Thursday, December 27, 2007

Legislative Update

If you think your wallet is feeling empty this holiday season, you should see the state of Florida's budget. If that isn't depressing enough, campaign season has already begun for people seeking office in the Florida Legislature. Don't worry though, we can still look back at this year and laugh through the tears.

State Budget

Tallahassee Democrat - House, Senate face $2.4B budget shortage

Choice quotes from the article:

"The cupboard is not just bare," Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, said Wednesday. "The cupboard is gone."
Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, said he is telling constituents in Lee and Collier counties that "the odds are very, very slim that we'll have any money at all for local projects.

"It's pretty clear that we have extremely limited funds," said Saunders. "This is probably one of the worst budget years ever."
"When the gavels go down, there are hundreds of millions of dollars to spend," [Senator Al]Lawson [D-Tallahassee] said. "I never get too excited about them telling me this, but what I'm concerned about is that they'll take care of the Republicans because there's an election year coming up."
"If I can't ask for it with a straight face, I've got no business putting in for it," [Representative Dave] Murzin [R-Pensacola] said. "There will be community budget requests submitted with the understanding that there is no money to fund them, but politically it is better to at least ask for them."

Orlando Sentinel - The ins and outs from Tallahassee

More choice quotes:

"I've sent out two letters in the last few weeks to the organizations we've tried to help in the past," said Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs. "I'm telling them, the money is not there. Unless you can convince a state agency to put your request in their budget, you're probably not going to get funded."
Budget chiefs Sen. Lisa Carlton, R-Osprey, and Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, are already playing the Grinch role. Setting a Jan. 4 deadline for accepting hometown requests, the pair recently sent a memo to lawmakers warning that lumps of coal were more likely this year than shiny new bikes.

Citing slumping tax receipts because of the stalled housing market, they wrote, "Given this reality, we advise that you not expect to receive any general revenue funding, either recurring or non-recurring, for community budget issue requests this coming session."

Legislative Races

Sun-Herald - State House District 72 race is heating up

It seems an aide for Representative Paige Kreegal's office was instructed to contact the employer of Keith Richter, a republican challenging Kreegal for office.

After university officials were tipped off that Richter's master’s degree was from an unaccredited diploma mill, he was demoted to teaching assistant. That tip came from Kreegel's office, specifically from his chief aide Barry Millman. Lehigh activist and Richter supporter Robert Anderson, president of the civic group Lehigh Acres Watchdog, was suspicious, and asked Kreegel's office for any e-mail communication with the university. Millman denied there was any. Twice.

“We have no records responsive to your request,” Millman responded, then “There is no further response forthcoming.”

Anderson wouldn't take no for an answer, however, and made the same request of House Speaker Marco Rubio. Rubio's office provided the e-mails, in which Millman questioned Richter's credentials. House counsel and investigators looked into the incident. A report issued in November says Millman points the finger at Kreegel.

“Millman stated he was told to do these things by Rep. Kreegel,” the report says.

House District 72 includes Desoto, most of Charlotte and part of Lee County. The republican primary for this seat is August 26, 2008.

The Democrat in the race is Judy Juliano - learn more about her via her website at:

Tallahassee Democrat - Term limits could be a problem for Big Bend

House Districts 8, 9 and 10 are all up for grabs due to term limits.

Democrat Curtis Richardson who will be vacating district 8 has five Democrats vying for his spot: Anthony Viegbesie, Alan Williams, Sean Shaw and Hubert Brown and Rodney Moore.

Democrat Loranne Ausley will be vacating district 9 has three Democrats and one Republican vying for her spot: Fred Varn, Michelle Vasilinda, Willie George Johnson and republican challenger Peter Boulware.

Republican Will Kendrick (formerly a Democrat) will vacate district 10 with two Democrats and one Republican vying for his spot: Julie Conley, A.J. Smith and republican challenger Don Curtis.

Also, Senate District 3 will have a rematch between Republican Charlie Dean and his Democratic challenger Suzan Franks.

Just for fun

St. Petersburg Times - Luckily, no media frenzy erupted.

Columnist Howard Troxler has some fun with a round-up of (mostly fake) news from 2007 and here's a few quotes from his humorous reflections on what transpired this past year:

Jan. 29: Legislature votes to ask insurance companies "pretty please with sugar on top" to cut rates.
Feb. 17:Rare fossils discovered by Pinellas student. School Board declares them to be 5,700 years old.
March 21: Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson announces new citizen-participation game, "Precinct Hide-and-Seek."
May 4:Florida Legislature votes to hold 2012 presidential primary in 2008.

Don't forget, December 31st is the last day to register to vote in the January 29th primary.