A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
FLORIDA HEALTH CARE SUMMIT BEGINS TODAY – SAINTPETERSBLOG TO BRING YOU LIVE COVERAGE
For a play-by-play of the Fla. Health Care Affordability Summit, check SaintPetersBlog.com and follow @SaintPetersblog or use #HCASummit on Twitter. I will be blogging and tweeting live from the World Center Marriott in Orlando, where national health care advisors, industry leaders and lawmakers will be participating in the first set of panel discussions today to address health care system accountability, cost transparency and providing affordable care to Floridians.
AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney will open the event at 11:30 a.m., immediately followed by the first keynote speaker Michael Millenson, president of Health Care Quality Advisors LLC. Moderators for today’s panels include State Senators Joe Negron and Aaron Bean, and State Representative John Wood. Closing today’s events will be Congressman Tom Price with an inside’s look at health care from Washington.
For a full agenda of the Summit, visit healthcareflorida.com/agenda.
FIVE REASONS WHY I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SUMMIT
1. Keynote address from Congressman Price – what is the latest from Washington on health care and what that means for Florida’s next steps.
2. “Modernizing Health Care” and the participation of AT&T’s Chief MIO Geeta Nayyar – what do industry leaders foresee in the world of medical innovations and how communications and new media will play a role in advancements in medicine and the future of health care?
3. Key legislative chairs will participate as moderators for the discussion panels – will this be a “preview” of their leadership roles during the upcoming legislative session?
4. “Health Care Solutions from the Private Sector” Panel – what are Florida businesses most concerned about when it comes to the future of health care, growing a business and creating jobs?
5. The Millenson & Osborne Perspectives – Correlations between the point of view of an independent health quality expert and advisor, and Wal-Mart’s VP of Health & Wellness Payer Relations when it comes to creating access to quality health care.
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***
GALLUP: DEMOCRATS REESTABLISH LEAD IN PARTY AFFILIATION
47% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were independents who leaned Democratic in 2012, compared with 42% who identified as or leaned Republican. That re-establishes a Democratic edge in party affiliation after the two parties were essentially tied in 2010 and 2011. The estimates are based on an aggregate of all 2012 Gallup … polls, … more than 20,000 interviews…. [Since 1991], Democrats have usually held an advantage, including the high margin of 12 points in 2008, the year President Obama was elected. Republicans have held an advantage in only one year — 1991, when President George H.W. Bush enjoyed record-high approval ratings after the Persian Gulf War. … The new Democratic advantage is mostly due to an increased proportion of Democratic-leaning independents and a decreased proportion of Republican-leaning independents.
ENDORSEMENT BATTLE HEATS UP IN FDP CHAIRMANSHIP RACE by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post
Clendenin and Tant both announced key labor endorsements Tuesday, with Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams announcing his support for Clendenin while the Service Employees International Union declared its backing of Tant.
Today, Tant announced the endorsement of Sen. Bill Nelson and nine U.S. House Democrats, including Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and all four members of Palm Beach County’s House delegation — Reps. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy.
Clendenin this afternoon unveiled the endorsement of Alex Sink, the party’s 2010 nominee for governor and a potential 2014 candidate. He also has the support of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
ALAN CLENDENIN GAINING GROUND FOR FLA. DEM CHAIR by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
Democratic activists … are poised to deliver an embarrassing snub to (Debbie) Wasserman Schultz with the heated race to lead the state Democratic party.
… Democratic state committee members from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties on Monday night held a non-binding vote on the race for party chairman and unanimously backed Clendenin over Tant. The way the party weights votes in such party elections, the votes from those three Democratic strongholds would all but ensure Clendenin is the next state party chairman.
“They’re in absolute denial that they’ve lost,” Hillsborough Democratic Chairman Chris Mitchell said of Tant and her supporters. “Now they’re scrambling, and Debbie’s trying to save face…she wants to have complete control of the (state party) and what they do, and Allison Tant gives her complete control. Debbie knows she can’t control Alan and she can control Allison.”
