PANEL TO LOOK AT STATE-RUN HOSPITALS
Gov. Rick Scott, who made millions running a private hospital company, issued an order Wednesday to create a panel to take a close look at state-run hospitals. The Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts will "consider whether government-run hospitals are in the best interest of taxpayers and recommend a cost-effective and efficient model for providing Florida with a health care safety net." Scott has charged the commission with reviewing access to care, doctor compensation and "predictable costs to taxpayers" for the state's 30 or so public hospitals. Also on the agenda: reviewing the sale or lease of proposals of public hospitals — an issue that has come up in recent weeks in Miami, after a Boston-based company proposed to buy Jackson Memorial Hospital. The panel will be chaired by Dominic Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch, a self-styled budget watchdog group heavily supported by business interests. There are no state-run hospitals in the Tampa Bay area.
Area man gets regulatory post
Ken Lawson, a former Marine and federal prosecutor, was named head of the Division of Business and Professional Regulation. Lawson is currently treasurer of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. He was elected to the post in 2009, and headed up the party's candidate development committee. His previous job experience includes a stint as assistant secretary of enforcement in the Treasury Department, appointed by then-President George W. Bush. In that job, he oversaw a staff of more than 50 attorneys and investigators and had oversight of federal law enforcement agencies responsible for protection of America's financial system.
Bills target baggy pants, bestiality
Students should not wear clothing that exposes their underwear or body parts in school, and people should not have sex with animals, agreed the Senate as it moved to a final vote on bills against sagging pants and bestiality. Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, called his "code of student conduct" legislation "a pro-family, pro-education, pro-jobs bill," though he did not explain how keeping kids from exposing their boxers would decrease unemployment. The effort to make bestiality illegal has been pushed by Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston. "I don't even want to speculate why" there would be opposition to making sex with animals a first-degree misdemeanor, said Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico.
Scott promotes British-Florida ties
Gov. Scott met with the British ambassador to the United States to discuss ways the two economies can become better inter-connected. Already 44,000 Floridians depend on U.K. investments for their jobs, said Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, and Florida's exports to the U.K. totaled $1 billion in 2010. A delegation from the U.K. will be heading to Florida next week to discuss potential partnerships with Florida's space industry. And Scott said he will be going to London at some point to meet with U.K. officials about future partnerships. No date for that trip was announced.
Times/Herald staff writers Patricia Mazzei, Aaron Sharockman and Janet Zink contributed to this report, which uses information from the Associated Press.