The Florida Democratic Party ripped into Gov. Rick Scott after he released his latest Web video on Tuesday, saying the governor shouldn't be bashing President Barack Obama over Medicare cuts when Scott "is the ultimate Medicare thief."
The press release read:
"Rick Scott is best known to Floridians, Americans, and federal investigators as the CEO of Columbia/HCA, a hospital company fined $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare. Rick Scott attacking anyone about taking money from Medicare is the height of hypocrisy.
"Maybe Rick Scott should stick to pleading the Fifth when discussing Medicare. Rick Scott is saying Democrats are committing Medicare robbery, when in fact he's the ultimate Medicare thief. He lost the right to accuse Democrats of raiding Medicare when he oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history. Rick Scott's company stole money that should have gone to health care for seniors," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.
"The fact is that Medicare Advantage was supposed to save taxpayers' money, and now it's costing them more than classic Medicare. The savings in the new health care law are being invested right back into our health care.
"Rick Scott's desperate attacks are laughable. And so are his attempts to pretend he's fighting for Florida's seniors."
Sunshine State News Blogs
Javier Manjarres of the Shark Tank reported Friday morning that the Utah congressman appeared on the "Day Break with Drew Steele" radio show to announce his support for Benacquisto, who is currently seeking the Republican nomination in the race to replace former congressman Trey Radel.
Radel resigned from his position in January after months of intense scrutiny following his arrest for misdemeanor possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C., in October.
Benacquisto took to her Facebook page to announce the news:
"Honored to have the endorsement of Congressman Jason Chaffetz," the post read. "Thank you for investigating the IRS and Benghazi cover-ups. You are a true conservative leader."
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho showcased his support of the “Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT) Act” on Thursday after it passed the Republican-controlled House. The measure looks to scale back federal regulations. Yoho weighed in on how federal regulations are hurting his North Florida district.
“Overregulation from the federal government is killing small businesses and hurting job growth across America,” Yoho said. “All over North Florida, folks tell me story after story of ridiculous rules that have hurt not only their ability to hire, but stay in business. I often ask business owners if they would be able to restart their business today given the current regulatory environment. The answer seems to get more depressing each time I ask. As co-chair of the Freshman Regulatory Reform Caucus, I support this legislation and urge the Senate to take action so that we can get Americans working again.”
The leadership of the Florida House unveiled a bill “offering a path to reinstatement for Floridians burdened by massive fines due to suspended and revoked driver licenses” after a study from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) found around 1.3 million drivers were suspended or had revoked licenses in the past year with around 167,000 of those for reasons that did not involve driving.
House Majority Whip Dana Young, R-Tampa, introduced the bill and it has the support of her close ally, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
“Today, many Floridians cannot drive to work and afford to pay the mountain of fines associated with a suspended or revoked driver license,” Young said. “For these individuals, losing a driver license creates a barrier to staying employed and providing for their families.
“These reforms strike the right balance between fairly enforcing the law and providing individuals looking to get back on their feet with a realistic and achievable path forward,” Young added.
“As part of our efforts to address the cycles of poverty in Florida, we have looked at the data, and it shows a suspended or revoked driver license can create a snowball effect that too often shuts Floridians out of employment,” said Weatherford. “I appreciate Rep. Young’s efforts to reform our system and provide these individuals with a firm but fair opportunity to re-enter the workforce.”
With courts suspending drivers licenses for a variety of reasons -- writing bad checks, being convicted of theft and drug possession, failure to attend school, failing to pay child support -- Young’s bill proposes to do the following:
Prohibits the court from suspending for a first offense of failure to appear in court for a worthless check charge.
Leaves at the discretion of the court the decision to suspend for subsequent offenses of failure to appear in court for a worthless check charge.
Leaves at the discretion of the court the decision to suspend for anyone who is guilty of misdemeanor theft.
Reduces the length of revocation for drug-related convictions from two years to one year, while still allowing the drug treatment and rehabilitation option in order to reinstate after six months.
