State News in Review – May 2019

As I wrote in my May 12 post, Florida’s 60-day annual Legislative Session ended on May 4. Since then, much of the news about state government were stories explaining or editorializing about the Legislature’s actions. This Month-in-Review post includes some of those, as well as more business-as-usual topics.

Some of the top stories: Will Florida be ready for the 2020 census? … Sixty-five of the state’s highest-rated nursing homes are expected to take a financial hit under a new state funding plan…. Forty-four groups and former Gov. Bob Graham are asking Gov. DeSantis to veto a community development and housing bill over last minute changes…. The Collier County Teachers’ Union disagrees with State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo on the Legislature’s education accomplishments, and … The governor held a controversial “ceremonial” cabinet meeting in Israel. For these and more state news in review, read on!

But first: did you know the state’s hurricane season sales tax holiday is on now through Thursday? Stock up on flashlights, gas/diesel containers, batteries, radios, tarps and portable generators under $750. More …

And here’s something new: it’s become necessary for me to ask you to Support Sparker’s Soapbox. To understand why, please scroll to the end of this post.

THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE

Voting & Elections

  • Will Florida be ready for 2020 Census? A bill aiming to organize committees around the census failed in the legislative session recently ended. In March, Florida AG Moody joined 15 other AGs in an amicus brief in favor of the citizenship question. More …
  • Months after Floridians voted to restore voting rights to former felons, the Legislature limits who is eligible to vote. More …
    • Related: 2,000 Florida ex-felons registered to vote in first 3 months of Amendment 4, study finds. More …
  • Despite state elections officials’ protests, District Court will hear League of Women Voters’s campus early voting case. More …
  • Florida won’t pledge to look for voters registered in multiple states. More …
  • DeSantis orders statewide elections security review. More …
  • Election supervisors, petition sponsors brace for major changes to ballot initiative law. More …

Health Care & Social Services

  • Many of Florida’s best nursing homes lose under new funding plan. Changing how the state distributes Medicaid payments was a victory for the biggest players in Florida’s nursing home lobby. More …
  • Florida’s health care and hospital industries preparing for effects of deregulation. More …
  • Florida Legislature budgets money to help families with insurance costs for children. More …

The Environment

  • Citing threat to Everglades, 44 groups and former governor ask DeSantis to veto bill. They say several provisions could negatively impact the full restoration of the ecosystem, the worst of which were quietly amended onto the bill in the final hours of the session. More …
  • SFWMD board OKs new mission statement emphasizing environmental protection, transparency. More …
  • SFWMD board asks Congress to adequately fund Everglades restoration efforts. More …
  • Customers will pay for new buried power lines around the state under legislation now headed to governor. More …

Public Education

  • Passidomo: Legislature working to uplift education in Florida. “It’s a disservice to our students and our teachers to misrepresent how far we’ve come as a state and the investments we’ve made in our future,” she wrote. More …
    • Related: CCEA/Collier County Teachers’ Union: Let’s look at what Sen. Passidomo DOESN’T say. More …
  • Legislature sets aside $15 million to settle Florida Education Association’s 2-year-old Best and Brightest bonus class-action lawsuit. More …
  • DeSantis: Too many Florida kids not ready for kindergarten. More …
  • Lawmakers changed Florida’s graduation requirements in math – for better or worse. More …
  • Florida teacher’s union says public schools will lose $1 billion over five years under new school voucher program. More …
  • Education commissioner Richard Corcoran gives his department an A for its legislative successes. More …
  • U.S. News & World Report: ’Performance-based’ metrics make Florida higher-ed the nation’s most accessible, affordable. More …
  • DeSantis presses ahead with workforce education changes. More …

Business

THE GOVERNOR AND CABINET

Cabinet meeting in Israel

  • DeSantis leads historic ceremonial meeting with Florida Cabinet members at U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. More …
  • Editorial: DeSantis fumbles Cabinet meeting in Israel, ignores lesson in open government. More …
  • DeSantis weighs in on international politics and the ‘denialism’ of an Israeli state. More …
  • Arab-American, civil rights groups challenge cabinet meeting in Israel. More …
  • Some in FL take offense to Gov. DeSantis cheerleading for Israel. More …
  • Airbnb changed its position on West Bank rentals, so Florida is ending its ban on Airbnb. More …
  • DeSantis meets with embattled Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, concludes 4-day trade mission. More …

