Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Tallahassee's tentative teamwork on voting

Bipartisanship is back in vogue in Tallahassee. That's a good sign.

With the start of the 2013 legislative session two weeks away, how long it lasts is anyone's guess. But so far, Democrats and Republicans seem more interested in results than petty partisanship, and on the issue that so deeply divided the parties in 2012: access to voting.

Bipartisan teamwork is harder than it looks, because the political system is designed for the two parties to be fighting. But that accomplishes nothing, and voters are tired of it.

Republicans realize they lost ground in the last election and know they have to quickly address voting problems that they created.

Democrats, still greatly outnumbered, are resisting the temptation to say "we told you so" at every turn in hopes of having a say in the final legislation.

That is not easy, as Rep. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, the House Democratic leader, is discovering.

At a meeting of House Democrats a few days ago, Thurston faced a mild rebellion from some lawmakers who demanded to know why the minority party seemed to be settling for so little.

"It's really preposterous. Ridiculous. Asinine," said Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, of a bill (HB 569) that would raise the cap on individual campaign contributions from $500 to $10,000 while requiring more transparency in reporting donations and outlawing the growing back-door practice of legislator-controlled soft-money funds.

"Disgusting. Deplorable," said Rep. Carl Zimmermann, D-Palm Harbor.

Two Democrats voted for the $10,000-cap in a committee; two others voted no. The bill passed 10-2.

Another freshman, Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, was discouraged that, so far, the elections bill doesn't make it easier to register voters and Democrats seem to be going along with that.

"There's so much more we can do. The leadership on the other side is boxing us in," Saunders said.

The House Democrats' lead negotiator on voting issues, Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa, voted for the elections package but called for changes to address the high number of absentee ballots thrown out because of minor mistakes.

"Too many absentee ballots were rejected in the recent election," Cruz said. "This bill in its current form does nothing to prevent disenfranchisement of those (voters)."

Thurston and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, are worlds apart in their political views but they get along well and they meet regularly as they did Monday, to touch base.

Thurston says Democrats have for too long drawn lines in the sand.

"The more you draw a line in the sand, the harder it is to move the line," Thurston said. "This is an opportunity to do more."

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Updated: 5 hours ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18