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8 posts from December 3, 2012

December 03, 2012

Miami-Dade Dems choose first Latina chair, Annette Taddeo-Goldstein

In Florida's largest and most-Hispanic county, the largest political party has finally managed to choose a leader who's "Latina," according to the following press release:

Miami, FL — Annette Taddeo-Goldstein has made history by being elected the first Latina chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) at the December 3rd DEC organizational meeting. She will be replacing Richard Lydecker.

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State: Insurers to be allowed to change forms first and justify them later

Correction of a previous post from the News Service of Florida:

Hit with a heavy spike in requests for changes in forms, the Office of Insurance Regulation on Monday issued a rule allowing companies to go forward with changes without prior approval in certain cases.

The order, signed Monday by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, doesn’t affect rate filings by insurance companies – only filings involving forms the companies must file.

With a number of recent changes in state insurance laws leading to an unusually high number of filings, regulators don't have the ability to go through all the form change filings quickly enough. In such a circumstance, the law allows regulators to approve changes without a full up front review.

"This current volume of form filings has taxed the office's review resources and resulted in a lengthier period of review for many filings," McCarty's order states. "Due to the current volume of filings and the agency's resource limitations, the office finds the review and approval of policy forms … is not practicable where the form at issue has been diligently and thoroughly reviewed by the company..."

The order drew criticism from Sean Shaw, a former Florida insurance consumer advocate who now works with a Tampa law firm that handles policyholder claims.

"It's a dangerous day in Florida when the Office of Insurance Regulation turns into the office of blind trust because they lack the resources to independently verify form filings from insurance companies," Shaw said in a statement.

Senate 'Obamacare' committee gets an earful from opponents to law

 The first committee meeting of the 2013 legislative session was the Senate's Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and it had all the makings of a classic: a grim overview on the implementation of a controversial new law, shouting audience members and  fiery monologue from a senior senator.

Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican who is leading the committee, started off the meeting by outlining his three guiding principles when considering Florida's implementation of the so-called "Obamacare" law:

  • protect individual choice
  • limit regulatory burden on businesses affected
  • promote competition and improve value of healthcare.

His vice-chairwoman, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, indicated that she will encourage her colleagues to embrace the law.

"Being that this is the law, we have to abide by the law and do what's best for the people of Florida in terms of their healthcare," she said. "Being the state with the third largest uninsured population, I think that needs to be reckoned with. And I think that we need to adjust our attitudes to make sure that eerybody has health insurance and a health care policy that is affordable and accessible."

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Outgoing Indiana schools chief applies for Florida education commissioner job

From the TimesGradebook blog:

Outgoing Indiana superintendent of public instruction Tony Bennett was one of 10 candidates to meet Friday's deadline to apply for the Florida education commissioner. He also was the most high profile hopeful, and the only well-known reformer, to enter the field. As we reported earlier, interim commissioner Pam Stewart did not apply. Others applying Friday were:

  • Sheldon Klasfeld, Principal, Academic Alternative Education, Inc., a private school
  • Marilyn Simmons, President, The Tech Center, LLC/Computer Nuts, Inc.
  • Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State of Indiana
  • Christine Jax, Associate Dean of Doctoral Programs, Walden University
  • Marvin Jeter, III, Consultant, Self-Employed, former Tulsa, Okla., school administrator
  • Edwin Martinez Del Rio, Associate Campus Dean,  Strayer University
  • Scott Whittle, Instructional Technology Expert, Leon County Schools
  • Patrick Galatowitsch, Principal, Fern Creek Elementary, Orange County FL
  • Charles Hokanson, Jr., President and CEO, Hokanson Consulting Group LLC, a former official in the G.W. Bush education department and president of the Alliance for School Choice
  • Randy Dunn, President, Murray State University

The Ray and Associates search firm is supposed to recommend finalists later this week. The State Board of Education is scheduled to conduct interviews at its Dec. 11 meeting in Tampa. 

Click here to read the rest of the post, which includes a list of all the applicants for the position.

PolitiFact checks claim by Broward GOP about League of Women Voters guide

It’s not easy being a Republican in Broward County -- home to the largest number of Democratic voters in Florida and a county where registered GOP voters are outnumbered two to one by Democrats.  

Beyond the numbers, Broward’s liberalism often makes amusing headlines -- from a 2002 gay mayoral candidate in Wilton Manors who said he was attacked for not being "gay enough," to a county commissioner in 2007 who questioned airing emergency warnings on the station that ran Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

It wasn’t a surprise that Democrats swept Broward and helped re-elect President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. But the Broward GOP also suffered the loss of two of their most prominent local Republicans: state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale who lost after redistricting, and Sheriff Al Lamberti, who lost to Democrat Scott Israel. (They also had the blow of Fox News favorite U.S. Rep. Allen West moving out of Broward to the Treasure Coast and then losing.)

Richard DeNapoli, chairman of the Broward Republican Executive Committee, or BREC, wrote amemo to the group listing accomplishments of the past year. Most of those accomplishments were nothing surprising, such as lining up volunteers and distributing thousands of Romney bumper stickers. But one accomplishment caught our eye:

"We had the liberal League of Women Voters Guide removed from the Broward Supervisor of Election's website."

We wanted to know, did the Broward GOP get the Broward Supervisor of Elections to remove a League of Women Voters guide from its website? And was that guide or is the League itself "liberal"?

PolitiFact puts the claim to the Truth-O-Meter.


State: Roadway fatalities down, teen deaths deaths up

From Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

Fatalities on Florida’s roadways decreased in 2011 by nearly 2 percent adding up to a 32-percent reduction in deaths on Florida’s roadways since 2005. The fatality rate per mile traveled in 2011 held steady at its all-time low, first reached in 2010. Those are some of the findings in the recently released 2011 Florida Traffic Crash Statistics Report by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The agency produces the report annually with data from the detailed traffic crash reports submitted by state and local law enforcement agencies. 

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Gov. Scott's trade mission to Bogota his largest yet

Gov. Rick Scott will be in Bogota, Columbia until Wednesday, seeking to drum up business between the Sunshine State and the Latin American nation that is Florida's second-largest trading partner. The trip to Colombia, organized by Enterprise Florida, is Scott's seventh overseas mission and his largest one yet. Read the full story here.

-- Steve Bousquet

Bondi's ObamaCare claim is put to the Truth-O-Meter

Some Florida public officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, have softened their tone on the federal health care law since the U.S. Supreme Court declared it constitutional and President Barack Obama was re-elected.

But don’t count Attorney General Pam Bondi among those officials.

In remarks at a Florida Chamber of Commerce event Nov. 28, 2012, Bondi said the health care law is already hurting businesses.

"Unfortunately, national studies are already showing the negative effects that the health care law is having on businesses and our economy. Businesses across the country are raising their prices in order to compensate for their added costs due to Obama’s health care plan. If they aren’t raising prices, they’re cutting jobs as a result of the added cost, both of which hurt our economy. According to a Mercer survey, more than 60 percent of employers expect the federal health care plan to increase their health costs. Twenty percent of those employers are bracing for at least a 5 percent increase in costs."

This comment caught our attention because added costs for business under the health care law do not start until 2014. So why would they be raising prices and cutting jobs now? Read PolitiFact's analysis of Bondi's  claim.