A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Assuming Harry Reid is unable to get the timetable accelerated to this evening, the action heads back in the Senate on Friday morning, when the chamber is scheduled to undertake a pivotal cloture vote on an extension of the soon-to-expire federal budget. If Harry Reid can clear the 60-vote hurdle for cloture, he’ll have a clear path to passing a budget extension that does not affect funding for Obamacare. Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators have said they won’t stand in Reid’s way on cloture, but Sen. Ted Cruz is demanding his fellow Republicans do everything they can to keep Obamacare from being funded—and promising to make them pay politically if they don’t. The cloture vote is set for the morning, while final passage of the bill is likely to come Saturday.
HOUSE WILL AMEND SENATE RESOLUTION via Roll Call
Speaker John Boehner signaled that the House would not simply vote on the version of the continuing resolution the Senate sends back, running up against a timeline that could suggest at least a temporary government shutdown.
While the Senate has accelerated its pace on the CR, there will be little time before Sept. 30 for that chamber to send its version of the CR back to the House, have the House send a revised version to the Senate, and then have the CR make its way through the Senate chamber — and that would assume the Senate accepts what the House sends them.
Asked if he expected the government to shut down, Boehner said, “No, I do not. No, I do not expect that to happen.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m not in the shut-down-the-government crowd. I’m in the take-over-the-government crowd.” — Sen. Lamar Alexander via the New York Times.
WHY A GOV’T SHUTDOWN MAY SAVE BOEHNER’S JOB via Noam Scheiber
“What the hell is John Boehner thinking? I don’t mean that strictly in a rhetorical sense, though it’s hard not to slap your head when you see the most powerful Republican in the country lurching from one cockamamie strategy to another. I mean it quite literally: What is Boehner’s personal calculation when it comes to navigating the various challenges–potential government shutdown, potential debt default, lunatic Republican caucus–he faces over the next few weeks?”
“The conventional wisdom is that Boehner cares most about avoiding a government shutdown, since he knows how damaging it would be to the Republican Party… But while it’s certainly the case that Boehner thinks a shutdown would be terrible for the party, and that he’d prefer to avoid one, it’s not at all clear it’s in his interest to do so.”
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DELAY IN OBAMACARE IMPLEMENTATION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES via POLITICO
Enrollment for most small-business exchanges, originally set to open Tuesday, has been delayed until November. While the exchanges are still opening for individuals on time, the announcement is “yet another PR headache for the White House as it ramps up a major Obamacare sales pitch.”
MOST REJECT GOP EFFORT TO END OBAMACARE
A new Bloomberg poll finds that by a margin of 50% to 43%, Americans say congressional Republicans should accept that Obamacare is the law of the land.
OBAMA: GOP WANTS TO ‘BLACKMAIL A PRESIDENT’ Peter Baker of the New York Times
Speaking passionately about Obamacare to a crowd in Maryland, the president abandoned the professorial tone he sometimes takes while describing the program and departed from his text to fire up supporters. He portrayed critics as billionaires who would deny help for the sick, and politicians who have become hostage to tea-party ideologues.
POLL: SUPPORT FOR OBAMACARE DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU CALL IT
A new CNBC poll asked half of respondents if they support Obamacare and the other half if they support the Affordable Care Act.
The findings: 46% oppose Obamacare while just 37% oppose the ACA.
So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives. Gender and partisanship are responsible for the differences. Men, independents and Republicans are more negative on Obamacare than ACA. Young people, Democrats, nonwhites and women are more positive on Obamacare.
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DEM GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION-BACKED GROUP BLASTS RICK SCOTT’S TAX PLAN ON ENEMY TURF via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union
Florida for All, a group funded largely by the national Democratic Governors Association, organized a news conference Thursday on enemy territory: in front of Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
The Tallahassee press conference was used to call for more public education funding and to hammer Scott’s proposal for a $500 million tax cut. With no high-profile Democrat yet filed to run for governor, Florida for All has set up shop early in Florida to tee-off on Scott. The newly-formed group is funded by a committee that has received nearly 77 percent of its funding from the Democratic Governors Association, according to the most recently filed campaign finance reports.