Governor Ron DeSantis

  • DeSantis vetoes bill that would halt plastic straw bans. The bans hadn’t frustrated state policy or harmed state interests, the State encourages residents to reduce plastic straw use, and residents who oppose the local bans should elect new city commissioners, he said. More …
    • Related: Editorial: DeSantis veto pen supports home rule.” More …
  • ”I want to stand for freedom, but some of that stuff can be touchy,” DeSantis says of U.S. and Venezuela. More …
    • Related: Venezuelans becoming a growing political and cultural force in South Florida. More …

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried

  • Fried warns about gas pump skimmers — and tries to quiet a storm about her picture. The minor kerfuffle arose as she took advantage of the ability to place a state sticker on every gasoline pump in the state. More …
  • Fried names Florida’s new water czar. More …
  • Fried gets head start in Israel. More …
  • Fried to Trump: Trade war hurts Florida timber. More …

Attorney General Ashley Moody

  • Moody files major antitrust action against generic drug companies. She and 43 other state AGs filed suit against 20 generic drug manufacturers for allegedly engaging in a broad conspiracy to reduce competition and restrain trade. More …
  • AG announces mental health criminal justice round table summer series. More …
  • Moody urges FCC to take action against robocalls, caller ID spoofing. More …
  • 33 state attorneys general urging Congress to solve marijuana banking mess – but not Moody. More …

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis

  • Patronis touts legislative wins as Session draws to close. Cites cancer benefits, Assignment of Benefit reform among his top accomplishments. More …
  • Florida’s chief financial officer demands that state’s top banking regulator resign over accusations of harassment and inappropriate behavior. More …

FLORIDA’S COURTS SYSTEM

  • Newly conservative Florida Supreme Court may discontinue death-penalty reviews. It is reconsidering a 2016 ruling that allowed nearly half of the state’s Death Row prisoners to have their death sentences revisited. More …
  • Small claims just got bigger: DeSantis approves bill raising county court limit to $30K. More …

COLLIER’S REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott

  • Rubio introduces bill to eliminate interest for federal student loans. More …
  • Rubio’s office named ‘one of the best in Congress’ for constituent service. More …; Report
  • Scott calls for presidential line item veto, congressional term limits, super majority to raise taxes. More …
  • Scott brings out Prescription Drug Price Reporting Act. More …
  • Pushing to deploy U.S. military, Scott helps shape Trump’s Venezuela policy. More …
  • Scott gains unlikely allies Ted Cruz, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in bill to ban former members of Congress from lobbying. More …

Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney

  • Rooney gathers high-powered panel for second roundtable on toxic algae, but this time, it was open to all. More …
    • Related: Rooney: Making progress on harmful algal blooms around Florida. More …
    • Related: The Rooney roundtable — a view from the outside by Howard L. Simon, John Cassani and Linda Penniman. More …
  • Rooney visits Keewaydin Island where sea level is on the rise. More …
  • Diaz-Balart among eight Republicans who voted for the Equality Act. More …
  • Diaz-Balart commends Committee action on Venezuela TPS Act. More …

SUPPORT SPARKER’S SOAPBOX

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Sandy Parker

More and more of the digital sources I rely on in order to write Sparker’s Soapbox require me to take a digital subscription in order to access more than a few articles a month. I now subscribe to:

Fort Myers News-Press; Miami-Herald; Naples Daily News; News Service of Florida; Orlando Sentinel; South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Space Coast Daily; Tallahassee Democrat; Tampa Bay Times

These are the digital sources I use to which I have not (so far) had to subscribe, either because they are funded in other ways or because my frequency of access hasn’t yet reached the limit:

Brennan Center for Justice; CQ Roll Call; Florida Daily; Florida Phoenix; Florida Politics; Ocala Star Banner; Palm Beach Post; Politico | Florida; The Center Square | Florida; Sanibel-Captiva Islander; Sayfie Review; Sunshine State News; TCPalm/Treasure Coast Newspapers; The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)

If you are able to make a small contribution to help defray these and other costs of Sparker’s Soapbox, I would greatly appreciate it. Contribute here.

Thank you,
Sandy Parker
Publisher – Sparker’s Soapbox