BATTLE OVER ORANGE COUNTY SICK LEAVE REACHES GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
By MARGIE MENZEL
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 7, 2013……….A bill that would prevent local governments from setting sick-leave standards for workers hasn’t reached Gov. Rick Scott’s desk yet, but it certainly has reached his office.
Scott will have to choose between the business lobby, which strongly supports the bill (HB 655), and workers and their supporters who sent 11,000 petitions to the governor’s office this week, delivered in strollers by working moms who said they would benefit from a veto.
The bill would thwart a citizens petition to the Orange County Commission last year, signed by more than 50,000 people. That petition effort would put the question of mandated sick leave up for a countywide vote.
If it passed, businesses with 15 or more workers would have to provide paid sick leave.
“The organizers of the earned sick-time ballot measure identified a legitimate problem,” said Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando. “The unfortunate reality is that Orange County is leading the state in the number of workers who can’t take a day off if they or their children get sick.”
But business leaders reacted with alarm. Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, said if local governments could force employers to provide more benefits than state and federal law already requires, they would go to other states.
“Companies will certainly not locate in a state where three members of a five-member local commission can overnight change all the employment laws,” Feeney said.
On Sept. 11, 2012, the county commission voted 4-3 to keep the issue off the November ballot — at the behest, opponents charged, of such powerful corporations as Walt Disney World and Darden Restaurants.
A three-judge panel in February this year ordered commissioners to put the question to the voters, which could not happen until August 2014.
But if Scott signs HB 655, that ruling will be moot. There will be no vote.
As of Friday morning, the governor’s office had heard from 790 people about the measure, with 765 urging him to veto it. Scott hasn’t said what he’ll do. Legislative leaders haven’t sent him the bill yet, but when they do, he’ll have 15 days to decide.
It’s been a bitter battle in Orange County. A scandal erupted over the vote blocking the ballot measure. Public records requests showed that before and during the vote, commissioners exchanged texts with lobbyists opposed to the measure.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Orange County GOP Chairman Lew Oliver sent a text to one commissioner, calling for “at least one good faith straight face test reason to at least delay it long enough to keep it off the ballot in November. After that, the Legislature can deliver the kill shot.”
That set the stage for House Majority Leader Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, to file HB 655.
Saunders said the petition organizers’ solution might not be the right one, but they had followed every rule in the Orange County charter for getting a measure on the ballot.
“At the last minute the rug was pulled out from under them, and now the state has come in and pre-empted them,” he said.
But backers of the bill say it is a statewide issue, due to its economic impact.
“I’m convinced it’s a state issue,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs and sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. “It impacts every person in our state and the economy of our state.”
Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said he didn’t think the timing could be worse, with the state still 549,000 jobs down from pre-recession levels.
“If we were in a situation where we got back all the jobs we lost and we were adding a healthy number of jobs each month, that might be a time when this discussion could happen again,” he said.
But petition supporters say that providing paid sick leave would be cost effective because workers would be more productive and would use emergency rooms less often for their health care.
Simmons, whose original bill included five days of unpaid sick leave and time off for taking children to the doctor and dentist, said the debate will proceed via a task force included in HB 655. “This is not a case of being adversaries,” he said. “I think what we’ve done is a very fair compromise.”
Natalie Carlier, regional coordinator for the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanics, said the governor can expect more letters and emails urging him to veto HB 655.
“We’re going to keep doing actions across the state to make sure that he hears from us and that he hears why it’s important to veto this bill,” Carlier said.
State authorities allege that Finch released a resident who had been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and that he then either removed or destroyed the records associated with the arrest.
An FDLE spokeswoman said Finch was booked into the Liberty County jail and then released on his own recognizance… Read more
Finch was asked about Parrish’s release by FDLE investigators and Finch told him he “believed in Second Amendment rights.”
He exercised his discretionary powers, but he was arrested for basing his discretion on ”Second Amendment rights” as the reason.
Constitutional attorney KrisAnn Hall on the arrest:
STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LUNCH EDITION): THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2013
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
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SCOTT: ANDREA REMINDER TO BE PREPARED FOR HURRICANES
Gov. Rick Scott urged Floridians to be cautious as Tropical Storm Andrea made its way across the state — while also encouraging tourists to stay en route to Florida. Scott said in a press briefing Thursday that some parts of the state would experience four to six inches of rain and a three- to five-foot storm surge. He also said there had been eight potential tornadoes, but no reports of deaths or property damage. “This is a reminder for all Floridians to get prepared to be ready for hurricane season,” Scott said. ” … But for people that are coming to our state — as you all know, we’re a big tourism state: Keep your travel plans. This is going to pass very quickly through our state.” Scott said the storm should be out of the state by the end of the day. He also used the opportunity to take a swipe at the federal sequester, which he blamed on President Barack Obama. The federal budget-cutting program will cause furloughs that will hit the Florida National Guard, which often assists in disaster preparation and recovery. “I’m very concerned about our preparedness because of the furloughs of the National Guard,” Scott said. The sequester was approved by Congress after negotiations between Obama and Republican leaders over deficit reduction broke down.
