Archive for March, 2011

Public Testifies Against Pension Reform

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

 Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander Thursday introduced his plan to cut retirement and salary benefits to save the state money.  The plan requires workers in the Florida Retirement System to contribute three percent of their salary to their pension .

Alexander discarded a compromise proposal crafted by the Senate Government Oversight Committee that would have exempted from the salary cuts all workers who make $40,000 or less. Those making between $40,000 and $75,000 would have taken 2 percent salary cuts for their retirement and those making more than $75,000 would have faced 4 percent cuts.

Alexander proposes ending the deferred retirement program known as DROP and raising the retirement age for police, fire, parimedics and other public safety officers.  Teachers, First Responders and Union leaders said the Senate is trying to balance the budget on the backs of those who serve. To hear the radio report click on BUDGET CUTS.

Alexander Begins Budget Push

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Alexander wants to privatize prisons to save $70 million.

The chairman of the Florida Senate Budget Committee has come up with a spending plan that contains billions of dollars and changes in policies not included In either the House’s or the Governor’s proposals.

The Senate proposal would eliminate fewer state government jobs but calls for privatizing prison and parole services in 18 counties of south Florida.

The bottom line on the Senate’s proposed state budget for next year is $3.3 billion more than the House’s. To hear a radio report click on BUDGET.



Florida House Hits Labor’s Checkbook

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Democrats say the bill is political payback.

   What labor advocates are calling a union-busting bill has cleared the Republican- controlled Florida House.
   The measure would end automatic payroll deduction of union dues for government employees and require public employee unions to get written permission from members before their dues could be used for political contributions. 
   The vote was mostly along party lines with Republicans generally voting yes, Democrats no and came after nearly two hours of  floor debate.  Click on HOUSE to hear a radio report.

Public Comments on Health Budget

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Budget subcommittees in the Florida Senate are finalizing their sections of the state budget for next year. Lawmakers are reducing every sector of state spending to close a $3.8 billion short fall. 

The Senate wants to cut about  $1 billion from health- and human services programs, including those offered through Medicaid and various state agencies for the elderly, veterans, and people with debilitating illnesses. 

Thursday 30 people lined up to tell Senators what a billion dollar cut in social programs will mean to their lives. Click Senate to hear a radio report.

Senate Set to Decouple Rights and Licenses

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Final vote is expected Thursday in the Senate on a proposal restoring ex-felons eligibility for professional licenses and certificates.  Last month, the Governor and Clemency Board repealed a Crist-era initiative that automatically  restored civil rights for non violent offenders.  The move made it more difficult for ex-cons to find a job.
 The Senate is prepared to remove the civil rights requirement for occupational licenses. 
 Senators also agreed to advance another bill ordering teen age boys to pull up their pants and a third banning sex with animals.  Senators will vote on all three bills Thursday. Click on Senate to hear the radio report.

Insurance Battle Brewing

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
A  sweeping proposal to reform Florida property insurance law passed the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday  after an opponent amended it.

Sen. Mike Fasano fought to maintain the current requirement that insurers pay replacement cost regardless of whether repairs are made.  Fasano’s amendment passed on a 12-8 vote with the help of several Senators from the 19 counties plagued by sinkholes.

Senator Garret Richter is sponsoring Senate Bill 408. He said he will try to strip the Fasano amendment at the next committee stop. Richter expects a strenuous debate when the bill makes it to the Senate floor.  Click on sinkhole to hear the radio report.

More Money for Campaigns

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Senators said the current cap of $500 is unrealistically low.

A Florida Senate Committee approved a measure Monday that critics say would give more power to wealthy donors and  political parties. The panel voted 7-5 to raise the cap on how much money individuals can give to political campaigns.

The proposal increases contribution limits 20-fold for gubernatorial campaigns, from $500 per contributor to $10,000. The cap for other state-wide offices would be $5,000 per person and for a legislative seat $2,500.

Senate Bill 1690 is sponsored by Miami Senator Miguel de la Portilla. Click on Money to hear the radio report.

Fasano Writes a Budget

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Senator chairs the Criminal and Civil Justice Budget sub committee

Florida lawmakers have to close an approximate $4 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget.  Leadership says every silo every sector of state spending will get less money.

Senator Mike Fasano chairs the Criminal and Civil Justice Budget subcommittee. He is preparing a spending plan that has $275 million fewer dollars for  prisons and courts.

More than half of the savings will come out of the Department of Corrections budget. The plan privatizes medical care for inmates and cuts funding for the First District Court of Appeals by six percent.

Fasano said he wants to sends a message to the judges that he does not approve of their bad behavior. Click on Fasano to hear the radio report.

Senate OKs Oil Spill Relief

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

The bill provides tax credits to businesses moving into the eight affected counties.

The Senate unanimously passed a measure Wednesday to set aside money from BP for panhandle counties affected by last year’s oil spill. The measure provides for three-fourths of any money received from BP to be used for economic developlment and research for the region.

   Senator Don Gaetz sponsored the proposal and said it, “provides incentives for companies to come to beautiful Northwest Florida and create jobs.”  Click on spill to hear the radio report.

Cabinet Repeals Automatic Rights Restoration

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

 Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet sitting as the Clemency Board voted to require many ex felons to wait five years before they can seek restoration of their civil rights. The move repeals the automatic restoration of rights adopted four years ago by former Governor Charlie Crist and a different Cabinet.  Rights restoration was among the grievances the Republican establishment had with Crist. 

More than 100,000 former prisoners were able to participate in the 2008 Presidential election and may have tilted the state in the Democrat’s favor.  Leon County elections supervisor Ion Sancho criticized the governor and cabinet for resurrecting what he called a Jim Crow era regulation.

Click rights to hear the radio report.