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5 posts from July 11, 2013

July 11, 2013

Carlos Curbelo plays defense over advising immigration hardliner Fred Thompson


Carlos Curbelo decided to challenge Joe Garcia for CD-26, and Washington has taken note.

From the Hill:

A Republican House candidate in Florida who advised onetime GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson on Hispanic issues is distancing himself from Thompson’s controversial statements on immigration reform.

Carlos Curbelo, a GOP challenger to Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), said he doesn’t agree with Thompson’s suggestion, in 2007, that immigration reform had caused the nation to be “beset by people who are suicidal maniacs.”

But Curbelo said he does agree with some of the planks of Thompson’s reform proposal at the time, and the substance of some of his arguments.

“Is there a legitimate issue with regards to border security? If the border is porous, that means anyone can get through it — undocumented immigrants that want to work, and terrorists. I do think that’s true. I think most people would agree with that,” Curbelo told The Hill.

Supreme Court: Legislature can't short-circuit redistricting lawsuit

The 30-day review approved the map of all 120 House seats, but justices found serious deficiencies in several Senate districts. A redrawn Senate map subsequently won the court's approval.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday handed a legal setback to the state Legislature, ruling that a legal challenge to the remapping of Senate districts can go forward in a lower court. The 5-2 decision is a victory for the League of Women Voters of Florida, which is seeking to prove that the Republican Senate majority drew the current districts in violation of the two voter-approved "fair districts" amendments to the state Constitution that prohibit the drawing of districts to favor incumbents or a political party.

The Legislature was seeking a "writ of prohibition" from the state's highest court, based on the argument that the Supreme Court has "exclusive jurisdiction" over any redistricting challenge. Had the court adopted that view, it would have short-circuited the legal action by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the National Council of La Raza and seven individually-named voters.

The 47-page opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente,rejected the Legislature's arguments on at least six separate grounds. Justices said their initial 30-day review of the maps in 2012, as required by the Constitution, was a "facial" review based on limited evidence before the court. "Our facial review left open the possibility of future fact-intensive claims and did not preclude the future discovery or development of evidence," Pariente wrote.

"Second, in our apportionment decisions in 1972, 1982, and 1992, this Court specifically retained exclusive jurisdiction to consider subsequent challenges the Court could not have adjudicated during the limited thirty-day review period mandated by article III, section 16," Pariente wrote. In addition, to block future challenges "would directly contravene the intent of the framers and voters in passing the 2010 constitutional amendment establishing stringent new standards for the once-in-a-decade apportionment of legislative districts.”

Justice Charles Canady issued a strongly-worded dissenting opinion from the five-member majority in which Chief Justice Ricky Polston concurred.

In reaction, the lawyer for the Fair Districts citizens' group, Adam Schachter, issued a statement: “The public has a right to know whether their elected leaders are upholding the constitution, and today that right has been vindicated.  This is an important victory for Floridians who voted overwhelmingly to change the way the Legislature draws redistricting maps.   We are gratified that the Supreme Court rejected the Legislature’s attempt to shield itself from having to defend its map in court.  We look forward now to proving our claims that the Legislature violated the Fair Districts Amendments.”

-- With Steve Bousquet

Latvala: FDLE should investigate lawmakers living outside district

Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who chairs the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, says he wants Gov. Rick Scott to order a criminal investigation of several South Florida lawmakers who may not be living in the districts they represent -- as required by the Florida Constitution.

Latvala told WPLG-TV in Miami that it's a "crying shame" that some lawmakers may not live in the districts they represent, as Channel 10 has reported. At issue are the residencies of Sen. Maria Sachs and Reps. Perry Thurston, Hazelle Rogers, and Jared Moskowitz.

During the 2013 session, Latvala conducted a hearing on questions involving Sachs' residency. WPLG's story is here.

DCF chief of staff resigns amid turmoil

Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff Amanda Prater is stepping down from her post, a department spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Her replacement: DCF Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator Jane Johnson.

"Jane's years of service in government and nonprofits to vulnerable children and adults make her the ideal candidate for the role of chief of staff," DCF Secretary David Wilkins wrote in a statement.  "She will bring energy, enthusiasm and a relentless work ethic to this role, and I look forward to working with her as we continue to improve DCF to better serve Florida’s children and families."

Johnson starts in her new role on Monday.

The transition comes at a tumultuous time for DCF.

Beginning in May, four small children whose safety had been on DCF's radar screen died under tragic circumstances over a six-week period. The deaths -- all but one in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- occurred just as the department was set to unveil a child protection "transformation" that Wilkins insists will dramatically improve the agency's record at keeping children safe.

Wilkins also has sustained withering criticism over his efforts to exercise much greater control over the 20 or so privately run foster care agencies under contract with the state. Executives at the so-called Community-Based Care agencies say Wilkins has tried to bully them into accepting clauses in the contracts that will, among other things, give DCF veto power over the private agencies' leadership teams.

Prater served as chief of staff for about a year. She is leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector, DCF spokeswoman Alexis Lambert said.

Miami Herald staff writer Carol Marbin Miller contributed to this report.

Rubio's red lines: defund Obamacare to pass temporary budget, no debt-limit hike without balanced budget


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told a conservative group Thursday morning that he won't vote for a temporary federal budget unless it temporarily defunds Obamacare.

But Rubio's requirements for funding government didn't end there.

"We should refuse to raise the debt limit by one single cent unless we pass and the president agrees to sign a budget that shows us how we’re going to get to balance in at least 10 years," the Republican said.

"This is not an unreasonable request. They will say that it is. But it is not," Rubio said, pointing to the size of the federal debt. "They will say ‘oh, you’re going to risk default.’ The $17 trillion debt is the risk of default. The lack of any plan to fix it is the risk of default."

Rubio's comments at the Concerned Veterans for America and The Weekly Standard’s “Defend & Reform” Breakfast in Washington stopped short of offering specific solutions for tackling the debt, fixing the economy or improving regulations.

Rubio's speech also notably lacked an emphasis on what has been his signature issue for the past six months: immigration. Now that the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a plan he helped draft, Rubio is taking a step back from the issue publicly.

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