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Sunburn for 6/26: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on June 26, 2012

A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

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SUNBURNED, EVEN DURING A TROPICAL STORM: @RalphYoder: While on vacation, the only #Sunburn I get is from @SaintPetersblog…thanks to TS #Debby’s clouds and rain. 

SUPREME COURT HOLDS OFF ON DECISION ON OBAMACARE

The wait continues for the Supreme Court to rule on the federal health overhaul. Justices released opinions Monday in other cases but did not say how they will decide the Florida-led challenge to President Obama’s signature health law. Justices, who are in the final week of the annual Supreme Court term, are now expected to issue a ruling on health care Thursday. Florida, joined by other states, filed a constitutional challenge in 2010 to the law known as the “Affordable Care Act.” Justices heard arguments earlier this year about whether a key part of the law, which would require most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty, violates the U.S. Constitution. Also, Florida and other states are targeting part of the law that would expand eligibility for the Medicaid program. 

RICK SCOTT SAYS HEALTH CARE LAW HAS TO BE ENDED

Gov. Rick Scott said Monday that if the Supreme Court doesn’t throw out the federal health care law this week then the effort to repeal needs to start again, for economic reasons, reports the News Service of Florida. “What we passed is something that’s going to be very bad for patients, very bad for companies, very bad for taxpayers,” said Scott who led a group that advocated against the law when President Obama proposed it in the first place. “So I’m very optimistic that the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional, and if not, it needs to be repealed,” Scott continued. “Because we are not going to be grow the economy that we’ve been growing for the last year and a half it it’s not declared unconstitutional or repealed.” Florida’s challenge to the constitutionality of the federal health care law is pending before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the issue this week.

>>>On Fox News, AG Pam Bondi said she’s confident Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare.  Watch her interview here. 

MOST OF ARIZONA’S IMMIGRATION LAW IS TOSSED

The Supreme Court gutted the majority of Arizona’s controversial immigration law today, leaving in place only the “show your papers” provision that says police officers may check the status of those they stop. 

SUPREMES LET CUBA TRAVEL, WATER WAR CASES STAND

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not take up Florida cases dealing with a ban on Cuban travel and a decades’ long water war between the states, reports the News Service of Florida.  The court also declined to take a death penalty case involving a man with an IQ his lawyers said was too low.  Without comment, the nation’s high court refused to consider the cases, which were among dozens of other appeals that were rejected Monday by the court, which takes up about 1 percent of the cases it is asked to rule on. 

COURT REJECTS CORPORATE SPENDING LIMITS IN ELECTIONS

The Supreme Court reaffirmed its 2-year-old decision allowing corporations to spend freely to influence elections. By a 5-4 vote, the court’s conservative justices said the decision in the Citizens United case in 2010 applies to state campaign finance laws and guarantees corporate and labor union interests the right to spend freely to advocate for or against candidates for state and local offices.

Rick Pildes: “That outcome comes as no surprise to those of us who believe Citizens United reflected powerfully held philosophical and constitutional convictions, whether we agree with those convictions or not. But it should put the final nail in the coffin of theories that assert the Court could have decided Citizens United only ‘by mistake’… The American public might not believe in unlimited corporate speech rights in elections, but the Court’s majority does – and no amount of public backlash is going to cause this Court to back down.”

>>>The must-read SCOTUSblog spent about $10,000 to keep site running during final days of the Supreme Court’s term. 

‘SUPREME’ TWEETS OF THE DAY: @jimgeraghty: Right now is way better than Friday afternoon for a document dump; @jpodhoretz: When my children argue, I usually affirm in part and strike down in part; @NathanWurtzel: SCOTUS announces it will be taking its talent to South Beach immediately following the ruling. 

25% OF VOTERS NATIONALLY STILL UP FOR GRABS FOR OBAMA AND ROMNEY

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds one-quarter of American voters are still persuadable on who they’ll vote for in the presidential election.

