Florida Democratic Party News Clips — February 27, 2013
SUPREME COURT TO TAKE UP VOTING RIGHTS WITH FLORIDA IN MIND
Keep Sharp Watch On Voting Rights [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] "The last election cycle demonstrated that if given a chance, lawmakers will manipulate rules for voting and elections for partisan advantage. Florida's 2011 election law was an overt attempt to make it harder to register and vote, with the subtext being to discourage minority voters and give Republican candidates a boost. It took federal judges acting under the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to force at least some adjustments. The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today over whether to continue preclearance requirements, and if it overturns those requirements, it will harm voting equality and the fairness of the nation's elections."
Rep. Pafford Proposes Bill to Close Gun Shows Loopholes
Release: State Representative Mark Pafford Files Gun Scalping Bill "State Representative Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) has filed House Bill 1051, Sale or Transfer of Firearms at Gun Shows, which would allow only licensed gun dealers who perform background checks on purchasers to sell guns at gun shows. The current gun show loophole allows unlicensed people to sell or 'scalp' firearms at gun shows without conducting background checks. 'Right now, two out of every five guns sold in the United States are not subject to a background check,' said Rep. Pafford. 'Gun buyers that would be flagged by a background check, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers, fugitives from justice, individuals adjudicated as mentally ill, are now able to buy weapons unchecked. Background checks work."
Tant Names 4 Party Vice Chairs [The Florida Current] "Newly elected Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant announced the appointment of four top deputies Tuesday, including a specialist in political social media, drawn from important constituencies in different parts of the state as the party prepares for next year's race against Gov. Rick Scott. 'Democrats saw, first-hand, in 2012 that our power is not in Tallahassee but in communities across this state where hard-working Floridians are feeling the consequences of Rick Scott's wrong priorities, which continue to put corporations ahead of middle-class families,' Tant said."
Taddeo, Morano, Boylan and Spiller Get Florida Dems Posts [Orlando Sentinel]
Rep. Mark Danish Heads To Tallahassee For First Session [Tampa Tribune] "Recently elected state Rep. Mark Danish is getting a tutorial on the grueling schedule of political life as he prepares for his first legislative session, which begins next week. But he doesn't consider it much different than his full-time job as a seventh grade science teacher at Benito Middle School. His school days are nonstop from early mornings to late afternoons. 'As a teacher, I'm used to 30-minute lunches,' Danish said."
Rep. Lois Frankel Heading Up Effort To Recruit More Women Candidates [Tampa Bay Times]"Freshman Florida Rep. Lois Frankel was named today as one of two heads of the DCCC’s 'Women LEAD' effort to 'engage women in the democratic process and build a network of people around the country dedicated to electing more women to the House of Representatives. As trailblazing women themselves, Lois Frankel and Chellie Pingree are dedicated to improving the lives of women across this country and to recruiting and supporting more women running for office,' said Re. Steve Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 'Their commitment to the cause of women’s rights, and their natural leadership will expand opportunity for all women. The facts are clear: When women vote, Democrats win. Bringing even more Democratic women into the political process is a winning formula for our party.'"
Miami Company Fails After Getting Taxpayer-funded Tax Deal [Tampa Bay Times] "A Miami-Dade company that received a large tax incentive deal from the state of Florida folded last week, casting another black eye on the state’s job recruitment incentives program. Banah International Group, a sugar company, was approved for a “qualified target industry” tax credit worth $437,000…Gov. Rick Scott is asking the Legislature to approve nearly $300 million in incentives funding this year, a massive increase from about $111 million last year. Lawmakers are skeptical about the funding request, especially after at least three companies have gone bust in the last year after accepting taxpayer-funded incentives deals."
MEDICAID FIGHT REVEALS MORE DIVISIONS IN FL GOP
Will Florida’s GOP Legislature Thwart Rick Scott’s Medicaid Expansion? [Talking Points Memo] "Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s announcement last week that he supports the Medicaid expansion in Florida may not be enough to seal the deal. That’s because it still needs budget approval from the overwhelmingly Republican legislature, which has majorities of 28-12 in the Senate and 74-46 in the House, and is wary of going along with one of the key provisions of 'Obamacare.' Florida’s House Speaker Will Weatherford (R) told National Review he’s 'personally skeptical that this inflexible law will improve the quality of health care in our state and [e]nsure our long-term financial stability.' He said the legislature, not the governor, will have the final word."