FORBES: FLORIDA RANKS 22ND ON LIST OF BEST STATES FOR BUSINESSES
Forbes is out with its rankings of the best states to do business, and Florida doesn’t finish particularly well. The Sunshine State comes in at Number 22, far behind the top finishers.
Florida was bested this year by places like Washington (#9), Massachusetts (#13), Oregon (#19), and … oh my … New York (#21).
Forbes ranked Virginia as the best state for business.
Forbes graded states on six different measures. Florida scored poorly on business costs (37th), quality of life (35th), and economic climate (46th).
Its growth prospects ranked 7th, and its labor supply ranked 12th.
Here’s the quick analysis Forbes did for Florida: “Between 2006 and 2011, the bursting of the housing bubble crushed Florida’s economy, with home prices sinking 47% statewide. The decline catapulted Florida into having the highest percentage of business closures over the past three years. Florida’s economy is, however, on the rebound. The state’s job growth is expected to be among the best in the country over the next five years.”
I wouldn’t get too worked up over Florida’s poor showing, because these rankings can be all over the board. After all, earlier this year both CEO Magazine and the website Business Facilities said Florida was the second-best state in the nation to do business.
That said, Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly said he wants Florida to be recognized as the most business-friendly state in the country, so this sort of study should be in his wheelhouse.
It’s also worth noting that the measures used by Forbes are areas Scott likes to talk about. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, were weighted most heavily.
TWEET OF THE DAY: @bsfarrington: It’s been four hours and 39 minutes since I’ve received an email from @FloridaGOP about @charliecristfl. Hope everything’s OK over there
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JUSTICES OK LAND AND WATER BALLOT INITIATIVE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
The Florida Supreme Court approved the first proposed constitutional amendment slated for next year’s ballot — a water and land conservation measure that could set aside $10 billion over the next two decades for environmental efforts.
The Florida Land and Water Legacy, the organization sponsoring the effort, is more than halfway to the 683,149 petition signatures needed to get on the November ballot, an amount representing 8 percent of all registered voters who cast ballots in the last general election.
“This is monumental step as we continue gathering petitions to place this important measure on the ballot,” said Will Abberger, the campaign’s chairman and director of conservation finance for The Trust for Public Land. ”Our campaign is proving that Floridians care deeply about our state’s natural heritage and want to safeguard it for future generations.”
The amendment would earmark one-third of the state’s documentary stamp tax dollars, drawn from real-estate transactions, for conservation, management, and restoration of Florida’s water and land for 20 years, beginning in July 2015.
TOUGH EMAIL OF THE DAY: “I watched cancer kill my dad” via John Morgan for United for Care (the campaign behind the medical marijuana ballot initiative)
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ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: ECONOMIC HEAVYWEIGHTS TO RELEASE REPORT ON STUDENTS & MONDAY
A coalition of economic heavyweights including the Florida Council on Economic Education (FCEE), Florida Bankers Association, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, will release a report about students and money in Florida today, Sept. 27, at 10:45 a.m. at the Florida Press Association headquarters in Tallahassee.
FLORIDA STUDENTS BELOW NATION IN SAT SCORES
Florida’s students continue to perform below the national average on the SAT college entrance exam, mirroring results from the ACT test. Results for the Class of 2013, released today, show SAT scores have hardly budged from 2012, and the number of test-takers remained nearly flat.
INSURANCE CONSUMER ADVOCATE RESIGNS via Kathleen Haughney of the Orlando Sentinel
The state’s insurance consumer advocate, Robin Westcott, has resigned. “It has been a great experience to represent the insurance consumers of this state and I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity,” Westcott write in her resignation letter to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.
Wescott spearheaded a number of working groups that looked at big insurance problems such as the rising costs of personal injury protection insurance and the claims process in property insurance.
Over the summer, she held the first meeting of a workgroup on property insurance. One of the main concerns Westcott voiced was a process she called “post claims underwriting.”
In that process, insurance companies were finding reasons to drop customers when they made a claim after a storm. The state Office of Insurance Regulation fined Universal Property and Casualty Insurance for that practice earlier this year.
JEB BUSH ANNOUNCES CONDI RICE AND TED OLSON TO SPEAK AT SUMMIT via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News
Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education announced on Thursday that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson will speak at the 2013 National Summit on Education Reform on Oct. 17 in Boston.
