***CORRECTION***Governor Rick Scott Questions Democrat Representative Abruzzo’s Education Proposal

November 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by Javier Manjarres

***El Sharko had a senior moment and confused Senator Jeremy Ring (D) with Representative Joseph Abruzzo (D). Sorry Senator, it happens.

Governor-elect Rick Scott is keeping his promise of reaching  out to all of  the members of the Florida Legislature, as he participated a series of meetings around the state with members of both houses of the legislature.In Fort Lauderdale, Governor Scott sat down with several Democrats and Republican lawmakers and discussed several pressing issues, one being  education reform.

The controversial SB6 was at the top of the list of concerns.  State Senator Jeremy Ring (D)   House Representative Joseph Abruzzo (D) was the most vocal member at the meeting, and whose comments left many scratching their heads, as to what he meant.  Governor-elect Scott sought clarity when he questioned this statement Senator Ring Representative Abruzzo made.

“If you were a reservist like myself, and you were a teacher and you were deployed, if you students didn’t perform at a certain standard when you came back from oversees, you lost your teaching license-you couldn’t get it back. If you are not even teaching you have substitute or someone else has your class, and you were deployed overseas, you would actually lose your teaching certificate.

If you’re pregnant, and you take leave, and your students don’t perform to these standards, you lose your teaching certificate.”- Representative Abruzzo

Representative Abruzzo was upset that these provisions were not in the initial bill, and would like to see them added if another bill comes up in next year’s session. State Representative Esteban Bovo (R) stated that the House of Representatives, and its supermajority, were going to take up a bill similar to SB6. ” We are going to address it“- Bovo

Governor-elect Scott went on to state that education reform was a vital issue that needs to be addressed, and that he wants to make it easier for parents to be able to choose their children’s educational path. This choice would include, the ability  to decide which schools to send their childrens-Scott is a big proponent of  Charter Schools. Scott also echoed what Representative Bovo said in that a similar bill like SB6 would be looked at and considered, as long as it followed what he campaigned on and it uses the best parts of the initial SB6 bill.

The Shark Tank

Rep. Bovo Meets With Governor Scott and Will Propose Property Tax Bill

November 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by Javier Manjarres

 Representative Esteban Bovo (R) was one of several Florida Legislative members that was invited to a cozy meeting with Governor-elect Rick Scott in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bovo told me that he was honored, humble and a bit suprised when he recieve the invitiatiion to meet with the Governor-elect. Bovo also added that he thought the meeting was “ unique and interesting”,and that is was refreshing to see the Governor reach out and afford him and the others the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns. ”Charlie never did that

But the representative also stated, that now Scott had to deliver on the jobs that he has talked about this past election cycle. One of Bovo’s main focus in the next legislative session is the problem of property taxes. Like many others around the state, Bovo says,”property taxes  are strangling people”, and come this next legislative session, he  will be proposing a bill that will lessen the taxes bearing down on property owners.

The Shark Tank

Weekly GOP Address with Rep.elect Austin Scott

November 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Representative Austin Scott of Georgia, who counts “family, faith, and freedom” among things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, gives today’s Weekly GOP Address.

He commends his incoming Republican classmates and their unique backgrounds, including a pizzeria owner. That new lawmaker, Bobby Schilling, hails from Illinois’ 17th District.

Schilling’s campaign.

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Marathon Pundit

Have Scott Brown and Ron Wyden figured out the way forward on health care?

November 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Thumbnail image for brownbanking.JPG

The GOP’s slogan on health-care reform has, till now, been “repeal and replace.” But they don’t have the votes for either. What they might have the votes for is reform that, maybe, one day, if all goes well, could lead to replacement. And, believe it or not, liberals might be able to get on board with this strategy, too.

This morning, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced the “Empowering States to Innovate Act.” The legislation would allow states to develop their own health-care reform proposals that would preempt the federal government’s effort. If a state can think of a plan that covers as many people, with as comprehensive insurance, at as low a cost, without adding to the deficit, the state can get the money the federal government would’ve given it for health-care reform but be freed from the individual mandate, the exchanges, the insurance requirements, the subsidy scheme and pretty much everything else in the bill.

Wyden, with the help of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was able to build a version of this exemption into the original health-care reform bill, but for various reasons, was forced to accept a starting date of 2017 — three years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect. The Wyden/Brown legislation would allow states to propose their alternatives now and start implementing them in 2014, rather than wasting time and money setting up a federal structure that they don’t plan to use.