Allows someone owing child support to avoid suspension by beginning to pay the obligation by income deduction.
Allows a child support obligor to avoid suspension if extenuating circumstances can be proven, including
o Receiving re-employment assistance or unemployment compensation.
o Being disabled and incapable of self-support, or receiving Supplemental Social Security Income or Social Security Disability.
o Receiving temporary cash assistance.
o Paying a confirmed Chapter 11, 12, or 13 bankruptcy plan.
Dr. Ben Carson continued his efforts against President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law on Thursday as he rallied conservatives against it. Currently chairing the “Save Our Healthcare Project” from American Legacy PAC, Carson has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Carson burst onto the political scene last year when he denounced the law at the National Prayer Breakfast. He weighed in on that experience and attacked the law in an email to conservatives on Thursday.
“When I spoke just a few feet away from President Obama about the dangers of political correctness at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, many were surprised,” Carson wrote. “After all, my background is medicine, not politics. But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon like me to see that Obamacare isn’t working for all Americans. Dropped coverage, failing websites, skyrocketing premiums -- the list goes on and on.
“I wish I could snap my fingers and make Obamacare disappear tomorrow, but we both know that won’t happen,” Carson continued before praising his current project as a 'national citizens’ effort to hold Washington accountable, recenter the health care debate around doctors and patients, and begin to answer the question of ‘What’s next?’ -- because real reform is absolutely vital.”
Carson promised to be active on the campaign trail in the 2014 election cycle. “It is our goal to recruit every American that believes we can do better than Obamacare, and make sure that our message is received loud and clear by every elected official and candidate in 2014,” Carson insisted.
The Gators and Seminoles will continue to meet on the gridiron after this season, prolonging one of the top rivalries in college football through 2018.
The University of Florida and Florida State University confirmed Thursday they have inked a contract that will allow the teams to meet at least for the next four years. The current contract was due to expire at the end of 2014.
The schools have met each year since the rivalry began in 1958. This year, teams will clash on Nov. 29 in Tallahassee.
Florida has gotten the better of Florida State in their 58 meetings and lead the series 34-22-2.
The Seminoles are set to begin defending their national title on Aug. 30 against Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas. Meanwhile, that same day, Gator Nation will be watching its team as they host Idaho at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
While he backed Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-St. Petersburg, in the primary, Florida Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, endorsed David Jolly, the Republican running in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., in Congress. Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee, and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the special election on March 11.
Latvala went after Sink on Thursday, hitting the Democrat for supporting President Barack Obama.
“I ask every voter today to take a long, hard look at Alex Sink’s history as a career politician. who will clearly be a rubber stamp for the Obama agenda and will put the interests of her Washington backers above the interests of Pinellas County,” Latvala said on Thursday. “From what we are seeing, this is going to be a tight race come March 11th, but if voters base this decision on what truly matters – the ability to serve the people of Pinellas County, help grow our businesses and our economy, and help fight Obamacare’s onerous impact on our seniors and our residents – the choice is actually quite clear. It is clear Alex Sink continues to grow more and more out of step with what really matters to this community and will defend Obamacare and the Washington establishment at all costs. Let’s cast our vote for David Jolly – a man who will work to protect the jobs and the people of Pinellas County.”
“I thank Sen. Latvala for his support in this race to represent Pinellas County in Washington,” Jolly said. “I have said this from the very beginning, this is a Pinellas County race and as the senator well knows, we are a strong, vibrant community but we have many issues that need attention at the local, state and national level. We know everything that is wrong with Washington and we have to fix it. Job-crippling policies enacted by Obamacare have reduced worker hours and created uncertainty for our employers – that is no way to help grow our economy.