“Until then, Obama and Romney will spend huge amounts of time and money trying to win their votes, especially in the most competitive states that tend to swing between Republicans and Democrats each presidential election. Obama and Romney face the same hurdle, winning over wavering voters without alienating core supporters they need to canvass neighborhoods and staff telephone banks this fall to help make sure their backers actually vote.” 

OBAMA FLORIDA OPERATION EMPHASIZES BURMESE PYTHON EFFORT

“Democrats count eradication of the invasive species that preys on herons and egrets in the Everglades as a winning issue in the Sunshine State. So when the Interior Department banned the import of the scary snakes in January, the administration and the campaign made sure Floridians knew about it,” Darren Samuelsohn writes. “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced the ban while visiting the Everglades. They also met with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board to explain how the snakes are threatening the Everglades habitat…The payoff: a run of upbeat local coverage for the Obama administration in Florida as the GOP presidential hopefuls battered one another over the economy and immigration. ‘One seemingly small local issue can turn 1,000 people here and 1,000 votes there, and all of a sudden you’ve reached the critical tipping point,’ said Kevin Cate, a Democratic consultant and Obama 2008 campaign spokesman in Florida.”

>>>1911 United, a Super PAC, supporting President Obama will be holding rallies in Jacksonville as part of its bus tour through six swing states, reports Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union.

>>>President Obama will speak at a fundraising reception today in Miami Beach.  

ACTIVISTS ASKS FEC TO EXPLORE CONNECTION BETWEEN CONNIE MACK ADVISER AND SUPER PAC DONOR ADELSON

A Florida activist wants the FEC to look into a link between a top campaign adviser to Connie Mack and the billionaire casino boss Sheldon Adelson, who have given $1 million to a super PAC that will support Mack in his U.S. Senate race, reports Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times.

“While I opine an actual campaign violation has not occurred – at least as far as I can tell, (Art) Finkelstein’s meeting with Adelson suggests a possible conspiracy to circumvent Federal election campaign law, Timothy “Chaz” Stevens wrote to the Federal Election Commission. Stevens maintains the MyActsOfSedition blog.

>>>A post in SaintPetersBlog is offered as evidence in Stevens’s complaint. 

DAVE WELDON SAYS ‘IV’ IS A ‘GENERIC SUBSTITUTE’ FOR MACK BRAND

“Despite the fact that some in the ‘establishment’ have endorsed Connie Mack, he is by no means the winner, nor should he be,” said Weldon in a press release late Monday. “The truth is, I know Connie Mack, and while this candidate may own the rights to the brand name, he is not the original – he’s more like a generic substitute than the first or second owner of that brand.” 

WALL STREET JOURNAL ON THE ‘LESSONS OF LEMIEUX’

“Mr. Mack had struggled to excite the Republican rank-and-file. His fundraising numbers were unimpressive, and his huge lead in the polls-the latest had him up by 33 points-was in large part due to a crowded field. He probably understood as much, which is why he ducked debates…he also deprived himself of an opportunity to practice for the fall when he’ll square off against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Democrats have already begun to spin the yarn that Mr. Mack has a Rick Perry problem. And thanks to Mr. LeMieux’s ads portraying Mr. Mack as Charlie Sheen’s doppelganger, many voters perceive the congressman as a lightweight. He’s yet to shake that image” 

ADAM PUTNAM REMAINS BUSY IN 2012 ELECTION CYCLE by Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

Earlier in the month, Putnam backed John Legg over two other candidates in a Republican primary battle for a state Senate seat. At the end of May, Putnam backed former Rep. Aaron Bean over Rep. Mike Weinstein in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat representing parts of the First Coast.

Putnam has also been active in the Republican battle to see who will challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Putnam first backed Senate President Mike Haridopolos to challenge Nelson. After Haridopolos withdrew last year, Putnam remained on the sidelines until earlier this month when he threw his support behind GOP Senate hopeful U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

Putnam is also behind U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s bid for another term and has endorsed Florida House hopeful Travis Hutson. It is expected that Putnam will offer additional endorsements during the 2012 election cycle. 

