Week in Review 2/4/2017

Here’s a quick week in review of some of the more interesting things that happened in the last week.

  • In 2018 John Morgan might run for Governor, sponsor a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage, or both. (link)
  • Florida joined the lawsuit against Miami-Beach Mayor Levine’s living wage ordinance which would set the cities minimum wage at $10.31. This is part of Levine’s campaign for Governor in 2018. (link)
  • SB610 would make businesses who ban guns liable to lawsuits from legal gun owners if a mass shooting happens. (link)
  • SB614 is a better marijuana bill. It’d open up more dispensaries and be less onerous than Sen. Bradley’s SB 406. (link)
  • Republican Sen. Jack Latvala is considering running for governor. I’m not sure how he’d beat Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putam in a primary though. Latvala is one of those mythical moderate Republicans who has worked with union, immigrants, and environmentalist to stop reactionary Republican bills in the last. (link)
  • The number of people leaving their ballots blank or putting invalid names such as Bernie Sanders and Mickie Mouse on their ballot for the 2016 presidential election in Florida was double that from 2008. At 1.7% the 161,000 votes could have made a difference considering Trump won Florida by 113,000 votes. (link)
  • A study titled “The Riches of the Melting Pot: How Diversity in Metropolitan Areas Helps Grow the Wages of Low and High-Wage Workers,” from New American Economy has some very interesting information about immigration in Gainesville, FL. In 1990 6.1% of the population was foreign born but in 2011 it was 11%. According to the study almost all of the economic gains from the bottom 25% of earners are due to this increase in diversity. Increased diversity accounts for only 1/4 of the income gains for the top 25% earners. (link)
  • HB 409 would require county Supervisor of Elections officers to text voters on the first day of early voting and also on election day. This bill would increase voter participation so it’s unlikely the Republican controlled House, Senate, and Governor will support it. (link)
  • Jacksonville is the last major city in Florida that doesn’t offer protections to LGBTQ people under their Office of Equal Opportunity. The commissioners are now debating if they should do a referendum or vote on the ordinance themselves. A referendum is being sought so that reactionary lawmakers can hide behind the veil of democracy while abdicating their responsibility to protecting their LGBTQ residents. (link)
  • Gov. Scott and Florida Legislators are going to have a big fight over the budget. Scott believes there will be a $2.8 Billion surplus while legislative economist project only $7.5 million. Whose right? Probably the legislators but that won’t stop Scott from pushing more tax cuts for the rich. Hopefully the conflict will keep them too busy to further cut services for working people, their attacks on women’s reproductive health, etc. (link)
  • Here’s a good breakdown of what Gov. Scott’s budget proposal looks like. A lot of it won’t make it through the Florida House/Senate though. (link)
  • You’ll be hearing a lot of self congratulatory back slapping over the record k-12 spending from Florida Republicans this year but it’s not true. While we’re spending more than a billion more than our 2007 high water mark our per student spending is still down. Also, inflation. (link)
  • State Sen Bean and Rep Metz are looking to file legislation to punish so called sanctuary cities. (link)
  • Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court. If appointed he’d be be to the right of recently departed Scalia and one of the most conservatives to ever serve on the Court. One of the biggest concerns with him his his opposition to assisted suicide due to life being inherently precious. This might be used as an opening to start rolling back women’s reproductive rights. (link)
  • Trump ordered a raid that killed around 30 civilians including an 8 year old American girl and an American service man in Yemen. The 8 year old American was was Nawar al-Awlaki was the daughter of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki who put out youtube videos for al-Qaida. Obama killed Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in 2011. I’d like to remind you that Trump promised to kill the families of terrorist while on the campaign trail.  (link)
  • Trump’s Muslim ban canceled some 100,000 visas. His administration said it affected less than 200 people. What a bunch of… alternative facts. (link)
  • Some good news. Due to the large push back US Rep Chaffetz withdrew his bill to sell off over 3 mill acres of public land. (link) In a similar move the Uber CEO drops out of a Trump business advisory  council. (link)
  • Trump is seeking to “destroy” the law limiting political activity of Churches. (link) The House has already introduced a bill on it. (link)
  • Trump is seeking to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act. In a nut shell, Trump doesn’t want brokers to have to act in their client’s best interest. On the second week in office Trump is giving a massive boost to wall street crooks. (link)
  • The US Senate passed a rule making it easier to energy companies to pay off and be paid off by foreign counties. I’m sure former Exxon CEO and Secretary Tex Tillerson is salivating. (link)
  • Lifeline, a program that helps gives poor people access to the internet is under attack by the Trump administration. Nine companies were given the go-ahead to join the program but Trumps new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put a stop to that. (link)

