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Mitch Perry Report for 4.16.15 — The $2 billion elephant in the Capitol

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

For those of you out there less enamored by Florida’s reputation as the “Gunshine State,” there was some positive news out of Tallahassee Wednesday night.

That proposal that would give school superintendents the ability to designate a school district employee or volunteer to carry a concealed weapon on a school campus was scheduled on the docket Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee. Committee Chairman John Legg, though, exercised his authority and said it wouldn’t come up again in his committee. He told reporters it doesn’t look like it’s going to be resurrected as an amendment on any other bill in the Senate.

And the more notorious guns-on-campus bill — college campuses — also also appears to be dying. Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla told the Tampa Bay Times that there isn’t any support for it in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, more lawmakers are going on the record that the budget impasse between the House and Senate over accepting federal money for Medicaid expansion is not going anywhere. So who will blink first?

“We’ve got to get this big elephant tamed,” Naples Republican Sen. Garrett Richter said. “There’s a $2 billion elephant in the room.” He was referring to the federal funding the Senate wants to accept to expand the LIP program to provide health care coverage to low-income Floridians.

So, prepare for a special session. But again, who’s going to budge? House  Republicans have heard Richard “Braveheart” Corcoran’s declaration that the House ain’t dancing with the Senate. “We are not dancing this session, ” he famously said on the House floor two weeks ago. “We are not dancing next session, we are not dancing next summer. We’re not dancing. And if you want to blow up the process because somehow you think you have the right that doesn’t exist, have at it. But we are going to do what’s right.”

You think the House is going to back down with the future House speaker’s words hanging over them?

In other news …

A number of Tampa Democrats have been grumbling about Bob Buckhorn’s seeming lack of enthusiasm for standing up for party values. Perhaps they were assuaged somewhat by the mayor’s appearance Wednesday at the Fight for 15 rally in Tampa’s Copeland Park.

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Although Will Weatherford has dropped out of consideration for the Florida U.S. Senate seat next year, David Jolly says he’s considering a run. That led to wild speculation about what the field could look like if Jolly doesn’t run for the CD13 seat in Pinellas next year.

• • •

A survey conducted by St. Pete Polls doesn’t augur well for St. Petersburg if the city selection committee in charge of selecting a new pier design doesn’t do with the people’s choice, St. Pete Pier Destination.

• • •

It was eight years ago Wednesday that Barack Obama made his first  appearance in Tampa, speaking at the Cuban Club in Ybor City. Today, City Council members say they want Tampa to be the site of any major announcement between the two countries going forward.

• • •

And Marco Rubio and his pal, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, defended their tax reform plan Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The plan is generating criticism from both the left and the right.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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