In general, giving the states a freer hand is an approach associated with conservatives. On Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sent a letter to the Republican Governors Association advocating exactly that. “The most effective path to sustainable health care reform runs through the states, not Washington,” he wrote. If it’s really the case that the states can do health reform better, Wyden and Brown are giving them a chance to prove it.

One state that wants to prove it is Sanders’s Vermont. “As a single-payer advocate,” he says, “I believe that at the end of the day, if a state goes forward and passes an effective single-payer program, it will demonstrate that you can provide quality health care to every man, woman and child in a more cost effective way. So I wanted to make sure that states have that option.” Vermont’s governor-elect, Peter Shumlin, is on the same page. “Vermont needs a single-payer system,” he said during the campaign.

Single-payer, of course, is even more objectionable to conservatives than the existing health-care law. But that’s the beauty of this option: It allows the liberal states to go their way, the conservative states to go their way, and then lets the country judge the results. If Vermont’s single-payer system provides universal care at a low, low cost, then maybe that nudges California — which is facing massive budget deficits — off the fence. After all, if the state spends less than the government sends it, it gets to keep the remainder. It’s a nice incentive for cost control. And if it works, how long will more conservative states wait before they decide to take part in the savings, too?

But conservatives don’t believe that will happen. They think a consumer-directed system will offer higher-quality health care at a lower price, and with more choice. If Tennessee takes that route and outperforms Vermont, it’ll be their system that spreads across the land.
The funny thing about the health-care reform debate is that for all the arguing, everyone says they’re in favor of it. The GOP’s “Pledge to America,” for instance, promises that the Republicans will repeal Obama’s health-care law “and put in place real reform.” Shumlin, too, promises Vermonters that he’ll produce “real reform.” The problem is that no one seems able to agree on what real reform is. The beauty of Wyden and Brown’s approach is that the country doesn’t have to choose.

“Real reform,” in their world, is whatever works best to cover everyone at the lowest cost. Utah and California can go their separate ways, and the other states can judge the victor based on results, not ideology.

That an Oregonian and a Bay Stater are behind this legislation is perhaps no surprise: Wyden’s home state of Oregon just reelected John Kitzhaber, a former emergency-room doctor who pioneered a radical set of Medicaid reforms when he served as governor in the late ’90s and early Aughts. Brown’s constituents in Massachusetts still overwhelmingly support the system that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in 2005 — and that then-state Sen. Scott Brown voted for. “There’ve been a handful of states that’ve tried for some time to break out from the cookie-cutter molds,” says Wyden, and their senators want to protect their innovations.

The Obama administration is cautiously supportive. “The cliche about states as the laboratories of democracy is not just a cliche,” CMS director Don Berwick told Wyden at a Finance Committee hearing. “It’s true.” The question is whether the rest of Congress will agree. Liberal Democrats might shiver at the thought of conservative reform plans, while conservative Democrats might worry about the possibilities of public options and single payer. Republicans may worry that attempts to reform the health-care law will read to their base as if they’re making peace with it rather than working to repeal it. And both sides will face pressure from various industries involved in the provision of medical services that fear — and will likely fight — the prospect of reforms they can’t anticipate, and may not benefit from.

But those who hide from this proposal are fundamentally signaling a lack of faith in their own ideas. What Wyden and Brown are offering is the chance for the various sides to prove that they’re right. If the industry players make the system work better, then the states that prize their involvement will prosper. If conservative solutions are more efficient, that will be clear when their beneficiaries save money. If liberal ideas really work better, it’s time we found out. Forget repeal and replace, or even reform and replace. How about compete and succeed?

Photo credit: Lauren Victoria Burke/AP.

Ezra Klein

Governor-Elect Rick Scott Set to be Florida’s Most Pro-Gun Governor

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Republican Rick Scott’s victory in the Florida Gubernatorial contest has gun-rights advocates very optimistic. And with solid Republican majorities in the state legislature, the time is ripe for action to move gun-rights forward, the centerpiece of which would be a push for an open carry law. Florida is one of seven states that do not permit citizens to carry holstered weapons openly (with exceptions when hunting or at a rifle range.)

During the campaign, then candidate Scott made the following statement about gun rights in Florida:

“As a member of the NRA and a hunter, I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and I will protect our fundamental right to keep and bear arms.

Florida is one of only seven states with wide prohibition on carrying an unconcealed firearm. Repealing the ban on unconcealed or Open Carry will eliminate practical and constitutional problems in Florida.”

