Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jobless Figures Highlight Need for Bipartisan Action

From the House Dems:

House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement about October employment figures:

“Families across Florida are devastated by the reality of a 34-year-high unemployment rate. It is hard to find a friend or neighbor who isn’t touched by today’s news that Florida’s unemployment rate is 11.2 percent.

“The challenges facing our families and small businesses are obvious to anyone paying attention. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in the Florida House has turned its back on countless citizens who see the need for helping jobless Floridians with a fairer Unemployment Compensation system.

“Florida House Democrats remain hopeful that Republican leaders will drop their opposition to modernizing Florida’s Unemployment Compensation system and will join Governor Charlie Crist in approving the use of $444 million in federal stimulus to assist the growing-number of jobless Floridians.

“These dollars will be spent helping families buy food, pay rent and will generally boost economic activity and retail business throughout the state. Additionally, as Governor Crist has asserted, jobless benefits approved by President Barack Obama and Congress would allow Florida to help individuals who lose their jobs due to family circumstances, such as domestic violence, family illness or the relocation of a spouse.

“It is time that Republican leaders begin working on bipartisan solutions that will put Florida back to work.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman Applauds Release of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Yesterday, the Senate released the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years while extending health insurance to 31 million Americans. In response, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:

"Yesterday, we moved another step closer to passing historic health insurance reform legislation with the release of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this bill will extend health insurance coverage to 31 million Americans while reducing the national deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years.

"This bill does just what the President has talked about for months - it offers stability and security for Floridians who have insurance, provides quality, affordable coverage for the uninsured and lowers costs for families, businesses and governments.

"Florida's families can no longer bear the burden of skyrocketing premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and unfair insurance company practices. On behalf of all Floridians struggling with our broken health care system, I thank President Obama and Senate Democrats for their commitment to passing reform now."

Letter from Congressman Meek to Governor Crist Regarding Reports that Unemployment Compensation Taxes Paid by Florida Businesses May Skyrocket Next Ye

U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek today wrote a letter to Florida Governor Charlie Crist and state leaders on averting a rise in Florida’s unemployment compensation taxes. A copy of the letter appears below:

November 18, 2009
The Honorable Charlie Crist
Governor, State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-0001

Dear Governor Crist:

This is the second letter that I have written you concerning Florida’s non-compliance with the Unemployment Insurance (UI) modernization provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The consequences of Florida’s failure to comply are now fully known as today’s news reports indicate that unemployment compensation taxes paid by Florida businesses will skyrocket next year.

What is your position on this critical legislation? Are you for the stimulus or are you against it? Is the position of your administration to tax small businesses or not? If the answer is the latter, the Legislature must move under your direction to pass necessary legislative fixes to ensure that Florida receives the $444 million in stimulus funds our state is due to help fund unemployment insurance coverage.

In voting for the Economic Recovery Act, I hoped that Florida would be able to maximize every federal dollar our state is due through the passage of this Act. That, however, has not occurred. By helping pass this federal legislation, Florida would have received $444 million in funds to provide a needed cushion for the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund that is quickly depleting because of the demands placed on the system by Florida’s unemployed, which swelled to 11-plus percent in September.

To take advantage of these federal dollars flowing into our state, the Legislature was required to pass a legislative fix to state law to comply with federal guidelines and receive these funds. I wrote last asking that you play a leadership role with the Florida legislature to pass this critical legislative fix, and if necessary, call that body into a special session in May to ensure passage. Our neighbor Georgia, a state led by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue and a Republican-controlled legislature, passed the necessary legislation, yet Florida did not even allow this issue to move forward in the legislative process.

Your leadership is needed as the Chief Executive of our state to ensure that Florida’s legislature takes up and passes this critical issue, and I urge you to call a Special Session and to have this matter added to the call.

Florida’s unemployed families are disadvantaged because of this inaction in Tallahassee, and next year, Florida’s businesses will be unfairly taxed to pay for these delays. My vote to help pass the Economic Recovery Act was a vote for Florida’s future, and these investment dollars needed throughout the state are being held up in Tallahassee.

