Key lawmakers divided on being seen with Crist
House budget writer David Rivera says he'll refuse to appear in public at any post-session ceremony with Gov. Charlie Crist today. But Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander says he'll gladly appear with Crist, despite their many philosophical differences this session. "He's our governor. I'd always welcome him. That would be great," said Alexander, R-Lake Wales. "How he runs for another office is another issue for another day. We're here to do our job. Our job is to try to build a budget, working as collegially as possible with our governor, and I have no angst standing beside him at any time." Rivera, who's running for Congress in Miami, likened Crist to the traitor Benedict Arnold for his decision to discard the Republican label and run as a nonpartisan Senate candidate. House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, also stopped short of saying he would appear in public with the governor today. "Let's wait and see if we're going to get out of here on time," Cretul said.
Call goes out for PSC nominees
The Public Service Commission Nominating Council released a call for applications for the two positions recently opened by the Senate's rejection of Gov. Crist's two picks. The deadline is May 17. The position pays $130,036. Council Chairman Lee Constantine hopes to have the applicants interviewed by June 17. Will the recent rejection by the Senate have a chilling effect on potential applicants? "I would hope not," Constantine said. "For public service, there is always going to be good Floridians to apply."
Bills headed to the governor's desk
Three bills are headed to Gov. Crist after votes Thursday:
• HB 31, a weakened school prayer bill inspired by a Florida Panhandle lawsuit, received final passage 27-9 in the Senate. It would bar schools from infringing on the First Amendment freedoms of teachers, staff members or students unless they sign a written waiver of those rights.
• HB 7069, a bill to tighten screening of caregivers for children, seniors and disabled people, received final passage in the Senate on a unanimous vote. The bill would prohibit applicants from working before their screening has been completed and require all to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check.
• HB 1455, a bill making it illegal to impersonate military veterans when soliciting donations, unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would make it a felony to misrepresent oneself as a veteran or member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, in order to collect donations from the public.
Times/Herald staff writers Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas; Associated Press