“Governor-elect Rick Scott recently pledged his support for repealing the ban on open carry due to the practical and constitutional issues it causes,” said Sean Caranna from Florida Open Carry. “We are here to remind our elected officials that we expect them to pass an open carry bill this coming session. Most of the 6 million gun owners of Florida are watching to see what is done with this second chance for our elected officials.”

There’s simply no need for the Open Carry ban to continue.  Floridians are already allowed to carry concealed, but not open?  It simply makes no sense.  Open Carry is not any more dangerous than concealed carry, and how many criminals out there are carrying openly?  The answer is zero, simply because criminals don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

We’ll be watching Rick Scott closely in the coming days and months to see how effectively he will expand the rights of gun owning law abiding citizens.

The Shark Tank

Rick Scott: ‘let’s get to work…! now take this awesome gift card’

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

You really can’t make this stuff up. Rick Scott, the guy who slinked out of his former hospital corporation, Columbia/HCA, with a $ 300 million golden parachute before the company settled with the federal government to the tune of $ 1.7 billion over Medicare fraud… whose new company, Solantic, also is being looked at for Medicare fraud, [...]
The Reid Report

Rick Scott Campaign Worker: I Was Paid In Gift Cards (VIDEO)

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) is already facing his first mini-scandal just a week after he beat Democrat Alex Sink in one of the nation’s closest and nastiest gubernatorial races. A part-time campaign worker who found the job through an ad on Craigslist is upset that the campaign paid him with an American Express gift card.

Mark Don Givens told Florida’s WTSP News that he was expecting a paycheck after he made phone calls and knocked on doors for the Scott campaign, which made jobs a top issue in the election. Givens said he and other workers were upset after they were told by the campaign that they could not offer them a paycheck and given American Express gift cards instead.

“This would violate both tax laws and labor laws,” Melanie Sloan, the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) told TPMmuckraker in an email. “It looks like the newly elected AG will be investigating the newly elected governor.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet Your New Governors].

“Obviously you can’t pay bills with gift cards,” Givens said.

A spokesperson for the Scott campaign acknowledged to the news station that there was an issue getting Givens paid via check. The Scott spokesperson said that a campaign supervisor decided to give Givens gift cards. He said the cards can be reimbursed for cash (though, as the station points out, there is a surcharge). The campaign said it would pick up that surcharge for Givens or any other campaign workers, or fix the check issue.

As for Givens? He told the station he is “going Democrat.”


Congressional Black Caucus: Yes, Allen West and Tim Scott are welcome to join

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


They can join. But should they? In an e-mail to The Daily Caller this morning, CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee, California Democrat, wrote that both of the recently elected African-American Republicans, West and South Carolina’s Tim Scott, will be accepted if they decide to join. “During the 40-year history of the Congressional Black Caucus there have [...]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Congratulations to Florida’s New Governor, Rick Scott

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

by Javier Manjarres

After a long night of watching the votes tally up in the tightest Gubernatorial race in Florida’s history, Democrat Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink made her concession call earlier this morning, making businessman Rick Scott the next Governor of the State of Florida.  Governor-Elect Scott defied the odds in a contentious Republican primary race and in general election, and he also takes on the role of the de facto head of the Republican Party of Florida. Scott told the Shark Tank during the campaign, that he was going to “clean house” when he got to Tallahassee- that house being the state GOP party.

Scott’s victory speech remarks were brief and to the point, graciously acknowledging his supporters, and emphasizing his firm commitment to turn Florida into an economic powerhouse through economic and regulatory reforms that encourage business formation and job creation.

The chess pieces are now in place to what could be a year of sweeping reform in Tallahassee and across the state. Scott’s new cabinet consists of  Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, CFO Jeff Atwater, and Attorney General Pam Bondi- all newly elected Republicans.  Couple that with House of Representatives Speaker Dean Cannon (R) , Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) and a heavily weighted GOP legislature, and you have the pieces of a powerful conservative legislature whose first order of business will be  to repeal many of Governor Charlie Crist’s vetoes later this month.

This new breed of Republican politicos will also have a controlling hand in the upcoming congressional and legislative redistricting plans that will be under consideration in 2011.

The Shark Tank

The TRR interview: how Rick Scott became Gollum

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

With Florida voters doubling down on the forces of doom, and with the most right wing government since the 19th century headed to Tallahassee in January, TRR sat down with blogger Joy-Ann Reid (who would probably be in her basement posting conspiracy theories, if you could have a basement in Florida…) about her constant haranguing [...]
The Reid Report

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