ODD FACT OF THE DAY: Tant used to hand down her maternity wear to Wasserman Schultz.
TWEET, TWEET: @liberalhawksfan: For the record, the amount of money that Allison Tant raised for the Obama campaign was .0005%
BIPARTISAN FLORIDA TEAM TO REVIVE EVERGLADES CAUCUS IN CONGRESS by Curtis Krueger and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
With a new congressional class coming in, two South Florida representatives — Miami Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Miramar Democrat Alcee Hastings— announced they are reintroducing the “Everglades Caucus” in the U.S. House. The goal is educate members and staffers about the Everglades and, of course, foster support for the projects and money still needed to complete the $12.4 billion restoration effort.
GRAYSON BACK ON HIS RHETORICAL HORSE via The Hill
It didn’t take Alan Grayson long to get back in the rhetorical saddle. Grayson, famous during his 2009-11 first time for his description of the Republican’s health-care plan as “Don’t get sick. And if you do, die quickly” and similar over-the-top partisanship, went on Current TV and described the 67 Republicans who voted against Hurricane Sandy aid as “the bath salts caucus…
““It’s the same 67 over and over again,” he told Current TV host Stephanie Miller. “It’s the bath salts caucus, the people that would rather eat your face than cut taxes on the rich.”
PERSONNEL NOTE: OBAMA RAPID-RESPONDER AND FMR. CRIST SPOX DANNY KANNER HEADED TO DGA
Danny Kanner, formerly the Deputy Director of Rapid Response for Obama for America and a one-time spokesman for former Governor Charlie Crist, will be the new Communications Director for the Democratic Governors Association
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com***
SCOTT PUSHING TO ELIMINATE MANUFACTURING EQUIPMENT TAX
Scott said Wednesday he would push for legislation to completely eliminate the tax on the purchase of new manufacturing equipment.
The move would bolster Florida’s manufacturing sector and economy, he said.
“Other states do not charge a sales tax on buying machinery and we’ve got to do the exact same thing,” he said. “We have 17,500 manufacturing companies in our state that employ over 300,000 families. Every time we help manufacturing in our state, we give more jobs to Florida families.”
The governor also wants to add $12 million to funds for quick response training.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT SCOTT’S PROPOSAL
“The potential increase in manufacturing and exporting will lead to more opportunities for workers currently employed in our industry as well as new jobs for those unemployed but eager for work. The Florida Transportation Builder’s Association is confident that Florida’s current integrated transportation system will show how effective and efficient the state is at delivering goods and products globally.” — Bob Burleson, President of the Florida Transportation Builder’s Association.
“By recommending this proposal, the Governor is taking another step in making Florida the top state for businesses and job creation. The NFIB supports this bold proposal and is eager to continue assisting our members with the resources and guidance they need to be successful.” — Bill Herrle, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business/Florida.
“Governor Scott’s commitment to growing Florida’s economy is evident by his desire to make Florida’s ports more accessible and competitive than ever before. The most effective way to increase Florida’s exports is to increase its manufacturing output.” — Doug Wheeler, President of the Florida Ports Council.
“The impact of manufacturing on Florida’s economy can’t be understated since more than 17,000 companies employing more than 300,000 Floridians provide products, equipment and items that we use every day.” — Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
AIG SETTLEMENT GIVES FLORIDIANS $25 MILLION IN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY
Florida received more than 61,000 unclaimed property accounts worth more than $25 million as part of a settlement with American International Group.
The accounts represents only the first of what is expected to be additional remittances to be made by the insurer, Jeff Atwater, Florida chief financial officer, said in a statement.
The agreement with AIG is the fifth agreement that Florida has settled that requires large national insurers to appropriately use Social Security Administration records to locate life and annuity beneficiaries and to promptly remit payment to the unclaimed property division for beneficiaries who cannot be located.
