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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — May 2, 2013

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GAINESVILLE SUN: REPUBLICANS HAVE MADE A "WASTE" OF 2013 SESSION

Editorial: Waste of Time [Gainesville Sun] "[...]As the legislative session winds to a close this week, House Democrats invoked a procedural maneuver requiring that bills be read in their entirety. It was their way of objecting to House Republicans’ refusal to accept federal money that the state is due under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act...Such a stunt wouldn’t have been necessary if House Republicans spent more time working on a compromise to provide health care coverage for 1.2 million Floridians who lack it — a priority of none other than Republican Gov. Rick Scott...Instead of working on a plausible alternative, House conservatives have been busy with divisive social issues that have little impact on the lives of Florididans. They’ve wasted time worrying about a Sharia law threat that doesn’t exist, passing abortion bills that duplicate existing laws and sending a completely useless message to Obama about gun rights. Conservatives proudly tout these measures and their opposition to accepting federal health care dollars as sticking to their principles. More accurately, they’re sticking it to poor people who aren’t getting any healthier during the legislative dilly dallying. Hopefully the stalling tactic gave conservatives time to think about what a waste they’ve made of the session."

 

WEATHERFORD KILLS: SPEAKER TO LET MEDICAID EXPANSION DIE THROUGH REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE

Florida Runs Out of Time on Medicaid [New York Times] "Prospects for Medicaid expansion in Florida, which was embraced, improbably, by the state’s Republican governor in February, are all but dead this year...With the Republican-dominated Legislature preparing to leave town on Friday, time has run out to draft a compromise bill between the House and Senate that would expand Medicaid with the help of billions of federal dollars. House Republicans voted last week to reject the Senate plan, which would take the federal money and use it to add low-income Floridians to private insurance plans. The Legislature’s inability to agree means that more than a million low-income Floridians will remain without insurance, at least in the short term. Florida has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured people. Public hospitals also will suffer because they will continue to have to care for those one million uninsured who seek treatment in their emergency rooms."

Sides Entrenched, Health Care Deal Likely Dead [Tampa Bay Times] "Lawmakers are likely to return home this week without an agreement on meaningful health care reform, despite the early endorsement of Gov. Rick Scott and the pleas of businesses and hospitals. With two days remaining in the legislative session, Republicans in the House are no closer to caving on accepting $51 billion in federal health insurance aid...Scott, who bucked many in his party to support a major health care expansion, is no closer to being seen as an effective advocate. 'We're no closer than we were the first day,' Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chris Smith said. Senate leaders on Wednesday continued to seek flexibility from federal health officials to craft a plan that House Republicans might stomach. But House Republicans seem more entrenched than ever against accepting federal money."

  

DEMOCRATS FIGHT FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION, GOP RESPONDS BY KILLING BILL CREATING BLACK CULTURAL COMMISSION 

House Killing Democratic Bills, But Not Those for Special-interests [Orlando Sentinel] "A showdown over expanding health-care to more than 1 million Floridians slowed the Legislature to a crawl for a second day Wednesday, with the fate of an elections reform, a sick-time fight, sports stadium tax breaks and other bills hanging in the balance. House Democrats were forcing the majority-party to have bills read in full on the floor in order to slow down the session during its final three days, a move they started Tuesday to draw more attention to Republicans' refusal to accept $51 billion in federal Medicaid expansion money...As the day dragged on, House Republicans retaliated by postponing votes on bills sponsored by Democrats, including one (SB 442) carried by Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando and Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, creating a black cultural commission. 'I am very frustrated, extremely frustrated,' Thompson said after trying to lobby House lawmakers to return to the bill. 'I see the bigger picture .. but I am frustrated nonetheless. We're not going to get [health care] resolved by Friday, so I'm saying we've made our point let's get back to the order of business.'"