KRISTIN JACOBS CHALLENGES LOIS FRANKEL TO DEBATES IN CD 22 by Dara Kam of the Palm Beach Post

A July 12 pre-primary debate planned by The Palm Beach Post and WPTV Channel 5 between Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs and former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel won’t happen because Frankel refused to participate.

But Jacobs, the underdog in the Democratic race for the U.S. House District 22 seat, is pressuring Frankel to change her mind.

Jacobs’ campaign manager Marcia Monserrat sent Frankel’s campaign chief Greg Richardson a letter today asking for four debates before the Aug. 14 primary. The winner of the Democratic race will face off against Republican Adam Hasner. The seat, now held by U.S. Rep. Allen West, was redrawn and is now a Democratic-leaning district that encompasses parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Jacobs is asking Frankel for two debates in each county.

>>>Frankel’s campaign responded by insisting Jacobs ‘play nice.’ 

LEGAL GROUP: FLA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES SHOULDN’T BE ON BALLOT

A conservative legal group filed a lawsuit Monday contending that three Florida Supreme Court justices should be removed from the November ballot because they did not qualify properly, writes the News Service of Florida. The Southeastern Legal Foundation filed the lawsuit in Leon County circuit court on behalf of Lee County resident Bernard Long and Seminole County resident Veronico “Ron” Flores. The defendants are Secretary of State Ken Detzner and justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, who are up for merit-retention votes this fall. The lawsuit, in part, focuses on a well-publicized snafu that led to the justices taking a break from hearing arguments April 20 to meet a deadline for filing documents needed to qualify for the ballot.

The Southeastern Legal Foundation alleges that justices broke state law by using court employees to notarize the documents. The lawsuit says that “but for the justices’ use of state employees’ services during working hours in furtherance of their campaigns … defendant Detzler would not have qualified them for placement on the merit-retention ballot.” Gov. Rick Scott also has referred the issue to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is continuing to investigate, spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Monday. Some conservatives would like to oust Lewis, Pariente and Quince from the court because they say the justices are too liberal. An attorney for the justices has denied that they were involved in any wrongdoing in the handling of the qualifying documents.

>>>Dan Gelber, a supporter of the justices, said Scott’s criticism of them is “beneath the office for him to make these sophomoric accusations.”

>>>Stateline’s Josh Goodman spotlights the effort to purge these justices.

>>>Tweet – @BylineBrandon: So a circuit court judge is going to hear a case against Supreme Court justices? #awkward 

PIP REFORMS COME WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS by Kathleen Haughney of the Sun-Sentinel

As of July 1, state law will ban the use of PIP dollars to pay for massage or acupuncture treatments and will limit the payout for nonemergency treatment of accident-related injuries to $2,500. And Atwater will become head of a fraud-fighting group that’s a bit unusual.

Rather than being funded by the state, the group must raise its own dollars – likely from insurers and/or the medical community – to be distributed to law-enforcement agencies to help them fight insurance fraud.

At this point, no one – including Atwater – knows exactly how that group will work. Aside from the fact that the CFO, attorney general and other state officials will make appointments to it from the insurance and medical industries, details still aren’t clear. And what might happen if, say, a state attorney getting money from the fund wants to investigate an insurer or a physician who’s a contributor is a lingering question.

Atwater said fundraising details are still being worked out, though he doesn’t expect a multimillion-dollar budget. And he said he wants the group to focus more on looking at how to fund and share technology or data that may help economic-crimes units, rather than having insurance companies fund prosecutors.

FSU PREZ SAYS FACULTY IS ‘FARM TEAM’ FOR OUT-OF-STATE SCHOOLS

Florida State University President Eric Barron says budget cuts are making his faculty a “farm team” for out-of-state schools. Barron appeared Monday before Gov. Rick Scott’s higher education overhaul task force to push for legislation that would let Florida State and the University of Florida raise tuition beyond the current 15 percent annual legal limit.