Week in review 1/28/17

Here’s a week in review for the week ending on 1/28. These snippets of news pieces are geared towards Florida politics and underreported stories. I’m purposefully not writing as much about what Trump is doing, not because it’s not important but because we’re being bombarded with news of his actions daily. If you’re interested in tracking him, Politico has a running list updated multiple times a day.

    • I have an ongoing list of bills of interest in the Florida Senate here. I’ll be updating it periodically as new bills are filed. A big one sticking out to me is SB534 which would preempt local hiring preferences and nullify sections Gainesville Living Wage and Alachua County Minimum Wage Ordinances. It’d also hamstring dozens of progressive ordinances throughout the state.
    • ACLU Florida is holding rallies in Miami, Orlando, and other airports on Sunday in protest of Trumps Muslim ban. (link)
    • Lots of people participated in Florida for the Million Woman’s march. Over 10,000 in Miami, 14,000 in Tallahassee, 20,000 in St. Pete. Gainesville had 1,500 and even smaller communities like Ocala, Paltaka, and Live Oak had actions. (link)
    • South Florida Counties that protected immigrants are folding to Trumps attacks on Sanctuary Cities. Miami-Dade is changing their policies while Broward and Palm Beech Countys are saying they never were and have no desire to become sanctuary cities.  (link)
    • Fivethirtyeight has an interesting article out on the reasons for increased hate crimes. They ran the numbers and say income inequality has a strong correlation. (link)
    • The University of Florida is under Title IX investigation for the mishandling of a sexual violence report. (link)
    • Florida Democrats walked out on Mark Krikorian,, executive director for the Center for Immigration Studies, which is a Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a hate group. He was there, of course, to spread lies about refugees and immigrants. (link)
    • SB120, the anti-immigrant bill that would 1 criminal charges against undocumented immigrants passed a major chock point on Tuesday. The bill passed 5-4 along party lines after the Judiciary committee amended the bill to only apply to charges violent offenses committed by undocumented people. The bill is much more likely to become law now.
    • Sen. Rubio won’t take the lead on a Dreamer bill. Trump has made it clear he’s going to let Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order expire. A bipartisan bill is being pushed by Sen Graham that would supersede anything Trump could do to the Dreamers but it’s a shame that Sen. Rubio isn’t making it a priority for him. (link)
    • Poor elderly people in Florida are in danger of having their services cut. The Florida Council on Aging is asking for $10 more remove 1,287 at risk elderly Floridians from waiting lists. The Government’s response was to ask them to trim close to $13 million from their budget. (link)
    • Relief might be on the way for poor people caught in the criminal justice system. Currently people who can’t afford the court fees get fined more and often have their licences revoked.  And without a licence many people can’t work and so fall further behind. SB302 would change that by limiting the conditions on which a license can be revoked and limited payment to 2% of net income per year. There’s issues with the bill but it’s a big step in the right direction. (link)
    • The Stand Your Ground on steroids bill (BS128) passed the Judiciary Committee. This was the major choke point for the bill so it’s likely to become law. The bill shifts the burden of from in stand your ground cases from defendant to prosecutors making it more difficult to even have a trial. (link)
    • The Florida Democratic Party seems to be changing gears under Bittel. In years past the strategy has been to turnout in SE Florida, the I-4 corridor, and ignore the rest of the start. Bittel’s FDP is offering $100,000 grants to small and medium counties to do voter registration and become better organized. (link)
    • Florida union membership dropped from 6.8% in 2015 to 5.6% in 2015. This 1.2% drop was a lot higher than the national 0.4% drop in membership. It still pays to be a in a union though as non union workers make on average 80% the wages of union workers. (link)

