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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — March 5, 2013

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DEM CHAIR, LEGISLATORS SLAM SCOTT’S ‘STATE OF DENIAL’

Gov. Scott Boasts Improving State of Affairs, Democrats Decry ‘State of Denial’ [Palm Beach Post] "Gov. Rick Scott will kick off the 2013 legislative session today with his third State of the State speech, highlighting tax breaks for manufacturers and teacher bonuses and taking credit for a turnaround in Florida’s economy. But, in a prebuttal to what they called Scott’s 'State of Denial' joint address to lawmakers, Democrats on Monday blasted the governor as an untrustworthy politician bent on re-election and avoiding blame for the state’s continuing woes...Democratic legislators, joined by Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, scoffed at his education proposal, calling it a 'political ploy.'" 

FDP Doesn’t Think Gov. Scott’s New Focus On Families is “Genuine” [Orlando Sentinel] "Gov. Rick Scott is failing at his promises to create jobs and does not have a history of focusing on families like he now says is his priority. Or at least, that is what the Florida Democratic Party is outraged about. Scott touting his 'Florida Families First' budget throughout the state has not been enough to convince FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant that he really cares about families and their needs. 'So thanks governor, in your new found interest in Florida’s families. But it is not genuine and we are not going to forget,' Tant said."

Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State a pivotal moment for him, Florida [Tampa Bay Times] "Democrats didn't wait to hear Scott's speech before criticizing his record Monday, especially on education, and two of their chief critics are teachers: Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, and Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, D-Orlando. 'We know his record,' Castor Dentel said. "If he wants to create jobs and improve Florida's economy he must start by properly funding our schools instead of giving tax breaks to Florida's corporations at the expense of Florida's students.'"


‘ARROGANT’ REJECTION OF MEDICAID BY GOP CALLED ‘MORALLY INDEFENSABLE’… 

FL Dems Statement on House Panel Vote Rejecting Medicaid Expansion

Editorial: House's irresponsible move on Medicaid [Tampa Bay Times] "The Florida Legislature does not formally open its 60-day session until today, and already House Republicans have drawn a partisan line against expanding Medicaid. A select committee voted along party lines Monday to not even bother writing legislation that would enable the expansion. This was an arrogant power play by two Pasco County legislators, House Speaker Will Weatherford and committee chairman Richard Corcoran, who are not representing the best interests of their districts or their state on health care reform...To leave billions of federal dollars on the table and deprive nearly 1 million Floridians of Medicaid coverage would be fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible."

Fla. House Panel Rejects Medicaid Expansion [Miami Herald] “The vote was strictly partisan…House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Plantation called it 'morally reprehensible' that the House was rejecting Medicaid expansion. 'We are talking about people's lives,' Thurston said."

House Committee Says 'No' to Medicaid Expansion [Tampa Bay Times] "With a straight party-line vote, the House Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted against expanding Medicaid today.”

 

…AND SHOWS RICK SCOTT HAS LOST CONTROL OF HIS PARTY

House GOP Committee Members Slap Gov. Rick Scott on Medicaid Expansion [Florida Times Union] "On a 10-5 party-line vote Monday, a House panel officially recommended that Florida not expand Medicaid…In Florida, 4 million of the state’s 18 million residents are uninsured. Democrats have argued that to put a dent in those numbers the program needs to expand, and that’s backed by hospitals across the state, including Shands Jacksonville."

Florida Medicaid Expansion Suffers Legislative Setback [Reuters] "Florida Governor Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing."

 

SEN DEMOCRATS DRAW LINE IN THE SAND ON ELECTIONS REFORMS

FL Dems Statement on Sen Dems Calls for Commonsense Elections Reforms

Senate Democrats Name Non-Negotiable Election Reforms [WFSU] "As Florida lawmakers tackle election reform, Senate Democrats are demanding changes they say are needed to get their support. Democrats want to reverse controversial election reforms Gov. Rick Scott signed into law before the last election. Democrats want early voting restored to a mandatory 14 days, up from the current 8 days, and to make the last Sunday before the election a mandatory early-voting day. And Senator Darren Soto, of Orlando says, there should be more early voting sites. 'The 2012 election here in Florida was a national embarrassment. I saw four-to-five-hour lines, folks snaking around the libraries and a handful of other early-voting locations, and out into the street. And it could have been avoided.'"