 

WEATHERFORD PASSES UNCONSTITUTIONAL CORPORATE GIVEAWAY 

FL Dems Statement on Will Weatherford's Unconstitutional Passage of Governor Scott's Corporate Tax Giveaways Without the Necessary Two-thirds Vote The Florida Democratic Party today released the following statement in response to House Speaker Will Weatherford's passage of the Governor's corporate tax giveaway without the requisite two-thirds majority. STATEMENT FROM FL DEMS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT ARCENEAUX: "Today, with blatant disregard for the Florida Constitution, Governor Rick Scott and House Speaker Will Weatherford plotted to put the special interests ahead of the rules governing the Florida Legislature. This attempt to circumvent House procedure is a flagrant violation of their constitutional duty as law makers and elected officials. It's outrageous that Weatherford stands by his attempt to thwart the Florida Constitution while continuing to deny an up or down vote on a measure to provide health care to one million Floridians."

House Gives Gov His Tax Break but it Faces Legal Uncertainty [Tampa Bay Times] "In a last minute attempt to appease Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida House gave him his long-sought manufacturing tax exemption but left it in legal jeopardy.  The House passed HB 7007 by a 68-48 vote but because it includes a manufacturing tax break that could have a revenue impact on local governments, opponents say it needed to pass by two-thirds vote of the chamber, or a 79-vote majority. 'We're sure it will be challenged with all due speed,' said Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, the House Democratic Leader, who later suggested it could be challenged by a city or county government...Democrats immediately pounced on the fact that it was a 96-page bill with language lawmakers had never seen before."

Manufacturer Tax Bill Unconstitutional? Dems say Challenge is Coming [Florida Times-Union] "The House Wednesday voted to pass legislation carrying language eliminating the sales tax paid by manufactures on equipment purchases, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s top priorities. That vote, however, could be at odds with the constitution. Because the three year, $365 million package would impact revenues for local governments, the state constitution requires it receive a two-thirds vote, which it did not get in the House...House Democrats said the proposal is subject to the two-thirds provision and it will be challenged in court. 'It requires a two-third vote,' said Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. 'Unfortunately, we think that will have to be challenged.'"

 

WHILE GOP LEGISLATORS ARE TRYING TO SPEED UP THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS...

Florida still leading nation in foreclosures [Herald Tribune] "Florida again led the nation with the highest percentage of homes in foreclosure in March, according to a new report. The state's foreclosure inventory -- those in some stage of foreclosure -- extended to 9.7 percent of all mortgaged homes in March, more than three times the national average. Florida also reported the highest number of completed foreclosures over the past year, with 102,847, data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday."

 

GOV. GRAHAM IN TALLAHASSEE ADVOCATING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION 

Bob Graham visits Tally, urges rejection of efforts to weaken environmental rules [Miami Herald] "Former senator and governor Bob Graham is back in Tallahassee today, this time urging legislators to reject a handful of environmental bills that he believes will have a damaging impact on the environment. He spoke Senate Democrats urging them to reject HB 999, a bill relating to environmental permitting that prohibits local governments from regulating fertilizer sales and application between now and 2016 as well as local government efforts to regulate wetlands. 'There seems to be a number of bills that have the effect of removing local control,' he said. "The irony is this is a time when there has been a substantial reduction in the financial and human capabilities of the water management districts or the state to provide the oversight that currently.'"

 

SEN. NELSON IN FL FIGHTING SEQUESTRATION

Bill Nelson Urges Leaders to Make Voices Heard About Sequestration [Naples Daily News] "U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson isn’t too fond of the sequester. The Florida Democrat made two stops in Southwest Florida on Wednesday, discussing the effect higher education has on the continued growth of the area’s economy. He told university leaders they can do something about it. Many of Southwest Florida’s university presidents were panelists at Wednesday’s informal luncheon meeting at the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce in Naples. 'You don’t need to convince me because I’m always for you — the higher funding for Pell grants — but, you can go and talk to the members of Congress that are voting for the sequester,' he said. He stressed there are others supporting the so-called sequestration, or the automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in this year after Congress failed to reach a deal to reduce the national deficit."