Reacting to news Sen. Marco Rubio enrolled his family in Obamacare, and took the generous federal subsidy, Charlie Crist whipped up this column his campaign is shopping around to news outlets. Crist says Rubio endorsed the law but that's off the mark. Lawmakers were basically shoved off (thanks to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley) their gold-plated health care plans and sent to the Obamacare exchange. Rubio chose that over selecting coverage in the free market -- which would have denied him the subsidy. Of that subsidy, a form of the employer contribution most of us get, Rubio said he would support efforts to get rid of it. (That won't happen.)
Senator Marco Rubio’s endorsement of Obamacare for his own family should end the rhetoric coming from Governor Rick Scott and other tea party groups. As many news outlets reported recently, in addition to enrolling his family through the new exchange, Rubio is also receiving federal subsidies – this is good news for his family. …Full Story
New York Times
How Florida House members voted on the budget deal:Full Story
WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio didn't wait for the bipartisan budget accord to drop before calling it a failure, on Sean Hannity's radio show.
When the deal — approved 332-94 Thursday by the House — was announced this week, the Florida Republican instantly issued a strongly worded statement then continued the offensive on Mike Huckabee's radio show and Fox News.Full Story
Rubio has a new favorite cause, putting him at odds with Rep. Paul Ryan and other Republicans keen to move beyond budget cliffhangers, show the public they can get things done and break the growing stronghold of outside groups such as Heritage Action. …
Troubled Citizens Property Insurance is proposing to spend more than $1 million annually on an attorney who, according to the job description, wouldn't spend much time in a courtroom.
On Friday, the Citizens Board of Governors will decide whether to have West Palm Beach attorney Scott Link oversee all claims litigation and manage the law firms that contract with with the insurance company.
Link's hourly fee is $525 -- and is expected to add up to $1.05 million annually.
Critics say that's an outrageous expense for an entity already besieged by allegations of excessive executive spending. They also note that Link once worked with Tom Grady, a former interim Citizens chief and close ally of Gov. Rick Scott.
"This is another insider government giveaway," said state Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. "Citizens is subsidizing its friends and family using policy-holders' money."
Neither Link nor Grady not returned calls seeking comment.
Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier said politics did not factor into the recommendation.
"This contract was competitively bid," Peltier said. "The evaluators were folks within Citizens who are on the ground, trying these cases and paying these claims."
Read more here.Full Story
The race for the 2016 Florida Senate presidency between Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Joe Negron, R-Stuart, appears close and unpredictable. But in the all-important contest of raising money to help win over and elect allies in the state senate, Negron is blowing Latvala out of the water.
Stuart's political committee, Treasure Coast Alliance, raised $961,000 in its first month and spent just $742. Top donors included MCNA Health Care Holdings LLC, Florida Power & Light, Florida Power & Light, and Coral Gables health-care executive Miguel Fernandez, each of whom gave $50,000. Fernandez is also the top donor to Rick Scott's Let's Get to Work committee, giving $1-million earlier this year.
Latvala's Florida Leadership Committee has raised $269,000 since mid-September, including $145,000 transferred from a prior Latvala committee. Top donors included Bayfront 2011 Development LLC, which wants to bring a resort casino to Miami and gave $30,000 and the public employees union ASCME, which gave $25,000.Full Story
State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay. He makes clear his interest in serving as Rick Scott's running mate, brushes off criticism of Adam Hollingsworth for resume inaccuracies, and discusses the 2014 legislative session. Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Here's a clipFull Story
It's been remarked before about how the troubles with the state's new $63-million unemployment website resemble those of the federal healthcare.gov website.
Charlie Crist, Rick Scott's opponent in the 2014 gubernatorial race, spotlighted that comparison on Thursday in an interview with the Times/Herald and said it's much worse in Florida.
"What I see from the Obama administration is an acknowledgment of a problem," Crist said. "What I see here in Florida is a pattern of non-transparency and outright deception. It's night and day, with the Obama administration being the day and the Scott administration being night. It's the people's right to know what's going on."
Since the launch of the CONNECT website, thousands of recipients have complained about glitches and delayed processing in claims. While state officials say that the technical issues are getting resolved, they acknowledge problems persist. …Full Story
News Service of Florida reports:
A St. Petersburg-based blogger who has consulted for a number of prominent politicians resigned from the Tallahassee-based Florida Press Association last week after objections were raised by other members of the organization.
Dean Ridings, press association president and CEO, said Peter Schorsch, creator and editor of the influential SaintPetersBlog, which is followed by many journalists, politicians and lobbyists across the state, was advised of the objections and that he "offered" his resignation.
Schorsch said Thursday that while he wanted to be a member, and is increasing ethical guidelines for his blog, part of his decision was due to being "taunted" by certain members of the media.
"While I am sure me being a member of the FPA would have been mutually beneficial to me and the organization, it was simply not worth the effort to fight for admission to that particular club," Schorsch said in an email.
Shortly after SaintPetersBlog was granted membership, Schorsch was the subject of a less-than-flattering piece Nov. 15 by the Tampa Bay Times.
Ridings called the Times report an "interesting story." …Full Story
Two Miami-Dade lawmakers and a coalition of dentists are pushing back against a proposal to eliminate the state's prepaid dental health plan for children.
The Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, has proposed having Medicaid plans take over dental services for children. It's part of a larger shift to a Statewide Medicaid Managed Care model.
But state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, says Florida should keep its prepaid dental plan for kids.
"The fact is, we have a program in place right now that works," Flores said.
The prepaid dental health plan serves about 1.8 million children. It started in Miami-Dade County in 2004, and was expanded statewide last year.
State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, expressed concern that the $200 million Florida allocates for children's dental care benefits will soon be used to serve both children and adults. "I would compare this to taking from little Peter to give to Uncle Paul, Aunt Mary and neighbor Joe," he said.
Diaz and Flores are sponsoring bills that would require AHCA to keep the prepaid dental program.
The Coalition for Independent Dentistry expressed its support for the plan Thursday in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott. …Full Story
A bipartisan Senate initiative aimed at a “broad range” of issues related to violent sexual predators and the Department of Children & Families is expected to be announced by Christmas, Senate President Don Gaetz said Thursday.
“I think you will see in the next few days a bipartisan initiative in the Senate to address the issue of sexually violent predators and the broader issues associated with foster children and related issues in DCF,” Gaetz,R-Niceville, said at a press breakfast.
While he didn’t outline specifics, Gaetz said that Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and other senators have been working on these issues over the summer.
The first Democrat challenge incumbent Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater was a disaster, but this new guy has his own set of troubles.
William Rankin, a Fort Lauderdale businessman, faces questions about his resume and recently missed a financial reporting deadline. Now that his November fundraising totals have been posted online, we see there isn't much there.
$151. That's what Rankin raised in cash in November. Of course, that's a six-fold increase from his October haul of $25. He keeps his fledgling campaign afloat using $10,600 he loaned to himself.
Meanwhile, Republican Atwater has $814,756 on hand after raising $235,825 in November.
Rankin filed his paperwork at the beginning of October and announced his candidacy on Oct. 22. He says he is focused on traveling the state and getting to know Democrats around Florida, not raising money.
"There's a lot of time out there," he told the Times/Herald today.
As far as the people questioning his business background and military service, Rankin says he ignores them. "I don't pay any attention to it only because it's not true," he said. …Full Story
Former Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a series of unpopular increases in car and truck registration and license fees, which were supported overwhelmingly by Republicans in the Legislature -- and opposed by a lot of Democrats.
The tag fees were part of a bill dealing with highway safety issues (SB 1778) that passed in the 2009 session by a 40-0 vote in the Senate and by 74-43 in the House. The bill's sponsor was then-Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who said he did so in his role as chairman of a budget subcommittee overseeing the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
"It was always our understanding that these fees would be short-term," Fasano said Thursday. "We were absolutely desperate."
Every single Republican and Democrat in the Senate voted for them and, a roll call vote shows, every Democrat in the House voted against them. …Full Story
It's no surprise that Gov. Rick Scott has plenty of support among legislative leaders for his plan to announce in Tampa this afternoon his proposal to cut auto registration fees in next year's budget.
After all, the Senate's plan to do the same, SB 156 , has picked up strong support and looks like an easy sell in next year's legislative session, which begins in March.
But there is a big difference between the two. Scott wants to cut auto registration fees by $401 million. The senate bill, which is sponsored by budget chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, only slashes them by $233 million. Though lawmakers are expected to be facing a surplus of $1 billion, that $168 million difference between the two plans is no small thing.
Yet so far, at least, Republican leaders are shrugging that this difference won't be too difficult to bridge.
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said he was happy that Scott was supporting the car fee reduction while downplaying the differences.
"We welcome the governor getting on Joe Negron's bandwagon," Gaetz said. "He's pushing it a little bit faster, but that's good." …Full Story
Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday will propose rolling back a series of car and truck registration fees that the state raised in 2009 to plug a multi-billion dollar budget hole that year. His plan would reduce fees by $401 million beginning on Sept. 1 of next year and would save the typical motorist $25.05 a year, according to a document provided by the governor's office.
The governor's figures say the annual cost to register a typical car (about 3,500 pounds) would decrease from $71.85 to $46.80.
The biggest single savings for motorists would be the base fee for a registration, which would drop from $44 to $32.50 a year, or a savings of $11.50.
A $2.50 registration "service charge" would be eliminated. Here are the other specific fees that Scott proposes to scale back and by how much:
* Automated license plate validation sticker printer service fee, from $3 to $1;
* A special surcharge on all vehicles for juvenile justice programs, from $5.50 to $1;
* A state transport surcharge on all vehicles, from $4 to $2;
* A reflective material fee, from $1.50 to $.50;
* A Florida Real Time Vehicle Information System fee, from $1.25 to $.50; …Full Story
Sen. Marco Rubio was asked on Fox News tonight about his enrollment in Obamacare. If others must, he said, so should he.
He defended taking the federal subsidy, a form of the employer contribution many Americans get, but said he would support getting rid of it, as Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida and other Republicans have proposed.
"But in the interim, i'm going to follow whatever law applies to everybody else," Rubio said. The difference, however, is most Americans don't enjoy a contribution worth up to 75 percent of the cost of monthly premiums, or more than $11,000 for a family. Other Republicans have opted to reject the subsidy, or rejected joining the federal exchange all together. Full Story