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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - May 1, 2013

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FL DEMS CHAIR ALLISON TANT PENS OP-ED ON RICK SCOTT'S FAILURES THIS SESSION

Gov. Scott's Unwillingness to Stand for Legislative Priorities [Florida Voices Editorial] “Before the start of the 2013 legislative session Gov. Rick Scott was undergoing a dramatic shift away from everything he ran on in 2010. Suddenly he was for expanding Medicaid, for raising teachers’ pay, and possessed a newfound affinity for Floridians’ right to vote. Now, in the last week of the session, House and Senate Republicans have laid bare the governor’s inability to lead or even make an effort to defend his legislative goals.”

 

HOUSE DEMS STAND STRONG AGAINST GOP'S ATTEMPT TO BLOCK MEDICAID EXPANSION

Medicaid Impasse Sparks Rebellion [WUSF] "Democrats are so angry over House Republicans' refusal to accept federal funds to expand health coverage that they deliberately caused action on the floor to grind to a halt Tuesday afternoon. Democrats are in the minority, but they had enough votes to require that every bill be read in entirety, not just summarized-- a maneuver that takes so much time it could block many bills from getting a vote if the stall continues. The session is scheduled to end Friday."

Thurston Explains the Dems' Stalling Tactic: Drastic Attention Needed to Health Insurance [Miami Herald] "House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston issued the following statement about deliberations in the Florida House of Representatives: 'With the support of the 44-member House Democratic Caucus, today I have begun the extraordinary procedural step of requesting that every bill that comes before the Florida House of Representatives be read in full. By purposefully slowing deliberations at this critical juncture, I and other House Democratic Caucus members seek to bring greater public attention to our desire for legislative passage of the health coverage expansion plan that the Florida Senate approved earlier today. Specifically, I have applauded the Senate’s bipartisan approval of House Bill 7169 as revised to include a Senate plan authored by state Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart) that would accept federal funds for health coverage expansion. It’s unfortunate that we have had to take such unusual action today, but my Democratic colleagues and I believe that a drastic situation requires drastic tactics. The 1.2 million people who can be provided medical coverage under proposed legislation may not be aware of what’s transpiring in Tallahassee. Today, I want them to know that the 44-member House Democratic Caucus stands in support of them.'"

House Democrats Shut Down Chamber in Medicaid Standoff [Orlando Sentinel] "House Democrats brought the chamber to a halt Tuesday by requiring that bills be read in full, a "nuclear option" maneuver the minority-party was employing in order to try and force Republicans to take up a health-care expansion the Senate passed earlier in the day. The standoff began at 2:35 p.m. when Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, asked the a bill on the special order calendar be 'read in full.' The Republican majority, which had been huddling for about an our in anticipation of the move, had the bill temporarily postponed after Democrats mustered more than the 40 votes, or one-third of the chamber, needed. Democrats did the same thing with the next bill, and Republicans again skipped over the bill...'With the support of the 44-member House Democratic Caucus, today I have begun the extraordinary procedural step of requesting that every bill that comes before the Florida House of Representatives be read in full,' Thurston said in a statement."

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: WEATHERFORD'S MEDICAID OPPOSITION "NOT PERSUASIVE," SHOULD ACCEPT SENATE PLAN

Editorial: Weatherford should allow open vote on Medicaid expansion [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]The Senate's 38-1 vote to accept billions in federal Medicaid money to help provide health coverage to nearly 1 million residents sends a powerful bipartisan message and reflects mainstream Florida. The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the health care industry and a majority of state voters favor taking the federal money. There is still time for House Speaker Will Weatherford and his allies to recognize this is a pragmatic solution and accept this compromise without jeopardizing their conservative credentials. The financial case for accepting the Medicaid money is strong. Florida would receive $51 billion over the next decade, and the federal government would pay the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years. Washington also would pick up the cost of the Medically Needy program, which costs the state $430 million a year...The positive effect on Floridians is just as compelling. The Senate proposal would initially cover more than 438,000 low-income residents next year and roughly 1 million over the next decade. Health insurance leads to better access to preventive care and a healthier, more productive workforce. And the Medicaid expansion would create thousands of jobs as the health care industry expands to accommodate newly insured residents. The arguments against accepting the Medicaid expansion money from Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and his Republican allies are not persuasive."

 

IN BIPARTISAN EFFORT, SENATE AGAIN KILLS PARENT TRIGGER

Senate Tie Vote Kills Parent Trigger for the Second Year [Palm Beach Post] “For the second year in a row, the Florida Senate killed a controversial “parent trigger” measure that would have given parents of students at failing schools a greater say in turning the schools around. Six Republicans joined with the 14 Senate Democrats in the 20-20 tie vote after more than an hour of heated debate on the measure (HB 867).”

Senate Kills Parent Trigger Bill [Tampa Bay Times] “The bill died almost exactly as it did last year: in a 20-20 vote in the final week of the session. ‘The second time is just as sweet,’ said Florida Education Association President Andy Ford, who helped lead the opposition against the bill. ‘I'm happy that the Legislature stepped up and did what's right for the state of Florida.’”