Week in review 1/21/17

Trump was sworn in yesterday. There’s a lot of news on that and the protests, but I’m not going to write about it. Below is some news from the past week that’s important but a lot less widely shared.

Week in review (1/21/17):

  • Bittel is the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. The so called establishment was supporting him due to his ability to raise lots of money. There’s a lot of nuance here but the short and long of it is that nothing much will change. The people who supported the current chair, Allison Tant, are the same people who supported Bittel. Hopefully he’s more responsive to the progressive voices in the FDP even though the didn’t support him. (link)
  • The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is failing according to a report  released by the US government. DCF was privatized in 2005 and we were told it would save money and provide better service. Children are literally dying because of this this rabid privatization ideology. (link)
  • The Florida Supreme Court refused to take up the teachers unions lawsuit about the school voucher program. This program siphons off tax payer money (up to $560 million a year) and gives it to parents to send their kids to private, mostly religious schools. This isn’t a ruling and the constitutionality of the program is still not resolved. What the Supreme Court did was keep in place the lower court ruling that the union didn’t have standing. The NAACP, parents, teachers… a lot of people were co-plaintiffs on this lawsuit. If non of them have standing then who does? (link)
  • Turnout in Florida went up ~4% in November 2016. In 2012 turnout was 73.1% and in 2016 it was 77.1%. Hispanic turnout went from 63.1% in 2012 to 68.9% in 2016. Black turnout dropped from 72.3% in 2012 to 69% in 2016. The overall result was a less white electorate. In 2012 the vote share for whites was 68.4% in 2012 and 66.8% in 2016. (link)
  • Former President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday. (link)
  • Here’s two good reads on Betsy DeVos, Trumps pick for Secretary of Education. She’s on the board of Focus on the Family, pro private school voucher, pro guns on campus, pro-charter school, and she has a host of finical conflicts. People are also worried she’ll roll back protections to trans students. (link1) (link2)
  • The Sabal Trail pipeline is growing as a flash point in the environmental movement. The natural gas pipeline stretches over 500 miles through Alabama and down Florida and crosses the Suwannee River near Live Oak. Last Saturday a couple hundred protesters staged a massive protest and 8 people were arrested on Monday. Acts of civil disobedience are going to continue over the next few weeks. (link1) (link2)
  • Florida is a human trafficking hub. The state had 1,892 reported cases last year. (link)
  • 43% of the 165,000 out of school suspensions in ’14-’15 were black students even though they only make up 23% of enrolled students. A lot of people/organizations say they’re doing something to address this but it’s usually just hot air. (link)
  • Florida is the 12th worse state to establish a family, according to WalletHub. The reasons? We’re 45th in child care costs, 43rd in housing affordability, 40th in median family salary, and 34th in percent of families below the poverty level.  (link)
  • Florida is attempting to beef up it’s already problematic Stand Your Ground law. This controversial law was under fire during the shooting of unarmed teenage Trayvon Martin. The law kicks in under pretrial evidentiary hearings and shields the shooter from prosecution. Under the bill filed by Sen Bradley the burden of proof will shift from the defendant to the prosecutor making it all the harder to even have a trial. Here’s a comprehensive list of the gun related bills in the Florida House/Senate. (link)
  • Florida will likely be trying to repeal the “certificate of need” requirement for new hospitals. Essentially this regulation forces hospitals to show a need before being built. The repeal is part of a free market, supply side approach to heath care. Also being considered is direct primary care in which a person or employer contracts with a physician (or group of physicians) for healthcare. (link)
  • Florida Gov. Scott went all out for Trump’s inauguration by hosting a ball and attending events. He’s using his “Let’s Get to Work” political committee money to fund it all. This is all about his 2018 US senate bid. (link)
  • The repeal of the wet-foot dry-foot policy has Cubans feeling like immigrants. (link)
  • Republicans in DC are going to attempt to roll back, if not fully repeal, the endangered species act. (link)