Olson will focus on how the law can help education reform; Rice will interview Olson on various cases he has handled for education reform.
Bush will open the summit with a keynote address at a breakfast event on Oct. 17.
POLICY NOTES via The Florida Current
Department of Children and Families’ Division of Economic Self Sufficiency: Holds an executive steering committee on the Medicaid Eligibility System 9 to 11 a.m. at 1317 Winewood Blvd., Bldg. 4, Tallahassee. An agenda can be obtained by contacting can be obtained by contacting Yvonne_Dowling@dcf.state.fl.us.
State University System’s Strategic Planning Committee and Board of Governors: Meet starting 10 a.m. via telephone conference call. The number is 888-670-3525, Participant Code: 4122150353.
Bob Graham Center Hackathon: Holds a 54-hour Hackathon focused on creating new tools and platforms for civic engagement. Designers, programmers, and business students from UF will spend the weekend working on new ideas and designs for a mobile app geared towards facilitating civil political discourse. It begins 4 p.m.. More information can be found here.
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EDITORIAL — “REOPEN CAFE BILL” via The News Herald
In their haste to pass a ban on Internet gambling cafes earlier this year, Florida legislators laid waste to legitimate, unrelated games of chance.
Their scattershot approach wounded Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Buster.
The rush to “do something” wound up doing a lot more than was intended. At a hearing Monday of the Senate Gaming Committee, Sen. Jack Latvala said the law prohibits parlor games and those “claw” machines that grab stuffed animals and other toys, which are popular at such chain restaurants as Chuck E. Cheese’s and Dave & Buster’s. He said lawsuits have been filed to shut down those games, and he said he suspected it was owners of the Internet cafés doing the suing trying to make a point about the law.
… This is what you get when you treat lawmaking like it’s a fourth-grader’s history project that’s due tomorrow. You slap something together at the last minute with no forethought just to accommodate a deadline. It’s all broad strokes and no detail.
… The Legislature must reopen the Internet café law, clarify what is and isn’t allowed, strip it bare of all its unintended consequences — and use it as a reminder of how not to pass bills.
JUDGE RULES FL MED MAL LEGISLATION INVALID, BUT IT IS FAR FROM CASE CLOSED via contributor Karen Cyphers
Prior to July 2013, defendants in medical malpractice cases were barred from interviewing the plaintiff’s other physicians without the plaintiff’s consent — information that was easily available to plaintiffs and their lawyers and is often relevant to charges. To the Florida Medical Association and the physicians they represent, this created an unfair playing field that placed defendants at a strong disadvantage, and prevented defense attorneys from deciding more quickly whether to proceed with or settle a case.
In 2013, Sen. Tom Lee and Rep. Matt Gaetz sought to provide equal access to medical fact witnesses in such cases. SB 1792 was passed by both chambers and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. But immediately after these new medical malpractice laws took effect on July 1st, lawsuits were filed across the state attacking “ex parte interviews” as violating patient privacy.
A ruling in one of these suits, Glen Murphy v. Adolfo C. Dulay, M.D., came on Wednesday. Federal Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued an order holing the ex parte provision of the 2013 tort legislation invalid, writing that it was preempted by federal HIPPA laws.
But this ruling is certainly not case closed.
While Hinkle’s ruling enjoins Dr. Dulay from asking for or obtaining health information regarding the plaintiff in an ex parte interview, the order does not impose a statewide injunction on the ex parte law. Three other cases are pending that challenge this provision on the same grounds, and in these cases, courts may reach a different conclusion. Further, in a challenge of a nearly identical Texas law, the Texas Supreme Court reached a very different decision, ruling that state law was not preempted by federal privacy provisions. Both Dr. Dulay and the State have the right to appeal this decision, and the FMA has offered to assist Dr. Dulay in doing so. The FMA has also been in touch with the Attorney General’s office.
Hinkle’s ruling does not impact other provisions of the 2013 tort reform package, including expert witness reforms.
