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6 posts from May 5, 2013

May 05, 2013

Florida's 2013 session: Herald/Times interactive list of what passed and failed

The Florida Legislature concluded its 2013 session Friday in a burst of bipartisanship, taking advantage of a resurgent economy to overwhelmingly pass the biggest budget in history that included pay raises to state workers for the first time in seven years.

In the wake of the final flourish, there were over 1,800 bills introduced but only 259 passed both chambers by the 7:16 p.m. sine die on Friday. For a comprehensive list, with links to each of the bills, here is the Herald/Times list of winners and losers. Special thanks to the Herald's Lazaro Gamio.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/03/3379285/upbeat-lawmakers-celebrate-sessions.html#storylink=cpy

No Medicaid expansion means businesses will pay

A story in today's paper deals with one of the ripple effects of the Legislature's inability to reach a deal on Medicaid expanion this session. Roughly 1 million uninsured Floridians would have received coverage if a deal had been reached. Many of them work for businesses that now must provide that insurance or face hefty federal fines.

An excerpt:

Either way, the Legislature's inaction will saddle many businesses with additional costs that could reach, in total, close to $150 million next year.

"If you do not do Medicaid expansion, or something similar to that, there is a very real penalty imposed upon the employers of the state of Florida," said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who had pushed some compromise.

... The historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the law actually created some of the current problems. While justices ruled that the centerpiece of the law — a requirement that most everyone have health insurance — was constitutional, they struck down a provision that would have essentially required states to expand Medicaid.

By giving states a choice whether to expand, the court created loopholes about who would be covered and how, and who would be left out.

Part of the law that remained in place requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage to anyone working more than 30 hours a week. Many people in agriculture, tourism and hospitality would have been eligible for an expanded Medicaid program.

But with no Medicaid expansion, those workers must either get health insurance from their employers, or they can turn to a federal health exchange to purchase insurance.

If they use a federal exchange, their bosses will be penalized.

Read more here.

Why Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — not Speaker Will Weatherford — owns stadium deal death


Success has many fathers in the Florida Legislature. The Miami Dolphins-stadium deal is an orphan.

And it will probably stay that way, ironically, thanks to the man who wanted it most: Stephen Ross, the Dolphins owner.

When the plan to use up to $380 million in taxpayer money to subsidize stadium upgrades died on Friday, Ross sent out a threatening-sounding statement that bashed House Speaker Will Weatherford, essentially accused him of lying and stopped just short of promising to campaign against him.

“I am certain this decision will follow Speaker Weatherford for many years to come,” Ross said in a statement.

“I will look to play an important role in fixing the dysfunction in Tallahassee and will continue to work to create good jobs in Miami Dade and throughout South Florida.”

Just before the statement came out, I asked Weatherford what his reaction would be if Ross or his supporters threatened to spend money against him.

“Oh, wow,” Weatherford said in a voice that sounded anything but surprised or worried. “Good for them.”

Are you scared?

“No,” Weatherford smiled.

Continue reading "Why Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — not Speaker Will Weatherford — owns stadium deal death" »

Dolphins: No stadium upgrades planned for now


The Miami Dolphins do not intend to pay for even modest upgrades to Sun Life Stadium now that the team's push for a subsidized renovation to the 1987 facility have failed, CEO Mike Dee said Sunday.

"We cannot do this without a public-private partnership," Dee told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4. "At this time we have no intention of investing more."

Though he maintained that the Dolphins are still vying for Super Bowls 50 and 51, which National Football League owners are awarding later this month, Dee sounded less than hopeful about South Florida's prospects to host the games without improving the Miami Gardens stadium.

"We clearly have our work cut out for us," he said. "Having a stadium that's competitive is, I think, probably comparable to having a good quarterback when you're playing football."

In a live interview on Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede, Dee gave the first in-person remarks by any Dolphins official since late Friday, when the Florida House of Representatives ended the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee without taking up team-backed legislation providing public subsidies for the renovation.

Continue reading "Dolphins: No stadium upgrades planned for now" »

Affordable-housing developer under federal investigation contributed to Miami-Dade politicians


The affordable-housing developers under investigation by a Miami federal grand jury for allegedly defrauding the U.S. government out of tax subsidies have contributed generously to politicians who in many cases had a say in funding the builders’ projects.

The bulk of the campaign contributions from the Carlisle Development Group, its senior executives and their myriad corporate entities, as well as a Fort Lauderdale building contractor, have gone to candidates in Miami-Dade County, where the developers have built many of their low-income rental apartments using public subsidies.

Carlisle, its executives Matthew Greer and Lloyd Boggio, their family members and other business associates, and builder Michael Runyan of BJ&K Construction Services, contributed more than $68,000 over the past decade to Miami-Dade candidates and their political committees, campaign-finance records show.

Most of those donations went to candidates for mayor and county commission. The administration recommends potential projects, which are ultimately approved by the board.

Greer is the son of Evelyn Greer, a former Miami-Dade School Board member and former Pinecrest mayor, and Bruce Greer, president of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s board of trustees.

More here.

Federal grand jury investigates Miami-based affordable-housing developer

via @jayhweaver

A Miami federal grand jury is investigating South Florida’s preeminent affordable-housing developer, the Carlisle Development Group, on allegations that it bilked the U.S. government out of millions of dollars in tax subsidies used to finance more than a dozen rental projects in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Carlisle is suspected of committing fraud by padding construction costs of the rental apartments to generate higher government-issued tax credits for itself and its investors, according to sources familiar with the probe. Prosecutors are trying to prove that top executives of Carlisle, a for-profit company, worked in cahoots with a Fort Lauderdale building contractor to unlawfully pocket those extra tax credits, the sources said.

The grand jury is focusing on two of Carlisle’s chief executive officers, Matthew S. Greer and retired CEO and founder Lloyd J. Boggio, as well as a general contractor Michael K. Runyan, according to a subpoena obtained by The Miami Herald.

The subpoena, issued in January in connection with “an official criminal investigation of a suspected federal offense,” names Carlisle and its development entities, along with the three businessmen. It seeks loan and other records for two of Carlisle’s rental projects built by Runyan’s Fort Lauderdale company, BJ&K Construction Services, in the low-income Little Haiti and Allapattah neighborhoods.

Both the city and Miami-Dade governments partially financed those high-rise apartment projects, Villa Patricia and Amber Garden, with multimillion-dollar, low-interest loans.

More from Jay Weaver here.