A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

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A compilation of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers.

Tampa Bay Times – Hagel worthy of confirmation at defense

“The Senate confirmation hearing last week on Chuck Hagel’s nomination for secretary of defense offered the nation a timely moment to assess the breadth and role of American military power in a fast-changing world. But former Republican colleagues of the ex-Nebraska senator chose instead to use his appearance before the Armed Services Committee as an opportunity to settle old political scores and undercut the Obama administration as it works to sell a more nuanced picture for the application of American military force in the modern era. Hagel had a shaky performance, but his experience, judgment and vision easily warrant the full Senate’s confirmation to the post. Hagel showed during his seven hours of testimony the difficulty that some former lawmakers face when making the leap from asking the questions to answering them. His deference to the committee and effort to distance himself from wrongheaded and controversial statements in the past about gays and the power of the “Jewish lobby” made at times for a show of weakness that is far from ideal in what constitutes a public interview process for the job.” 

Tampa Bay Times – Time to remedy sales tax unfairness

“The question for Gov. Rick Scott and Florida legislators: When will they stop supporting an extraordinary tax break for out-of-state companies that undercuts Florida jobs? More than a decade after Amazon.com and other Internet retailers burst onto the scene, Florida — unlike dozens of other states — has yet to take a single step toward leveling the playing field for in-state retailers when it comes to collecting sales taxes. The 2013 legislative session should be different. Across the country, the pressure has been growing on Internet-only retailers — particularly behemoth Amazon — to collect sales taxes. In Florida, the lost sales tax revenue is estimated to be at least $454 million annually. That’s nearly enough to pay for the governor’s proposal to give each public school teacher a $2,500 raise next year. But when Scott unveiled his 2013-14 budget proposal last week, an Internet sales tax was not mentioned. Instead, the governor focused on a pair of small-bore tax breaks for businesses…” 

Bradenton Herald – Homeless but not hopeless at Bradenton’s Turning Points

“In turning a page in its history, the Community Coalition on Homelessness now bears a new name, Turning Points, a more definitive and inspirational description of the private, nonprofit’s mission. Headquartered in the Bill Galvano One Stop Center in Bradenton, the organization helps down-and-out people out on the streets. Most importantly, Turning Points helps some find a place to live and build a new life. “Turning Points” does indeed express the goal of the organization. With a new heart-shaped logo that also states, “Where Compassion Takes Action,” Turning Points is taking its commitment to Manatee County’s homeless to another level. The organization provides a variety of essential services to the homeless, expanding two key health programs over the past six months.” 

The Daytona Beach News-Journal – Manfre makes wise move on 9-1-1 dispatch calls

“New Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre made a wise decision to change the Sheriff’s Office’s policy on responding to 9-1-1 calls. Spurred by controversy over the death of Francoise Pecqueur, a 76-year-old woman who died in November 2011 after being hit by a car while she walked near a road in Palm Coast, Manfre decided to amend the department’s policy on dispatching deputies to fire and emergency medical calls. Under the new rules, when 9-1-1 dispatchers aren’t sure of the exact cause of an emergency call, they will send a deputy to the scene to investigate.” 

The Lakeland Ledger – Governor’s Proposed Budget: Act of Self-Preservation

“Gov. Rick Scott laid out his proposed state budget Thursday in Tallahassee. The Legislature could use Scott’s budget as a starting point when its annual session opens in March, or it could rip the proposal into confetti. No matter the outcome, Scott will have gained political value by numerically defining policy shifts that are aimed at softening his record as a just-say-no slasher of state services.” 

The Miami Herald – A case for equality

“A woman’s place . . . The words that traditionally followed that statement (“is in the home”) are hardly uttered these days, thankfully. Women have come a long way, and now they may go forward yet again. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has rescinded a 1994 policy to now officially allow women to serve in combat. The move also allows for the integration of women into newly opened positions that were once forbidden for members of their gender in uniform. Critics argue that women do not have the same qualifications as their male counterparts, including physical strength, which requires lowering the bar to achieve equality. And women can be targets of sexual intimidation or assault, which the military has yet to control within the ranks.” 

Orlando Sentinel – Charting Florida’s K-12 legislative landscape

“(This is the first of several editorials previewing the 2013 state legislative session.)

K-12 education in Florida is a never-ending series of tweaks. Expect a new round of fine-tuning in March when the 2013 legislative session begins. Lawmakers will debate creating vo-tech courses, revamping Bright Futures scholarship requirements and requiring study of 9-11. But the real sparks will fly over these issues:…” 

Tampa Tribune – Scott offers solid budget blueprint

“Whether it is because of an improving economy, political concerns or a growing appreciation for his adopted state, Gov. Rick Scott now seems interested in dealing with the reality of Florida. His proposed $74.2 billion budget would invest in many areas the state has neglected yet still would cut taxes and ensure Florida remains business friendly. In the past the governor has slashed wildly, without regard for long-term consequences. This year, with his third budget proposal, he is discriminating. His budget would increase spending by 6 percent, but that is justified given that the tough economy forced the state to make deep cuts over the past five years. The state this year finally has a revenue surplus.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.