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413 posts from April 2009

April 29, 2009

Florida's congressional Dems tell Charlie: hold strong on oil

Florida's Democratic Congressmen sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist today commending his opposition to the House bill opening the door to Cabinet approval of near-shore oil drilling off Florida's coasts.

The letter, written by Congressman Alcee Hastings, was signed by Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Castor, Grayson, Meek, Kosmas, Wexler, Brown, Boyd, Wasserman Schultz, and Klein.

"We urge you to continue to oppose this bill not only because it will jeopardize the stat'es $65 billion tourmist industry, which is the lifeblood of our economy, but also because it will do nothing to reduce energy prices,'' they wrote. Download Letter to Gov Crist re offshore drilling 4.29.09


DNC chair needs Broward condo -- and proofreader

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, will attend a May 8 fundraiser for the national party at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. He'll be back in town May 30 for the Florida Democratic Party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner.

There's a major typo on the invitation for the May 8 event. It says hosts include DNC Vice Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (the member of Congress) and Broward County Commissioner Debbie Wasserman Rubin. Who? That's Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, thank you very much, and she hyphenates her last name, unlike Wasserman Schultz.

Bitterly divided, House rejects unemployment cash

The House just voted unanimously to extend the length of unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks, but after an emotionally partisan debate Republicans rejected $444 million in federal stimulus dollars to expand who is eligible for compensation.

Democrats assailed the move as heartless and misguided, saying the state can scale back on eligibility after the crisis has passed. Republicans suggested that would be "fraud" and said the expansion would cost businesses more and hurt the economic recovery. The Democratic amendment failed 45-70.

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Gaetz explains his overhaul idea for Guv's energy commission

Sen. Don Gaetz, during chamber consideration of the clean and renewable energy bill, just withdrew his proposal to overhaul the Governor's Florida Energy & Climate Commission -- saying his only intention was to secure Florida's shot at applying for some $250-million in federal stimulus dollars for energy.

He said he proposed making the four-member Cabinet the new Florida Energy Commission so that the Cabinet members can apply for the federal bucks by this summer's deadline. It seems there have been delays and issues with the confirmation this session of new Commission members, and Gaetz worried that without a confirmed Commission, the application would be rejected.

Instead, he filed and got Senate OK for an amendment that simply extends the terms of current Commission members.

Gaetz, by the way, went down to the Governor's Office to explain all this yesterday shortly after the Naked Politics/Buzz posted word of the proposed overhaul.

Senate passes parimutuel bill 29-8

The Senate has passed it parimutuel bill 29-8, rejecting an amendment by Sen. Ronda Storms to raise the gambling age of the bill from 18 to 21.

Crist on Arlen Specter

Asked if the prospect of a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate majority would influence his decision of whether to run for Senate Crist said, "No. No. I don't think it will. I don't think it will."

Nor does Specter's party switch says much about the state of the GOP, according to the governor: "I guess it was based more on a sense that he was getting around the state of Pennsylvania. Maybe it's more about Pennsylvania and where the party there is than Washington. I don't know...."He's got to do what's in his heart. I'm sure it was a difficult decision for him to make. He's been in the party for an awful long time."

Democratic party calls Crist a quitter

Here's the new ad from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which says of Gov. Charlie Crist considering a Senate bid: "But now, the job's getting tough and Crist wants out -- leaving Floridians with the mess."

The ad is slated to run in Tallahassee starting tomorrow -- just as the Capitol winds down its annual lawmaking session and all eyes will be on Crist.

"The DSCC obviously knows they're in trouble in Florida because this reeks of desperation,'' said Amber Wilkerson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senate Committee. "Too bad they haven't learned that voters in the Sunshine State are looking for real solutions, accountability, and checks and balances in Washington -- not another round of pithy negative attacks."

House kills $30.76 million claims bill for man paralyzed in BSO crash

A bill to pay $30.76 million to a Broward man paralyzed after a Broward Sheriff's Office cruiser crashed into his car more than a decade ago is dead for this year after Rep. Rachel Burgin, a Brandon Republican and the bill's House sponsor, postponed the bill indefinitely on Wednesday.

Eric Brody was 18 years old in 1998 when a BSO deputy on his way to work struck his car, leaving Brody paralyzed and brain damaged. A jury awarded Brody $30.76 million in 2005, but sovereign immunity laws require a special act of the Legislature for anyone hurt by a government agency to collect more than $200,000.

A bill to compensate Brody passed the Senate overwhelmingly last week, but the bill has faced a tough road in the House, where it failed to get a vote in its only committee hearing.

If approved, the bill would have been the largest compensation bill to clear the Legislature. And in an effort to win support, the bill included a provision that allows BSO to let the Brodys pursue a bad-faith claim against the law enforcement agency's insurance company in exchange for an agreement not to collect the money from BSO.

Lobbyists for BSO have said the agency would rather reach a separate settlement with the family and have said the provision sets a precedent that would allow other families to collect larger payments from government entities.

The Brodys, who plan to push for the bill again next year, were frustrated by this year's outcome.

"I've learned that the politics take over from the reality," said Eric's father Charles Brody. "What should be and what is logical and what is fair doesn't happen and it turns into a political football game. A political football game with the lobbyists influencing the politicians."

Today, Irv has served

Former state Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, has finally seen his wish come to life. The House today, following a critical vote from the Senate, passed a Rep. Rich Glorioso's bill giving police the power to stop motorists solely for failing to buckle up. Today's Times/Herald story on the issue is here. We caught up with Slosberg as he left the House gallery.

Senate Sugar deal debate turns sour

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