REP. KATHLEEN PETERS HONORED BY FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES
The Florida League of Cities honored Representative Kathleen Peters with a Legislative Appreciation Award on September 26th at the Florida Capital. Legislative Appreciation Award recipients are lawmakers who consistently vote and advocate on behalf of the League and its members. This prestigious award was presented to Rep. Peters for her tireless efforts to protect the home rule powers of Florida’s cities during the 2013 legislative session. Rep. Peters voted in support of League positions, offered amendments to help prevent preemptions and unfunded mandates, or worked behind the scenes to rally support for League positions.
SENATE REPUBLICANS WANT MORE RESERVES, TALK LESS ABOUT TALK CUTS via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
Senate Republican leaders downplayed Gov. Rick Scott’s call for $500 million in tax and fee cuts Thursday, saying it’s more important for Florida to have robust budget reserves heading into next year’s elections. Senate budget chief Joe Negron said lawmakers should first pledge to set aside $1.5 billion in reserves — up from the $1 billion now proposed — before going through the budget and finding cash for other needs. Negron already wants at least $100 million dedicated to a range of work needed to ease environmental problems stemming from Lake Okeechobee, but he’s not saying ‘no’ to Scott’s election-year tax-and-fee-cut proposal.
“I think that’s a very good marker that the governor has set,” Negron said. “But…to achieve that, we’d have to go through the budget and make reductions and use that money to deploy for those fee-and-tax cuts and other spending.”
The state is expecting an $845.7 million budget surplus next year. But about have the cash is one-time money flowing into the treasury, making it tough to use on cuts that would be a recurring expense, economist Amy Baker told the budget panel.
Scott earlier this month promoted his giveaway plan on a four-day swing across five cities, kicking off the tour in West Palm Beach. Scott hasn’t specified what cuts he’s considering. But the tour gave business leaders a chance to pitch him on a host of ideas, including cutting the state’s sales tax on rental property to lowering utility taxes.
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TWEET, TWEET: @willweatherford: Tomorrow morning at 7:15 I will be on @foxandfriends discussing #ObamaCare and the array of new taxes that comes with it. Tune in!
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MARK PAFFORD COULD HAUNT HOUSE DEMOCRATS IN 2014 via Jeff Henderson of Sunshine State News
In choosing Mark Pafford to be their next leader, Democrats in the Florida House veered to the left. With several House Democrats already facing major threats in swing districts next year, this lurch to the left could have big consequences in 2014. Pafford’s victory over Alan Williams underscores how much the House Democrats have changed in recent years. While only a few years ago the likes of Debbie Boyd and Leonard Bembry could be found in the back rows of the House, right now there are no moderate Democrats representing North Florida districts.
To be sure, Williams is no conservative but he’s certainly more pro-business than Pafford. It’s fitting that Katie Edwards, one of the last of the Blue Dogs in the Legislature, spoke on Williams’ behalf before the vote on Wednesday night.
Pafford will have a tough task in 2014 as he looks to cut into the Republican majority that controls the House. Democrats have their opportunities to win a few House seats, including a special election for an open seat in Pasco County next month.
In backing Pafford, House Democrats have swung to the left. As Republicans look to pick off some Democrat incumbents next year, Pafford could be one of the best weapons in the GOP’s arsenal.
REP. JOE SAUNDERS TO KICK-OFF RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN ON OCT. 15 via Frank Torres
State Representative Joe Saunders has announced that his re-election campaign will kick-off in the middle of October.
Saunders currently represents the UCF area as well as parts of East Orlando. He was able to roll to victory after the Obama for America campaign maximized turnout in the blue district. Saunders carries high favorable ID on campus and will be difficult to beat if he can bring out the college kids.
The Democrat’s only declared opponent at this time is Republican Edward Nelson Rodriguez but he’s made little noise up to this point.
REPUBLICAN SHAWN HARRISON GARNERS LOCAL DEMOCRATIC
Shawn Harrison, former legislator and candidate for House District 63, announced Thursday the endorsement of two leading Democrats in Hillsborough County. The endorsements come from former Mayor Dick Greco, who touted Harrison’s work as a councilman; and former Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Alvarez, commending Harrison’s ability to work across party lines.