Week in review 1/14/17

Week in review (1/14/17):

  • SB120 – The anti-immigrant bill  is on the move in the Senate. The bill would  1 up any offense an undocumented persons. Would make 1st degree misdemeanors a 3rd degree felony, 3rd felony a 2nd felony, etc. It was just agendaed on the Judiciary committee for 1/24 at 2:00 PM. Senator Greg Steube chairs the committee and is the co sponsor of this bill. If you could make one phone call through call Senator Anitere Flores at (850) 487-5039 and tell her to vote no. If the 4 dems and Sen. Flores vote no the bill dies in committee.
  • Florida Kid Count released it’s study on child poverty in Florida. (link) Some interesting bits about my Alachua County:
    -28% of households have high housing cost burden.
    -48% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
    -Black students account for 71% of all disciplinary actions.
  • Trump going to try to build a 700 mile fence on the US-Mexico boarder. Mexico isn’t paying for it. (link)
  • There’s a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand the lobbying ban for legislators from 2 years to 6 years. If passed it would still need to go to the voters in 2018. (link)
  • Obama just ended the wet foot, dry foot policy that allowed Cubans to stay in the USA without a visa and gave them an easy path towards citizenship. It also encouraged risky behavior that resulted in thousands of deaths. (link)
  • The accreditation process for for-profit schools is changing. This will likely result in lose of accreditation for many scam schools who take advantage of veterans, foreigners, and poor people. (link)
  • Governor Scott outlined his higher education plan for the 2017 legislative session. Among other things he’ll be looking to cap student fees, eliminate sales taxes on textbook purchases, and extend Bright Futures scholarships to summer classes. (link) The Senate released their plan too. While it echos the Governors it does differ in a few places. It would give more to Bright Futures, expand a scholarship program to first generation students, and push block tuition. Block tuition is charging students for 15 credit hours a semester no matter how many classes they take. It was tried at the University of Florida years ago but was abandoned due to the student outcry. (link) 
  • The Florida legislator might nix five 9th grade state mandated exams. (link)
  • Sleepy Creek, the massive cattle operation in Northern Marion County  (aka Adena Springs Ranch) was set to have a massive water request approved on Tuesday but environmentalist have sued to slow it down. (link)
  • The race for the chair of the Florida Democratic Party will be decided Saturday. Recently 4 of 5 candidates united against the front-runner Bittle. In a strange show of solidarity they took turns berating Bittle but to what end? Does the FDP use ranked voting or something? (link)
  • Because there was a shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport two lawmakers want guns allowed in terminals. (link)
  • Children of same sex couples will have both their parents listed on the birth certificate now thanks to a lawsuit brought on by Equality Florida Institute. (link)
  • Florida Department of Corrections overpaid CoreCivic (formally Corrections Corporations of America) over $16 million over the past 7 years for it’s youth prison in Lake City. This is just one contact of many and it wasn’t a mistake. Florida tax payers were overcharged and billed for ghost services in an act of deliberate fraud. While poor and working peoples needed services are being cut large corporations are making off like bandits. Literally. (link)
  • Trump has tapped Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head up a commission on vaccines and autism. This is bad. Thousands of people have died because of the anti-vaccine movement and it’s only going to get worse. If you don’t know, then read up on herd immunity to understand why this is so dangerous. (link)
  • Pew has a very illuminating survey out on policing and race. Of the finding: 92% of white officers think the country has done enough for blacks compared to 57% of all white people. It’s 29% for black offices and 12% for all black people. Also, 69% of black officers view the protest movements as a desire to hold the police accountable vs 27% of white officers.  (link)
  • The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) is growing fast. In 2016 it picked up 3 new chapters and now represents faculty at all 12 state universities, 11 of 28 state colleges, graduate workers at 4 state universities, and faculty at the private St. Leo University. This is happening in part because of the backwards policies being pursued by the state government but also because of the leadership of UFF president Jennifer Proffit. (link)
  • The Florida Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding a 2011 law that prohibits local governments from enacting gun control ordinances. This is a classic home rule vs state law case that has pretty broad consequences. (link)
  • The US Supreme Court is hearing Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman over corporations freedom of speech. The case seems pretty simple; should businesses be allowed to add surcharges to credit card transactions. But if the Supreme court rules in favor of corporations it could open up the flood gates against things like warning labels, nutrient facts, etc.  (link)
  • Choice is under attack again in Florida. This time the bill would lower the amount of time a woman has to seek an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. The bill HB 203 doesn’t have a companion in the Senate yet. (link)
  • An ROTC instructor in East Lee County High School is likely not be fired over anti-Trans comments made to a student. The reason the administrative law judge gave is pretty ludicrous. The judge believes his anti-Trans comments came from a place of compassion not hate. Oy vey. (link)