“We need to elect someone with a record of helping protect and grow local jobs here in Pinellas County,” Jolly added. “I worked with my mentor Bill Young on behalf of this community for nearly 20 years and have worked with small and large businesses throughout our district and county to grow manufacturing, high-tech and defense jobs for our skilled and unskilled workforce. I am ready to continue this commitment when we win this race on March 11th and head to Washington. Our friends and neighbors, our job creators and members of our local workforce deserve to be represented by someone who will put Pinellas County above the Washington agenda and the support of Obamacare.”
The poll, conducted by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service in collaboration with the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business research, found 62 percent of registered voters would support allowing children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to receive in-state tuition. Thirty-three percent said they were against such a proposal.
Results are based on data collected from 1,006 phone interviews of registered voters conducted between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, with a 3 percent margin of error.
Offering in-state tuition for DREAMers is set to be a hot issue during this year's legislative session, already receiving the support of House Speaker Will Weatherford. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow these students, as well as children of military veterans, in-state tuition rates.
"These children are the children of taxpayers in Florida, who pay our sales tax, who pay our gas tax," said Latvala on Wednesday. "I just think this is a disparity, a discriminatory issue that needs to go away."
According to the Miami Herald, Latvala has already counted 25 votes in the Senate for the bill.
The Bob Graham Center for Public Service and the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research unveiled a poll on Thursday which finds more than two-thirds of registered voters have major problems with President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
The poll of registered voters finds 38 percent of those surveyed wanting to repeal the health-care law while 29 percent want to make major changes to it. More than a quarter of those surveyed -- 27 percent -- want to make minor changes to the law while only 12 percent want to keep the law as it currently is with no changes.
Despite this, two-thirds of those surveyed -- 67 percent -- want to expand the state Medicaid program while 28 percent oppose expanding it.
“These apparently contradictory findings are understandable,” said Paul Duncan, the associate dean of the Graduate School and a professor in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida. “The Affordable Care Act is large and complicated -- just like our health care system -- so when an unprecedented level of partisan political noise is added, inconsistency in public opinion is almost certain.”
The poll of 1,006 registered voters was taken from Jan. 27-Feb. 1 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
If passed, SB 1316 would prohibit the Florida Department of Education from implementing the standards until the state board holds at least one public hearing in each congressional district of the state. At least one state board member would be required to attend each meeting. Additionally, Evers' bill would require a "fiscal analysis" of the projected cost of implementation of the standards by an independent entity "with expertise in the development, implementation, and assessment of curricular standards to conduct the fiscal analysis."
Evers' bill would also require the state to withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and would not allow the state to implement assessments aligned to Common Core by PARCC.
"Instead, the state shall adopt and implement new assessments that provide valid, reliable, and timely testing of student performance," reads the bill.
Florida TaxWatch released a report on Thursday in support of efforts to reform the state government’s information technology (IT) and bring it under a CIO. Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, are supporting legislation to do exactly that. In 2012, the Center for Digital Government gave the Florida state government the lowest marks in the nation for its IT structure.
"TaxWatch is encouraged that Gov. Scott has joined House and Senate leaders to prioritize funding for a new Agency for State Technology that has the authority to set and enforce centralized IT policy for Florida's governing agencies," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Thursday. "The true challenge now lies in developing the best model for successful integration of Florida's diverse IT needs."
"With an integrated IT governance structure, Florida will have the organization and infrastructure necessary to analyze the state's data and make informed decisions to increase efficiency and reduce costs across government," Calabro added.
The report can be read here.
Nadine Smith, the CEO of Equality Florida which supports overturning the state constitutional amendment which defines marriage in the Sunshine State as only between a man and woman, praised Gov. Rick Scott and his rivals for saying Gov. Jan Brewer, R-Ariz., should have veoted legislation in Arizona that allows business owners to refuse to do business with gays citing religious reasons. The bill passed both chambers of the Arizona Legislature but was vetoed by Brewer on Wednesday.
“This is an important message from Gov. Scott to the extremists in his party, urging them not to push Florida in the disastrous direction taken by Arizona,” Smith said on Wednesday night. “The condemnation from all quarters -- most visibly and vocally from the business community -- has driven home the simple fact that discrimination is morally wrong and economically reckless.
