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 TimesHouse health plan: little care, high cost 

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is failing the test of fiscal responsibility and compassionate leadership by rejecting federal money to expand Medicaid. The House alternative is no safety net for the uninsured and would cover a fraction of the 1 million poor Floridians who would qualify for expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It offers false hope and too little coverage at too much cost — all so Weatherford and other Republicans can continue an ideological fight with the Obama administration. 

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott has dismissed the House proposal, and the Republican governor and the Senate should continue to push for a more pragmatic answer that uses the federal money. Scott correctly called the House plan double taxation, noting Floridians already pay

federal taxes to fund health care reform and would have to pay for the House plan, which is estimated to cost $2 billion over 10 years. 

The Bradenton HeraldFL Legislature improves pain pill oversight, but bills still lacking 

Florida, and Manatee County in particular, have made impressive gains in the struggle to corral prescription drug abuse. At the height of epidemic, the easy access to highly addictive pain killers and other narcotic medications exacted a severe toll on the health and welfare of Floridians.

While the number of deaths linked to oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone has dropped dramatically, thousands of people are still dying each year. The state cannot afford to rest on past success.

Companion bills in the House and Senate improve state oversight over controlled substances but miss the opportunity for tighter regulations. The upper chamber’s version, SB 1192, contains a provision that amounts to a poison pill for Manatee County and other jurisdictions. House Bill 831 strengthens use of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program but not as much as originally intended. 

Daytona Beach News-JournalObama takes needed step in controlling entitlements 

President Barack Obama has done something he has heretofore generally avoided. Obama has proposed his first major and feasible attack on the biggest problems of our time: overspending, the national debt and annual budget deficits of $1 trillion and more. 

This is a major development. The president has made only a few overtures to Republicans in the struggle over deficit spending, despite the fact that he railed against the smaller deficit spending of his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

To reduce deficits, Obama prefers tax increases. Republicans oppose tax increases. But Obama did get his way on raising rates for wealthy earners. 

The Lakeland LedgerLakeland Regional Medical Center: Ahead of the Future 

The future is tricky at a large hospital such as Lakeland Regional Medical Center. At one time or another, most people in and around Lakeland will depend on LRMC to make possible the best futures for themselves through good health. 

As the Lakeland-area population increases over the years, the rolls of young doctors graduating into day-to-day health care dwindle, and standards and abilities of medical care advance.

Rather than looking just a little way ahead and making incremental updates, LRMC is working to jump into the future today.

The Miami HeraldElection reform lite 

After legislative hubris made voting in Florida an exercise in torture, lawmakers are working to rectify their misguided efforts. Nothing like being a national punch line — again — to send folks back to the drawing board. The question remains, Are lawmakers embarrassed enough to do the right thing? 

This session, there is a bipartisan effort to ease the pain too many people felt last year when all they wanted to do was cast a vote in the presidential election. In 2011, the Legislature, with Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing, curtailed early voting, mired voters in the quicksand of incomprehensible amendment language and, ultimately, rendered Florida’s role in the 2012 presidential election irrelevant. This after thousands of Floridians waited long after polls were closed to cast a vote. In Miami-Dade County, voting absentee was a confusing nightmare. 

Orlando Sentinel Keep party politics out of plan to merge agencies 

When it comes to delivering taxpayers the efficient government they deserve, transportation is one of many services that makes sense to run on a regional basis. Most roads don’t start and stop at city or county lines. Why split responsibility for them among multiple bureaucracies, each with its own budget and staff — and maybe its own self-serving agenda?

So legislation now moving through the Florida Legislature to created a combined expressway authority for Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties looks promising. The four counties share multiple interests, including an effective and efficient transportation system.

Under the bill, sponsored in the Senate by Maitland Republican David Simmons, the Central Florida Expressway Authority would be overseen by a nine-member board, with three members from Orange County and two each from the other three counties. The new agency would merge expressway authorities in Orange and Osceola counties, and pre-empt the creation of separate agencies in Lake and Seminole counties.

The Tampa TribuneThe price of Internet freedom

After legislative hubris made voting in Florida an exercise in torture, lawmakers are working to rectify their misguided efforts. Nothing like being a national punch line — again — to send folks back to the drawing board. The question remains, Are lawmakers embarrassed enough to do the right thing?

This session, there is a bipartisan effort to ease the pain too many people felt last year when all they wanted to do was cast a vote in the presidential election. In 2011, the Legislature, with Gov. Rick Scott’s blessing, curtailed early voting, mired voters in the quicksand of incomprehensible amendment language and, ultimately, rendered Florida’s role in the 2012 presidential election irrelevant. This after thousands of Floridians waited long after polls were closed to cast a vote. In Miami-Dade County, voting absentee was a confusing nightmare.

The Ocala Star BannerEthics challenged

Ethics reform — once proclaimed a high priority by the leaders of the Florida House and Senate — appears now to be nothing more than a bargaining chip.

That’s as good an explanation as any for a troubling series of events that occurred this week in the Legislature.

On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee removed language from its campaign-finance bill that would have increased the current $500 maximum contribution limit to $3,000 for legislative candidates and $5,000 for statewide candidates. The vote came a day after Gov. Rick Scott’s office said he wouldn’t support a bill that raised the contribution limit.

The Palm Beach PostCitizens bill would be unfair to South Florida, and a gift to the insurance industry

A terrible property insurance bill could come out of the Florida Senate this week.

Senate Bill 1770 passed a floor vote on Thursday. It is part misinformation, part hypocrisy and part outrage. In short, it is what South Floridians have come to expect from the Legislature on this issue.

As usual, the flashpoint is Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort. The goal of Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, the bill’s sponsor, and like-minded legislators who aren’t from South Florida is to jack up rates for Citizens customers in South Florida. To achieve that goal, legislators apparently are willing to say and do almost anything. Sen. Simmons began Thursday’s debate by saying that Citizens has 242,000 policies in Palm Beach County. He’s roughly 100,000 too high, according to the Citizens website.

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.