Sunshine State News: ‘The Dean’s List’ Talks Florida Politics
By Ed Dean // April 5, 2015
Ed Dean-style look at Florida's politics
Welcome to The Dean’s List — an Ed Dean-style look at who Florida’s political achievers were (and weren’t) in the last seven days. What you see here is strictly my opinion, not necessarily the editor’s or the rest of the staff at Sunshine State News.
THOSE WHO MADE THE LIST:
The Florida House Appropriations Committee. The Florida House majority’s $76.2 billion budget cuts 851 state government jobs.
Gov. Rick Scott’s budget proposal would cut 1,018 state government jobs, less than 1 percent of state employees.
But, over in the Florida Senate, they’re having none of this. Their $80.4 billion budget would actually increase state government by adding 35 new jobs. The House plan is smaller than Scott wanted, but it’s still a good start, especially when compared to the one pushed by fellow Republicans over in the Senate.
Florida Reps., Chris Sprowls, R-Clearwater and Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) needs reform and one option is a proposal from La Rosa for more transparency.
La Rosa’s bill would require people lobbying the PSC to actually register as lobbyists. The bill woud prevent electric utilities from charging higher rates through the extension of billing cycles and require utilities to notify customers of the best available rates.
Best of all, La Rosa’s bill would limit the commissioners to three four-year consecutive terms.
Sprowls has an even better idea, requiring the PSC commissioners to be appointed from districts and limiting them to two terms apiece.
Term limits work in Tallahassee and the PSC should have them, just as the Legislature does.
Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Mark Eissey. The judge recently dismissed 200 red-light camera tickets issued to drivers. Eissey ruled third-party entities cannot write tickets for law enforcement officers. Tickets written and distributed by a third party vendor are unlawful in the state of Florida, the judge ruled. Hear, hear. Red light cameras have plenty of problems and one of them is simple: Police should issue tickets, not vendors.
Second Amendment Advocates. The Florida House Finance and Tax Committee advanced a proposed one-day sales tax holiday for guns and ammo held, fittingly enough, on July 4.
This is a win for Second Amendment proponents and for outdoorsmen. In addition to rifles, shotguns, spear guns and bows, the sales tax holiday would also cover camping tents and fishing gear.
Of course, Democrats in the Florida House opposed this, calling it bad policy. But the legislation should boost Florida’s tourism by promoting hunting and fishing in the state.
DEAN’S LIST MISSES
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. Following the hoopla over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Muoio decided to forbid any city employees from traveling there on city business. The ban was requested by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
But if Mayor Muoio believes that this type of a law is so bad and discriminates against gays and lesbians, then why not institute a ban from city employees doing business in Tallahassee? Excluding a few differences between Florida and Indiana, the Sunshine State has had a similar law since 1998, signed by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat. In fact, the law was supported by groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the Christian Coalition.
The Florida law states, “The government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” Politifact even points out that neither Florida nor Indiana’s law makes mention of same-sex marriage or gay rights.
Following the hoopla over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Muoio decided to forbid any city employees from traveling there on city business. The ban was requested by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
Robin Fretwell Wilson, a professor in the family law and policy program at the University of Illinois College of Law, says Florida and Indiana share something in common: Neither has a statewide ban against LGBT discrimination.
Concerning this issue and the law, Muoio and the LGBT community really need to see what the law means.
Florida Legislators generally. As of March 20, Florida House members have requested $2.9 billion in hometown projects. That’s not including projects from the Senate. For all the talk about not having enough revenue for tax cuts and expanding Medicaid, Florida legislators continue to want “turkey projects” back home.
The House and the Senate are $4 billion apart on their budget proposals. Eliminating wasteful spending of these hometown projects would help close that gap.
Florida Sens. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, and Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee. These two senators are showing weakness on an immigration bill.
First, Soto offered an amendment that would have stripped money for Attorney General Pam Bondi to use in a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration over his executive action on immigration.
Latvala originally supported the measure but then changed his mind. Latvala’s change of heart wasn’t philosophical; it was purely political. His stated reason for the switch was because of a “Senate custom.”
Latvala said he “sympathized” with Soto and his position but had to change his vote because it was a chamber tradition for the Senate’s top budget writers, which includes Latvala, to all support each other.
Space Coast Progressive Alliance and the Central Brevard County NAACP. It’s April which is Confederate History Month.
In Cocoa, the Confederate Sons Association wants to display the Confederate battle flag at a local library as part of a historic display, as they’ve been doing for a decade now.
ABOVE VIDEO: In Cocoa, the Confederate Sons Association wants to display the Confederate battle flag at a local library as part of a historic display, as they’ve been doing for a decade now. (WFTV video)
Liberal groups, including the NAACP and the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, oppose the display, insisting the battle flag was a symbol of slavery and racism and is now being used by many hate groups.
The display included Confederate flags, pieces of Confederate military uniforms, books, photos, and a logo of the organization.
The Confederate Sons Association insisted they have no political or racial message and want to focus on history on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s end. Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox said the courts have not found the Confederate battle flag to be connected to hate speech and the Brevard County Commission agreed.
Not wanting to practice censorship, the commission voted 4-1 to allow the display to continue.
Ed Dean, a senior editor with Sunshine State News whose talk show can be heard on radio stations in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Daytona Beach, Orlando, the Space Coast, the Treasure Coast and South Florida from West Palm Beach to Miami. It can also be heard in parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
You can reach at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @eddeanradio.