“The time of garnering votes with strident anti-gay rhetoric is over. In fact, there are polls that show that voters will now punish candidates who oppose equal rights," Smith added. “The governor and his Democratic rivals have all spoken out against this measure. Where candidates stand on LGBT equality issues is becoming a litmus test for the emerging electorate. In Florida, it is the 3 million registered voters with no party affiliation who will decide the next election. These are predominantly younger voters who vote based on issues that inspire them, not simply based on party.”
"Discrimination has no place in America," said Crist. "None in Arizona. None in Florida. For Gov. Brewer, this should be the ultimate no-brainer. Veto the law."
Gov. Rick Scott met with Chuck Todd of MSNBC on Wednesday and was asked if he thought Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer should sign the bill.
"If [Brewer] signed a bill like this that made it as if a lot of businesses would feel as if they might want to do business in Arizona, you would, as governor [of] Florida, would you raid those spring training teams?" asked Todd.
"Well, look, I go after the spring training teams. I'm competing with governors across the country to bring more jobs to Florida," Scott responded. "Then again, Chuck, I haven't seen the bill. I want all of the spring training teams to be back here, first day of spring training today."
When asked again, Scott again said he had not seen the bill and that he was focused on "[recruiting] companies to the state."
Crist was quick to criticize Scott for not taking a stand on the issue.
"The fact that Gov. Scott won't take a stand on whether Gov. Brewer should veto the Arizona discrimination law is stunning," said Crist. "We should always be sending the message that Florida is open for all of our residents, open for all tourists and open for all businesses."
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., testified before the House Judiciary Committee on his “Faithful Execution of the Law Act” which would require federal officials to report to Congress when they decide not to enforce a law.
“Congress possesses all legislative powers, yet the president has frequently delayed or amended duly-passed laws without congressional authorization,” DeSantis said on Wednesday. “My ‘Faithful Execution of the Law Act’ will bring more transparency to government by making the administration justify non-enforcement policies to the American people, thereby elevating the issue of constitutional authority as a part of the public debate.”
Maggie’s List, a PAC looking to elect conservative women to Congress, announced on Wednesday it was backing Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, in the special election for the congressional seat opened when former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.
"I am honored to receive the endorsement from Maggie's List,” Benacquisto said. “Electing more conservative women to Congress who believe in a smaller government, individual liberty, and national security is of utmost importance."
“Maggie’s is proud to endorse Lizbeth Benacquisto for Florida’s 19th Congressional District,” said former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, the chairwoman of Maggie’s List. “Having worked with Sen. Benacquisto since she was first elected to the Florida Senate, she has continuously demonstrated her fiscal conservative principles as well as her constant push for less government and more personal responsibility. As a fellow Floridian I am extremely happy to endorse Lizbeth, she will be a superlative addition to the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Gov. Rick Scott’s team released a Web video on Wednesday in which he weighs in on the Venezuelan regime’s crackdown on protesters who want democratic reforms.
"Your heart goes out to everybody in Venezuela,” Scott says in the new video. “We’re a country of liberty. We’re a country of freedom. They need to have the same freedoms and same liberty as we have. So our country, we need to stand up for the people of Venezuela.”
Scott had met with President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss Venezuela and other subjects on Monday.
“We are also asking the president to stand with the people of Venezuela who are striving for freedom and liberty against the forces of tyranny,” Scott said on Monday after the meeting in the White House. “President Obama should immediately announce that the U.S. is considering sanctions against Venezuela as long as they keep limiting free speech. He should put sanctions on the table like freezing the bank accounts of Maduro and his gang and revoking the U.S. visas of anyone involved in attacking peaceful demonstrators. The president must show that the U.S. will stand up against oppression and support those yearning to be free. That is our duty and our calling as Americans.”
