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442 posts from April 2010

April 30, 2010

RPOF jumps on Crist trial lawyer remark

On MSNBC today, Gov. Charlie Crist noted that, "I'm a trial lawyer." Didn't take long for his former party to jump all over that remark:

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 Trial Lawyer in less than 24 hours? What will Charlie Crist be tomorrow?

Al Cardenas pulls Charlie Crist endorsement

Former Florida GOP Chairman Al Cardenas, no surprise, is yanking his endorsement of Charlie Crist:

"When winning a party primary was not in the cards for George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and others; they didn't desert their party. They endorsed the nominee and campaigned for our common cause," Cardenas wrote Crist. "Governor, the GOP has not left you. Our Party's platform and values have been practically identical since you were first elected to public office as a Republican. The announcement you made yesterday was disappointing in many different fronts. Please be advised that I am endorsing our next United States Senator from Florida, Speaker Marco Rubio."

Here's the full letter

Senate adopts gun amendment

After a brief debate, senators added the gun amendment to the omnibus agriculture bill (SB382) they've been working on. It was a voice vote, so members did not have to go on record on the issue that divides the Republican caucus.

It's a victory for the NRA, but with time fading fast and the House just starting on the budget, we'll see if they get to the bill before Sine Die. Stay tuned...

Senate rejects amendment to let greyhound tracks stop live racing

The loaded agriculture bill, which just got stuck with an amendment to allow certain workers to bring guns to work, was also being used as a vehicle to end greyhound racing at greyhound tracks.

Under a proposal by Sen. Charlie Justicedog tracks could decide whether they want offer gambling on live greyhound racing. They measure, supported by animal rights groups, was rejected as not germaine to the ag bill.

“It makes little sense for the state to require dog tracks to lose money on greyhound racing,” said GREY2K USA President and General Counsel Christine Dorchak. “It also makes no sense for greyhounds to suffer needlessly.  Having dogs run around in circles while fewer and fewer people watch, means that dog racing is simply a loss leader for newer, more modern forms of gambling.”

There are only 24 operational dog tracks in the U.S., 13 of which are in Florida. Because of the decline, state revenue from live greyhound racing has dropped 93 percent since 1989, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.


Redistricting amendment heading to ballot

Gerry The Legislature's answer to the "Fair Districts" redistricting amendment is about to pass the Senate.

Republican sponsor Mike Haridopolos said the amendment simply clarified the amendments proposed by Fair Districts, which he and others said could weaken minority voting districts due to the vagaries of reapportionment case law. To bolster his claim, sens Al Lawson (the Democratic leader) and Gary Siplin (the black caucus leader) co-introduced the bill.

But all other Democrats and black lawmakers in the Senate opposed the measure.

"It is not about protecting minorities," Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa. "It is about holding on to power."

Sen. Mike Benett, R-Bradenton, said Fair Districts isn't really "grassroots." Instead, it's a coalition of liberals. He pointed out that unions and trial lawyers were among the biggest contributors.

Siplin said he was just trying to protect minority-access seats, such as his Orlando-based district which is about equally divided into three groups: Blacks, Hispanics and whites. Siplin faulted Fair Districts for not consulting with him. And he thanked Haridopolos for giving him the chance to participate in the redistricting hearings because he wanted to make sure that any new standards "protect" lawmakers like him.

The Legislature's amendment: Download RedistH7231

A Fair District amendment: Download Fair District

House approved abortion language, Democrats ask Crist for veto

A more than three-hour House debate about an ultrasound bill dissolved into a heated discussion about abortion, as tempers flared and lawmakers warned visitors and young staff to leave the chamber.

It's a remarkable scene on the final day of the legislative session that leaves palatable divisions among Republican and Democratic lawmakers ahead of an election year and ends House Speaker Larry Cretul's tenure on a sour note.

The 72-46 mostly party line vote to add the abortion language to a broad health care bill was expected since the debate first began at 8:28 a.m. but it didn't stop the political theater as Republicans used procedural moves to block all amendments and put time limits on debate. The entire bill passed an hour later by a 76-44 vote.

"What are we as a society going to say years from now about the killing of more than 50 million babies since Roe v. Wade. How can you find the Holocaust so revolting and be opposed to this bill," said Rep. Alan Hays, a Umatilla Republican, whose remarks drew rebuke from the speaker.

Democrat Adam Fetterman called the legislation "paternalistic government stepping in and dictating (a woman's) care."

"There's not bacon to bring back home (through the budget), but you sure can bring the red meat," Fetterman added.

The real decision comes to Gov. Charlie Crist,  who has vacillated on the issue in the past but now looks at it through the lens of his nonpartisan bid for the U.S. Senate.

Continue reading "House approved abortion language, Democrats ask Crist for veto" »

Crist declares state of emergency for oil disaster

Gov. Charlie Crist today declared a state of emergency for six Panhandle counties because the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon platform threatens Florida's coasts "with a major disaster." The governor's office reports that he has been flooded with phone calls from concerned residents regarding the spill.

Download 2010.4.30 EO Emergency Deepwater Horizon[1] 

Crist has also scheduled a conference call on the subject with Homeland Security Secretary 
Janet Napolitano and other federal officials at 12:45. 
After declaring the emergency, Crist formally apointed David Halstead to be director of the Division of Emergency Management. He had been serving as interim director since January.

Fertilizer ban, gun provision in limbo on last day

An effort to pre-empt Pinellas County's fertilizer ban is one of the last fights in the Legislature this year. The ordinance bans the sale and use of fertilizer during the rainy summer months in order to avoid runoff. A legislative pre-emption of the sale has already passed the House.

The Senate just now approved an amendment by Sen. Eleanor Sobel that makes it easier for localities to approve strict ordinances. The vote: 21-18, with several Republicans crossing over to side with the Democrats.

But there's an added wrinkle. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is sitting in the front row of the gallery, wondering what will happen to her amendment that allows people to carry guns in their cars. It would be added to the same agriculture bill (SB 382). Since the Senate and House do not agree on the fertilizer provision, the bill (with or without the gun language) cannot move forward. Stay tuned...

Obama adviser says new drilling will be banned til spill investigation is complete

The Washington Post: "The White House vowed Friday that no expansion of offshore oil drilling will take
place until investigations are completed into a rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which is sending thousands of gallons of crude oil lapping toward Louisiana's shores.

"Senior White House adviser David Axelrod pledged that President Obama's plans to end a longstanding moratorium on offshore drilling would be put on hold until the cause of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig is known.

" 'What the president has said -- all he has said -- is he's not gonna continue the moratorium on drilling. But he hasn't -- no additional drilling has been authorized and none will [be] until we find out what happened here and whether there was something unique and preventable here," Axelrod said on 'Good Morning America.' Axelrod defended the Obama administration's response to the disaster, saying the Coast Guard was on the scene 'almost immediately' to begin overseeing the response."

Florida House isn't family-friendly today

Today is Rep. Ralph Poppell's 60th birthday and final day in the House. His niece, Holly Colson, and her two young kids came from Perry to celebrate. But they didn't realize what they were getting when they sat in the House gallery amid the ongoing abortion debate.

Speaker Pro Tem Ron Reagan suggested those with young children leave the gallery -- twice stopping the debate to urge them to go.

Colson, who is against abortions, said it's an appropriate topic to discuss but she doesn't think a woman should pay for the ultrasound, as the bill would mandate.