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442 posts from April 2010

April 30, 2010

$70.4 billion budget goes to the gov. Dockery votes no.

The Senate just approved HB 5001, the state budget, and sent it to the gov. The vote: 33-4.

The most interesting dissent: Lakeland Sen. Paula Dockery, a Republican running for governor, who joined Democrats Nan Rich, Dan Gelber and Dave Aronberg. Dockery inveighed against irresponsible spending, while Democrats fretted that there wasn't enough spending in the right places.

Senate Budget chief JD Alexander said he was proud of the budget because it was written in an open fashion and limited the influence of special interests.

"We did not do lobbyist driven stuff," Senate Budget chief JD Alexander said.

Lawmakers pass Sink's "Safeguard our Seniors"

In the waning moments of the session, lawmakers passed a top priority of CFO Alex Sink, the "Safeguard Our Seniors" bill, which cracks down on unsavory agents who sell annuities to seniors. The bill cleared the Senate several weeks ago, but looked dead in the House. It was a bit of a surprise to see it pass in the final few moments.

"I’ve met with hundreds of senior victims throughout Florida, heard their heartbreaking stories, and fought for better protections and harsher penalties against seniors scammers -- and finally the Legislature did the right thing," Sink said in a statement.

Browning resigns as SOS

Secretary of State Kurt Browning has resigned... saying he is required to under Florida's retirement rules.

"I retire with mixed emotions knowing that there still remains a great deal to accomplish, namely the conduct of the 2010 elections," he wrote in a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist. "With my departure today, it gives a newly named secretary of state more time to prepare for these very important elections."

Download SKMBT_C35310043006390

Tom Arnold gets confirmed after all

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Tom Arnold looks like he was just confirmed on the Senate floor. It was a stealth confirmation, considering his nomination was unexpectedly rejected in Sen. Don Gaetz Health Regulation Committee on a 4-3 vote.

More here on that.

Arnold's name was included in a batch of appointees provided by Senate leadership in the closing hours of the legislative session.

The list of appointees is here: Download 2ndaptset_00001[1]

Senate strips renewables language from solar incentives bill

A bill to give local government the ability to sell bonds to finance homeowners and businesses that want to build rooftop solar panels was passed by the Senate 31-4 and sent back to the House after a day-long fight in which the bill became a vehicle for the larger renewable energy legislation.

The sponsor of the renewables bill, Sen. Mike Bennett, was deflated. "Look at all that oil in the gulf...look at all the other things we're doing to the environment,'' he said, noting that it was time the state found a way to jumpstart a renewable energy industry in Florida. "We're not going to get it. We made it too heavy.''

Crist won't appear with lawmakers at hanky drop

For the first and last time as governor, Charlie Crist won't appear in public with legislators when the 2010 session ends Friday evening. The hanky-drop in the Capitol Rotunda is a legislative tradition, one the governor has attended the past three years.

The session was still going when Crist headed to the Tallahassee airport to catch a flight to Miami to see his wife, Carole. "It ain't going to happen. Maybe it was meant to be," Crist said.

Crist said he had "very serious concerns" about the abortion bill legislators sent him Friday, which would require pregnant women to pay for an ultrasound view of a fetus, regardless of their ability to pay. He also expressed "some concern" about two issues in the budget: a $160-million raid on the road-building fund and cuts to some health and human services programs. "There are some concerns that I have that I want to look at," said Crist, a day after formally breaking with the Republican Party, which controls both houses of the Legislature.

-- Steve Bousquet

Another dead bill: guns, fertilizer, bestiality

Looks like the House won't take up the omnibus agriculture bill (SB382) that includes 1) an NRA-backed gun provision allowing people to keep guns in their cars, 2) an effort to preempt Pinellas County's ban on fertilizer sales during the summer and... 3) a ban on sex with animals.

A key difference was the fertilizer provision. The Senate voted 21-18 to adopt an amendment favored by environmentalists and opposed by the fertilizer industry. Republican members of the House voted for a provision that would stop Pinellas' ban on sales.

Argenziano says Brown-Waite's move targeted her too

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano says she believes that she -- along with state Sen. Mike Fasano -- was the target of U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's surprise announcement to retire and be replaced by her hand-picked successor, Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent.
Argenziano formerly held the state Senate and House seats included in Brown-Waite's district and, when she heard two weeks ago that Brown-Waite was considering retiring, she inquired about the seat. She was then approached by a Republican Party official and asked if she would challenge state Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd instead, she said.
"I knew something was up,'' she said, adding that both she and Fasano could have been a contender in that district. "This is another example of the Republican Party cutting its own throat. What they did is a disservice not only to Fasano and myself but to the people of the district.''
Argeniano, who has been under fire by legislative leaders for her role on the PSC, said she is deeply disappointed in the leadership of the Republican Party these days. "My kind of Republican, which was Goldwater Republican, is not the kind of Republicanism they practice anymore.''

Senate sends PSC reform bill back to House and to its death

The Senate just voted 39-0 to amend the House PSC reform bill and send it back to the Houes. They reinserted the provision that imposed the fine on utilities officials but not the utility companies and removed the reaqiurement the the PSC executive director be confirmed by the Senate.

"This provision will only politicize an already political process that we are attempted to reform with this legislation,'' said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, the Senate sponsor.

Sen. Paula Dockery, who supported the amendment, provided the eulogy: "I recognizes that probably puts the bill in a little bit of danger since you’re sending it back. But I thank you for doing that."

Charlie Crist's former party attacks 'the People's Trial Lawyer."

That didn't take long. The Republican Party of Florida just sent out this press release titled "Charlie Crist: The People's Trial Lawyer:"

Hours after abandoning his role as leader of the Republican Party, today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Charlie Crist proudly stated “I’m a trial lawyer.”

Just a few days ago, Charlie Crist was calling himself a proud Republican. Yesterday, facing a more than twenty point deficit in the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate, Charlie Crist turned his back on the people who elected him. Today, he’s unabashedly associating himself with one of the most ultra-liberal groups in the country, famous for endorsing left-wing candidates and causes. Republican, to Independent, to Trail Lawyer in less than 24 hours? What will Charlie Crist be tomorrow?