As always: here’s a poorly written news roundup from the previous week.

Week in review (1/7/17):

  • Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana for certain conditions,  went into effect Tuesday (1/3). The Florida legislature and Department of Health have to pass some rules so there’s not a lot that you’ll see until after session most likely (May). In order to get a prescription you have to go to an approved doctor and to an approved dispensary. (link)
  • The House Republicans tried to handicap the the Office of Congressional Ethics but backed off due to a massive outcry. Even Trump was against this. Apparently he wants the swamp concentrated on the hill. (link)
  • The Bright Futures Scholarship program might get an revamp this year. Over past decade the requirements have gone up leaving more people out and funding levels have been cut. It’s also important to remember that this scholarship program is funded by the state lottery which tends to be played by poor people while the students receiving the scholarships tend to be upper and upper-middle class students. (link)
  • Fake news. It’s not about facts vs. fiction but a social phenomenon between how people view the world and it’s reality. This is why people read fake news but there’s a lot more behind the plethora of fake news and Five Thirty Eight has a pretty good read on it. (link)
  • The NAACP president along with others were arrested at the Mobile Alabama office of Senator Jeff Sessions. The sit in was in response to Trump naming Sessions to the cabinet position of Attorney General. Sessions has a long and checkered history of racism. So much so that a Republican US Senate rejected his federal judge appointment in 1986. This sit in is a taste of things to come during the Trump administration? (link)
  • Ford was to open a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico but will instead put some $700 million to expand a plant in Michigan. Trump is taking credit for this like he did about saving a plant that was never going to close in Kentucky. The company is expanding a plant in Michigan mostly due to the cheaper cost of automation and AI in the US with union labor as opposed to  cheap labor in Mexico. (link)
  • Republicans are going to try to repeal Obamacare. The NYT has a pretty good read on how they’re going to try to do it but the first stop gap happens in a budget resolution next week. They need to add a rule that will stop the 48 Democrats from filibustering. If that happens they have until Jan 27th to pass legislation that would gut Obamacare… in 2 to 4 years. This would give them time to pass a replacement. The worse part is that they’re likely going to stop payments to the states that expanded Medicare. (link)
  • The Florida public pension system projected return is subject to political manipulation. The short and long of it is that if the projected return is lowered then it needs to be funded more and the unfunded liability increases. The projected return is 7.6% right now but if it was lowered to 7% it would create a $38 billion unfunded liability and would by 79% funded. At the current projected rate of 7.9% it’ll be $90 million unfunded liability and 85.4% funded. Why is this important? Because lowering the return rate will increase the contributions to the over 630,000 people paying into it and gives ammo to the privatization crusaders (link)
  • Governor Scott want’s the Obamacare Medicaid reimbursement rate of $0.90/$1.00 (currently $0.61/$1.00) without expanding the coverage as the law requires. (link)
  • From the Verizon strike to the increases in minimum wage; 2016 wasn’t all terrible for working people. The AFL-CIO has a good list of major victories here. (link)
  • Five Thirty Eight has an interesting piece out on who didn’t vote in 2016. The exit polling they look at says that young people and people of color staying home cost Clinton the election. The article points out that young black voters stayed home at the highest rate but they turned out in the primary for Sanders. People that are trying to blame young people and people of color for Trump are missing the forest. I blame Clinton for not giving people something to turnout for. (link)
  • The Florida Swamp is being partially drained… into DC. Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General who dropped the Florida investigation into Trump university after he gave her $25,000, is getting an appointment in his administration. (link)

