GOP REFUSING TO UNDO DAMAGE THEY BROUGHT TO ELECTIONS SYSTEM
Mark Ferrulo: Real Election Reform Isn't What Florida is Getting [Sun Sentinel Op-Ed] "Florida's elections must be free, fair and accessible. But the 2012 election in Florida, where long lines forced many voters to wait several hours to exercise their fundamental civic duty to vote, once again made Florida the poster child for election disasters...Widespread public outcry has forced Gov. Scott and legislative leadership back to the table in order to consider rolling back their disastrous 2011 law. Floridians rallied in 23 cities and towns as part of the Awake The State movement on the opening day of the Florida legislative session, March 5th, calling for comprehensive election reform...Unfortunately, the so called "election reform" bill passed by the Florida House during the first week of the legislative session doesn't enact any of the above much needed reforms. It will be up to the Florida Senate to deliver the real leadership needed on this critical issue. We need true election reform, so that all eligible citizens who uphold their responsibility to participate in our democracy can cast a ballot and know it counts."
SUN SENTINEL: WEATHERFORD'S ETHICS BILL 'DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH'
Editorial: Changes Key to Sweeping Ethics Reform [Sun Sentinel] "The Florida Legislature is about to adopt the most sweeping changes to the government ethics law in 36 years, and yet the changes don't go far enough...[T]o put the people first, legislative leaders should add the following fixes: Create a blanket two-year ban on lobbying...Demand accuracy in financial disclosure forms...Improve disclosure on blind trusts...Enhance collection of fines...Don't narrow window for complaints...Expand the lobbyist gift-ban law."
MEDICAID EXPANSION GOOD FOR BUSINESSES, WOULD CREATE 121,000 PERMANENT JOBS
Refusal to Expand Medicaid Could Cost Florida Businesses [Tampa Bay Times] "When it comes to opening up Medicaid to cover more uninsured Floridians, business groups have put forth either lukewarm endorsements or red-hot opposition. What few are publicly raising, though, is this point: Expanding Medicaid could save some businesses a considerable amount of money. The federal health reform law requires businesses that employ more than 50 people to provide them access to affordable health insurance, or pay a penalty. But for employees whose wages are low enough to qualify for expanded Medicaid, bosses are off the hook."
Hospitals: Medicaid expansion would create jobs [Orlando Sentinel] "The state's hospitals made the pitch Friday that accepting federal Medicaiddollars to insure more poor people under the Affordable Care Act would be an economic engine for Florida. The Florida Hospital Association released a report by the University of Florida that shows extending health care coverage using the $51 billion in federal funds available would create more than 121,000 permanent jobs over the next 10 years. The UF study, commissioned by the hospital association, found that expanding Medicaid — or finding an alternative that still brings in those federal dollars — would create 49,494 jobs in the health-care industry alone."
GOP REP. CANNOT EXPLAIN WHERE HIS $2.4M GOVERNMENT GRANT WENT
Audit Questions $2.4M Government Grant to Tampa Lawmaker [Tampa Bay Times] "Jamie Grant was two years out of law school and a freshman member of the state House when he made a bold claim. His startup company could design a mobile application that would link medical, insurance and legal records for family and first responders. Sales would net $26 million by 2014, Grant said. He just needed $2.5 million in seed money. The pitch worked. The Hardee County Industrial Development Authority approved the deal in September 2011 and, by the next month, Grant got his first check. Now, 18 months later, it's not clear what happened to the money. It's all spent, but state auditors say there's no product, few jobs and no economic growth. Grant would not discuss specific aspects of the deal with the Times/Herald. 'What happened to the money?' That's the main question,' said Ted Sauerbeck, Florida's deputy auditor general. 'At this point, we don't know.'"
PUTING POLITICS BEFORE PEOPLE, GOP PUTS WOMEN'S HEALTH AT RISK
Judith Selzer: Restrictions Hurt Women's Health [Tallahassee Democrat Op-Ed] "The Legislature meets for only 60 days every year — that’s 60 days to create and pass a budget for the state and consider all other legislation needed to help Florida as our economy recovers. Given this very short amount of time, I can’t help but wonder why some legislators continue to propose bills that would restrict women’s access to health care. The top priority during this year’s legislative session should be expanding access to health care for more than a million Florida families, including hundreds of thousands of women who would gain access to preventive care. However, this year, the Legislature is considering eight bills that would take away vital health services and decision-making from women."
Lawmakers Put Women's Health at Risk [Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed] "The new "Women's Health at Risk" report from Planned Parenthood reveals that more than two million women and girls in Florida are uninsured, and our state has the second-highest number of women and girls with AIDS in the U.S. The focus during this year's legislative session should be on expanding access to health care for more than a million Floridians. This would help women get preventive care without out-of-pocket costs for services like birth control, cancer screenings and heart-disease treatments...Despite a strong rebuke by Florida voters in November when they rejected these attacks on women's health in the form of Amendment 6, and despite numerous statewide polls showing strong support for Medicaid health-care expansion, Florida legislators have already filed eight more bills this year attempting to restrict women's access to health care instead of expanding it. Women will pay the price when they cannot access the medical care they need because Florida legislators played a reckless game of politics with women's health."
PRESIDENT OBAMA PUSHES FOR INFRASTRUCTURE INNOVATIONS IN MIAMI
In Quick Miami Stop, Obama Pitches New Ways to Attract Private Investment for Public-works Projects [Miami Herald] "President Barack Obama traveled briefly to — and under — PortMiami on Friday afternoon to push for new ways to secure private dollars for big-ticket projects to renovate highways, bridges, pipes and schools. Obama toured the port tunnel being built under Biscayne Bay and then praised the project as an example of the local, state and federal government working together, and with private companies, to grow the economy and create construction jobs...To promote more private investment in public projects, Obama proposed raising the caps on certain state and local bonds to lower project financing costs and making the bonds available to more types of projects; exempting foreign pension funds from taxes when they want to invest in U.S. infrastructure, as is already done for American pension funds, and spending an additional $4 billion for two programs that have provided loans and grants to projects."
WALL STREET JOURNAL: 'ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL' IN FLORIDA
Politics Counts: How States Split on Gay Marriage [Wall Street Journal] "[...] Just because a state over-represents for same-sex couples doesn’t guarantee laws supporting gay marriage. Florida, for instance, strongly over-represents for same-sex couples (7.5% of U.S. same-sex couples and 6.1% of U.S. population) but gay marriage is illegal there. Why? The larger political scene probably plays a role. Polls show Democrats are much more likely to favor gay marriage than Republicans – 69% vs. 27% in a December Wall Street Journal/NBC poll...Florida’s position on gay marriage suggests its more conservative nature outweighs its relatively high concentration of same-sex couples, at least for now...So if the national polling trends continue, it may be only a matter of time before gay marriage is legal there."