  

CONGRESSWOMAN DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: SCOTT, WEATHERFORD HAVE FAILED FL ON MEDICAID

DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz: Scott, Weatherford Legacy Will be ‘Sickness, Illness and Death’ [Palm Beach Post] "Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasted Gov. Rick Scott for failing to use his clout to push the House to approve a Medicaid expansion that could cover 1 million uninsured Floridians. The U.S. congresswoman from Weston also accused House Speaker Will Weatherford and the GOP-dominated House of 'slavishness ideological dogma' behind their rejection of the Senate plan crafted by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. 'Sickness, illness and death…will be their legacy,' Wasserman Schultz told the Senate Democratic Caucus this morning. Wasserman Schultz, a one-time Florida legislator who served in both the state House and Senate, also blamed Scott for 'having a deathbed conversion' about the Medicaid expansion and failing to use his bully pulpit to push the House to pass it."

National Democratic Party Chief Blasts Scott [Florida Current] "Gov. Rick Scott's support of Medicaid expansion, added education funding and revision of election laws is just a 'death-bed conversion,' the head of the national Democratic Party told Leon County party members Tuesday night. 'To put it simply, Gov. Rick is not so slick,' said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. Scott vigorously fought President Barack Obama's national health care plan but after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it, he called for expansion of the state Medicaid program Feb. 20 to cover an additional 1.1 million poor people in Florida. The Republican-run Legislature, particularly the House, has balked at taking the federal funding -- estimated at about $50 billion over 10 years -- with only three days left in the legislative session. Wasserman Schultz, a former state legislator and current Broward County congresswoman, chairs the Democratic National Committee. She was featured speaker at the county party's annual Collins-Steele fundraising dinner at the FSU University Center."

 

IT'S CALLED LEADERSHIP, GOVERNOR SCOTT

Gov. Scott: 'Ridiculous' Legislature Dragging its Feet on Tax Cut [Tampa Bay Times] “Gov. Rick Scott fired back at legislative leaders Tuesday for not embracing his call to eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, one of his two priorities in the 2013 session. With frustration evident in his voice, Scott said he believed he had agreement with legislative leaders to repeal the tax for a three-year period. Neither the Senate president nor the House speaker would confirm that Monday night.”

 

WEATHERFORD TAKES A BEATING AS PENSION PLAN DIES IN SENATE

Weatherford Loses Showdown with Senate, Pension Reform Dead [Tampa Bay Times] "After months of calling pension reform a top priority in his inaugural year as Florida House speaker, Will Weatherford could do nothing Tuesday as his plan went down to defeat in the Senate. A third of Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting 22-18 against an amendment that would have banned new state workers, teachers and county workers from joining the state’s $132 billion pension system, and steer them instead toward private, 401(k)-style investment plans, shifting the risk from taxpayers to workers...The setback came at the exact moment Weatherford, 33, faced a filibuster on the House floor among Democrats who wanted to draw attention to the House’s refusal to tap federal dollars to give health care coverage to 1 million uninsured Floridians."

Weatherford’s Pension Wish Fails in Senate [Palm Beach Post] "The Senate defeated one of House Speaker Will Weatherford’s top priorities of the session Tuesday, refusing to go along with a dramatic overhaul of the Florida Retirement System. The 22-18 vote followed emotional speeches by several senators — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who fought back tears as he recalled a pair of state firefighters killed two years ago while battling a wildfire."

 

SCOTT UNABLE TO DELIVER ON $2,500 TEACHER PAY RAISE

Florida Legislators Approve Plan for Teacher Raises ... in 2014 [Treasure Coast Palm] "Florida's teachers are going to get a pay raise, but it won't be coming until next year. House and Senate budget negotiators finished their work late Sunday night. One of the last items agreed to was a pay raise package for the state's teachers. But the raise won't take effect until June 2014. And it won't be an across-the-board, $2,500 raise like Gov. Rick Scott initially recommended."

Should Teachers Have Gotten an Immediate Across-the-board Raise? [Sun Sentinel] "No matter how you look at it, Florida teachers got shafted by the Florida Legislature. The $2,500 across-the-board raises that Gov. Rick Scott  was touting? Not gonna happen, as the actual amount of the raises will be determined on employee evaluations from each district. And the money coming soon? Forget about that, too. Teachers won’t see a cent of the raise for 13 months, at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

 

FL DEMS OPEN NEW OFFICE IN MIAMI

Fla Dems Open Office in All-important Miami [Tampa Bay Times] "Underscoring the importance of diverse Miami-Dade to Democratic prospects in statewide elections, the Florida Democratic party on Monday officially opens a new campaign office in Little Havana. Miami-Dade played an enormous role in delivering Florida's 27 electoral votes to Barack Obama in 2012, giving the president a margin of victory of more than 208,000 votes, compared to nearly 140,000 votes in 2008...The new office is at 2141 SW 1st Street, Suite 204. Doors open for the grand opening at 10 a.m. Monday, and the program begins at at 10:30."

Democrats to Open New Little Havana Office [Miami Herald] "The Florida Democratic Party and Miami-Dade Democratic Party plan to open a new Little Havana office Monday in an effort to target Hispanic voters, the organizations announced Tuesday. It will be the state party's first office in the Florida's largest county. 'We have an aggressive effort to win South Florida by similar margins as 2012 and having the Florida Democratic Party open an office for the first time in Miami-Dade shows our commitment to growing our opportunities in a key region of the state,' Allison Tant, chairwoman of the state party, said in a news release. Added Miami-Dade Chairwoman Annette Taddeo: 'In 2012, we increased our margin of victory in Miami-Dade by 70,000 votes. Now we are building on that momentum by continuing the OFA ground game in order to defeat Rick Scott and take back Tallahassee.'"