Pam Bondi Criticizes 'Surrender' On Medicaid Expansion [Miami Herald] "A chorus of opposition is starting to take hold in the Florida Cabinet to Gov.Rick Scott’s stunning support for expanding Medicaid, with Attorney GeneralPam Bondi saying she objects to the idea. 'I am opposed to this dramatic expansion of Medicaid, because of the ultimate cost to Florida's taxpayers and because I don't think our state should surrender even more control over health care to the federal government,' Bondi said in an email Tuesday. Bondi, who helped lead a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act, has joined Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in forming a potentially persuasive bloc as the Medicaid expansion issue moves before lawmakers."
Another Day, Another Medicaid Expansion Poll [Tampa Bay Times] "According to PPP, 62 percent of 551 Florida voters polled support Medicaid expansion. This result is similar to two other polls conducted on behalf of non-profit groups urging the state to accept federal dollars to reduce the number of uninsured residents."
RUBIO GOES WASHINGTON, DOUBLES DOWN ON SEQUESTER, OBAMACARE REPEAL
Marco Rubio Courts Wall Street [Politico] "Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is moving swiftly behind the scenes to lock down some of Wall Street’s biggest donors ahead of the 2016 presidential race. In recent weeks, the rising GOP star and possible 2016 hopeful has quietly met with some of the most powerful GOP backers in the world of high finance. The roster includes Blackstone Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. CEO Henry Kravis and senior executives at Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital, among others. Rubio has gotten backing from big Wall Street titans before, notably hedge fund manager and billionaire Paul Singer."
Rubio On Fox: Sequester Not Ideal But Better Than Raising Taxes [Tampa Bay Times] "Sen. Marco Rubio appeared tonight on FOX News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor. On the sequester that is scheduled to take effect this upcoming Friday, March 1st: 'I do believe they'll happen on Friday. And, you know, Bill, let's be clear, I mean the solution to all these problems is rapid, dynamic economic growth. But we can't have rapid, dynamic economic growth if we don't bring our budget problems here under control. This is not the best way to do it, but it's better than raising taxes as an alternative and it's better than doing nothing.'"
Marco Rubio holds out hope for 'Obamacare' repeal [Tampa Bay Times] "As more Republican governors say expanding Medicaid is the right decision for their states, count U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio among those who disagree…Rubio believes the long-term costs of Medicaid expansion should gives these governor's pause, according to spokesman Alex Conant. Despite the law being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate and White House after November's election, Rubio is still is holding out hope for a repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
Marco Rubio Is Not the Republican Savior [New Republic] "Senator Marco Rubio's quick ascent in Republican politics, as Jonathan Chaithas pointed out, is the product of a convenient, simplistic electoral calculus: Mitt Romney lost partly because his opposition to immigration reform alienated an historic percentage of Latino voters. So who better to lead the GOP than Rubio, a charismatic Latino who promises to reverse the party's stance on immigration reform?...It easy to see why this explanation, repeated by certain media outlets, appeals to Republicans, since it offers the hope of returning to the White House without caving on core conservative principles—and without the divisive soul-searching demanded by the likes of Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or Jon Huntsman. But it might not save them from defeat in 2016."
FTU Ed Board on Outrages Failure of Scott's DOT
A Series of Outrages: Government Failed In Billboard Company Case [Florida Times Union Editorial] "For lessons in government failure, let’s look at a case involving more than 2,000 trees that were illegally removed from rights-of-way. Salter Advertising wanted to clear viewing zones for its billboards. There are clear rules for that. State law requires the company to include vegetation management plans or mitigation appraisals. If they aren’t included, the state Department of Transportation is supposed to return the application…The Florida Department of Transportation approved the permits anyway in what a January grand jury concluded was “in flagrant violation of the law.”…State Sen. Greg Evans, then a representative, and DOT District 3 Operations Director James Rodgers declined an invitation to appear before a grand jury. It took a decision to issue subpoenas to compel their attendance…Even after outrageous examples of poor performance, nobody at the Department of Transportation was sanctioned in any way, the grand jury reported…The governor needs to assign an auditor to look into everything connected to this cast of characters. What other sweetheart deals are out there? Based on the current track record, we shudder at the thought. Scott also should insist on a thorough review of the state’s system for protecting the environment in these cases."