A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms. You need their team on your side during this Legislative session for media, grassroots and netroots support. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team and how they can help you.
FLORIDA TOURISM THREATENED BY BUDGET CUTS, HIGHER FARES
Airfares will go up. Lines at airports will extend “out the door.” Foreign travelers will turn to other destinations outside this country. And irritated, price-conscious Americans will stay home or climb into their cars rather than fly to vacation spots like Florida. That’s the bleak picture envisioned by alarmed and disgusted tourism leaders, who predict that the federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” will dampen the summer vacation season and potentially damage Florida’s leading industry.
ON TODAY SHOW, JEB CRACKS DOOR OPEN TO 2016 RUN…
Bush won’t confirm he’s a candidate for the next presidential race, but he sounded like a White House hopeful Monday, declaring his party in need of leadership.
“I have a voice, I want to share my beliefs about how the conservative movement and the Republican party can regain its footing, because we’ve lost our way,” he told Today’s Matt Lauer.
Bush said he wouldn’t rule out a run in 2016, “but I won’t declare today either.”
Instead, he offered his views on the current fiscal problems facing the White House and Congress, including the deep budget cuts that will be rolled out in numerous federal agencies in upcoming weeks.
…REVERSES HIMSELF ON IMMIGRATION REFORM
In his new book, Immigration Wars, Bush makes a notable reversal on immigration reform, “arguing that creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would only encourage future unauthorized immigration.”
Writes Bush: “It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences — in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship.”
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ADVANCE LOOK AT SCOTT’S STATE OF THE STATE
Governor Rick Scott will deliver his third State of the State Address today at 11:00 am at the Florida State Capitol. Governor Scott’s address will be carried live on the Florida Channel. Below are excerpts from the Governor’s speech:
“This year, we have two priorities to keep our economy growing: first – remove the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, and second – invest in our teachers by providing them a well-deserved pay raise.
“Our Florida Families First budget supports these priorities while maintaining substantial reserves. This is responsible stewardship of taxpayer money. …Washington, DC could learn a few budget lessons from Florida. The contrast between our state and the nation’s capital is remarkable.
“Now is not the time to turn back to the legacy of taxing and borrowing that crippled the economy we inherited two years ago. We must stay the course for economic growth and job creation.”
“When I first stood before you in 2011, I said, ‘The single most important factor in student learning is the quality of teaching.’
“Since that time, we eliminated teacher tenure. We signed performance pay into law, and it will take effect in 2014.
“Florida’s education system is making tremendous progress, due in large part to our great teachers and the work begun by Governor Bush and many in this legislature.
“Our students and teachers were recently ranked sixth for educational quality; and our fourth-graders scored among the highest in the world on a recent reading evaluation.
“Accountability is working.
“The best way we can build on this progress is to reward our hard-working teachers with a $2,500 pay raise.
“Some say they are afraid that giving raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But, thanks to our work, we are now in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom.
“We don’t want a war on teachers; we want a war on failure.
“We came into office saying we wanted to create an environment that would encourage businesses to add 700,000 jobs over 7 years.
“When I took office two years ago, the debate was about whether or not this goal was even possible.
“Now, there is a debate about how to count all the jobs being created, and who should get credit for it. Maybe it is because I am not a politician, but I think this is a great debate to have. It celebrates the fact that our economy is once again creating jobs…And, as Ronald Reagan said, there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care about who gets the credit.
“Two years ago, we began the hard work to get our state’s economy back on track. Today, we know its working.
“We could have chosen a different course. We could have continued to drive up taxes and borrowed to increase spending. That would have been the easy way out.
“California raised their top income tax rate to 13.3 percent – the highest in the nation. But, it isn’t working in California. People are leaving their state and they have the second highest unemployment rate in the country.
“More taxes and more spending aren’t working in New York either. More than 3.4 million New Yorkers fled for other states from 2000 to 2009. Florida was their number one destination.”
SCOTT’S MESSAGE WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR TUESDAY’S STATE OF THE STATE by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott chose this out-of-the-way town to cement his bond with the tea party and showcase his first state budget as proof of his conservative credentials.
Tuesday, Scott will deliver a very different message to lawmakers gathered in Tallahassee for the start of the 2013 legislative session.
… In conservative Eustis, people can’t reconcile the two Rick Scotts they see.
“This is a betrayal to the patriot movement,” said Patricia Sullivan, the North Lake Tea Party president who invited Scott to Eustis two years ago. “Expanding government, and saying we’ll take care of the problem down the road, is unacceptable.”