In the face of a public backlash, the Federal Communications Commission has backed off a plan to determine if the news media are meeting the public’s “critical information needs.”
Seventy-one percent of likely U.S. voters say it is not the government’s role to monitor the content of news organizations in this country and 76 percent say they are at least somewhat concerned that the FCC’s analysis of news content will lead to government efforts to control the news media or promote a political agenda. Of this number, 49 percent are very concerned.
Over three-quarters -- 76 percent -- also believe that with the Internet, cable networks, satellite radio, newspapers, radio and TV, it is possible for just about any political view and just about any news content to be found in today’s media.
But 38 percent think the government should require all radio and television stations to offer an equal amount of conservative and liberal political commentary. Nearly half of voters -- 49 percent -- said they disagree with government-mandated equal commentary.
The national survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Feb. 22-23 by Rasmussen Reports.
Republicans continue to pummel former state CFO Alex Sink for comments she made about immigrants at a candidate forum on Tuesday. Sink is the Democratic nominee in the special congressional election. She’ll take on Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby on March 11.
“Immigration reform is important in our country,” Sink said at the forum. “It’s one of the main agenda items of the Beaches Chamber of Commerce for obvious reasons. Because we have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? And we don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.”
Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), went after Sink on Wednesday.
"Alex Sink's comments are as shocking as they are narrow-minded,” Curry said. “Floridians are people who want to work hard to make their dreams come true, and in our state no dream is out of reach. For Alex Sink to make such an implication about those who immigrate to Florida is insulting."
Gov. Rick Scott announced on Wednesday morning that business tech-support company ConnectWise will expand its headquarters in Hillsborough County, investing more than $1.25 million and creating 112 jobs over the next two years. The company is based in Tampa and employs more than 330 residents of the Tampa Bay area.
“The expansion of ConnectWise’s headquarters and creation of more than 100 new jobs is great news for families in the Tampa area,” Scott said. “We work every day to make sure that Florida is the best state in the nation for businesses to grow and create more opportunities for Florida families. ConnectWise could have expanded in California or Washington, but chose Florida because we’re creating an opportunity economy where businesses can succeed and grow jobs for families.”
“We are very excited to continue to build our company in Florida and contribute to the state’s economic engine,” said Arnie Bellini, the CEO of ConnectWise. “As a technology company committed to innovation, we know how crucial it is to hire and retain highly-skilled individuals, which is why we continuously recruit the best and the brightest from universities right here in Florida. Our partners are our No. 1 priority and we will continue to grow as they grow to ensure their profitability and success well into the future.”
Trying to catch former Gov. Charlie Crist in the battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich ramped up her opposition to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law this week. Despite Crist spending most of his politcal career as a Republican, Crist has a strong lead over Rich in the Democratic primary, according to the polls.
“The sad reality is that laws intended to make Floridians safer are, in fact, making us less safe,” Rich said on Tuesday. “Our state shouldn’t be a place where people are afraid that every parking lot argument could end in gunfire.”
Rich pointed to the recent Trayvon Martin and Michael Dunn cases as reasons why the law needed to be changed.
“Twice in two years, unarmed teenagers have been killed and their shooters have been acquitted. There is clearly a problem with the law,” said Rich. “Imagining you are in danger simply can’t be a justification for using deadly force. The law simply isn’t working, and the time has come to change it.”
Rich also called for more gun control, arguing it was time for Florida to crack down on the purchases of firearms at gun shows and run universal background checks on anyone who tries to buy a gun.
Adrian Wyllie, the favorite for the Libertarian nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott, went on the attack on Wednesday, going after the two chief candidates in the race.
Wyllie ripped into Scott as a “big-spending, big-government, progressive Republican governor” but he also took aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination despite spending most of his political career in the GOP. Wyllie portrayed Crist in the same terms he used for Scott, calling the Democratic front-runner a “big-spending, big-government, progressive former Republican governor.”