Week in review (12/31/16)

Here’s the last weekly review for 2016. It’s been a helluva year. In the next week or so I’ll go through the Florida bills and give some analysis as well as the 115th congress agenda.

Week in review (12/31/16):

The Status of Women in Florida study just came out and it’s depressing. (link) Some highlights:

  • 26.5% of women in Alachua County, my home, are in poverty.
  • 15.4% of women in Florida are below the poverty line. This is up 2% points from 2004 and 0.8% higher than nationwide. 25.2% of black, 21.4% of Native American, 21.2% f Hispanic and 11.9% of white women are living in poverty.
  • If women were paid the same as men then the working women’s poverty rate would drop over 57% in Florida.
  • 78.3% of women in Florida had healthcare in 2014. This is up from 73.4% in 2013 but well below the national average of 85.4%. The main reason is Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage to those between 100 and 125% the poverty level. Latinas are insured at 63% and white women at 81.7%.
  • Men are still more educated than women in Florida with 28.1% of men 25 and older having a bachelors degree vs 26.7% of women. Nationally women have more bachelors degrees. Only 19% of black women in Florida 25 or older have bachelors degrees.

Minimum wage in Florida is going to be $8.10 an hour starting January 1st. This is because our constitution was amended in 2004 to peg the minimum wage with inflation each year. (link)

In March The Florida Supreme Court will check the language of a constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights to some 1.7 million felons. If approved it would still need 600,000 signatures to be on the ballot in 2018 where it’d need to receive 60% of the vote. (link)

The Constitution Revision Commission is going to put a lot of backwards and conservative measures on the ballot in 2018. (link)

Florida gas tax is also going to jump to 36.7 cents a gallon to keep up with inflation. (link)

The Stars Plus plan from Florida Healthy Kids is being fazed out. The nearly 10,000 kids on the plan are often special needs that fall into the Medicaid gap. The Medicaid gap is is between Medicaid eligibility (100% the poverty level) and the Affordable Care Act subsidies (125% the poverty level). The gap exists because Florida refused to take federal dollars to expand Medicaid. The plan is being nixed because it’s too expensive. Meanwhile Medicaid would be cheaper and provide a better quality. (link)

Former Senator Dwight Bullard is still in the running for chair of the Florida Democratic Party. After losing his election for committeeman in Miami-Dade County he’s moving to (or at least renting) a place in Gadsden County to become that’s counties Democratic Committeeman. The election on Jan 14th is going to be a close one with much of the progressive wing, or at least the new Sanders-nistas of the party backing Bullard. (link)