Up the street, long-time pawn shop owner Rocky Harris, a retired sheriff’s deputy, shook his head and said: “Rick Scott would have a hard time getting elected dog catcher around here.”
FDP DOESN’T THINK SCOTT’S MESSAGE IS GENUINE via Jennifer Currington of the Orlando Sentinel
Scott touting his “Florida Families First” budget throughout the state has not been enough to convince FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant that he really cares about families and their needs.
“So thanks governor, in your new found interest in Florida’s families. But it is not genuine and we are not going to forget,” Tant said.
Sen. Darren Soto said the governor has not delivered on his campaign promise to create more jobs in the state and that he continuously takes credit for jobs he did not create.
“In fact Scott cut more jobs than he created in 2012 and the jobs he created aren’t high paying, high quality positions of the future,” Soto said.
***Job creators from throughout Florida are gathering this week in Tallahassee for the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual Board of Governors Capitol Days. Just as lawmakers kick-off the 2013 Legislative Session, Florida’s private-sector job creators are directing their focus on making Florida’s business climate more competitive and lowering the cost of living for Florida’s families and small businesses. Florida’s leading elected officials, along with some of the most important policy decisions facing Florida, top the impressive Florida Chamber’s Capitol Days lineup. Learn more at www.FloridaChamber.com.***
HOUSE COMMITTEE, WEATHERFORD SAY NO TO MEDICAID EXPANSION via the Orlando Sentinel
After more than an hour of debate, the committee, by a 10-5 vote, instructed staff to draft legislation that would turn down federal money for a potential expansion of Medicaid to individuals and families earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level.
And the committee was immediately backed up by Speaker Weatherford.
“We simply cannot count on the federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost for expansion,” said the Wesley Chapel Republican. “The facts show that healthcare costs will go up for many Floridians, while access to and quality of healthcare will go down. The ‘all or nothing’ approach that the Obama administration is offering will not work for our state. I know there will be continued discussion about this matter, and I look forward to exploring better policies for our state.”
The decision sets up a conflict with Gov. Scott, who has backed a three-year expansion of Medicaid, and potentially the Senate, which is expected to make a recommendation later this week favoring expansion. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay the total cost of expansion for the first three years and at least 90 percent of the cost afterwards.
House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston:
Representative Mike Fasano:
“By voting to turn back these dollars, this committee has, in essence, told millions of Floridians that they are not worthy of having access to primary health care services. Our office receives untold numbers of calls from single women, single mothers and others who may be living on the edge, that they cannot see a doctor because they do not qualify for Medicaid under existing criteria. … Florida’s taxpayers are donors to the federal government,” Representative Fasano states. “The dollars that the federal government offered to the state are dollars that Florida has already sent to Washington. By not accepting these dollars, Florida is not only guaranteeing that people will not get the coverage they need, they are also guaranteeing that those dollars will go to some other state which will gladly accept and use them for their own residents.”
Former Senate Dan Gelber, via Twitter:
@DanGelber: 500,000 FL children without health insurance. If no Obamacare what’s their solution?
Florida Democratic Party:
“Today, in a display of Gov. Rick Scott’s complete failure to lead his own party, House Republicans voted against expanding Medicaid to nearly a million Floridians. Despite broad public support the House GOP put politics before the well-being of Floridians. This partisan foot-dragging at the expense of Florida’s most vulnerable is as egregious as it is wrong. Floridians have spoken and the cost of doing nothing is too high.”
The James Madison Institute:
“The House made the right decision today to not draft a committee bill expanding Medicaid under PPACA provisions. Many Members expressed valid concerns that this could hurt the people that it is aimed at helping. State leaders should focus on providing more access to quality care — expanding a program that is inefficient in this effort is not a way to do that. Additionally, in our recent poll of 600 registered Florida voters more than 63 percent said they are wary that the federal government would keep the funding level promises made, and clearly many House Members share this worry. If history is any indicator, costs of such programs are often underestimated and there has been examples of the federal government going back on their promise before. These issues cannot be ignored.”
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FIRST DAY OF SESSION
The 2013 session of the Legislature convenes Tuesday, the 115th regular session since Florida achieve statehood on March 3, 1845. The House goes into session at 9:30 a.m., the Senate at 10 a.m. and then both chambers combine for a joint session at 11 a.m.
From health care and insurance to teacher raises and election reform, the 60-day session could be a political do-over for a Florida Legislature looking to rewrite some of its controversial recent history.
