNG REPUBLICANS TO RICK SCOTT & RPOF AFTER OUTREACH CALL: IT’S NOT WORKING
After Conference Call With Rick Scott, Chair of Young Republican Group Blasts GOP's Youth Outreach [Florida Times Union] "The head of a statewide young Republican group is not happy with the state GOP's youth outreach. 'If the party wants to be serious about engaging the youth whether it's teenagers or 40 year olds, they are going to have to come into our backyards and communicate a message in terms that is attractive to young people,' wrote Peret Pass on her Facebook page. Pass, 24, is a Jacksonville resident and chair of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans. The post came after she participated in a conference call Gov. Rick Scott held Monday with young Republican groups. After the call, which was organized by the Republican Party of Florida, she also tweeted 'that’s 20 minutes I won’t get back.'...'Bottom line, we are fed up with the party’s approach to the way they outreach to young people as well as other constituency groups,' she wrote."
GOP SEQUESTER CUTS ALREDY HITTING FLORIDA
Sequester Could Slice Benefits for Unemployed [Orlando Sentinel] "By the end of this month, some 115,000 unemployed Floridians will be bitten by a word most probably never heard until early this year. The government's package of forced, across-the-board budget cuts — known as "sequestration" — will reduce jobless benefits to anyone who is on the federal government's extended unemployment program. Weekly payments, which in Florida top out at $275 and average about $230, are likely to shrink by about 11 percent, according to the National Employment Law Project, a workers' advocacy group. Initially, the cuts will affect about 2 million people across the country, but that number could climb to almost 4 million by the end of the federal fiscal year this fall. Sequestration also may make it harder to help the jobless re-enter the workforce."
Boca Raton Airport Gets Date for Federal Cut [Sun Sentinel] "The Boca Raton Airport Authority on Monday received official notification that sequestration cuts will mean federal money will no longer pay for staffed air traffic control at the airport on April 7. The businesses that are being affected are being asked to come to a meeting Wednesday to formulate a plan to keep the tower from closing. 'We need the community's help!' says an email from Kimberly Whalen, community affairs director for the airport authority. Last week, the authority voted unanimously to express their disapproval of losing the $650,000 a year that the Federal Aviation Administration pays to keep five air traffic controllers and one supervisor in the tower. That staff guides in about 51,000 flights a year."
Control Tower Operations to Cease at Airport [Ocala Star Banner] "Ocala International Airport's control tower is one of the 189 air traffic facilities around the nation that, under the sequester, is targeted to close sometime in April. 'I don't have an official date when the tower will close,' Airport Director Matthew Grow said. The sequester, which requires automatic cuts in federal spending designed to reduce the federal deficit, went into effect March 1. Discretionary spending will be cut by $85.4 billion in 2013 across the board. Each year from 2014 to 2021 the sequester will cut $87 billion to $92 billion for a total of $109.3 billion. The Federal Aviation Administration has plans to reduce its expenditures by $600 million, including a 75 percent cut in the contract tower program. In order to do that, 189 air traffic facilities around the nation, including 25 in Florida, will be closed beginning April 1. Of the 25 in Florida, Ocala's is the 23rd busiest."
DEM REP. JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAMS
Editorial: Public Money in Private Ventures? We Taxpayers Want to Look at the Books [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting] "'It will create jobs.' This by-now-familiar claim is used to sell every new plan to use taxpayer money in cutting deals with private industry. Every year the State of Florida grants hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses in return for promises that these businesses will create jobs by hiring more people and generating added economic activity. Our state gives these 'economic development incentives' as tax credits, tax exemptions, tax refunds or outright grants through about a dozen different programs most overseen by Enterprise Florida, the state’s quasi-public economic development organization. These are tax monies that would otherwise go to pay our teachers or to build our roads. In the name of job creation we give them instead to for-profit businesses to compete with other states and create jobs in industries like film, manufacturing, life sciences or sports & tourism. We are rightfully skeptical."