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5 posts from May 7, 2014

May 07, 2014

Maneuvering, infighting doomed health bills in Tallahassee


Millions of Floridians have no health insurance. The state has nowhere near enough primary-care doctors. Highly trained nurses might be able to help, but they lack the authority. Hospitals are suing other hospitals, claiming their trauma centers don't even deserve to operate.

No one expected Medicaid expansion to get a hearing in a Legislature dominated by Republicans seeking re-election, most of whom oppose the federal Affordable Care Act.

Yet even health care issues that might have seemed assured of success went nowhere this year. Blame it on political squabbles and failed power plays that managed to sink much in their wake.

Case in point: Senate President Don Gaetz tried to entice the House into helping doctors get around insurer restrictions on the drugs they prescribe. So he added his controversial idea to an under-the-radar insurance bill slated for easy passage — and torpedoed both.

Gaetz has no regrets. "It's never more than 10 months until the next session," he quipped in an interview this week.

That wasn't the only time a lawmaker derailed a bill by tying it to a less popular topic.

Read more here.

Marco Rubio: Charlie Crist is "absolutely" a phony over GOP-bigot remarks


Charlie Crist never got along much with Marco Rubio, not when the former was governor and the latter was speaker in 2007 and 2008 nor when the two squared off for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Rubio won that contest, forcing Crist out of the GOP along the way. Now Crist, who recently became a Democrat, says he left the Republican Party because it had bigots. Rubio said today on Neil Cavuto's FOX show that it's baloney.

The transcript:

Continue reading "Marco Rubio: Charlie Crist is "absolutely" a phony over GOP-bigot remarks" »

Marco Rubio tells Politico he doesn't plan to endorse in David Rivera's Republican primary


POLITICO caught up Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who said he doesn't plan to endorse former Tallahassee housemate David Rivera in the upcoming Republican primary for Congressional District 26.

"I'm not getting involved in that primary. Because I don't typically get involved in House primaries, especially in open races," Rubio told the publication. He plans to support the eventual Republican nominee in the November general election against Miami Democrat Joe Garcia, who defeated then-incumbent Rivera two years ago.

Rivera is under federal investigation in a campaign-finance scheme involving his friend Ana Alliegro, who helped manage the 2012 campaign of a little-known Democratic candidate named Justin Lamar Sternad.

Sternad has admitted that his Democratic primary campaign was funded with about $82,000 in illegal campaign contributions. He identified Alliegro as the source of money. The feds say she was aided by at least one unnamed "co-conspirator."

Rivera's entry into the race stunned the Miami political establishment last week. Two of his former House colleagues, Miami Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, had already backed Miami-Dade School Board Carlos Curbelo and said they would maintain those endorsements.

Shortly after Rivera's announcement, two of his ex-congressional staffers -- former legislative director Hector Arguello and former deputy district director Ariel Fernandez -- endorsed Curbelo. "We need leaders who can focus on the work at hand and actively represent the people," they said in a statement. 

People close to Rubio have said they are none too thrilled about Rivera's latest campaign. Rivera and Rubio, both former state lawmakers, jointly own a Tallahassee home that, at one point, began to go into foreclosure.

Broward to seek voter approval for $800 million school bond issue


Broward’s school district will ask voters to approve an $800 million bond issue this fall — a referendum that will likely become a defining moment for the nation’s sixth-largest school system.

By unanimous vote, school board members on Tuesday began the voter referendum process by formally asking the state’s permission to put the issue on the November ballot. The state’s approval is expected to come quickly and easily.

It’s getting approval from county voters that will be the tricky part. The next six months will test Broward’s ability to community effectively and stay on-message — a task that historically has proven difficult for the district.

Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is pitching the bond issue as an worthwhile investment — and one that pays dividends in a variety of ways.

“Everything that we do is linked to the quality of the schools in our community,” Runcie said. “Housing values, quality of life, the ability to attract businesses and families to our communities all rest on the quality of our schools, and our ability to invest and maintain them and provide our children with a world-class education.”

If the bond issue passes, Broward would receive a badly-needed infusion of cash for capital improvements and technology needs. Dozens of district schools are struggling with leaky roofs, for example, which creates mold risks.

More here.

Crist may visit Cuba


In a move that would have been unthinkable for any statewide Florida candidate just a few years ago,  Charlie Crist is looking into visiting Cuba this summer.

Nothing is final, but Crist is eager to learn more about the country as he calls for normalizing relations with Florida's neighbor.

"The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people," said Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate. "Gov. Crist is exploring every opportunity to help bring economic freedom and democracy to the people of Cuba.”

Recent polls show a majority of Floridians, including Cuban-American Floridians, support lifting the embargo, as Crist advocates. Still, Crist's advocacy for lifting the embargo is risky and could motivate Republican exiles in Miami-Dade to turn out in November to defeat him.