The bill filing deadline for the 2013 session is at noon Tuesday.
The Awake The State organization plans statewide rallies on Tuesday as members express their “discontent against Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature’s undemocratic, anti-middle class policies.” A rally in Tallahassee takes place at 4 p.m. on the front steps of the Historic Capitol.
TWITTER CHAT WORTH READING
@SaintPetersBlog: @asharock @amy_hollyfield Who are two or three lawmakers, under the radar, you will be paying attention to?
@amy_hollyfield: But under the radar, consider Dana Young of #Tampa, taking House leadership role this year …
@amy_hollyfield: And I’ll be interested in whether Ross Spano keeps up with his plan to read every bill he votes on
@asharock: Another to watch for me: Darryl Rouson. How many deals does he cut with GOP and how mad does he make ppl like @markpafford.
CRISAFULLI DESIGNED NEXT SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
In a designation ceremony in the Florida Capitol, the Republican Caucus of the Florida House of Representatives formally selected Crisafulli to serve as Leader of the Caucus for the 2014–2016 legislative term.
In remarks delivered to an audience that included fellow House members, family members and distinguished guests, Crisafulli cited a work ethic and commitment to service that was instilled in him at a young age by his family. Crisafulli promised collaboration, telling his House colleagues, “My success will be determined by your success. That is my first commitment to you.”
The Speaker Designate continued, “Those looking for answers to the challenges facing our nation and our party would do well to consider Florida as a model—a model that has the Florida House’s imprint all over it.”
Immediately before his speech, Speaker Designate Crisafulli was nominated for Speaker by Representative Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne). Workman noted, Crisafulli “has been a consistent and principled voice for the constituents who elect him to serve their community. Now, although he had little time to prepare for this, he is, without a doubt, ready to lead the Florida House and do honor to this great institution.”
In his remarks seconding Workman’s nomination, Representative Matt Hudson (R-Naples) said, “Steve and I came to Tallahassee for the same reasons – to make Florida a better place for our kids and their kids to achieve their dreams. We share a commitment to principles like limited government, freedom and personal responsibility.”
Crisafulli was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 and has been reelected subsequently to represent Brevard County. He is an Agribusinessman and also works in real estate. Crisafulli is married to Kristen and, together, they raise their daughters, Carly and Kennedy.
5 QUESTIONS FOR SPEAKER DESIGNATE STEVE CRISAFULLI here, including:
SPB: What was it like to selected by your colleagues as Speaker Designate in 2014-16? Did you ever envision yourself being Speaker of the House?
Crisafulli: It is both an honor and a humbling experience to have my friends and colleagues place their trust in my ability to serve as Speaker. Before a call from Senator Thad Altman (then Representative Altman) in 2008, I never even imagined running for the legislature, so, no, I did not envision this happening. Like many things in life, you can’t always prepare years in advance, but you can seize opportunities, work hard, and make a positive impact.
TWEET, TWEET: @DJGroup: What a very nice man @SteveCrisafulli, congratulations. Good guys can finish first.
WELCOME TO THE TWITTERS, MR. SPEAKER DESIGNATE: Follow Steve Crisafulli @SteveCrisafulli
SENATE DEMS UNVEIL ELECTION REFORM WISH-LIST by Dara Kam of the Palm Beach Post
Senate Democrats released a 7-point plan to fix the state’s elections, going much farther than what GOP leaders in both chambers appear to be prepared to accept.
The Democrats’ plan would not only repeal HB 1355, the 2011 law that shrank early voting from 14 to eight days, which critics say was a major factor in long lines and waits up to eight hours encountered by some voters last fall.
The Democrats’ plan would require 14 days of early voting in statewide or presidential elections, including the last Sunday before Election Day, known as “Souls to the Polls”; one early voting site for each 47,000 registered voters; more flexibility in early voting sites; and allowing voters who move to cast regular ballots instead of provisional ballots at the polls. They also want voters to be able to cast their absentee ballots in person at elections offices as soon as they receive the ballots in the mail.
SENATE DEMS TO CAUCUS
The Senate Democratic Caucus meets 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in room 200 of the Senate Office Building.
TWEET OF THE DAY: @SenChrisSmith: Today is last day to get campaign checks. Members walking across street from Capital, get envelope from Lobbiest, then walk back #LookShady
***Come celebrate with Florida’s premier think tank, The James Madison Institute, on Wed., March 13, 2013 at JMI’s 25th Anniversary Gala to be held at The University Center Club at Florida State University. Watch the video invitation from event guest speaker, Speaker of the Florida House Will Weatherford. Follow updates on Twitter: #JMI25***
4TH FLOOR FILES features Ballard Partners’ Amy Young. Here’s the file on Amy.