Faced with an incredibly challenging economic crisis, Florida cannot delay – we have dragged our feet for too long, and the consequences of this failure are now realized. Our families and businesses deserve better from their elected leaders in Tallahassee.

Enclosed is the letter I sent you on May 1, 2009 first addressing this issue.


Member of Congress

Florida House Democrats Say: Don't Refuse Federal Economic Recovery Funds for Unemployed Families

From the House Dems:

Florida House Democrats today urged House Speaker Larry Cretul and other House Republicans to take immediate action to ensure that Florida doesn’t reject more than $1 billion in federal stimulus aid for out-of-work Floridians.

With the unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, Florida is under extreme economic duress due to the slowdown of the real estate market and the global economic recession. In the midst of this crisis, Florida’s unemployment trust fund is being drained.

Concerned about the thousands of hard working, middle-class Florida families who will suffer due to unexpected job loss, House Democrats are urging immediate legislative approval of two major actions before the end of the 2009 lawmaking session. Democrats are seeking:

· Approval of legislation that would allow the state to use $777 million in federal Recovery Act money for the rest of the year for an estimated 250,000 people whose benefits would otherwise expire.

· Passage of legislation that would implement the Unemployment Compensation Modernization Incentive program that would provide an additional $444 million for unemployed Floridians. This program would offer benefits to individuals who lose their jobs for certain family circumstances, such as the relocation of a spouse, family illness, or domestic violence.

Measures that would implement these changes have been authored by state senators and have been subject to modest review in the Florida House of Representatives. The House should take immediate steps to pass these bills, including CS/SB 810, CS SB 516, and House Bill 1333 by Representative J.G. Rader (D-Delray Beach).

Florida House Democrats appreciate concerns that have been raised about potential future-year expenses associated with adoption of these changes. However, Florida House Democrats have repeatedly noted that the economic recovery dollars that have been provided by Congress and approved by President Barack Obama are urgently needed to help Florida’s economy recover and for families to be able to avoid crushing financial crises due to unemployment during this recession.

Additionally, U.S. Department of Labor officials have again confirmed in a recent correspondence with Representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) that “there is no requirement that the state return any money it if later repeals the provisions” of the Unemployment Compensation Modernization Incentive program.

Representative Skidmore offered these remarks:

“Florida’s unemployed and hard-working families should not be denied their full and fair share of economic recovery funds. The Legislature should not penalize people who have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. These dollars will make a real difference to people who are hungry and need rent money. This money can keep a roof over someone’s head and stimulate Florida’s economy.”

U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek on Looming Rise in Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Taxes

In response to news reports that unemployment compensation taxes paid by Florida businesses will skyrocket next year, U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek today reiterated his call for state officials to put Florida in compliance with unemployment benefits provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 so unemployed Floridians can receive full unemployment benefits and businesses can avoid a crippling rise in unemployment compensation taxes.

"Our state has left critical stimulus dollars on the table in Washington, DC and these hard to come by funds are desperately needed to help Florida’s families,” said Congressman Kendrick Meek, who in May urged Governor Charlie Crist to call the Legislature into a special session so that legislation could be passed for Florida to receive $444 million in recovery dollars for unemployment insurance. “Officials in Tallahassee are not in a position to deny Florida’s families and businesses economic relief because of legislative inaction.”

In April, Congressman Meek urged the Florida Legislature to enact legislation necessary to put Florida in compliance with the Unemployment Insurance modernization provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

In May, Congressman Meek called on the Legislature to return for a Special Session to take advantage of $444 million in federal stimulus dollars meant to fund Unemployment Insurance (UI) to help unemployed Floridians and their families.

To date, the Legislature has failed to act and comply with federal guidelines, thus forgoing over $444 million in recovery dollars for unemployment insurance.

This inaction is particularly troubling given that states like Georgia were able to pass legislation to enact the necessary reforms, with Republican Governor Sonny Perdue and the Republican-controlled Legislature working across party lines to receive its share of UI stimulus dollars by legislatively working together to be compliant with the guidelines set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Will Tim Pawlenty Endorse in Florida?

