Several readers have asked for SaintPetersblog.com to bring back the regular feature on Sunday in which we highlight the best of the state newspapers’ editorials. Well, now that we have brought on an extra staffer, one of the first things we are doing is doing just that…
In the surreal world of the Florida Legislature, the problem with the state’s overburdened, underfunded court system is not that lawmakers give the courts too little money. It’s that those darned judges just don’t work hard enough. No wonder the latest hare-brained idea calls for paying judges big bonuses based on how many cases they close. If they get paid like car salesmen, maybe they will be motivated to sell more cars ?oops, move more court cases.The so-called Judicial Caseload Incentive Plan would set performance goals for reducing cases in the state’s courts. Circuits that meet these targets each quarter would qualify for bonuses for every judge. In a draft of the plan, circuit judges could earn an additional $3,000 per quarter and county judges an extra $2,820, on top of their respective $142,178 and $134,280 annual salaries.
There’s a coup brewing in Tallahassee. Some lawmakers ?still stinging after the state Supreme Court struck three of the Legislature’s flawed constitutional amendments from last year’s ballot ?have offered an array of proposals that would take authority and independence from the judiciary.
Florida’s court system is practically broke, and the Legislature is to blame.Two years ago, lawmakers hitched state court funding to civil filing fees and fines, but a steep and unforeseen drop in the number of mortgage foreclosure cases ?the most common legal claims in the wake of the housing bust ?has put the system in jeopardy.
Three months into Rick Scott? reign as governor and three weeks into the legislative session, the direction the Republicans in charge want to take Florida is becoming clear.They are against the poor, the homeless, teachers and unions.They favor polluted waterways, special interest dollars and money-making schemes that could add to a certain governor? personal wealth.
A very long, very vexing project will be winding up in the next few months, and it can? come soon enough for the merchants and residents along Biscayne Boulevard. Over the last 10 years these long-suffering folks have endured traffic jams, lane closures, lost business, a ton of dust and other inconveniences created by the Florida Department of Transportation? ambitious reconstruction of the boulevard, one stretch at a time, from County Line Road south to Northeast 15th Street.
Some legislators want to repeal red-light camera programs in Florida. They have the right idea for the wrong reason.
Even in their cars, though, motorists on public roads can’t claim the privilege of privacy. Parents who beat children while their car is in a parking lot can’t use the privacy of the front seat as a defense. The real problem with red-light cameras is that they are an unconstitutional attempt to raise money for strapped local governments.
As Florida lawmakers drag their feet and people continue to die from overdoses, St. Lucie County governments have adopted moratoriums or extended previous moratoriums on new pain clinics in an effort to rein in the proliferation of the “pill mills” that have made South Florida a haven for illegal trafficking in prescription drugs.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic nationally and Florida is the epicenter. Yet few steps have been taken legislatively to put an end to lax rules in the state that attract drug dealers and addicts from other states. Even a prescription drug database effective in other states and approved by the Florida Legislature has yet to be implemented. The primary holdup now isGov. Rick Scott, who is fighting the database, claiming it’s a waste of money and an invasion of privacy.
Florida began its annual race to the bottom as usual ?with a head start over most states.Even without tax cuts, budgets submitted by the governor and Legislature call for further reductions in funding for nursing homes that care for poor seniors, more cuts in social services funding, cutbacks in college scholarships and less money for economic development projects.
In a state with too many troubled waters, measures that reduce the flow of pollutants into our lakes, estuaries and rivers should be welcome. But with prodding from retailers and other powerful special interests, the Legislature appears intent on voiding summertime fertilizer bans that 47 counties and municipalities have adopted over the past few years.
Florida’s Medicaid program is a ravenous beast, and the Legislature must try to contain its growth.But lawmakers must not make penny-wise, pound-foolish “reforms” that save money now, only to end up costing much more to care for certain elderly and very ill people in the future.
State Sen. Steve Oelrich and Rep. Keith Perry have stepped into the controversy over the fate of the Paynes Prairie buffalo.The two local lawmakers are sponsoring legislation to exempt “free-roaming animal populations” at state parks from state liability provisions.
A warning shot was fired March 15, when the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee took up a sweeping bill that would eliminate state oversight of more than two dozen professions and industries — from home inspectors to auto mechanics, and travel agencies to time shares.“Sometimes, regulation can be productive,” said Nancy Stewart of the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida. “We all know that we have better behavior when someone’s watching.”
But obviously everyone does not know that — Rep. Estaban Bovo, R-Hialeah, chairman of the committee and sponsor of the bill, for one.
BP’s fault, Transocean’s fault, Cameron International’s fault, nobody’s fault ?all we know is the failure of the blowout preventer to do what it was designed to do ?prevent the Deepwater Horizon disaster ?underscores just how much of a gamble deepwater offshore drilling really is.Here we are almost a year after the well blowout and explosion that caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, and still nobody can say with certainty why it happened.
After two months in office, here? what I think I know about Rick Scott, Florida? new CEO, ahem, governor:
He? a CEO who isn? used to asking for a permission.He? politically conservative but isn? Republican conservative or Libertarian conservative or even Tea Party conservative. He? big-business conservative who thinks that whatever is good for business is probably good for everybody else.It? an understatement to say he is mercurial and unpredictable.And finally, he is enigmatic and then some. I? not sure anyone, not even his fellow Republicans, are quite sure what to expect from Scott.