Week in review (12-17-16)

I’m starting to publish on here a week in review. It’ll be short snippets of the news that I found interesting throughout the week. It’s not meant to be comprehensive, unbiased, or even well written. 

  • Privatized Medicaid is more expensive and wasteful in Florida. It recently paid $26 million for dead people. Thanks Jeb. And if Obamacare is being repealed and we at least have the conversation about a public option? (link).
  • I helped with a living wage increase for 154 workers for the City of Gainesville. It’s part of a 5 year plan to have the 10 largest employers in Alachua County pay a living wage by 2020. This year has been rough for progressives. It’s nice to end it with a solid win for the working class. (link)
  • The Florida Senate Dems are creating a shadow Democratic party. No really. It’s called the “Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee” and is an “Affiliated Party Committee”. It can do a lot of what the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) does but without a lot of the finance rules and what not. Why would they do this? The next chair of the FDP is likely going to be either Dwight Bullard or Stephen Bittel out of Miami. Bittel is part of another group called the Florida Alliance which is in itself a shadow Democratic party in of itself that butts heads with the Senate Dems.

    To make it even more complicated, Bittel is supported by Rep. Keith Ellison and Bullard by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Rep. Ellison is running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee and is supported by Sanders. Why? Most likely because of Israel/Palestine support. Ellison was in Nation of Islam and Bullard took a trip to Palestine with the Dream Defenders.

    To me it looks like the Senate Democrats and Ellison are expecting Bittel to be the next chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Can someone start a gossip column around Democratic leadership? (link 1 and link 2)
  • The Florida budget is going to take a hard hit next year. Growth isn’t what was expected but the big hit likely going to be to k-12. Schools are set to lose more than $400 million due mainly to an ideological bend in the legislature. Property values are going up and Tallahassee has in the past lowered the millage rate to net the same about of money each year. (link)
  • There’s a new lawsuit against the sweeping anti-abortion law passed in Florida last year and set to go into effect January 1st. The new lawsuit argues that the free speech of abortion counselors is violated since they have to give a state mandated speech about alternatives to abortion. The other two parts of the law being litigated right now are are around patient records being reviewed by the state and the blocking of funding for any organization that has anything to do with abortion. (link).
  • Florida enrolls 16% of 4 year olds who live in poverty and 12% of 3 year olds. The main reason? Its woefully underfunded. Shameful. (link)
  • Workman’s comp insurance jumped 14.5% this year do to a court rulings and this state legislative session will attempt to make some changes to deal with it. Lawyers want more/better fees. Businesses want to pay less. And workers want their damn money. This is a really important and boring item that’s going to be dealt with in 2017 (link).
  • President Obama signed into law the new The Helping Families legislation. This is the biggest overhaul to mental health services in… maybe ever. It creates a Minority Fellowship Program, puts in resources to close the rural mental health gap, and overall is a pretty solid bill. It pass Congress with only 26 voting against and the Senate with only 5. (link).
  • Parks are under attack again in the state of Florida. The director of the Florida Park Service resigned and there’s talk of bringing cattle grazing, timber production, and outsourcing management to for-profit companies. (link)
  • The governor picked conservative Charles Alan Lawson as Supreme Court justice. The somewhat liberal leaning court votes 5-2 on a lot of contentious issues so this isn’t a game changer. The real issue is going to be 2019. Scott will attempt to appoint three more justices on his way out but the Supreme Court is maintaining that the next governor should appoint them. (link)
  • SB82 which would make the Dreamers pay out of state tuition is on the move in the Florida Senate. The first stop is the Education Committee which is chaired by Sen. Hukill. Call her at (386) 304-7630 and tell her to not agenda the bill. (link)
  • I’ll give a better breakdown of some of the bills to watch this session, but here’s a partial list without much analysis.
    • SB70 – would treat attacks on police as a hate crime. It has 5 committee stops so it’s likely not going anywhere.
    • SB72 -Would make it easier to register to vote. No companion in the house yet.
    • SB74 – Restoration of rights for felons.  
    • SB78 – Require recess in schools.
    • SB80 – Makes it harder for lawyers to get fees for violations to public records requests.
    • SB82 – Takes away in-state tuition to Dreamers.
    • SB84 – Memo urging congress to repeal the special treatment of Cubans reaching the USA.
    • SB98 – Anti-fracking bill.  
    • SJR108 – Another anti-fracking bill.
    • SB120 – Anti-immigrant bill that would 1 up any offense an undocumented persons. Would make 1st degree misdemeanors a 3rd degree felony, 3rd felony a 2nd felony, etc.
    • SB128 – More stand your ground immunity mess.
    • SB140 – Open carry bill.
    • SB144 – Would ban phones while driving for those under 18.
    • SB160 – Bill to increase minimum wage $1 plus inflation a year.
    • SB162 – Bans plastic bags.
    • SB176 – Bill to make tampons tax free.

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