From FDP:

As Minn. Gov. and Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty prepares to visit Naples Friday, Floridians will be asking, which candidate will Pawlenty endorse in the Florida Republican Senate primary?

Following his endorsement of the Sarah Palin- and Glenn Beck-backed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd Congressional district, will Pawlenty choose to endorse his fellow Governor Charlie Crist, or will he endorse the Club for Growth-backed Marc Rubio? Or maybe he will simply wait until a week after Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck make an endorsement to decide, like he did in New York? In his own words, Tim Pawlenty says the purpose of his Freedom First PAC is to help Republicans win elections, and having failed to help his candidate win in New York, who will he endorse in Florida?

"After the GOP ate its own in New York's 23rd Congressional District, the far-right wing of the Republican Party has turned its attention to Florida's Senate race, unleashing its furor on Gov. Charlie Crist, promising a GOP civil war in our state. Tim Pawlenty is traveling across the country for what he claims is to raise money to 'help Republicans win elections' - well Governor, there is no more contentious Republican primary than in Florida, and it will be interesting to see who Pawlenty gives his money to. From looking at his record of pandering to the radical right in recent months, you might think Rubio has the upper-hand, but Pawlenty may have learned his lesson from endorsing the far-right candidate in New York. Then again, Pawlenty's pandering to the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks of the world could be too important to his national ambitions," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman.

Response To Governor Charlie Crist's Remarks--Florida Education Reform

From the House Dems:

Response To Governor Charlie Crist’s Remarks
At Joint Meeting Of State Board of Education and Board of Governors
-Florida House Democrats Call For Expanding Accountability Measures-

TALLAHASSEE --- Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement in response to remarks made today by Governor Charlie Crist at a joint meeting of the State Board of Education and Board of Governors:

“Governor Crist appears to be slowly recognizing that public education in Florida has suffered for more than a decade because of a misguided education accountability system that focuses too greatly on how students perform on a single-day standardized test.

“Today, the governor acknowledged certain shortcomings of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and by his remarks, seems to be signaling support for significant portions of the education reforms recently proposed by Florida House Democrats.

“A strong but fair accountability system is needed for Florida’s students, educators and schools. My colleagues and I in the 44-member Florida House Democratic Caucus are offering a new strategy for how schools can be assessed and graded. These changes are outlined in a formal comment to the state Department of Education pertaining to Florida’s application for federal Race to the Top Initiative grants.

“The current accountability system is shortsighted because it is based almost exclusively on how well students score on the FCAT. Our plan improves the system by phasing in a combination of end-of-course assessment exams.

“For too long, our children have only been taught to pass the FCAT instead of allowing teachers to concentrate on a variety of curriculum. Our suggestions would measure each student’s academic progress from the beginning to the end of a school year rather than a one-day snapshot of their learning.

“Much more must be done to improve Florida, its economy and our system of public education. Florida House Democrats are pleased to bring ideas for making our state better.”

Creative excuses

From Kendrick Meek (via FDP):

I have been a public servant my entire adult life -- first as a state trooper, then in the State Senate, and now as a United States Congressman. I can tell you: representing Floridians means always listening to the people, taking the tough questions, and standing behind your record. If you are going to serve the people of Florida, it is real work.

But Governor Crist seems to think that representing Floridians means making excuses.

Recently, Governor Crist said that the reason a majority of Floridians think our state is on the wrong track and hold him responsible is because Floridians have a "desire to blame someone."

Then, under pressure from the conservative wing of the Republican party, Governor Crist said that his standing with President Obama to sell the stimulus package should not be counted as an endorsement since he did not get to vote on it.

I believe the people of Florida deserve better than excuses and flip-flopping positions. We need a straight answer about Governor Crist's record on the economy and we should not rest until we get it. Will you stand with me today and ask him?

Join me in asking Governor Crist: Will you stick with the people of Florida or turn your back on creating jobs?

As a United States Senate candidate and Congressman, I talk everyday with Floridians that are struggling - struggling to find a job, struggling to keep their home and provide for their family. Like you, they are looking for our next Senator to hit the ground running fighting for Floridians and helping create jobs.

