With an eye toward the 2012 elections, Florida Republicans are mounting the broadest assault on their Democratic counterparts since taking control of the Legislature 15 years ago.
Bills barreling through the House and Senate attempt to starve Democrats’ of their primary sources of cash and halt partisan gains of the last two election cycles. With Republican super-majorities in both chambers, Democrats can’t stop them.
On Thursday, the House passed a bill to block new voter registration drives that helped sweep President Obama into the White House and gave Democrats an edge of more than 600,000 votes.
Republicans are also moving litigation reform bills that make it more difficult for trial lawyers, big contributors to Florida Democrats, to mount or profit from lawsuits against hospitals, HMOs, nursing homes, insurers and others. Another large Democratic donor – unions – would be starved of campaign cash through legislation that would sever payroll deductions, a key union fundraising tool. They’re also effectively cutting worker salaries, making it harder for public employees to contribute to unions.
Meanwhile, Republicans have passed measures that could add to their nearly absolute power in the Capitol: New campaign finance laws that would increase fundraising power while the push to de-regulate private business, insurers and developers would lift burdens from traditional GOP contributors.