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319 posts from March 2012

March 29, 2012

Connie Mack skips party line vote on the Ryan budget

The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 228-191 to pass the so-called "Ryan budget, " the House spending plan for the year.

None of Florida's Democrats voted for the bill. The state's Republicans all voted for it, although press releases trumpeting their votes are mysteriously absent. The budget, considered an election-year manifesto, has been embraced by GOP presidential and congressional candidates, but panned by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. It won't pass in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.

Not voting on it? Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, whose spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times  that the congressman was campaigning in Florida. Mack, who's running for U.S. Senate, missed all 25 House votes cast this week.

Scott approves controversial Medicaid billing law

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott office has formally announced that he has signed HB 5301, despite intense lobbying from counties and the Tea Party for a veto. He also took the unusual step of submitting a letter to the Secretary of State explaning his willingness to work with counties to address their concerns about the bill.

Download Scott HB 5301 letter

Florida Association of Counties President Doug Smith said the bill “represents the worst kind of body blow to taxpayers.”

“Rather than correcting Tallahassee’s error-ridden Medicaid billing system, H.B. 5301 codifies it and leaves local taxpayers with the bill,” said Smith, a Martin County commissioner, via email.

Continue reading "Scott approves controversial Medicaid billing law" »

Scott pens letter to New York CEOs: 'Do you like paying higher taxes?'

Gov. Rick Scott’s big announcement on national TV on Thursday? He’s writing a letter to New York’s top CEOs, asking them to move their companies to Florida.

On a much-hyped appearance on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Scott’s big reveal was a letter he wrote to New York’s top 100 CEOs, letting them know that they’d be wise to leave New York’s high-tax business climate and come to the Sunshine State.

His letter begins: “Do you like paying higher taxes to do business in New York? As a former CEO and entrepreneur, I know my answer to that question is absolutely not. After meeting with several business leaders in New York this week and hearing about the issues they face, I am convinced that every company in New York should be doing business in Florida.”

The letter goes on to highlight the various business advantages Florida has over New York.  

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In Washington this week, Pam Bondi led GOP legal efforts to overturn the health care law

WASHINGTON -- Blessed with sound bite sensibilities in an all-male scrum of long-winded gray suits, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi stood out in Washington this week as the unofficial spokeswoman for the 26 states that challenged the health care law to the Supreme Court.

Elected in 2010, the telegenic former state prosecutor and former Fox News legal commenter inherited the lawsuit from former Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum. But she campaigned on the issue herself, and has seized it as her own since taking office at the beginning of 2011.

Beaming on Wednesday after the historic three-day arguments in front of the Supreme Court, Bondi said she thought it went "very well, once again." And insisted that Florida’s opposition to the signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s administration is on constitutional, not political grounds.

"As attorneys general, we keep going back to the constitutionality, because that’s our job," she said. "We’re not here to debate health care policy. It’s all about the Constitution and following the law."

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Rick Scott responds to New Black Panther Party "bounty" on Trayvon Martin's shooter

Another day, another twist in the Trayvon Martin case.

There's now a potentially anti-white group called the "New Black Panther Party," which is calling for the vigilante-style arrest of alleged vigilante-style shooter George Zimmerman. And, in response, Gov. Rick Scott has issued this written statement:

"We have taken steps to ensure that the investigation into the tragic death of Trayvon Martin is fair, measured and thorough.  Justice is ill served when there is a rush to judgment.  We are a nation of laws and we must let the legal system work.  Talk of bounties and retribution has no place in this dialogue, and they compound tragedy with tragedy."

The Orlando Sentinel has more on the New Black Panthers.

Appeals court validates legislators' legal shield, throws out lower court ruling

In a precedent-setting legal opinion, First District Court of Appeals Judge Phil Padovano ruled today that legislators are entitled to the common law immunity from prosecution and cannot be compelled to testify about how they arrived at their decisions. Download 1st DCA ruling on legislative immunity

The ruling reversed a trial court decision that had forced Rep. Rick Kriseman, a St. Petersburg Democrat, and his aide to testify about the source of legal documents they obtained during the 2011 legislative debate over how to tax online travel companies.

Expedia had subpoenaed Kriseman and his aide, David Flintom, so they could ask how they obtained confidential company documents that were sealed as part of the court record in a Georgia case over online travel company taxes. Download Flintom - subpoena for deposition on 11-04-2011The lower court ruled that the legislators and his aide could be deposed but required that the questions be limited.

