Sunday, June 3, 2018

State News in Review - May 2018


With the Legislature out of session and campaign season underway, May’s news was full of stories about how state government is not serving Florida residents well. This post highlights examples in the areas of elections and election security, public education, healthcare, hurricane preparedness and more.

As you read these paragraphs and the linked articles, consider the role your elected officials played in the various stories. This year, the seat of each one of them will be on the ballot. Election Day is your opportunity to hold them accountable.

Elections and election security
  • Democrats and independents out of luck, only Republicans can vote for region's next state attorney. Fort Myers attorney Joseph Hoffman qualified as a last-minute write-in candidate to close the Aug. 28 primary to only registered Republicans. News-Press, 5/4/18
    • Related Editorial: Disenfranchising state attorney voters is shameful. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission and Collier County's entire legislative delegation are among those to blame. Naples Daily News, 5/12/18
  • Florida’s early voting ban on campus challenged in court. Gov. Scott calls the lawsuit by the League of Women Voters of Florida 'frivolous' and 'an election year gimmick to distort the facts.' Tampa Bay Times, 5/22/18
  • Gov. Scott orders hiring of election security consultants, despite state legislators’ rejection of similar request earlier this year. APNews, 5/3/18
  • Scott orders Florida to use federal cybersecurity money for 2018 elections, over-ruling Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Sun Sentinel, 5/23/18

Education
  • Florida Supreme Court to consider school funding lawsuit that charges the state is ignoring the 1998 constitutional amendment that says a “high quality system of free public schools” is a “paramount duty” of the state. APnews.com, 5/1/18
    • Related: ‘Framers’ of 1998 schools amendment side with the plaintiffs, seek role in court battle. News Service of Florida via Florida Politics, 5/22/18
  • Florida House says per-student bump of 47 cents is a myth. Fact-checkers say Mostly False. PolitiFact Florida, 5/30/18

Healthcare
  • Cuts to prison drug programs in the midst of opioid crisis draw criticism. The Department of Corrections shifted the money to cover a shortfall in its health care program. News Service of Florida via The Ledger, 5/3/18
  • With Scott on defense, reports show Florida woes for not expanding Medicaid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Florida has the third-highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country, and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that women’s mental health is declining while their suicide rates are going up. Politico Florida, 5/22/18

Hurricane preparedness
  • Florida officials make few changes for upcoming storm season. After promising a dizzying array of fixes following the devastation of last year’s hurricanes, the state has enacted only a few — the largest aimed at protecting seniors in nursing homes. APnews.com, 5/31/18
  • How does an inexperienced 30-year-old become hurricane chief? With early forecasts suggesting a near-normal or above-normal storm season, the state’s disaster preparedness lies in the hands of a political newcomer whose first official job experience with emergency management began two years ago. Miami-Herald, 5/25/18
  • State catastrophe fund seeks to expand bonding capacity. While there are enough reserves to cover the “maximum potential liability” from Hurricane Irma, there may not be enough should Florida experience another massive storm or series of hurricanes. Watchdog.org, 5/20/18

In the courts
  • Judicial resignations: Subverting democracy? A recent spate of resignations has allowed Scott to reshape the 12th Circuit, appointing nearly 40 percent of the circuit judges. Critics see the move as a blatant attempt to bypass voters and allow the governor and local supporters to put their hand-picked people in control of the judicial system. Herald-Tribune, 5/27/18
  • Florida's ban on smokable medical marijuana ruled unconstitutional by a Leon County Circuit Court Judge. A Florida Department of Health appeal has imposed an automatic stay. Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel, 5/25/18
    • Related: Attorney John Morgan, who formed People United for Medical Marijuana, implored Gov. Scott to drop the state’s opposition. Associated Press via Miami-Herald, 5/29/18

Other news of note
  • Florida lawmakers shortchange affordable housing as demand soars. Since 2001, the Legislature has swept $2.2 billion out of two trust funds created to pay for affordable housing, including $182 million in the 2018-19 state budget. News-Journal, 5/13/18

That does it for May. Stay tuned in the coming days for my next "Get Ready for the 2018 Elections" post.
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