The Florida House and Senate have much of the same priorities but different approaches. The House wants to raise Secondary Teacher pay but only if it’s performance based. The EEOC is currently looking into the last performance based pay scheme the state passed and the Governor is looking to change it this year. The Senate wants to increase funding by $1 billion to law, medical, business etc. colleges at universities over the next two years but the House might not be interested. The House also is taking a strong stance on increasing taxes but the Senate is being more reasonable. (link)

In Northern Marion County the Sleepy Creek (aka Adena Springs Ranch) somehow muscled the St. Johns River Water Management District into agreeing to pump massive amounts of water out of the aquifer for a cattle ranch. Sleepy Creek is actually getting more water than they asked for two years ago, a request that was denied for being too harmful to the surrounding springs. (link)

A politic that I really like a lot is the universal basic income. Essentially every person is given enough money to live on, no strings attached. It’s the only way to deal with automation, artificial inelegance, and the general progress of science. It’s Star Trek vs Mad Max. Finland is doing a major experiment on this and a lot of people are looking for the results. (link)

Robert Leo Hulseman, the inventor of the solo cup, died this week. I live in a college town. This is a big deal. (link)

South Florida will see 5 tidal floods by 2030 and 10 by 2040. Right now there’s only one or so tidal floods a year. (link)

Week in review (12/24/16)

I’ll be trying to take a break consuming news for the Christmas weekend so the week in review is coming a day early.

  • Florida disenfranchises 1.6 million people due to it’s ban on voting rights for felons. This includes 21% of Florida’s voting age African American population. Let that sink in.  (link)
  • 90% of Florida is in a drought with this last November being the driest in Florida in the last 121 years. (link)
  • Like 2016 this year’s state budget will be a major focus but with renewed frustration. The House’s new rule states that each budget item is a single bill. The Senate didn’t go along so there’s likely to be more conflict between the chambers. (link)
  • The state underpaid Medicaid by some $75 million last year. This will add to the hole in the state budget that will likely be made up in cutting services for working people. (link)
  • Criminal justice reform for juveniles is a priority for Senate President Joe Negron. This could be a bright spot for 2017. Negron appointed democratic senator Randolph Bracy to chair the Criminal Justice Committee which is pretty unprecedented. There will likely be bills focusing on citations vs arrests as well as the racial disparities in our juvenile justice system. (link)
  • Bittel won the Miami-Dade committeeman race against former state senator Bullard this week. The winner of this race is seen as the favorite for the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. The race was intense and involved Sanders, Palestine, and unions. Also running for state chair is Lisa King from Duval, Leah Carius from Osceola , and Alan Clendenin from Hillsborough… or Bradford. (link)
  • Stand Your Ground is continuing to cause disproportionate responses to violence ending in people dying. Four since September in Miami alone. (link)
  • Florida Senate President Joe Negron is being proactive in seeking state legislation to address Medicaid block-grants. This is a pretty strong single that Congress is going to pass a sweeping ACA changes. Block-grant program would allow states more control over how to spend medicaid dollars. (link) Welfare was turned into a block-grant program under Clinton in ’96 and has been disastrous. Turns out backwards state governments have used the money for such things as marriage comedy classes with less going to the poor. (link)
  • 100 death penalty cases in Florida are going to have to be re-sentenced. The innocence or guilt isn’t in question, just who get’s to decide if someone is sentenced to death. In  Florida a jury makes a recommendation to the judge for the death penalty but the ultimate decision is made by the judge. This is unconstitutional and leads to a lot of bias in which black men are sentenced to death by judges in much higher rates than white men. Pre-2002 death penalty sentences will remain in effect though; which is pretty arbitrary. There’s 384 people on death row with 159 of them possibly being affected by this ruling. I personally think the death penalty is abhorrent and belongs in the dustbin of history. (link 1) (link 2)
  • From it’s anti-LGBTQ practices, to it’s anti-farm-worker rights’ stances, to being anti-environmental, to it’s pro-war on drugs funding; Publix is a terrible company. They’re now leading the ant-living wage fight in Miami Beach. (link 1) (link 2)

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.