Capitol preview: What to expect this week in Florida politics

in Uncategorized by

Not a creature is stirring, not the Senate nor House. Seriously, there’s just about nothing going on in official Tallahassee this week. While Tuesday is Christmas, for all intents and purposes Monday is basically a holiday as well. And the week between Christmas and New Year’s is always slow anyway.

While everyone is off this week to feast on Who Pudding, and rare Who Roast Beast, here’s a very short list of things being thought about at least.

PORT TALKS

Talks likely will continue this week between the International Longshoreman’s Association and shipping companies hoping to avert a dockworkers strike when the current contract expires Dec. 29.

Ports in Miami, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa would be affected if an agreement can’t be reached and the dockworkers strike. Large retailers have been stockpiling inventory, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, fearful of goods getting stuck on docks next week. ‘

Gov. Rick Scott wrote late Friday to President Obama saying he is deeply concerned about the potential economic impact of a strike, warning it would be “devastating.” Scott urged Obama to invoke the Taft Hartley Act to prevent a work stoppage.

FISCAL CLIFF

It won’t be quiet in Washington immediately after Christmas either. Lawmakers and the White House will have to get right back to fiscal cliff talks the day after the holiday. Lawmakers in Tallahassee obviously will be watching closely, knowing that if talks break down, the budget picture in the state is likely to take a serious downturn.

About $600 billion in cuts and tax hikes hangs in the balance nationwide. A series of tax breaks are set to expire on Dec. 31 meaning that beginning Jan. 1 rates increase for a projected total of $514 billion in new revenue, according to the non-partisan business-backed Tax Foundation. Adding to that fiscal situation is $109 billion of federal spending that will be sequestered for paying down the federal debt, a mandate of failed debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011 that was intended to be so arduous it would motivate Congress to come to an agreement. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been negotiating, and Boehner suffered a defeat on Thursday as he attempted to steer a proposal he called Plan B, which would preserve tax cuts for incomes under $1 million, through the House. The proposal never made it out of Republican caucus.

SCOTT OFF THIS WEEK: The governor has no public events scheduled this week.

TUESDAY

TALLAHASSEE – THE NEW WORLD’S FIRST CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION: The first Christmas in the New World was likely celebrated in Tallahassee. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his men spent the winter of 1539-1540 camped on a hill about a mile from the current site of the state Capitol – basically a block from what is now The Moon and from Cabo’s. At the time, the area was part of the great Apalachee settlement of Anhaica Apalache, and de Soto’s soldiers occupied some of the natives’ homes. The Spanish also built their own buildings. Historians had known from accounts of the voyage that the de Soto expedition wintered in the Tallahassee area, but they learned a couple decades ago exactly where when archaeologists unearthed several artifacts left behind by the Spaniards. They were camped along current day Lafayette St., near Myers Park, within site of the Capitol, had it been there. While there’s no particular mention of Christmas, the devout Catholics on the de Soto mission were known to celebrate saints’ days, and most assuredly would have held a mass on Christmas. That mass would have been more than 30 years before Spaniards settled at St. Augustine.

THURSDAY

NO SUPREME COURT OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court doesn’t’ release opinions this week. The next regular release is Jan. 3.

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.