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Florida Democratic Party News Clips - May 8th, 2013

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EXPANDING HEALTH CARE TO 1 MILLION FLORIDANS? WEATHERFORD: 'I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WOULD ACHIEVE'

Democrats pressure Florida Gov. Rick Scott to call special session on Medicaid [Tampa Bay Times] "Pressure is mounting on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session to end the Legislature's impasse on Medicaid expansion. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the 14 Democratic members of the Florida Senate sent separate letters Monday making the request, following House Democratic leader Perry Thurston's request for one Friday. Scott isn't likely to oblige them if he doesn't think Republican lawmakers are ready to deal. At stake is $51 billion in federal funding to provide insurance coverage to 1 million low-income Floridians. House Republicans blocked that from happening during the regular session, which ended Friday. Neither Scott nor Senate President Don Gaetz have said they would support reconvening the Legislature to address the issue. House Speaker Will Weatherford was cool to the idea when the Times/Herald spoke to him on Monday. 'I don't know what it would achieve,' Weatherford said."

 

BRADENTON HERALD: WEATHERFORD 'FAILED FLORIDA' WITH REJECTION OF HEALTH CARE EXPANSION, RICK SCOTT SHOULD HAVE SHOWN LEADERSHIP

Editorial: Get Florida's House in order over Medicaid expansion [Bradenton Herald] "While Florida lawmakers celebrated Friday's conclusion of a fairly smooth regular session well orchestrated by Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, the representatives in the lower chamber failed Florida by rejecting Medicaid money...While the Senate came up with a compromise solution that accepted federal assistance for health care for the poor under the state's terms, obstinate conservatives in the House led by Weatherford refused to cooperate...By rejecting some $51 billion in federal assistance to expand private health care insurance policies for more than a million Floridians, as the Senate approved, the House put employers on the hook for federal fines...Statewide, those fines could reach an estimated $145 million next year...Gov. Scott appeared weak on the issue after calling on the Legislature to accept Medicaid expansion before the session began. After that initial show of support, the governor did not advocate strongly enough to have an impact. Now he has the opportunity to force the issue."

 

FL SENATE DEMOCRATS, BILL NELSON CALL FOR GOV. SCOTT TO 'PUT ACTION' BEHIND MEDICAID RHETORIC, CONVENE SPECIAL SESSION

Senate Democrats prod Scott for special session on Medicaid [Palm Beach Post] "Florida Senate Democrats urged Gov. Rick Scott on Monday to call lawmakers back into special session to work on expanding health care insurance for low-income Floridians. Scott earlier endorsed a Medicaid expansion allowed under the Affordable Care Act that could bring Florida $51 billion in federal money over the next decade to cover 1.1 million uninsured Floridians. But the House and Senate deadlocked on the issue — with House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, unwilling to accept any expansion that relied on federal dollars. Scott did little to break the standoff during the two-month regular session which ended Friday. But Democrats said the governor now has an opportunity to underscore his support for expansion. 'Governor, you are on the record in support of fully implementing the Medicaid expansion so that uninsured Floridians have access to medical care,' the 14 Senate Democrats wrote. 'We urge you to put action behind those words and wield your power to protect those people and the many Florida businesses whose fate now rests in your hands.'"

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson To Governor Rick Scott: "Call A Special Session." [WFSU] "Democratic Senator Bill Nelson isn’t happy about the Florida Legislature concluding its 2013 session without reaching a deal on expanding healthcare coverage under the Federal Affordable Healthcare Act. Nelson put his frustration in a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday. Governor Rick Scott did a 180 on Medicaid expansion just before the legislative session in March. But, Florida lawmakers couldn’t reach a deal on how to expand healthcare coverage to about 1-million low income Floridians before the session adjourned. Now, Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson wants the Governor to call legislators back to Tallahassee for a special session. 'The way to get it done is bring the spotlight in on them, haul them back to Tallahassee in a special session and let them under the glare of the spotlight have to vote on whether or not over a million people are going to get health care,' Nelson said."