As he continues his bid, Wyllie is trying to hold to libertarian positions on both economic and social issues. Calling for major cuts to the state government, Wyllie’s proposed budget would reduce the state budget to below $52 billion.
“I am proposing a 30 percent cut to the state budget,” Wyllie said. “Most of that will be to noncritical services, and will simply eliminate waste, inefficiency, unnecessary bureaucracy, corporate welfare and, in a few cases, outright fraud.”
But if conservatives will cheer Wyllie on fiscal issues, social and religious conservatives will have problems with some of the Libertarian candidate’s positions such as same-sex marriage. Wyllie has vowed, if elected, to eliminate the state’s traditional marriage laws.
From his perch on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has been sharply critical of the Venezuelan regime’s crackdown on protesters in recent days, praised the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday for gearing up to take action against that South American nation -- and asked President Barack Obama to lobby OAS members.
Panama has asked for the OAS to hold a foreign ministers meeting on Venezuela. The OAS will hold a vote on Panama’s request on Thursday.
“First of all, I commend the government and people of Panama for their solidarity with the Venezuelan people in recognizing the seriousness of the violent crackdown of peaceful demonstrations in Venezuela,” Rubio said. “This is an opportunity for the OAS to reclaim its rightful place as the forum to address key issues affecting the Western Hemisphere and reaffirm the hard-fought democratic gains of the last four decades.
“President Obama has said that this is his year to use his pen and phone for action,” Rubio added. “Now, this is legitimately a time for President Obama to pick up his phone and encourage OAS member states to take part at Thursday’s meeting and support Panama’s request for a serious review of the Venezuelan government’s actions against peaceful demonstrations. This is the moment for truly democratic nations to stand up and be counted on the side of the Venezuelan people and democracy in the hemisphere.”
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., will be looking to ensure the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) increases transparency and stays out of politics on Wednesday.
Crenshaw, the chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, will be leading a meeting on Wednesday as Congress listens to testimony from the IRS. The First Coast congressman will be pushing the IRS for more transparency and to ensure the IRS does not target political activists. The IRS was in the news last year for going after conservatives and the tea party movement.
“No time of the year turns a focus on how much hard-earned money Americans are sending to Washington more than tax season,” said Crenshaw on Tuesday. “As individuals, families, and businesses calculate how much money they are sending to the IRS, Congress must do its part to try and straighten this agency out. The IRS must be held accountable for its operations and use taxpayer dollars effectively: that’s the bottom line. Over the past year, we have witnessed the IRS abuse its authority by singling out taxpayers based on political belief, not to mention spending millions of dollars on lavish conferences. Neither has a place in our society in this day and age.
“Following a series of hearings in 2013 before the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, tough recommendations were made to correct this behavior, but Congress can and should do more.” Crenshaw continued. “I will continue to ask tough questions when IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appears before the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.”
Crenshaw pointed to four bills concerning the IRS which are on the House floor this week. The bills include efforts to increase transparency in the IRS, stop the IRS from asking about Americans’ religious, political and social beliefs, and ensure the agency can’t target political groups.
“I support the additional, common-sense measures that are on the House floor this week,” Crenshaw said. “They will provide citizens with the security, transparency, and accountability from the IRS. I hope they earn the full support they deserve and quickly pass the House.”
Social and religious conservative groups filed a motion to intervene in Pareto v. Rubin, a Miami-Dade case where six same-sex couples are looking to overturn Florida’s state constitutional amendment which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. A majority of voters -- 62 percent -- passed that amendment back in 2008.
Among the conservative groups filing the motion on Tuesday were Florida Family Action and Liberty Counsel. But other groups outside the right joined the motion on Tuesday including the Florida Democratic League, a Hispanic group which is currently facing fire from the Florida Democratic Party over its name, and People United to Struggle for Equality.
The Florida Democratic Party ripped into Gov. Rick Scott after he released his latest Web video on Tuesday, saying the governor shouldn't be bashing President Barack Obama over Medicare cuts when Scott "is the ultimate Medicare thief."