As a state legislator and a congressman, I have always fought for jobs, health care, and education every day, and I don't let anything stop me. In 2002, I led a drive to reduce class sizes. Despite tough opposition, I fought hard for my own children and for their classmates so that every child in Florida would get a good start. And, on Election Day, the measure was approved by over 2.5 million Florida citizens.

Being a Senator is about waking up everyday focused on doing what you can for all Floridians. Taking a position on an issue is just the first step - and we don't even know where Governor Crist stands on a major piece of legislation. Florida doesn't need a Senator that checks special interests and fringe party elements before taking a stand for Floridians.

Will you take a second to join me, and ask Governor Crist: Will you stick with the people of Florida or turn your back on creating jobs?

And if Governor Crist thinks he can avoid us -- I remind him that I played Defensive End for the FAMU Rattlers - and a lot of quarterbacks made the same mistake against me before. As Senator, I'll be on the offense for the people of Florida and getting the job done. Not being defensive when questioned by a vocal minority.

Thank you for standing up with me to hold Governor Crist accountable and helping support Democrats across Florida. With your help I know we can win next November.


Congressman Kendrick Meek

Hit the Blue Dogs!

From the PCCC:

This week, "Blue Dogs" and other bad Democrats voted to kill health care reform. They betrayed us on this core Democratic issue.

It's payback time.

Can you chip in $25 to help run online ads in the districts of 10 bad Democrats?

Together, we can hold them accountable to Democratic voters back home who trusted them with their time, money, and votes. You can see all 10 targets at the above link.

Poll after poll in "conservative" states shows that voters want health care reform -- and yes, they want the public option. Yet these bad Democrats put their corporate contributors ahead of their constituents.

Here are some of our targets:

Scott Murphy (D-NY). Murphy won a special election in April with ads featuring President Obama in a district Obama won. He told voters "the United States is facing a health care crisis." Yet Murphy voted against Obama's #1 domestic priority: health care.

Heath Shuler (D-NC). In 2006, Democrats spent millions helping Shuler win what is now a safe seat. As chief "whip" for the Blue Dogs, Shuler recruited other Democrats to vote against health care reform.

John Barrow (D-GA). Barrow won his 2008 Democratic primary solely because Obama endorsed him in a highly African-American district -- a district that Obama won by double digits.

Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL). Kosmas represents a district near Rep. Alan Grayson, but is the polar opposite of Grayson. Instead of being bold and having a people-powered campaign, she is corporate-funded and consistently votes against the people.

Mike Ross (D-AR). Ross is a top Blue Dog who Keith Olbermann featured for selling out to his insurance contributors. Our PCCC poll showed that Arkansas voters want a public option by 56% to 37%.

Fortunately, health care reform squeaked by without their votes. But If we don't hold bad Democrats accountable when they betray us on core Democratic issues, they will do it over and over again.

Can you chip in $25 to hold them accountable?

Then, please forward this to others. Thanks for being a bold progressive.

--Aaron Swartz, Stephanie Taylor, Adam Green, Andrew Perez, and the PCCC team

"Poll after poll shows that even voters in conservative areas want health care reform and demand the public option. Blue Dog Democrats like Suzanne Kosmas are wholly owed subsidiaries of corporate America, and they will pay a political price back home for putting their corporate contributors ahead of their constituents who want reform."

-- Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 250,000 member progressive activist organization dedicated to electing bold progressives to Congress.

Recent polls:
NBC/WSJ Poll Shows 76% Support For Choice Of Public Plan
September New York Times poll: 65% overall, 47% of Republicans, 61% of Independents, 81% of Democrats support public option.
October CNN poll: 61% to 38% support public option.
Arkansas Oct 2009, Research 2000: 56% to 37% support public option.
Indiana Oct 2009, Research 2000: 52% to 42% support public option.
Nebraska Oct 2009, Research 2000: 46% to 44% support public option
Nevada Oct 2009, Research 2000: 54% to 39% support public option
Connecticut Sept 2009, Research 2000: 68% to 21% support public option.
Maine Oct 2009, Research 2000: 61% to 28% support public option.