ORDER ISSUED REJECTING PALM BEACH HOSPITAL
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek issued a final order Thursday denying approval of a Palm Beach County hospital project that drew opposition from other hospitals in the area. The order largely backed a recommendation from Administrative Law Judge James Peterson, who found that the project in Palm Beach Gardens by a Tenet Healthcare Corp. subsidiary should not receive what is known in the industry as a “certificate of need.” West Palm Hospital and Jupiter Medical Center challenged a 2011 AHCA decision that gave preliminary approval to the project by the Tenet subsidiary, Florida Regional Medical Center. The project was slated for an area that includes Scripps Research Institute, a Florida Atlantic University campus and the Max Planck Florida Institute, according to Peterson’s recommendation.
NEGRON WANTS FUTURE EVERGLADES FUNDING TO REACH $100 MILLION
Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said the state needs to bring funding for the Everglades up to $100 million, according to the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Negron, who has a major influence over state spending, said Wednesday he wants to see money for Everglades’ restoration in the 2014-2015 budget increase by $30 million over the $70 million allocated during the fiscal year that starts July 1. “Let’s go to $100 million, what do you think?” Negron said, according to the newspaper report. Negron, along with several other state lawmakers who represent the northern end of the Treasure Coast, appeared Wednesday at a forum on issues facing the Indian River Lagoon.
DCA BACKS STATE ON PRISON HEALTH PRIVATIZATION
By BRANDON LARRABEE
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, June 5, 2013……….A unanimous three-judge appeals panel threw out a circuit court decision blocking privatization of inmate health-care services, a victory for the state in its long-running battle against unions to contract out more prison operations.
The ruling Wednesday would allow the state to push ahead with the rewarding of prison-health contracts to Corizon, Inc., in the central and northern areas of Florida.
The original ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper had already cleared the state to move forward with a contract with Wexford Health Sources, Inc., for the region covering roughly the bottom third of the state.
Cooper ruled that the Legislative Budget Commission, a 14-member panel charged with overseeing spending amendments when lawmakers are not in session, went too far in approving the contracts for the other areas because that privatization was not specifically mentioned in the state budget. It was seen as a potential precedent-setting ruling on the power of the LBC.
But the 1st District Court of Appeal said Cooper was reading the budget too narrowly when he said that privatizing health services in the the central and northern regions was changing policy and was more than a limited tweak to the budget — both things the LBC isn’t allowed to do.
“On both requirements, the LBC has expertise as an entity composed exclusively of legislators that is charged with the inherently legislative function of appropriations,” Judge Stephanie Ray wrote for the DCA. “Given the LBC’s expertise and unique role within the Legislature, the LBC is entitled to deference in administering its budget-adjustment authority.”
Ray also wrote that a state law allowing the Department of Corrections to privatize some health-care services and provisions in previous budgets and the spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 all suggested the Legislature wants to contract out the services.
“Outside the [budget], however, there is ample evidence, not only that the department was authorized to privatize inmate health services, but that the Legislature intends for such privatization to occur,” she wrote.
The LBC voted in September to approve an amendment to the current budget, which expires June 30, shifting money around to allow DOC to continue its privatization push. Opponents said the full Legislature would have to approve the decision to contract out the services.
The win for the state comes after other defeats on a push by Republican leaders and, at times, the Department of Corrections to privatize prison services and help reduce the state budget.
“We appreciate the ruling,” said Ann Howard, a spokeswoman for the department, in an email. “It will help save taxpayer money as we move forward, per the Legislature and now, the court.”
Alma Gonzalez, special counsel for AFSCME Council 79 — one of the unions that challenged the privatization — said that new language in the upcoming 2013-14 budget likely would have meant the lawsuit would become moot once the new spending plans kicks in, though she didn’t rule out an appeal.
She also said the state could have been spared the costs of a lawsuit if lawmakers had approved the prison privatization that way in the first place.
“The fact is that the citizens of the state of Florida, the taxpayers of the state of Florida have paid and paid and paid again to teach the governor to respect the Constitution,” Gonzalez said.
Independent and Indispensable
WE CANNOT MISS THIS EVENT
Register today so you won’t be left out: https://www.yaliberty.org/contribute/conv2013fl
Here are the details:
What: YAL’s Florida State Convention
Where: Paramount Plaza Hotel and Suites
2900 SW 13 St.
Gainesville, FL, 32608
When: Saturday, April 20th
9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Here we go again, more of the collective mentality which is socialism and communist.
Because if mankind did not deny God, we would not be having these types of conversations.
Children are GOD’s children. We are God’s children. Everything that exists belongs to and is owned by God.
As it pertains to children, if everyone believed that children are God’s, then we would know what to do. We would be promoting the family.
God is the one in control of his creation, not us.
Children are a blessing.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.