Barron said Florida’s top two research universities need more tuition money to maintain and enhance their national ranking due to shrinking state support. That includes preventing their best faculty from leaving for higher paying jobs.

BARREL RACING FIGHT RESUMES

An administrative law judge will resume a hearing that started in April about whether a Gadsden County pari-mutuel facility should be allowed to offer betting on rodeo-style barrel racing. Two quarter-horse industry groups argue the state improperly approved a license for the facility.

HAPPENING  TODAY

>>>An administrative law judge is set to begin hearing arguments in a multifaceted rule challenge between the Florida Medical Associat ion and other doctors’ groups and the state Board of Nursing over proposed rules allowing nurses to administer anesthesia.

>>>The General Citrus Research & Development Foundation will have a conference call at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to set assessment rate, which funds citrus research, for the upcoming 2012-2013 citrus season.

>>>Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll has scheduled a follow-up hearing in the case challenging the privatization of prison health care services.

>>>The Medical Care Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of consumers, industry groups and state agencies, will meet to discuss issues in the Medicaid system.

NOT HAPPENING TODAY

With Tropical Storm Debby drenching the state, the Florida Public Service Commission has called off hearings this week about proposed base-rate increases for Florida Power & Light. The hearings were scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday in Miami, Miami Gardens, Fort Lauderdale and Plantation. The PSC will reschedule the hearings.

POLICY NOTES

>>>Florida high school students will suffer as the funding deficits force colleges to reduce dual-enrollment options, Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie writes.

>>>Florida’s school system creates too many students needing remedial work once they enter college, the Fort Myers News-Press editorializes.

>>>The Volusia School Board considers adopting a resolution calling for less state reliance on the FCAT, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

***SUNBURN is brought to you by KEVIN CATE COMMUNICATIONS. I’ve called Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want www.CateComm.com on your side.***

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

“Welcome to the molten core of the political universe,” writes Beth Reinhard for a cover piece in the National Journal. “Since 1960, Hillsborough County has called every single presidential election except for one-and there’s no reason to think that voters here won’t do it again.

“Look around this county of 1.2 million and you’ll find a mash-up of past and future: a solidly Democratic city bracketed by Republican-leaning suburbs; strawberry fields, ranch-style homes, and gentrified urban neighborhoods; Puerto Ricans, Cuban-Americans, African-Americans, Midwestern retirees, college kids, active military, and young families; the brick and wrought iron of historic Ybor City, and the stucco and terra-cotta of the Sun City Center senior community.”

“The county boasts the nation’s seventh-largest seaport, the fourth-largest zoo, three major-league sports teams, and an annual festival honoring pirate invasions of the 18th and 19th centuries. It sits at the intersection of Interstate 75, which traverses the United States from north to south, and I-4, which bisects Florida from east to west. This is holy ground for pollsters and advertisers scouting a cross section of America.”

BIG GET: HILLBOROUGH SHERIFF BACKS JIM FRISHE IN SD 22

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee endorsed House Jim Frishe for State Senate District 22 on Monday.

“Like all of our local elected officials I strive to set an example of excellence and leadership. Volunteering his time and serving his constituents Majority Whip Jim Frishe has a track record of dedication to Tampa Bay. I believe Jim has shown excellence in leadership and has the experience and integrity to keep South Tampa well represented in Tallahassee. He would be a welcome addition to the Hillsborough County delegation.”

FUNDRAISERS GALORE

Tuesday will play host to separate fundraisers for candidates Jeff Brandes, Tom Lee, Bradley Maxwell and Scott Plakon. Details here.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>AG Pam Bondi endorsed Kathleen Peters for State House District 69.

>>>Associated Industries endorsed Dane Eagle for State House District 77.

>>>The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Fire Chiefs endorsed Rep. Mike Weinstein for State Senate District 4.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to veteran fundraiser Ann Herberger and Tampa Bay Times legend Jeff Klinkenberg.

SUGGESTED READINGThe Gospel According to the Fix: An Insider’s Guide to a Less than Holy World of Politics by Chris Cillizza.

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