Rep. Kendrick B. Meek Calls for a Full Curb on Unfair and Excessive Bank Overdraft Fees

In response to today’s news that the Federal Reserve will take the initial step of instituting new rules restricting overdraft fees on debit cards, U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek today called for a full curb on excessive and unfair bank overdraft fees.

“This is a great first step to ensure consumer protection, but Congress can move further on this pocketbook issue,” said Congressman Meek.

In 2005, Meek took the lead on this issue by introducing the Overdraft Fee Notification Act, which would have prohibited financial institutions from imposing fees or charges for consumer overdrafts without prior notification and consumer consent at the time of the transaction, much in the same way as non-institution ATM fees are accepted or declined by users. The bill required such notification for all in-person, automated, telephonic, and internet-based financial transactions.

“For too long, banks have been permitted to levy exorbitant charges on the backs of everyday customers by quietly enrolling them in so-called ‘overdraft protection programs’ that fall outside of notification requirements in current law,” said Meek.

“Consumers need to have all the information available to them so they can make educated financial decisions. This includes being allowed to opt-in to such a service as well as being able to decline it at any time. This legislation will push back against these fees and put the interests of the American people before the priorities of the powerful banking lobby.”

Currently, a growing number of banks levy unfair fees on their customers by allowing overdrafts on accounts without alerting the customer. Current law requires that banks gain affirmative approval from consumers to enroll them into overdraft programs that draw funds from lines of credit or from their savings accounts. These disclosures must include a statement of associated fees and charges for overdrafts whether or not the consumer is enrolled in such a program. However, after enrolling, many banks automatically give their customers a “gratuity”, or other short-term line of credit without notifying the customer, to cover account shortfalls and, in some cases, actually show the “phantom” money as available funds when customers ask for an ATM balance. Failing to alert consumers at the point of sale that they are triggering the overdraft protection is particularly frustrating for consumers whose shortfalls from ATM withdrawals, debit card purchases, or electronic transfers are often far less than the associated overdraft fees they receive.

The most recent legislation currently being considered before Congress, H.R. 3904, the Overdraft Protection Act, includes many of the same provisions from Rep. Meek’s original bill.

To read the full text of the current bill, please see the following website:

Honoring Florida's Veterans

From FDP:

In honor of Veterans Day, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:

"Across the country, Americans are honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for the cause of freedom and democracy. The brave men and women of our armed forces have created the strongest military in the world. They have sacrificed more than most of us can comprehend - leaving behind their family, friends and loved ones and putting themselves in harm's way to defend this country and our allies.

"Today we salute their heroic contributions with ceremonies and celebrations, but are also reminded that we must follow these gestures with actions.

"Our veterans have never wavered in their commitment to their country, and it is our duty as a nation to ensure that when they come back from battle, they are getting the care and support they have earned. Throughout the last year, President Obama, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki and our Democrats in Congress have worked to do just that.

"President Obama has called for the largest increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the last 30 years while Secretary Shinseki has worked to create a more modern, effective and efficient VA.

"Though we have made progress, there is still much work to be done. While our servicemen and women are fighting for us, we must continue to fight for them - we must ensure that every Veteran gets the care, educational and economic opportunity they fought so hard to preserve."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

President Obama on the Texas Shootings

Weekly address:

Memorial speech, part 1:

Memorial speech, part 2:

This Modern World

This Modern World

(Click to enlarge)

Conniving and Sinister

From Shakesville:

Conniving and Sinister

Liar, liar, pants on fire

From FDP:

I wanted to update you, a week after you sent thousands of notes to Governor Crist asking him to put his job above his personal ambition. While Crist didn't respond, he is clearly running scared and decided to do whatever he can to win.

After avoiding the President when he came to Florida, Crist attempted to re-write history last week. Crist even tried claiming that he didn't endorse the stimulus when he joined President Obama on stage last year. When appearing on CNN he said:

"I didn't endorse it. I -- you know, I didn't even have a vote on the darned thing."