On Tuesday afternoon, Juno Beach City Commissioner Ellen Andel announced she was ending her bid for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.
“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to end my run for Congress,” Andel informed supporters on Tuesday. “The stress on my family has become more than I am willing to accept, and their health and happiness are my first and foremost priorities. I have a deep gratitude for all those who have believed in me and supported me.”
Andel had the support of former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., who Murphy beat out in 2012.
Noting that 54,000 seniors in Manatee and Sarasota counties are covered in Medicare Advantage, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla, wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Tuesday. The Obama administration revealed last week that Medicare Advantage funds would be used to cover the costs of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Buchanan’s letter reads as follows:
I am writing to express serious concerns about the administration’s new proposal to cut funding for Medicare Advantage health plans that serve more than 54,000 seniors in my congressional district.
Medicare Advantage programs are widely praised for offering preventative and disease management services superior to other health plans in the Medicare fee-for-service program. These popular policies offer a competitive choice to seniors as well as saving beneficiaries out-of-pocket expenses.
The administration’s recent announcement that private Medicare plans face deep cuts in 2015 could be devastating to seniors who will now be at risk of losing their plans, benefits and doctors they trust. This is unacceptable.
At a time when families, workers, and employers are finding it difficult to navigate the intricacies of the new health-care law -- seniors should not be forced to part ways with existing policies they like and want to keep. On behalf of the millions of seniors across the country who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, I urge the administration to work with Congress to protect this vital program and honor our commitment to America’s seniors.
The Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Republican David Jolly in the March 11 special election for a congressional seat left open by the death of U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla. Jolly takes on former state CFO Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the Pinellas County race.
“After carefully considering his legislative platform, his close working relationship with the late Congressman Bill Young and real-life experience, the Fraternal Order of Police, Florida State Lodge, is pleased to lend our name to David Jolly for his campaign,” said James Preston, the president of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police. “David is right for public safety and he is right for Florida. David Jolly is a leader who understands the unique concerns of Pinellas County. He has a vision of future economic growth and prosperity for our diverse community.”
“I am honored to have the support of such a great organization that not only strives to cultivate the bonds between their members, but between the community and the people they serve,” said Jolly. “Like the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, the bond I share with my community and my neighbors is important, and if elected, I will continue to keep those lines of communication open as we work to ensure that our streets, schools and parks are safe for Pinellas County families and all future generations. I am proud to have the endorsement from our law enforcement leaders and thank them for their support.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee, ripped into President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law, insisting it hurts small businesses. Bilirakis pointed to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Actuary.
“The report is clear,” Bilirakis said. “The CMS Actuary estimates 65 percent of small businesses will be forced to increase their premiums as a direct result of Obamacare. That is roughly 11 million people. Small businesses are a cornerstone of economic growth in this country. To saddle them with increased health-care costs will reduce their capacity to hire or expand.”
Bilirakis took the gloves off and tore into the law. “The administration talks about creating jobs and lowering health-care costs, but their policies do the exact opposite,” Bilirakis said. “This announcement comes after millions of hard-working Americans in the individual market had their plans cancelled because of Obamacare. Contrary to the promises of President Obama, you will not be able to keep your health care or your doctor, and sadly, your premiums will be anything but affordable.”
Gov. Rick Scott came to political prominence in 2009 by opposing President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Scott is going back to that theme in a new web video ad released on Tuesday.
In the new video, Scott calls Obama’s proposal to take funds from Medicare Advantage to fund the health care law “wrong for Florida seniors.” Scott and Obama met at the White House on Monday and discussed the matter.
"Seniors retire based on a belief that they have a healthcare system that's going to be there," said Scott. "We already know that 300,000 people in our state were told they were going to lose their insurance. But now, under Medicare, we're seeing these dramatic rate cuts.
"These Medicare cuts that the President's caused are the wrong thing for Florida seniors," added Scott.