  

ORLANDO SENTINEL: GOP'S 'IDEOLOGICAL CRUSADE AGAINST OBAMACARE TRUMPED COMPASSION'

Editorial: What we think: House breaks vow to be bipartisan, thoughtful [Orlando Sentinel] "After he was elected Florida House speaker by his colleagues in November, Republican Will Weatherford delivered an eloquent speech promising bipartisanship and a commitment to problem solving. He urged members to 'have a clear understanding of why we're here and how our actions will impact our communities and our state.' Fast forward to this past week, the last of the 2013 legislative session, when a bipartisan Senate plan to provide health care to a million uninsured Floridians — 1 million people — went down to defeat in the House amid a standoff between Republicans and Democrats...In the end, House Republicans' ideological crusade against Obamacare trumped compassion for hundreds of thousands of fellow Floridians without health care. And it won't cut anyone's federal taxes in Florida. Not by a nickel...And though Weatherford had told members in his November speech, 'We are not here to serve as passive brokers for the special interest groups,' the House resurrected a pair of costly corporate tax breaks that bipartisan majorities in the Senate had voted to eliminate: a handout to the insurance industry worth $220 million a year, and a boon for banks worth $13 million annually. The speaker himself slipped a tax break worth $100,000 a year into the budget for a California company with a lobbyist who once worked with Weatherford."

  

DANIEL RUTH SKEWERS RICK SCOTT FOR FAILING TO LEAD DURING SESSION

Ruth: The governor who wasn't [Tampa Bay Times] "Only in political life do we stumble across people who aspire, yearn, crave to hold high and powerful offices without the slightest clue about what the job requires. And yes, you would be forgiven if the first name that comes to mind is Gov. Rick Scott... But after nearly 2 ½ years of sitting in the governor's chair, Scott is still on a learning curve that appears to be akin to trying to explain to a 6-year-old how quantum physics works. As Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet noted the other day, Scott managed to get through the legislative session without once publicly meeting with Florida House and Senate leaders to discuss — anything...Regardless of party, some of Florida's most notable governors — LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush among them — understood the power and the optics of the office and how to use them. So did many of the others, including Bob Martinez and Charlie Crist. And all of those governors realized that a legislative session is not the time to go into political seclusion...Scott could have schmoozed Weatherford and maybe, just maybe he might have made an inroad on Medicaid funding. To be sure, winning over a speaker who has become the beefcake boy of the Villages would have been a long shot. But the political mortal sin here is that Scott didn't even try."

 

FEC GENERAL COUNCIL: 'MORE LIKELY THAN NOT' REP. BUCHANAN BROKE ELECTION LAWS

FEC fines 3 men, 2 Tampa companies for illegal contributions to Rep. Vern Buchanan [Tampa Bay Times] "The Federal Election Commission has fined three men and two Tampa companies a total of $16,000 for illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota...Buchanan, a millionaire car dealer, has repeatedly denied involvement in illegal fundraising. In an earlier investigation, the FEC took no action though its general counsel said it was 'more likely than not' that Buchanan violated election laws and concluded that many aspects of his testimony were not credible."

  

SEN. DARREN SOTO CALLS ON RICK SCOTT TO VETO BILL SPEEDING UP FORECLOSURES

Soto asks Rick Scott to veto foreclosure bill [Orlando Sentinel] "Democratic Sen. Darren Soto is asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a bill that would allow for a speedier foreclosure process in some cases. The bill (SB 1666/HB 87) passed the Senate on the last day of session by a 26-13, mostly party line vote. It was pushed by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, as a way to continue to clear the backlog of foreclosure cases clogging Florida courts. The bill would make changes to the 'expedited foreclosure' process already in law, including cutting the number of hearings and allowing other lien-holders besides the mortgagee to use the expedited process. But Soto argues the bill is 'anti-homeowner' and would be a massive reduction in homeowner rights."

Senator asks for veto of fast foreclosure bill [Palm Beach Post] "Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, sent a letter today to Gov. Rick Scott asking him to veto the fast-track foreclosure bill that passed during the final week of the 2013 legislative session. Soto said the bill (SB 1666, HB 87) will mark the 'biggest reduction in homeowner/homestead property rights in generations.' 'In a state that ranks first in the nation for foreclosures, not only does the bill allow homeowners to be evicted more quickly, but if the eviction was through bank fraud, there is no ability to recover the home,' Soto wrote."