This statement earned a rare "Pants on Fire" rating from the St. Petersburg Times' Pulitzer Prize winning It also earned Governor Crist ridicule from the national and local press.

But he hasn't stopped trying to make excuses and change history. Just this weekend, Crist decided to blame his free fall in the polls not on his attempts to win over a shrinking Republican primary electorate - but he argued that the "economy is turning people against me."
It is his lack of attention to his own job as Governor that's turning Floridians against him. Everyday he seems even more interested in trying to beat back the Club for Growth and competing with conservative Marco Rubio to win over conservative voters in the Republican primary than doing his job as Governor.

While, he may even win his coveted primary, the people of Florida are losing out because Crist isn't doing the job he was elected to do. That's why we need your help to make sure that Governor Crist stops breaking the promise he made to work hard every day for Floridians and is held accountable when he tries to re-writes history.

Next November, Floridians will turn away from the divisive Republican rhetoric from Rubio and Crist and elect Kendrick Meek as our next Senator.

Thank you for standing up and holding Governor Crist accountable and with your help we will win this Senate seat.

Veterans Day Statement--Nov. 11--by Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands

“On this Veterans Day, and on behalf of the Democratic Caucus in the Florida House of Representatives, I am honored to pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who have served and continue to serve our nation with courage. Their bravery and dedication are tremendous sources of inspiration to us all.

“From the soldiers at Valley Forge to today’s tech-savvy warriors in Afghanistan, Iraq and other outposts throughout the world, our nation’s history is decorated by those who have given dearly so that we may live free.

“To the families of servicemen and women and to the more than 1.7 million veterans residing throughout Florida, we extend our sincere appreciation for the responsibilities that you have undertaken and the sacrifices you have made for the defense of our country and our nation’s allies throughout the world.

“The 44 members of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, all of us dedicated to the principle of making our state better than when we came into office, are proud to express appreciation and gratitude to Florida’s veterans, and we encourage every Floridian to do the same.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rep. Rick Kriseman Response to Announcement of Process for Offshore Drilling Study

State Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) issued the following statement in response to Senate President Jeff Atwater’s announcement of a detailed and comprehensive review of the implications of offshore oil drilling:

“I am very pleased with President Atwater’s call for a serious and thorough analysis of drilling in state waters. A fact-based discussion is what Floridians deserve. It is what they expect from the Florida Legislature, and it will be a welcomed departure from the recklessness that we’ve seen thus far.

“In addition to the partnership with Florida State University’s Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability (IESES) and the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, I encourage President Atwater and other legislators to utilize the expertise of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. It is a first-rate oceanography program with strong ties to the St. Petersburg headquarters of the U.S. Geological Survey; SRI International, an independent nonprofit research institute; and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

“Given the impact that oil drilling would have on the Tampa Bay area, USF’s involvement would lend increased credibility to the requested analysis.”

Sen. Dave Aronberg Praises Senate President's Decision to Appoint A Committee to Conduct An Offshore Drilling Study

Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) on Monday praised Senate President Jeff Atwater’s decision to ask the staff of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee to conduct a detailed and comprehensive review of the implications of the offshore drilling process.

Aronberg, who, along with Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) is sponsoring legislation that would ensure the future of Florida’s coastline remains in the state’s hands, said the move by the Senate president would more thoroughly vet a process which, until now, has largely been driven by drilling advocates and their legislative allies.

“President Atwater understands that this is a complex issue that could have an extraordinary impact on the intrinsic beauty and overall environmental quality of our coastline that make our great state unique,” Aronberg said. “Before we consider lifting any bans, we must give careful consideration and evaluation to the impact drilling will have on our coastal communities and the state’s economy.” 

“To date, we have not adequately explored the possible repercussions that could result from taking such swift actions. President Atwater’s study would provide the review needed to begin understanding the precautions that must be taken to protect Florida’s natural resources while at the same time being mindful of the impact a potential modification of the drilling ban could have on our economy.”