TWO BROWARD LEGISLATIVE CANDIADATES FACE RESIDENCY QUESTIONS via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel
In one corner: a candidate who doesn’t live in the Broward County district she’s seeking to represent. In the other: a candidate who, records show, has lived in Broward for years — even when he was an elected official in Palm Beach County. Welcome to the 96th Florida House of Representatives district, which includes parts of Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate and Parkland. Enter Kristin Jacobs and Steven Perman, two Democrats running for their party’s nomination to succeed Waldman.
Jacobs said she’s represented most of the District 96 territory on the Broward Commission for years, and said she’d move there if she wins. Such an approach would allow her to see what happens in the primary; if she loses, she wouldn’t have to move.
Jacobs has another residency twist: her address isn’t shown on the State Division of Elections website.
Unlike every other Broward legislative candidate, the state lists only asterisks where the address would normally go.
In 2008, the Sun Sentinel reported that Waldman owned a $920,000 house on nearly four acres outside his district but claimed to actually live in a 920-square-foot condo in the district, where he rented a bedroom for $250 a month.
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FLORIDA’S ELECTRIC UTILITIES UNDER FIRE via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing
When St. Petersburg attorney Dwight Dudley decided to run for a seat in the state Legislature last year, plenty of issues fueled his candidacy. Nuclear cost recovery wasn’t one of them — at least at first.
But his opponent’s support of legislation allowing utilities to charge for such costs turned out to be a winning issue for Dudley — and this weekend a protest in downtown St. Pete will underscore why the issue may have more political weight than ever. Continue reading for the back story and more.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Lisa Ard: Florida Agritourism Association, Inc.
Slater Bayliss, Al Cardenas, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida
Ron Book, Rana Brown: Kaiser University
Bernie Friedman, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Association of Jewish Federations
Tom Gallagher, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate & Webb PA: American Financial Security Life Insurance Co.
Natalie King, Ron Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Tampa Sports Authority
Jack Cory, Keyna Cory, Public Affairs Consultants: Town of Jupiter Inlet Colony
NEW ON THE TWITTERS: Frank @Tsamoutales
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Dr. Mona Mangat, Dr. David McKalip, Dr. Susan MacManus, Joni James of the Tampa Bay Times
Political Connections on Orlando’s 13 News: Jackie Colon with NALEO
Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Secretary of State Ken Detzner
The Usual Suspects on Tallahassee’s WCTV: Reggie Garcia
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CAN’T WAIT TO READ “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” by Chris Matthews: “The outsider and the insider: these two moved in a remarkable, if sometimes rough, tandem. They argued mightily, each man belting out his separate, deeply cherished political philosophy – but then they would, both together, bow to this country’s judgment. Decisions were made, action taken, outcomes achieved. They honored the voters, respected the other’s role. Each liked to beat the other guy, not sabotage him. During this period, government met its deadlines. Members of Congress listened and acted. Debates led to solutions. Shutdowns were averted. … Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were definite political rivals. Just not always.”
FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY: “Received my official Bar results in the mail from the Supreme Court of Florida. I passed and will be sworn in at a ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida” — via Doug McAlarney
FSU EARNS A PLAYBOY PARTY SCHOOL RANKING AND OTHER RELATED CLIPS via contributor Karen Cyphers
Florida State: ranked No. 1 in NCAA women’s soccer, No. 8 in NCAA football, and … No. 5 on Playboy’s list of the nation’s top 10 party schools? Indeed. Rankings were generated by Playboy staff using Census data, National Center for Education Statistics, and feedback from social media. Last year’s winner, the University of Virginia, didn’t make the list; nor did the University of Florida that previously ranked at No. 4. Florida State was listed as a party school by Princeton Review in nine out of the past 12 years, and by Playboy in 2002, 2006 and 2009.
Earlier this year, Florida State was also trumped as No. 8 on the list of colleges with female students seeking “sugar daddies” on SeekingArrangements.com. FSU had a 240% increase in the growth of such activity from the previous year. Florida State did not make the “top 50 marijuana schools” list by Fiesta Frog in 2013. And there you have it.
JACKSONVILLE COMPANY RANKED TOP U.S. SMALL BUSINESS
Professional Placement Resources, or PPR Talent Management Group, in Jacksonville Beach had been listed among the top 25 best small businesses in America for about a decade in a Fortune magazine rating, but this year the company nabbed the top spot.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY this weekend to David Bishop and Brian Graham.
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