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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — March 29, 2013

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SEN. NELSON FIGHTING GOP SEQUESTER 

Senator Bill Nelson Wants to Cut Government Waste in Order to Keep Airport Towers in Florida Open [ABC Action News] "The senator who once flew in space is now focusing on the people who keep the skies safe. Senator Bill Nelson stopped in Lakeland on Thursday to meet with the directors of small airports all over the state. Starting next month, 14 air traffic control towers in Florida will close due to the sequestration. That includes Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg and the tower at Lakeland Linder in Lakeland. "

Sen. Bill Nelson Visits LAL, Discusses Budget Cuts [WJHL]"Senator Bill Nelson met with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport's director and workers to talk about the mandated across-the-board cuts forcing airports across the nation to shut down their towers. 14 of those airports are in Florida, 2 are in the Bay Area:  Lakeland Linder and Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg. The senator blamed bipartisan bickering on Capitol Hill. 10 million dollars are needed to keep Florida's airport towers up and running."

  

WEATHERFORD'S ABSURD JUSTIFICATION OF TUITION HIKES

Gov. Scott, Fla. House Speaker Clash Over Tuition [AP] "[...]But Scott's opposition has done little to dissuade the Florida House from proposing a 6-percent tuition hike. House Speaker Will Weatherford on Thursday strongly defended the move, which would generate an estimated $37 million for the state's 12 public universities. 'Our students and our parents are spending as much money on their cellphones a year as they are paying for tuition,' Weatherford said...Florida charges undergraduate students an average in-state rate of $6,232 a year."

Weatherford Defends Tuition Hike [Herald Tribune] "Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is defending a push by the Florida House to hike university and college tuition six percent. The House has included the hike in budget proposals that were unveiled this week. This puts the House at odds with Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Senate. Scott this week called a tuition hike a tax on families. The governor also noted that tuition has been going up steadily the last several years. But Weatherford told the Florida Board of Governors on Wednesday that students and families are spending as much each year on tuition as they are on their cellphones."

Weatherford Uses Smartphones' Cost to Justify Tuition Increase in Florida [Orlando Sentinel] "Florida college students pay about as much for their smartphones in a year as they do for university tuition, Florida's House speaker told state education leaders Thursday in pushing for another tuition increase for public universities. The House revealed this week that it is proposing a 6 percent increase in base tuition for public universities in 2013-14. The Florida Senate, meanwhile, is not pursuing an increase. Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly spoken out against tuition increases...Also, he said, college students, on average, end up paying about as much for their smartphones as they do for tuition."

 

OBAMA IN MIAMI TO PROMOTE PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS, JOBS

Obama to Pitch More Jobs in Public Works in Miami [AP] "President Barack Obama will promote a plan to create jobs by attracting private investment in highways and other public works during a visit Friday to a Miami port, a senior administration official said. The president will flesh out details of his proposals in a speech at the port, which is undergoing $2 billion in upgrades paid for with government and private money. Obama, in the quick trip to South Florida, will try to show that the economy remains his top priority in the midst of high-profile campaigns on immigration reform and gun control."

  

GOP LEGISLATORS SIDE WITH BANKS OVER FLORIDIANS 

For Second Straight Year, Florida Senate Committee Approves Bill To Speed Up Foreclosure Process [Think Progress] "Florida’s Senate Banking and Insurance Committee this week approved legislation that would speed up the state’s foreclosure process, a move that would remove some protections for homeowners and could increase the likelihood of bank fraud. The committee, which passed the bill 8-2, passed similar legislation in 2012 that did not advance farther."

 

ORANGE COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR SCOTT RANDOLPH FIGHTING AGAINST LGBT DISCRIMINATION 

Orange Tax Collector Offers Health Stipend to Gay Workers [Orlando Sentinel] "Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph said Thursday he would offer up to a $1,300 stipend to any of his employees with a same-sex partner who suffers a tax hit on health benefits because they can't legally marry. 'After listening to the arguments before the [U.S] Supreme Court this week, you just start to realize how many inequities there are in the tax code that discriminate against the LGBT community,' Randolph said. 'We need to put some pressure on the federal government to change that,' Randolph said. 'Maybe we can build that pressure from the ground up.'"

  

FEDS RAID FORMER RPOF FINANCE CHAIR'S OFFICE

Federal Agents Raid Universal Health Care Headquarters in St. Petersburg [Tampa Bay Times] "Federal agents on Thursday raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care, the once high-flying Medicare insurer plagued in recent months by allegations of fraud and embezzlement...The FBI would not comment about the investigation Thursday. Investors, some of whom put their life savings in Universal, said the agents would likely focus on Desai, Universal's former CEO and until recently a member of the state Board of Education and finance chairman of Florida's Republican Party."