Legislation proposed by Senators Aronberg and Deutch is designed to present a thorough panorama of what oil drilling would mean to the residents of Florida. The legislation will create the Florida Energy Independence and Coastal Protection Task Force, a group dedicated to studying the issue and reporting on the economic and environmental impacts of and alternatives to lifting the ban on allowing oil drilling in Florida waters.

“The Committee appointed by President Atwater has a significant task. It appears that the committee will examine many of the issues our legislation would have charged the task force with reviewing, including questions of state energy policy, risks to our tourism-based economy and potential economic and state revenue benefits that would result from lifting the ban,” Aronberg said.

“I plan on working closely with the President’s office and the committee to ensure a comprehensive review is conducted and determine if a diverse task force, comprised of both citizens and policymakers, would provide a more comprehensive and long-term examination of the issue of oil drilling.”

The Task Force originally proposed by Senators Aronberg and Deutch would consist of nine nongovernmental members and three members appointed by the Governor, two by the President of the Senate, two by the Speaker of the House, one by the Senate Minority Leader and one by the House Minority Leader. There would also be several ex-officio designees from various government agencies.

Rep. Maria Sachs Will Attend Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates...Meeting In Berlin Commemorates 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

State Representative Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach) will attend the 10th Annual Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which convenes this week to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As a member of Florida’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, Representative Sachs will address the summit attendees and give a speech on the impact of human trafficking in Florida.

“I am proud to represent our great state before such an illustrious group,” said Rep. Sachs. “Human trafficking is a tragedy of global proportions that has hit Florida hard. I believe bringing this problem to the attention of the summit’s attendees will go a long way toward exposing the issue to the world.”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thurman Praises the House of Representative's Historic Vote to Pass Health Insurance Reform

Last night the Affordable Health Care for America Act was passed by the House of Representatives, an important step towards ensuring every American has access to quality, affordable, stable and secure health care coverage. This legislation will finally rein in the insurance companies' worst practices while extending coverage to 36 million Americans and cutting the deficit by $104 billion in the next ten years. The bill was supported by a wide range of groups including doctors, patients, seniors, consumers and Americans across the country. All but one Republican voted against the bill. Reacting to this news, Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement:

"Last November, Americans voted for change, and today, that's what they got. Nearly one hundred years ago President Teddy Roosevelt called for health care reform, and today, we have come closer than ever to making it a reality.

"The Affordable Health Care for America Act will provide long overdue reforms to the insurance industry and important protections for Floridians. It will also provide more quality, affordable choices while bringing down the sky-high costs for families and businesses and lowering the national deficit. Because of this act, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage because of illnesses.

"Today I thank President Obama and Congressional Democrats for their strong leadership on health insurance reform. While this isn't the end of the process, it's a critical step towards finally passing comprehensive health insurance reform."

Will NRSC Chairman Cornyn Follow Through On Pledge; Demand Crist Return His $10,000?

From FDP:

With ABC News reporting yesterday that National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn pledged that the NRSC won't spend money in contested Republican Primaries to, "ease some of the anger being directed at the party establishment," today many are wondering how serious Cornyn was in making this pledge.

"After announcing yesterday that the NRSC won't be spending money to fuel the Republican 'Civil War,' people around Florida are wondering if Chairman John Cornyn will put his money where his mouth is. They are asking, 'Will Chairman Cornyn demand that Charlie Crist return his $10,000 check,'" said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "Over the last few weeks, the people of Florida have abandoned Crist with his approval rating now down to 42% and the Governor was labeled 'America's Worst Governor' by Forbes Magazine. Now in another serious blow to his campaign, Crist's Washington Republican base has cut off his financial support after 'Big John' Cornyn woke up to the fact that he can't just get back on his high horse and demand the tea party types follow his decrees to get behind Crist."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From the Blogs


The latest stories from the Florida blogs (and beyond) about Florida Democrats.

Why Now?: Good News

Tally: Lessons for FL from Tuesday's Elections

charlie kennedy: Campaign Kickoff Party in FL-13

Saint Petersblog 2.0: Rothenberg Report: Charlie Justice among "House recruits yet to measure up to hype"

Incertus: RedState, Come On Down!

Sunday, November 1, 2009