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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — May 6, 2013

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2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION A STUDY IN WILL WEATHERFORD'S FAILED LEADERSHIP

Lose of the Week: Will Weatherford [Tampa Bay Times] "It was impossible for the 33-year-old House speaker from Pasco County to live up to presession hype, but it's also clear that Weatherford's image is far weaker now that the session is over. He burnished his conservative bonafides and ideological divisiveness with his main legacy — rejecting any federal money to expand health insurance coverage to lower-income Floridians. But top priorities for the well-connected golden boy died under his watch, including significant pension reform and charter school expansion under the "parent trigger" bill."

 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: WEATHERFORD'S FAILURE TO EXPAND MEDICAID OVERSHADOWS ALL OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Editorial: The Legislature's $51 billion failure [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]The Legislature is not above offering a helping hand. It allowed Duke Energy to keep charging its customers for a nuclear plant that may never be built. It gave manufacturers tax breaks sought by Gov. Rick Scott in a bill that is constitutionally suspect. It provided charter schools run by private groups millions in public money to build and maintain schools. But House Speaker Will Weatherford would not accept federal money to help nearly 400,000 childless adults making less than $12,000 a year buy health insurance…By their scorecard, the Legislature's accomplishments outweigh the failure to accept Medicaid expansion money. But no list of bills passed offsets the loss of $51 billion in federal money and of health coverage for so many Floridians." 

 

MIAMI HERALD: WEATHERFORD'S 'TOXIC POLITICS' TRIUMPHS COMMON SENSE IN MEDICAID FAILURE

Editorial: On Medicaid, GOP politics trumps common sense [Miami Herald] "Surely the people of Florida had a right to expect that during the 60 days of the annual legislative session lawmakers would find a way to accept the federal government’s offer of $51 billion over the next decade to expand Medicaid. And yet House Republicans, led by Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, failed to reach a workable compromise with their counterparts in the Republican-led Senate, effectively killing any deal for now and leaving Florida’s uninsured in jeopardy. This is a huge loss for the people of Florida, the triumph of toxic politics over common sense. Gov. Rick Scott’s role in all this has been disappointing. Once an outspoken opponent of 'Obamacare,' he saw that the feds’ Medicaid offer was too good to pass up, but he failed to do the work necessary to get support in the House. Mr. Scott can still show leadership by calling a special session and making the case for Medicaid expansion. He has the financial numbers on his side — and overwhelming support in the Senate."

 

SUN SENTINEL: WEATHERFORD'S 'FAILED LEADERSHIP' IS 'FLORIDA'S SHAME'

Editorial: Florida's shame: the Florida House [Sun Sentinel] "The legislative session ended Friday with state lawmakers scurrying out of Tallahassee with the one thing 3.8 million of their fellow Floridians lack — decent health care...One out of four Floridians lacks health insurance. The state ranks third worst in the number of people who can't afford access to health care. But because of ideologues in the Florida House of Representatives, our state will reject $51 billion in federal funds over the next decade, money meant to help the poorest among us see a doctor...It makes no sense that Florida is rejecting federal funds meant to help our people, yet it's becoming a trend among our Republican leaders. Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2 billion to build the first leg of high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. This year, leaders of the Florida House led the charge to reject a $5-billion down payment to cover the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act...there was no more important issue before the Florida Legislature this session than how to handle Obamacare, the law of the land. And now, because of the failed leadership of House Speaker Will Weatherford, Florida will continue to allow the poor among us to suffer and probably die before their time...Speaker Weatherford and Republican members of the Florida House let us down on the biggest issue of the year. Their behavior is Florida's shame."

 

TAMPA TRIBUNE: 'POLITICAL OPPORTUNIST' WEATHERFORD TO BLAME FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION'S FAILURE

Editorial: House fails Florida on Medicaid solution [Tampa Tribune] "On the most consequential matter before the Legislature this session — the one affecting the health and wellbeing of nearly 1 million Floridians — state lawmakers appear to have failed miserably. Put the blame squarely on House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Republican from Wesley Chapel who put his notion of conservative politics ahead of common sense. In doing so, he acted more like a political opportunist than a statesman. Refusing $51 billion from the federal government might score points with some voters, but it does nothing for Florida. Gov. Rick Scott. Senate President Don Gaetz. Industry associations. Chambers of commerce. Hospital operators. None of these people or groups will ever be described as bastions of liberalism. Yet they recognized the need to accept the money and make the best deal possible for Florida when faced with the Medicaid expansion requirements spelled out in Obamacare. It didn’t matter to Weatherford, who kept the House from accepting reasonable compromises fashioned by the governor and the Senate to keep costs under control.

  

GOP'S 'INACTION' WILL COST BUSINESSES UP TO $150 MILLION

Legislature's inaction on Medicaid reform comes at a price [Tampa Bay Times] "Republican lawmakers say they are champions for Florida's businesses. But their failure to expand health insurance coverage to 1 million or more Floridians will put many employers in a financial lurch. Without a deal on health care, business owners across the state face the predicament of either paying to provide health insurance for their employees or facing federal government fines. Either way, the Legislature's inaction will saddle many businesses with additional costs that could reach, in total, close to $150 million next year."

 

DEMS CALL FOR SPECIAL SESSION TO ADDRESS HEALTH CARE

Democrats ask Gov. Scott order special session for health care [News Service of Florida] "Democrats on Friday renewed a call for a special session to expand health care coverage to cove more uninsured Floridians. The Legislature adjourned Friday evening without passing legislation that had been filed that would have either used federal money to extend coverage to more than a million people or used state money for a smaller subsidy. 'By blocking passage this session of a plan that would dramatically help 1.2 million of Florida’s low-income and working families, many Floridians are disappointed and will continue, despite the session’s end, to expect the governor and Legislature to approve a bipartisan health coverage expansion compromise that relies upon available federal funds,' said House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston."

 

GOV. SCOTT'S 'LACK OF POLITICAL SKILL WAS OFTEN CONSPICUOUS' THIS SESSION

Hefty budget poses stark spending choices for Gov. Rick Scott [Tampa Bay Times] "[...]Scott's lack of political skill was often conspicuous in his dealings with legislators, who relish hushed conversation and horse trading. Not once in the nine-week session did Scott meet with legislative leaders to publicly discuss their mutual goals. Democrats complain that Scott squandered a chance to take the lead to expand Medicaid after he endorsed the idea in February. 'Rick Scott has shown his inability to lead and unwillingness to stand for his legislative priorities,' Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant wrote in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Democrats said it seemed as if Republican lawmakers didn't take Scott seriously. 'They treated him like the red-headed stepchild,' said Rep. Perry Thurston, the House Democratic leader. 'They were playing coy with him. They're holding onto all of his stuff to see if he gives them their stuff.'"

 

SENATE DEMOCRATS ELECT SEN. ARTHENIA JOYNER AS NEXT DEMOCRATIC LEADER

Tampa-area Sen. Joyner to be next Senate Dem leader [Orlando Sentinel] "Senate Democrats have chosen Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, to be the next Senate Democratic leader to succeed Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, in 2014. The Florida Democratic Party announced the news this afternoon as lawmakers wrapped up the 2013 legislative session. 'I look forward to working with her in the fight against the Republican's failed policies that have hurt Floridians access to health care, the voting booth, and to a strong education for our children,' said Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.  Joyner, an attorney, will be the first black woman to serve as the Senate Democratic leader. She is currently Vice Chair of both the Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.  Joyner will take over from Smith following the 2014 legislative session next spring and lead the senate campaigns for the 2014 cycle."