Padovano disagreed with the lower court, threw out the subpoena and quashed the decision. He acknowledged that in Florida, unlike other states, the courts have "not yet directly held that a member of the state legislature is entitled to claim a testimonial privilege."

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Gov. Rick Scott, Board of Governors chairman disappointed in FAMU for allowing anti-hazing committee to meet in private

UPDATE TWO (6:55 p.m.): Now Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson is asking FAMU trustees to reverse their decision about the anti-hazing committee. Read his letter here.

UPDATE (5:45 p.m.): The Board of Trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to discuss the antihazing committee. No further details were given, but we think we know what it's about...


Saying Florida A&M is in a "time of turmoil," Gov. Rick Scott scolded university trustees this week for allowing an anti-hazing committee to meet in private.

"I am extremely concerned about the Committee's compliance with Florida's Sunshine Laws," he said in a letter to chairman Solomon Badger. "Who will monitor whether the members are toggling between fact-finding and possible ppolicy and procedural changes that would make such a meeting subject to Florida's Sunshine Laws?"

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How long did it take Connie Mack to finish college?

George LeMieux depicts Florida Republican U.S. Senate rival Connie Mack as a man who vaulted from college party boy to congressman. And those college days, well, they lasted awhile, according to LeMieux.

In the Web ad "Two and a Half Macks" LeMieux says that  "Connie the IV took seven and a half years to finish college," while showing a buffoonish-like Mack wearing a T-shirt that says "Kollege" and dancing around in front of a University of Florida sign.

We’ve already checked other claims in the same February 2012 Web ad including that Mack "failed to pay his child support" (False) and whether his only job in the real world was an events coordinator for Hooters (Mostly False). In this item, PolitiFact explores how long it took Mack to finish college.

Q Poll: Sen. Bill Nelson surging, beating Rep. Connie Mack 44-36

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson holds a solid 8 percentage-point lead over one of his potential rivals, Congressman Connie Mack, in a new poll that shows Democrats are gaining political ground in Florida.

Nelson beats Mack by a 44-36 percent margin – a shift of 7 percentage points in Nelson’s favor since January, when the two were essentially tied, according to Quinnipiac University’s Polling Institute. Nelson’s 8-point lead is outside the poll’s 2.8 percent error margin.

Quinnipiac, however, didn’t poll former Republican Sen. George LeMieux, who’s running against Mack for their party’s nomination. Previous polls showed Mack comfortably in the lead in the GOP primary.

But, as the economy has improved and the fortunes of the Republican Party diminished, Democrats are picking up momentum in Florida. President Obama now leads Republican Mitt Romney, whom Mack supports.

 “President Barack Obama’s surge in Florida is helping Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election chances,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac’s polling institute. “Just as President Obama’s lead in the presidential race in the Sunshine State is fueled by female voters, so too is Nelson’s.”

Among female voters, Nelson leads Mack by 46-32 percent margin. That’s an 8 percentage-point shift in the incumbent’s favor. Similarly, Obama has surged with women, who appear to have begun cooling to the Republican Party amid the fight over federally mandated insurance contraceptive coverage.

Continue reading "Q Poll: Sen. Bill Nelson surging, beating Rep. Connie Mack 44-36" »

March 28, 2012

Marco Rubio endorsing Mitt Romney (but Jeb's a better choice for VP)

Florida Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney -- just a week after his political mentor, Jeb Bush, threw in with the party's frontrunner.

Rubio's endorsement is another sign that Romney is viewed as the party's inevitable nominee and that the GOP establishment is growing more concerned with the protacted primary that has dragged down Romney's poll numbers.

"I don't have a problem with primaries," Rubio told Sean Hannity. "But I think we're at a stage now where at least two of the candidates have openly admitted that the only way they're going to be able to win the nomination is to have a floor fight in Tampa in August. I don't think there's anything good about that. There is no way that anyone can convince me that having a floor fight at the convention in Tampa in August is a recipe for victory in November. On the contrary. I think it's a recipe for disaster. So I just don't think that's a wise route to go."

Asked if he is endorsing Romney, Rubio said "I am going to endorse Mitt Romney.... He offers such a stark contrast to the president's record."

Rubio said he's convinced of two things: "No. 1, Mitt Romney will govern as a conservative. And No. 2 that he will be head and shoulders better than the guy who's in the White House right now."

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