12/01/13 State Roundup
Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office recently blasted out a news release chock full of statistics about tourism in Florida including this phrase:
"As we move toward our third consecutive year of record tourism growth, it is clear why the Sunshine State remains the top travel destination across the world," stated the Nov. 15 news release.
The "top travel destination across the world"? Is the home state of Mickey Mouse kicking the derriere of tourist hot spots like France? We went on a virtual trip to find out....
11/17/13 State Roundup
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has been on a public relations mission to defend his plan to use federal Homeland Security data to search for noncitizens on the voting rolls.
The key to the revamped process is using a federal resource of data, called the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE.
Detzner defended the use of SAVE for voter registration purposes during a Nov. 4 Florida Senate hearing. He said using SAVE to check voter registration is one of its primary uses....
11/10/13 State Roundup
Former Gov. Charlie Crist wants voters to see a stark contrast between himself and Republican Gov. Rick Scott on public education.
In his announcement speech for the governor's race last week, Crist took credit for protecting teachers' jobs when he was the Republican-elected governor from 2007-2011. (He's now a Democrat.)
"I am proud of my record as the governor investing in public education, and stopping the layoffs of some 20,000 school teachers during the global economic meltdown."...
Charlie Crist’s first fundraiser tonight raised in the “half-million range,” estimated former state Sen. Steve Geller, one of the organizers.
That includes hard and soft money and some donors who showed up and said that they had already paid by credit card. (The actual amount won’t be publicly available until campaign finance reports are posted.)...
As Florida surges toward full implementation of Common Core State Standards for its public schools, the din is rising from some fronts to pull back.
Gov. Rick Scott, whose tea party base offers perhaps the most strident opposition, is listening. In open forums Scott requested last week, people stepped forward to give their views. Criticism ranged from what's taught in English class all the way to conspiracy theories involving iris scans. ...
Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been traveling around the state in recent months, asking voters to give him ideas about what sort of taxes and fees to cut to save $500 million. Democratic challenger and former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, though, says Florida needs to talk about which services to fund.
"We need to be taking a long hard look at funding the critical needs of the state," she said last month, adding, "We have 75,000 on (a) waiting list for child care and 23,000 on waiting lists for CCE (in-home living assistance for the elderly). These are the middle class people we're talking about."...
President Barack Obama has repeatedly accused his opponents of playing politics and causing a government showdown.
But Obama's critics are fighting back, especially on social media. Over the past weekend, claims abounded on Twitter that Obama is making the shutdown more severe in order to pressure House Republicans.
Among the more dramatic claims: Obama tried to shut down the Amber Alert system that locates abducted children. And he tried to shut down the ocean....
10/06/13 State Roundup
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has a message for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who doesn't want Obamacare "navigators" spreading the word about the health care law: Relax. We've had similar folks helping Floridians navigate health care programs for many years.
"State officials have so far failed to mention that these 'consumer helpers' have been serving the people of Florida in various ways for years — and, yes, even with the current governor's full backing," Nelson wrote in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed. "In fact, many state and federal agencies have such 'navigators' involved in helping folks maneuver through the often complex processes associated with filing benefits claims, for example — even buying health insurance."...
"Over the past 35 years, Florida families have paid into the (National Flood Insurance Program) over $16 billion, four times more than the amount they have received in claim reimbursements."
Gov. Rick Scott, in a letter to Florida's U.S. senators
The National Flood Insurance Program, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, started in 1968. More than 5 million property owners nationwide hold flood insurance, and about 20 percent are subsidized....
As Florida drivers on Tuesday faced a new law banning texting while driving, state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, unveiled a proposed bill that would toughen the existing law.
Under current law, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement authorities can't pull over a driver simply for texting; they must spot another violation. Sachs wants to change the law to make texting while driving a primary offense....
As he faces re-election next year, Republican Gov. Rick Scott says he wants to put money back in taxpayers’ pockets. He touts aproperty tax cut he got in 2011 (in reality, a smidgen), a pay hike for teachers in 2013 and now his proposal to cut $500 million in taxes or fees....
Florida's effort to search for noncitizens on the voter rolls launched a firestorm in the weeks leading up to the 2012 presidential election.
Gov. Rick Scott's initiative was lampooned on The Daily Show; the U.S. Department of Justice cried foul; and Democrats held a news conference to tout errors on the list, including a Brooklyn-born World War II vet flagged as potentially not being a citizen....
09/10/13 State Roundup
FORT LAUDERDALE — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday launched his four-day image-rebuilding "listening tour" to promote his call for cuts of $500 million in taxes and fees, making stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.
Scott did not spell out any specific taxes or fees he wanted to cut, but entertained ideas from mostly business owners in both South Florida cities.
"My primary goal next session will be to reduce taxes and fees in the state by $500 million," Scott told the crowd in Fort Lauderdale....
As Florida kids enjoyed the last lazy days of summer, political players were squabbling about a series of hot education controversies.
In a split vote, the state Board of Education decided to soften school grades. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint challenging the state's race-based education goals. Sen. Marco Rubio came out against federal Common Core standards — putting him at odds with the state's other potential Republican presidential contender, Jeb Bush. And Bush bashed conservative pundits' claims about Common Core....
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, held a presser today at the National Council of La Raza in Miami to highlight how the sequester is hurting the poor in Florida.
"Because of these across the board cuts Florida is looking at losing 750 teachers," she said, and Head Start "will likely have to serve 1,200 fewer children across Florida." Wasserman Schultz mentionned that some Head Start programs have shut down -- she didn't immediately know whether that included any in Florida....