TALLAHASSEE — For the second time in two months, Gov. Rick Scott's administration has acknowledged it inadvertently released confidential personal data of private citizens, prompting the state to offer free credit monitoring services to protect people from identity theft.
The Department of State said it released names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of about 13,000 people who were on waiting lists for services for the developmentally disabled in 2003, when Jeb Bush was governor. The information was included in emails that the state released last year to Bush, who's exploring a run for president in 2016....
05/26/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Hoping to break the Legislature's worst budget stalemate in two decades, the Senate tweaked its Medicaid expansion plan Tuesday in the face of continued opposition from the House and Gov. Rick Scott.
It didn't work.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, slammed the idea and Scott stepped up his criticism of what he called the Senate's "Obamacare Expansion Plan" and accused his fellow Republicans of trying to impose higher taxes on Floridians....
05/26/15 BlogSenate President Andy Gardiner on Tuesday offered a revamped version of a health care expansion proposal in an effort to gain House support and a possible breakthrough in advance of next week's special session on the budget. The revised bill addresses a number of House criticisms of the Senate's proposal.
The changes to the Senate health care plan (formerly SB 7044 and now called SB 2A) include eliminating a requirement that patients in the Senate FHIX plan (Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange) must first enroll in a Medicaid managed care plan for six months; revises enrollees' searches for jobs to be through the state workforce portal, known as Career Source; gives patients the option of enrolling in health care plans available on a federal health care exchange; and prohibits the state from seeking a federal waiver to implement FHIX that varies significantly from the legislation.
"These adjustments are the product of feedback from senators, constituents and other stakeholders and together represent a continued effort by the Senate to advance solutions and build consensus around a fiscally responsible expansion of health care coverage," Gardiner said in a statement. "This Florida solution will improve access to health care for low income Floridians and mitigate the impact to our economy as we transition from LIP to a more sustainable solution to the health care challenges facing our state. The amendment maintains, but strengthens, the core principles of the FHIX plan which earned the overwhelming bipartisan support of the Senate, as well as the endorsement of an extensive coalition of business and community leaders across Florida."...
The Florida Legislature's regular session was short on accomplishments, all right.
Want proof? There won't be a "Furry Friends of Florida" specialty license plate this year.
Furry Friends is a very respected program. But you know something is wrong when the Legislature can't approve a tag that promotes pet adoptions.
More than two dozen other new tags got spiked, too, during a session that was cut off early by the House. But six new ones will recognize decorated veterans....
05/22/15 State Roundup
For Gov. Rick Scott, the campaign never ends.
He can't run for governor again, but he's still collecting six-figure campaign donations from special interests that have a direct stake in legislation he will sign or veto. The money buys TV ads featuring Scott, still looking and sounding like a candidate, walking across a big green cutout of Florida, "where dreams come true."...
While the Senate and House scrambled last week to agree on terms of a proclamation for a special session, Gov. Rick Scott had followed through on a threat to draft his own proclamation -- and on his terms.
Those terms specifically excluded any discussion of Medicaid expansion that the Senate wants. Scott's document said "specifically excluding legislation expanding Medicaid eligibility." The Senate would never agree to such a blanket restriction, and besides, lawmakers didn't want Scott setting the agenda for a session that will be dominated by the development of a budget that is a legislative duty. Here's Scott's special session draft proclamation.
The "black and tan" are about to get a new leader.
Col. David Brierton is retiring after a 32-year career at the Florida Highway Patrol, including the past four as its director, and he will officially leave the state payroll on May 31. Brierton attended his last trooper graduation ceremony Wednesday in Tallahassee and had some inspiring words for the latest crop of state troopers patrolling Florida's highways....
TALLAHASSEE — The federal government told Florida on Thursday that the state will need $1 billion next year to maintain a hospital payment program that's at the center of a political stalemate preventing passage of a new state budget.
In a letter to state health officials, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said the $1 billion would "maintain stability while the system transitions" to new ways of compensating hospitals for the high cost of treating poor patients, a program known as LIP or low income pool....
05/21/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Federal health officials told Florida Thursday that the state should expect big reductions in future years for a hospital payment program that's at the crux of a political stalemate blocking passage of a new state budget.
In a letter to state health officials, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the state may justify needing about $1 billion in government funding for uncompensated care next year, or less than half of what it got this year, and even less in subsequent years. That's a clear message from Washington that Florida needs to reform its hospital payment system....
Florida lawmakers want the upcoming special session to get off to a smooth start, but the Senate first needs to overcome a procedural speed bump.
The goal is for the House and Senate to start joint budget conference committee negotiations as quickly as possible after June 1. But under Senate rules, a bill (in this case, the budget and related measures) cannot be debated on the Senate floor without any committee deliberations in a special session unless all senators agree because the budget is being carried over from the regular session, when the Senate voted for it (a 36-0 vote on April 1)....
TALLAHASSEE — Justice isn't blind after all.
Florida's highest-ranking jurist, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga of the state Supreme Court, has laid down the law: Every judge must wear a solid black robe in court at all times, and with no "embellishment."
From now on, colored robes are banned in courtrooms, and no embellishment means nothing else — not even a cross or tiny American flag....
Gov. Rick Scott's daily schedule for Tuesday contains this unadorned entry: "11:30 a.m., meeting with Tim Goldfarb, Gainesville, FL."
Oh, that Tim Goldfarb. Scott agreed to meet with the health care executive, but he dissed Goldfarb when he asked to be appointed to the governor's new Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding. News accounts have noted that the nine-member commission includes a real estate developer, Carlos Beruff; a banker, Tom Kuntz; a former parks and rec director, Eugene Lamb; and an "integrated beef consultant," Ken Smith....
State agencies on Monday met Gov. Rick Scott's deadline to list critical services that could be affected by a possible government shutdown if lawmakers cannot agree on a budget for the state by June 30.
Scott got a hodgepodge of responses. Some of the documents paint a picture of what agency heads see as the most essential functions that shouldn’t be interrupted by a budget stalemate, while others highlight what could be cut in the event of a shutdown....
They sound angry, disappointed and embarrassed.
But they still have hope.
Floridians are writing to their legislators to tell them how they blew it by ending a regular session with no budget, and without addressing the state's long-term health care needs.
Their clicking keyboards reflect their frustration.
"I would hope that you legislators can get your act together," Larry Risk of Lake Placid wrote to Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring. "Pass a budget bill and expand Medicaid for the good of the state of Florida."...
Florida Senate and House leaders said late Friday that they have agreed to the scope of a special session starting June 1.
The session became necessary after the two chambers failed to reach an agreement on a budget last month in a standoff over health care spending.
In a joint proclamation issued shortly after 6 p.m., Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said the session will include the budget “and conforming bills which were poised for conference” during the regular session that House leaders ended early....