APPOINTED: Simon M. Canasi, Albert L. Perotti and Ernie E. Trichler to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board.
***The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session. Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long. As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***
GUNMAKER TAX BREAKS FACE RENEWED SCRUTINY via Michael Bender of Bloomberg News
Governments in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and New York approved the subsidies to lure jobs from other states or to keep companies from moving, according to public records. The incentives were aimed at protecting or attracting more than 2,800 jobs, and for companies to train 500 workers. Lawmakers said they hoped more jobs would follow.
The subsidies aren’t unique to the weapons industry, as governments around the country routinely offer aid for jobs.
Lawmakers are taking another look at the subsidies as gunmakers and their advocates, including the National Rifle Association, prepare to battle state and federal proposals to restrict sales of some products.
FLORIDA GAVE TAX INCENTIVES TO GUN MANUFACTURER
Rick Scott hailed an incentive for the West Hartford, Connecticut-based Colt Manufacturing Co. in 2011 saying it showed the state was “a defender of our right to bear arms.” The deal, for 63 jobs, was worth about $1.66 million in state and local incentives, according to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm. The agreement penalizes the company $50,000 if it doesn’t produce all the jobs.
Frank Attkisson, a commissioner in Osceola County, which provided incentives, said it was a “sweetheart deal” for Colt and that the county would put tougher controls on future subsidies.
Florida state Senator Nancy Detert, the Republican chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, said she’s crafting legislation to make it more difficult to provide incentives for companies that don’t specialize in science and technology. She said she doesn’t want Florida to be known for gun manufacturing.
“We need to be a lot more careful and decide what kind of state we envision,” Detert said.
OP-ED: SCENES FROM LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE GUN by Mary Jo Melone for Florida Voices
I cannot go comfortably to the mall, parking lot, church, hair salon — it is hard to keep these mass shooting scenes nicely lined up in memory –because somebody who is sure the world is out to get him can arm himself and then go out and prove his point. Even the last refuge of our peace and tranquility, the national parks, are no longer either; you can pack heat, and I have to sit next to you on the tour bus.
I have to get accustomed to the fact that I know people who have lost family members to domestic gun violence. Those stories, when one partner murders the other, and maybe another relative or a neighbor before doing the world a favor by dispatching himself, never linger in the papers.
… I didn’t vote for this. Tell me, NRA: Where do your rights end and mine begin?
Where is it in the U.S. Constitution that you have the right to make me afraid?
MY OP-ED: THE TOYS WE GIVE OUR CHILDREN
At first glance, the bulky black box looks as if it is a product of Northrop Grumman or some other defense contractor. On it are images of crosshairs and rockets with descriptions of the device’s technologies, including “Advanced missile load and release system,” “Lock-on sequencing,” and “Sensor Intelligence.”
Is this some sort of anti-aircraft system destined for a Middle East buyer? No, it’s the “Battle Tracker” — the latest offering from Air Hogs that promises “head-to-head interactive combat” for children 10 to 12 years old. The “Battle Tracker” is one piece of a fearsome arsenal available in the toy aisle of your local Target or Wal-Mart.
It’s also part of an arms race that, in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, should have us reevaluating the toys we give our children. With the “Battle Tracker,” kids are no longer playing cops and robbers, they’re simulating modern warfare.
TWEET OF THE DAY: @franktorresnet: First outburst from attendee at Orlando Sentinel gun discussion. Can’t repeat it but refers to cattle droppings. He’s been warned.
