In the News

Florida Democratic Party News Clips – April 25, 2013


‘The Right Thing to Do’? Really, Governor? [Florida Voices Editorial] “[…]Recently, a phrase he has used on occasion has become his latest catch phrase. During a meeting of the Florida Cabinet at the Capitol on Tuesday, he said it again. ‘It’s the right thing to do,’ speaking of the student fee freeze in higher education. My first reaction was to be flattered by his adoption and slight modification of my campaign theme, ‘Doing the right thing.’ But simply saying it does not make it so. Actions must match words and must truly be what is right for the people we serve…When he tried to purge the voting rolls, using extremely suspect lists and kicking legitimate voters off the rolls, it was not the right thing to do. When he signed and then defended the 2011 election reform bill that shortened early voting and led to long waits during both early voting and Election Day, it was not the right thing to do. When he killed a private/public partnership for high-speed rail that required no state dollars for construction or operations but then approved a government-run commuter train that required at least $1.2 billion in state funds and at least 10 years of state operating funds, it was not the right thing to do. When he allowed a $300 million cut from the state’s 11 existing universities while creating a 12th with no accreditation, students or faculty, it was not the right thing to do. When he cut $1.3 billion from K-12 education in the 2011 session, and only replaced $1 billion in the 2012 session while bragging that he increased education funding by one billion “new” dollars, it was not the right thing to do…Really, governor? If you want to own the phrase, you have to walk the walk. Here are some suggestions — truly ‘the right thing to do’: Veto the ‘parent trigger’ bill… Veto the entire budget if the Legislature doesn’t follow your top priority of $2,500 across-the-board pay raises for our under appreciated teachers…Veto any election reform bill that does not undo all the damage done in the 2011…Don’t allow this legislative session to end without addressing Medicaid expansion to serve the 1.1 million Floridians in need.



Editorial: Florida will suffer if House Republicans don’t bend on Medicaid [Palm Beach Post Editorial] House Republicans still insist on denying health insurance coverage to 975,000 Floridians and sticking taxpayers with a $2 billion tab for a substandard insurance program — just to snub the Obama administration on Medicaid. That is heartless and irresponsible. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and his colleagues have made a political calculation that they can reject federal money to help the working poor because the working poor have no lobbyists…The House alternative makes no economic sense for the state — it would hurt hospitals that treat the uninsured — or for those it purports to help…House members claim an aversion to entitlement programs. “We don’t need,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, “more, more, more government dependency.” Why, then, are 107 out of 120 House members paying $400 a year or less for their health plans while taxpayers pick up the bulk of the tab? Legislators work part-time. Most have other jobs. Meanwhile, full-time state workers pay as much as $2,200 a year for family coverage. The claim by House Republicans that they loathe drinking from the federal trough is equally duplicitous. As Sen. Negron pointed out last week, about 35 percent of Florida’s budget comes from the federal government, the largest share for health care…Rep. Weatherford and many Republicans voted for budgets during and after the Great Recession that included billions from President Barack Obama’s 2009 federal stimulus. It made sense. The money allowed the Legislature to balance the budget without making even deeper cuts…Legislators have until next Friday to agree on a plan. Ditch the politics, do the math and have a heart.


FL Medicaid: Why Doesn’t House Take the Money? [WUSF] “The hottest issue of this legislative session has been the question “Will Florida take $50 billion in federal Medicaid funds to cover over 1 million uninsured?” The Senate and governor say yes, while the House says no, no, no…A lot of people, including Gov. Rick Scott, have been asking the question, “Why not take the money?” Florida takes federal money for roads, education and a host of other things. Testimony and debate has been fierce over the past two months at meetings of special panels set up to examine the issue in-depth, as well as the usual committees.  In the hearings, when House Republican leaders express opposition to accepting the money, three themes recur: 1) They don’t trust the federal government…Experts on Medicaid’s 48-year history say they don’t know of any incidence in which federal officials rolled back their share of funding. They say it’s especially unlikely given the spotlight thrust on it now. 2) Opponents despise where the money is coming from: the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.Florida Republicans’ antipathy toward the ACA has long been known; Florida led a multi-state effort to get the law declared unconstitutional. The effort was unsuccessful…3) Self-reliance…The House plan developed by Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, leaves out other adults. In other words, it leaves out most of the uninsured in Florida who fall under the federal poverty level. Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, said the plan was designed that way to provide “the opportunity for a child to be  in a stable home with healthy parents and the fact that an able-bodied adult should be able to find work and not rely on an entitlement program.”…Quite a few uninsured working Floridians came to Tallahassee to tell legislators they resent the feeling that they’re regarded as lazy. One of them was Charles Frazier of Orlando, a nurse’s aide who is supporting two children and a cancer-stricken wife.



Florida Senate Passes Elections Reform on Party-line Vote [Tampa Bay Times] “Responding to the long lines and long ballots that tarnished Florida’s 2012 election, the Senate passed a set of voting fixes Wednesday along party lines, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no…’The problem we have is we don’t mandate Sunday voting’ before Election Day, said Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. ‘Constitutional rights should not be subject to economic analysis.’ Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said Republicans won’t require early voting on the Sunday before the election because it’s popular with African-Americans — who overwhelmingly vote Democratic…Democrats complained that the bill does little to address another major problem from 2012: 11 legislatively sponsored ballot questions, some of which ran on for hundreds of words. In the future, only the first proposal listed on the ballot would be subject to a 75-word limit. ‘We’re not really fixing the issues that contributed to the long lines last fall,’ said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth…The Florida Democratic Party also criticized the Senate bill. ‘Republicans don’t want real elections reform. They don’t want to own up to their mistakes,’ said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. ‘They just want to cross this off their list and go home.’

Florida Senate Passes Elections Reform Bill; House Still Considering [Palm Beach Post] “A bill aimed at fixing problems that plagued Florida’s 2012 elections cleared the Senate on a party-line vote Wednesday…But Democrats have denounced the bill as a half-measure that won’t fix the entire problem. They said the Legislature should completely roll back House Bill 1355, a 2011 measure that reduced the number of early voting days and made a raft of other changes to the state’s elections code, some of which have been blocked by the courts. ‘If we had come all the way back to where we were two years prior before we did HB 1355 — if there was a repeal of that bill — we would have a 40-0 vote,’ said Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate. The Florida Democratic Party issued a blistering statement of its own. ‘Today, Republicans showed their true colors with a bill that barely scratches the surface of fixing one of the most blatant attacks on Floridian’s right to vote,’ Executive Director Scott Arceneaux said. ‘Republicans don’t want real elections reform, they don’t want to own up to their mistakes — they just want to cross this off their list and go home.'”



U.S. Authorities Tell Nelson Indicted Jamaican Scammers Will Be Extradited [Florida Today] “Sen. Bill Nelson said he’s been assured by a key U.S. official that Jamaica has promised to extradite individuals indicted for running a lottery scam that has fleeced many older Americans. Nelson, who has been pushing for the extraditions, announced the development Wednesday after talking with U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater. She told the Orlando Democrat the Jamaican government has pledged to hand over suspects indicted in the scam, according to a release from Nelson’s office. ‘If we can put somebody in handcuffs and extradite them to the U.S., it will have a chilling effect,’ Nelson told Bridgewater during their 10-minute call Wednesday morning, the release said. Bridgewater said ‘we have a full commitment’ from Jamaican officials that ‘these criminals will head off to our shores,’ the release said.”


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