ON EVE OF CAMPAIGN REFORMS, A MAD DASH FOR CASH via Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel
From before-noon coffees to evening soirees, lawmakers and lobbyists marked the eve of the 60-day session of the Florida Legislature Monday in private clubs and lobbying offices with a traditional social ritual: handing out millions of dollars in checks.
With lawmakers banned from raising funds while in session, they rushed from the Florida Retail Federation’s noon luncheon to dueling Republican and Democratic legislative cash calls at the private Governor’s Club, to Associated Industries of Florida’s annual evening party. All told, at least 34 fundraisers were held, attended by many of the biggest interest groups and companies that are seeking favors during the next two months.
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Rep. Darryl Rouson
“Great outpouring of support from many friends at my fundraisers in Tallahassee today. I am humbled and emboldened #Victory2014”
Great outpouring of support from many friends at my fundraisers in Tallahassee today. I am humbled and emboldened #Victory2014
FORMER PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISH BURT AARONSON NOW A LOBBYIST via the Palm Beach Post
Aaronson, whose 20-year tenure on the board ended in November because of term limits, will be in Tallahassee this week as a freshly registered lobbyist.
Aaronson is signed up to attend Palm Beach County Days, the county’s annual lobbying blitz, as a representative of The Aaronson Group LLC, a business that filed incorporation papers in November and operates out of son Daniel Aaronson‘s law offices in Fort Lauderdale.
Burt Aaronson is registered to lobby on behalf of Delray Medical Center. His lobbyist registration form arrived in Tallahassee on Friday afternoon. While he can lobby the legislature and the executive branch, Aaronson and other former commissioners are barred from lobbying county government for two years after leaving office.
FORMER SEN. STEVE WISE PITCHING TO FLA. SUPERINTENDENTS via The Gradebook
After being termed out at the end of 2012, Steve Wise said he had no intention of remaining in politics. But he hasn’t strayed far, at one point angling for the interim presidency at Florida State College at Jacksonville. More recently, he e-mailed superintendents around the state to offer them a deal on a new series of material aimed at helping struggling teachers.
“Dear Superintendent,” Wise wrote. “I am Steve Wise, Ed. D., Executive Director of the Teaching and Learning Foundation and want to speak with you about the problem of the unequal distribution of effective teachers and a path to remedying this issue. Only a few teachers in any one school building can adversely affect AYP and student achievement goals. Better preparing those teachers when they receive new subject assignments can help minimize the problem. But how can you better prepare them in a “just-in-time”, economical, practical way?
“There is a recently patented program to address this problem and I am pleased to announce that the Foundation has arranged for a discount from the supplier of a series of over 120 subject specific instructional support materials each with subject-specific mentoring teacher access. Along with this there will be workshops via the internet during the summer on the proper use of the material.”
PREVIEWING SPACE DAY ON WEDNESDAY
There will be Space-related exhibits on the 3rd floor of the rotunda in the Capitol building from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Astronaut and former KSC director, Bob Crippen, will be signing autographs for legislators and assistants at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the same location. We will also have a spaceman appearance at the same location. The steering committee will be meeting with the Lt. Governor at 9 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss the aerospace industry and its relevance to the state of Florida. As well, teams of aerospace representatives will be meeting all day with Representatives and Senators educating them on aerospace initiatives and its importance to the Florida economy.
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APPOINTED: Thomas E. “Tommy” Bronson and Bryan K. Beswick to the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
>>>The Florida Department of Environmental Protection holds a workshop in Tallahassee and via webinar on proposals to revise contamination site cleanup target levels and criteria. The workshops are prompted by a petition by Associated Industries of Florida but DEP is not proposing rule changes at this time.
>>>The H.T. Odum Florida Springs Institute holds “A Springs Conservation Summit — Accepting the Problems, Proposing Solutions” near Trenton. The summit begins at 9 a.m. at theOtter Springs Park & Campground.
>>>The Office of Demographic Research holds a Revenue Estimating Conference about gross receipts and PECO bond rates
>>>The Public Service Commission meets at 9:30 a.m. to make consider a dozen cases during a commission conference meeting. One case is the rate increase request by Florida Power & Light Co. The meeting is at the Betty Easley Conference Center.