***Representatives from Florida’s aerospace industry will visit Tallahassee on March 6, 2013, to participate in Florida Space Day and share with legislators the opportunities the industry brings to Florida and the nation’s space program. During Space Day, industry leaders and other aerospace supporters will meet with House and Senate members, as well as the lieutenant governor, to discuss growing areas of the state’s $8 billion space industry, and determine the best strategies for leveraging these markets for Florida’s benefit in the years ahead.***
ABRUZZO PITCHES MINIMUM PAY FOR TEACHERS
The state would be required to make sure teachers are paid the national average for their jobs by 2015 under a proposed constitutional amendment filed Wednesday by Sen. Joe Abruzzo. Abruzzo’s amendment (SJR 198) would require new teachers to make the national average for starting teachers and for experienced teachers to make the average of their counterparts’ salaries. The state would pay for any raises required by the change, and the amendment says collective bargaining wouldn’t be affected. The measure would require the approval of 60 percent of lawmakers and 60 percent of voters in a referendum to become law.
CLEMENS FILES BILL TO AUTOMATICALLY REGISTER VOTERS
Clemens has filed a bill that he believes will eliminate much of the controversy over voter registration by simply automatically registering eligible adults.
Senate Bill 234 will require the state to enact automatic voter registration when eligible U.S. citizens come of age by utilizing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Currently, eligible citizens are asked if they wish to register to vote. Under Sen. Clemens’ bill, they will be automatically registered.
“The original purpose of the voter registration system was to disenfranchise women and African-Americans,” Clemens said. “It’s time we ditched the archaic scheme and realize that every adult American citizen should be automatically registered. There simply is no good reason to make people jump through hoops.”
To protect the rights of those who do not wish to be registered, Clemens’ bill provides the opportunity for adults to opt out of the automatic registration.
HOUSE BUDGET CHIEF SAYS MEDICAID MATH NEEDS TO BE UNANIMOUS via the Orlando Sentinel
House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel released a statement Wednesday night defending Florida’s consensus revenue process but also welcoming alternative projections for the cost of expanding Medicaid coming from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.
… McKeel said Wednesday night that the state needed to follow its traditional process for agreeing on revenue and expenditure projections, which requires the House, Senate and governor’s economic experts to come to a unanimous decision on what revenues will come in and what programs will cost.
“Medicaid expansion has significant long term implications. It is important to recognize the potential state financial exposure should the federal laws change for the worse. The normal match from the federal government for Medicaid has been significantly less than the match for expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Simply put, we cannot foresee the future, but looking at past behavior is important,” McKeel said.
“However, unless there is unanimous consent to do otherwise, we must follow our process which requires estimates based on current law and practice. This is critical to the integrity of our budgeting process.
“We do agree with the Governor that the policy discussion regarding expansion should explore all potential scenarios because of the magnitude of the decision.”
TWEET, TWEET: @learyreports: Just as Gov. Scott was gaining foothold with economy, he now has a numbers controversy on hands.
LAWMAKER WANTS IT EASIER TO RECEIVE MCKAY SCHOLARSHIPS via Jeff Solochek of the Gradebook
Florida lawmakers continue to propose changing state law to make it easier for students to get into publicly funded education programs outside the realm of the public school system.
In recent years, the Legislature expanded access to virtual education programs, after some parents complained about limitations within the law. It also acted several times to grow the corporate tax credit scholarship program that provides financial support for low income children to attend private schools.
Now there’s a proposal to lift restrictions on who can receive a McKay scholarship, which helps students with disabilities attend private schools that meet their needs. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has filed a bill that would strip the requirement that a child must have attended a public school for one year before qualifying for the voucher.
***The new year brings a new election cycle. Yes, only 22 months until voters go back to the polls for Florida cabinet and legislative races. Go to www.On3PR.com to see which 2014 candidates have opened their campaign accounts and posted their Q4 report – due to the Division of Elections by midnight, January 10.***
1000 FRIENDS OF FLORIDA PREVIEWS LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: The group will hold a webinar to provide a preview of the 2013 legislative session. The webinar will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. More information and a link to registration can be found here.
FMA, OTHERS PREPARE FOR DRUG DISPENSING FIGHT by Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida
With another legislative fight brewing, the Florida Medical Association is signaling that it could play a large role this year in a debate about limiting the amount of money doctors can charge for dispensing drugs to workers-compensation insurance patients, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.