Senate Democrats Unleash Elections Wish-list [Palm Beach Post] "Florida Senate Democrats released a 7-point plan to fix the state’s elections, going much farther than what GOP leaders in both chambers appear to be prepared to accept. The Democrats’ plan would not only repeal HB 1355, the 2011 law that shrank early voting from 14 to eight days, which critics say was a major factor in long lines and waits up to eight hours encountered by some voters last fall. The Democrats’ plan would require 14 days of early voting in statewide or presidential elections, including the last Sunday before Election Day, known as “Souls to the Polls”; one early voting site for each 47,000 registered voters; more flexibility in early voting sites; and allowing voters who move to cast regular ballots instead of provisional ballots at the polls. They also want voters to be able to cast their absentee ballots in person at elections offices as soon as they receive the ballots in the mail."

 

ON THE DAY OF HIS STATE OF THE STATE, MORE BAD NEWS FOR RICK SCOTT!

Upcoming Judicial Pick By Gov. Rick Scott Turns Political [Tampa Bay Times] "Gov. Rick Scott often says he'll appoint judges to the Florida courts who think like him. That's what a court watchdog group is worried about. Democracy at Stake formed last fall to fight a Republican effort to block the retention of three state Supreme Court justices. The GOP effort flopped, and Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince all won new six-year terms...The judicial nominating commission for the 4th DCA has nine members, six of them appointed by Scott. One is a Republican national committeeman and three others have made campaign contributions to lots of Republican candidates."

A Place Where Some Don't Recognize the 'New' Rick Scott [Tampa Bay Times] "Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott chose this out-of-the-way town to cement his bond with the tea party and showcase his first state budget as proof of his conservative credentials. Tuesday, Scott will deliver a very different message to lawmakers gathered in Tallahassee for the start of the 2013 legislative session...The governor, who in 2011 proposed a 10 percent cut in education spending and matter-of-factly rejected more than $2 billion for a high-speed rail system, now wants the state budget to swell to $74 billion. And Scott, who said the federal health care law 'will be the biggest job-killer ever,' now endorses the massive expansion of Medicaid the law allows." 

Free Enterprise Under Attack? Governor and GOP Host Business Forum [Orlando Sentinel] "A few weeks ago, the head of the Florida Chamber of Commerce painted a gloomy picture of free enterprise in the Sunshine State, saying that elected leaders haven’t done enough to create a business-friendly climate… Republicans have controlled the Legislature and Governor’s Office for more than a dozen years, so if Florida has become weighed down by anti-business legislation, they’re responsible. Given that, why would the GOP throw a pre-session party for business leaders?"

Another Failed Orlando Charter 'A Disaster' For Students, Teachers [Orlando Sentinel] "'It was a disaster,' said Brittany Clifton, a first-year math teacher who took on additional duties as principal for several months. She said students weren't getting what they needed. 'It should have been shut down before the end of the semester.'...A bill in the Florida Senate sparked by Orlando Sentinel stories about another failed charter would give school districts the power to close charter schools that fail students academically or lack fiscal controls. Under current law, immediate closure is only an option if students' health or welfare is in danger. 'The fact is, any time you take children and deny them the opportunity to get a good education, you hurt them, you hurt their parents and you hurt their community,' said Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, the bill's sponsor for the legislative session that starts Tuesday. The school, which received about $164,800 in state tax money, is the latest in a string of troubled charters to shut down in Orange County since 2011."

 

JEB!  IMMIGRATION FLIP-FLOP: YOU SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

Former Gov. Jeb Bush Reverses Position on Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants [South Floridian Caribbean News] "In response to Bush's statement, Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair and Florida Democratic Party Vice Chair Annette Taddeo-Goldstein said, 'It is deeply troubling that Governor Jeb Bush has reversed his position on a pathway to citizenship and sided with Tea Party extremists in order to advance his political ambitions. As a Hispanic-American from Florida, it is sad to lose one of the few pro-immigration Republicans left. Unfortunately, this reversal proves that there will never be enough border security or a big enough fence to satisfy the Republican base.'"

Jeb Bush Flips on Path to Citizenship [Tampa Tribune] "In an interview promoting his new book, 'Immigration Wars,' on the Today Show today, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he opposes a 'path to citizenship' for illegal immigrants now in the country - a shift for Bush that puts him in opposition to Marco Rubio and the 'gang of eight' senators."

Jeb Bush Reverses Stance on Immigration: No Citizenship Path For Undocumented [Miami Herald] "Distancing himself from his former-president brother and Sen. Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush appeared to reverse course Monday when he said undocumented immigrants should not be given a pathway to citizenship...While many dismissed Bush’s talk as a book-selling ploy, others saw it as a sign Bush is positioning himself for a presidential run in 2016 — a possibility he wouldn’t rule out — by moving rightward."