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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - May 3, 2013

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WHILE RICK SCOTT REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT LEGALITY OF WEATHERFORD'S CORPORATE TAX GIVEAWAY VOTE...

2 Questions to Rick Scott About House Vote on His Tax Cut Provision, 0 Answers [Florida Times-Union] "After the House's passage Wednesday of a three year exemption on the sales tax manufacturers pay for equipment purchases, a priority for Gov. Rick Scott, questions immediately emerged about its constitutionality. In short, the constitution says legislation impacting local governments, which the tax cut does, needs a two-thirds vote in both chambers. The economic development bill carrying the tax cut language (SB 7007) did not pass the House by that margin. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, says the bill did not need to pass the two-thirds threshold. Democrats disagree and have promised a court challenge. When asked Thursday by reporters about the issue, Scott ignored questions."

...SENATE AND HOUSE STAFF ANALYSIS AGREES: IT WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL 

Legislative Staff Analysis: Tax Cut Needed Two-thirds Vote to Pass [Florida Current] "According to staff analysis from the Senate, Gov. Rick Scott’s top legislative priority of a manufacturing tax needed a two-thirds majority in both chambers to pass into law....The Senate staff analysis of a standalone version of the tax cut, which eliminates the sales tax on machinery and equipment for manufacturers, notes that Article 7, Section 18 of the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote of both houses to pass because it impacts revenues of local governments. The House staff analysis is more uncertain, but states a two-thirds vote is required if the tax cut is a mandate on local governments."

GOP Defends Tax Exemption Bill [Lakeland Ledger] "House Republicans continued to express confidence Thursday that a vote to exempt manufacturing equipment from the state's sales tax was constitutional despite lacking a two-third majority. The vote came on legislation (HB 7007) that passed the House on Wednesday as part of an apparent deal between Gov. Rick Scott, who pushed for the exemption, and legislative leaders. But there were questions about two aspects of the bill that would have required a two-thirds vote: whether it created a public records exemption and whether it would significantly curtail local governments' rights to raise certain kinds of revenue under the Florida Constitution...[T]he Florida Democratic Party submitted a public records request to Scott's office for documents 'regarding the constitutionality of Will Weatherford's corporate giveaway vote.'" Read FL Dems Public Records Request Here

 

FINAL VERSION OF ELECTIONS BILL FALLS SHORT OF FULLY UNDOING 2011 DAMAGE

Elections Bill Lingers on Legislature's Last Day [Tampa Bay Times] "Embarrassed by an elections meltdown, lawmakers headed to the Capitol this year with a pledge to undo a law that helped lead to long lines, angry voters and jeers about 'Flori-duh.' But the elections clean-up bill that the House passed on the very first day of the legislative session has yet to pass the Legislature as the last day dawns...Democrats have demanded that the state mandate all 14 days of early voting but Republicans refused, citing testimony of urban and rural county elections supervisors who prefer more flexibility. Democrats remain critical of Republicans for not preventing future Legislatures from loading ballots with a multitude of wordy questions. Miami Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, noted the struggles of 102-year-old Desiline Victor, who waited so long to vote that Obama featured her in part of his State of the Union address."

Voting Rights Watchdogs Give Thumbs Down to Florida Elections Bill [Palm Beach Post] "Several Florida organizations that watchdog voting rights issues are giving a thumbs down to the elections bill currently awaiting a vote in the Florida legislature. In a letter delivered to House Speaker Will Weatherford, the organizations argue that the bill has a disproportionately harmful impact on minorities and they offer several recommendations for strengthening the measure. HB 7013 gives supervisors of elections discretion to decide if their county should have early voting between eight and 14 days. Before the GOP-controlled legislature rewrote elections law in 2011, 14 days of early voting was mandatory. The change contributed to long lines in the 2012 election, the groups say in their letter, and they ask that those 14 days be restored."

 

AS FLORIDA LEADS THE NATION IN FORECLOSURES, GOP SPEEDS UP EVICTION PROCESS

Bill Making it Easier to Evict Tenants Clears Legislature [AP] "Florida legislators are making it easier to evict tenants under a bill now heading to Gov. Rick Scott. The bill comes at a time when more and more people in the state have become renters due to the foreclosure crisis that has troubled the state for years. Under the bill a tenant could pay partial rent and still be evicted within days if they fail to turn over the rest of the money. The measure (HB 77) would also allow a landlord to evict a tenant if a person if breaks rules twice in one year. Those rules can include parking in the wrong spot or having an unauthorized pet. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, maintained that the legislation did not include any major changes, but instead was intended to clarify the rights of both tenants and landlords...But Alice Vickers with the Florida Consumer Action Network sharply disagreed about the impact of the bill. She called it the 'largest erosion in protections for residential tenants that Florida has seen in many years.'...Stargel, one of the main sponsors of the bill, is an investment property manager. Court records show Stargel has been forced to evict people who rent property she owns. She has said it's not a conflict of interest because the bill does not just apply to her but to all landlords and tenants."

 

REP. CASTOR CALLS ON SCOTT TO VETO BUDGET IF MEDICAID EXPANSION FAILS TO PASS

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor to Gov. Rick Scott: Veto the Budget, Call Lawmakers Back to Expand Medicaid [Tampa Bay Times] "U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said she hopes Gov. Rick Scott will veto the state budget and call legislators back to Tallahassee to come up with a plan to expand Medicaid. Speaking Thursday to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, Castor said Scott should use his 'political chops' to force a solution on Medicaid. The governor surprised many when he came out in favor of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a law he actively campaigned against. Now he's taking criticism from the law's backers for not trying harder to sway Florida House members who have fought accepting federal money to get health coverage for more uninsured Floridians."