Sen. John Thrasher is aware of and slightly annoyed by the buzz surrounding the rumors that he is the front-runner to replace outgoing Florida State University President Eric Barron. He blames it on friends in Tallahassee who know his affinity for FSU, but says he is not behind the not-so-quiet campaign.
"I can't control what they're doing," Thrasher said today. "I can control what I'm doing." He says his focus is the legislative session, which began this week, and continuing to work to get Gov. Rick Scott re-elected as his campaign chairman....
There is a large, bipartisan coalition that supports using federal Medicaid expansion dollars to provide insurance coverage to poor, working-class Floridians. But their efforts were blocked last year by House Republicans.
That hasn't stopped Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Miami, and Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, from trying again by filing identical bills asking for reconsideration of the failed plan. Both joined the League of Women Voters of Florida for a rally today where they implored the House GOP to "take the money."...
Leaders at Florida Polytechnic University briefed the Senate's education budget committee today on the school's progress, reporting that they will be ready to open for business in August 2014.
Of the 2,525 students who have applied for admission, 698 have been accepted as of Feb. 24. The school hopes to eventually accept up to 1,200 freshmen, transfer undergraduates and students seeking master's degrees in hopes that about 500 will actually enroll and serve as the school's first cohort of students....
vote on a controversial proposal that would outlaw abortions in Florida any time a doctor determined a fetus was viable was postponed indefinitely Wednesday.
Sponsor Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she asked to delay a vote on Senate Bill 918 because she started receiving calls from the pro-life community that indicated the proposal was being misinterpreted. She said she plans to work with these groups to make sure they understand the bill is intended to further limit abortions prior to the third trimester and expects the bill will be put on the agenda for next week's Health Policy Committee meeting....
03/04/14 State Roundup
Does state Sen. John Thrasher have his eye on the presidency at Florida State University, his beloved alma mater? That's what everybody seems to think.
Prominent FSU alumni and boosters are wondering if Thrasher, a well-regarded fundraiser, is the best man for the job being vacated by Eric Barron.
Thrasher, 70, isn't saying much, at least right now.
"Nobody's contacted me," he told the Times/Herald. "I haven't had any discussions with anybody. I know people are buzzing about it, but I plan on being the best senator I can be for the next two months and represent the people of District 6."...
After years of delay -- and some last-minute website concerns that slowed things down a few more weeks --- Florida's state-based health exchange has finally launched at www.myfloridachoices.org.
Florida Health Choices was the vision of then-House Speaker now U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. But it has changed in scope over the years, partially because the federal insurance marketplace tied to the Affordable Care Act stole lots of thunder from Rubio's pet project when it launched last year....
Senate President Don Gaetz began the second session of his two-year term by telling his colleagues they should be proud of what they have already accomplished while still striving to fulfill their 2014 agenda.
His speech began with a series of sports references and other metaphors. The Senate has finished the "front nine" and was focused on the clubhouse, but also "5K into a 10K run." It is both "halftime" of the football game and "midterms" for the educators in the room. ...
Does Sen. John Thrasher have his eye on the presidency at Florida State University, his beloved alma mater? That's what everybody seems to think.
Senate colleagues are wondering if 2014 will be 70-year-old Thrasher's final session even though he has filed papers to run for re-election later this year. Prominent FSU alumni and boosters are wondering if Thrasher, a well-regarded fundraiser, is the best man for the job being vacated by Eric Barron....
UPDATE: Here are more details on the State of the State rehearsal dustup.
The governor had reserved the House Chambers for a block of time Monday afternoon to practice his State of the State speech. The governor refused to start practicing his address while members of the media were watching and said he would rather leave instead.
Members of his staff communicated this to the House sergeant-at-arms. In an attempt to accommodate the governor, House staffers they told the members of the media in the gallery they had to leave....
TALLAHASSEE — Hillsborough and Pinellas hospitals are on track to lose $133 million next year as a new state law that spreads health dollars around the state takes full effect. And the biggest loser is Miami-Dade, whose hospitals are expected to take a $218 million hit.
The funding formula was a little-known part of Florida's 2011 Medicaid reform law, a Republican-driven overhaul of the federal/state insurance program for the poor. But its impact is only now becoming clear as the provision is scheduled to take effect in July. Hardest hit are hospitals in counties like Hillsborough, Pinellas and Miami-Dade that put their own residents' tax dollars toward the program....
This issue has received scant attention, likely because Florida's Republican leaders would rather not talk much about their decision to ask the federal government for more Medicaid dollars even as they rejected Medicaid expansion.
But U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, brought up the state's cash grab in a letter to House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz today wherein she implores them to support Medicaid expansion....
Florida has been limiting Medicaid patients to six emergency room visits a year even though federal officials consider such a cap illegal.
As a result, the federal government intends to penalize the state by withholding a portion of Medicaid funding.
"We hope the state will realign their Medicaid program with federal standards to avoid this penalty," said Emma Sandoe, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services....
From the News Service of Florida:
After more than two years of legal and political wrangling in the hospital industry, a Senate proposal would overhaul the way Florida approves trauma centers and could ensure that three disputed trauma facilities remain open.
The proposal, filed this week by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, could short-circuit a debate about how the Florida Department of Health determines where new trauma centers should be allowed to open....
After giving the two newest state university presidents over an hour each to outline their goals and vision, the state board that oversees all 12 institutions signed off on their contracts. That means Florida Atlantic University and Florida A&M University officially have new presidents: John Kelly and Elmira Mangum, respectively.
Here's more from the Florida Board of Governors press release:...
Florida State University's Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President Eric Barron effective April 2, waiving a provision in his contract that requires him to give 180 days notice.
During today's emergency meeting, Barron apologized to board members for how most of them found out he would be resigning to take the helm at Pennsylvania State University. Many of them learned the news Friday afternoon when it leaked on websites that cover Penn State. Barron told FSU board Chairman Allan Bense ahead of time but swore him to secrecy....