The FMA was not outspoken during the 2012 legislative session when insurers and business groups unsuccessfully lobbied to cap such payments to doctors as a way to reduce workers-compensation costs. But FMA General Counsel Jeff Scott said Wednesday the powerful physicians’ association has received an “avalanche” of calls from members who were concerned about the issue.
Scott said doctors dispensing what are known as “repackaged drugs” — as opposed to writing prescriptions that would be filled at pharmacies — is not a major cost driver in the insurance system and has drawn a disproportionate amount of attention. Many doctors argue that such in-office dispensing helps patient care, though it also provides another source of revenue for physician practices.
“We learned a lot the last year,” Scott said. “We decided we were going to get involved and, in good faith, try to resolve this issue.”
But it appears clear that the issue will spur another lobbying fight during the legislative session that starts in March. A workers-compensation panel chaired by state Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty recommended Wednesday that lawmakers consider limiting reimbursement for doctor-dispensed drugs, along with looking to curb costs through changing the way hospitals are reimbursed for treating workers-compensation patients.
MAXWELL COLUMN: LAWMAKERS SHOULDN’T SUBSTITUTE LOBBYISTS FOR BRAINS
Time and again, this newspaper unearths proof that your elected representatives are filing bills that they haven’t even authored.
MELISSA JOINER JOINS FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION AS GOV’T AFFAIRS DIRECTOR
Joiner has been hired as the director of government affairs for the trade association advocating for Florida’s retail businesses. Joiner will manage FRF’s political and fundraising operations, lobby the state Legislature and Executive Branch, and serve as a liaison to state agencies and regulators.
“Melissa brings our team a wealth of knowledge and professional relationships in Florida, and we are very pleased to welcome her to the Florida Retail Federation,” said Rick McAllister, president and CEO. “Her leadership in the government affairs arena will enhance FRF’s lobbying and fundraising objectives, and help carry forward our mission to serve as the No. 1 advocate for Florida retailers.”
Joiner most recently worked with the March of Dimes Florida Chapter, where she served as the advocacy and government affairs director, managing the government affairs team and supporting fundraising efforts. Prior to joining the March of Dimes in 2011, she worked with the Department of Community Affairs as Director of Legislative Affairs and External Affairs Manager. In all, Joiner has nearly 12 years of experience in governmental affairs and lobbying, including work for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and in the offices of Congressman Ed Whitfield and Florida President Pro Tempore Mike Bennett.
YOU’RE INVITED to a fundraiser for House District 65 challenger Chris Sprowls on February 12 at The Governor’s Club in Tallahassee. Event begins at 4:30 p.m. in the BC Room. Invite here.
***Florida Capitol Advocates is one of the most experienced advocacy groups in Florida. The firm has extensive experience advocating on behalf of clients in front of state, federal, and international governments and is ready to help your organization successfully maneuver through the legislative process. Visit FloridaCapitolAdvocates.com to learn more about how they can help you.***
CAN’T WAIT TO READ: This Town by Mark Leibovich. The book is described as “a blistering, penetrating, controversial — and often hysterical — look at Washington’s incestuous ‘media industrial complex.'”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the best, the original ‘Political Whore’, Wayne Garcia
OVERTON FUNERAL: The funeral and burial service for former Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton are Wednesday in the St. Petersburg area where he served for many years on the circuit court bench. Overton, who served on the state Supreme Court from 1974 to 1999, died last weekend.
REST IN PEACE: Joseph Bondi, the father of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a former Temple Terrace mayor, died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 76.
SPOTTED at former State Representative Bob Henriquez’ swearing-in as Hillsborough County Property Appraiser: Rep. Betty Reed, Alan Clendenin, Ana Cruz,Rep. Janet Cruz, Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Kenneth Pratt, Alex Sink, and Jordan Sykes of the Collins Center.