Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time to send a message

I need your help. When the Florida Legislative Session starts in about a month, I will suspend fundraising for 60 days because I am a sitting legislator. This is a good law, but unfortunately in this case it gives a leg-up to the Republicans running for Attorney General. (None of them are sitting legislators, so they can all fundraise freely during this period.)

This is our moment to send a message that grassroots means something. We're currently the best funded campaign on either side of the aisle, and if we can bring a flood of donations in right before the legislative session, it will maintain our momentum and status as frontrunner.

So, today my campaign is announcing a “moneybomb” for 2/25. The idea is to spend the next month getting people to pledge to give online on 2/25.

Can you pledge to donate on 2/25? (Right now -- only takes a second!)

This election is really about the type of state Florida will be – and frankly my opponents have a much different vision and agenda. I believe that most people share our view – but the best way to prove that is with a tangible show of support.

Pledge to make your money talk on 2/25!

I know times are tough, but the consequences of inaction will be much more expensive. Even if you can only give a few bucks -- the number of grassroots donors is just as crucial to our ability to make a statement as the number of dollars raised. So please, make your pledge now.

Thanks either way,

Dan Gelber

PS: Want to go the extra mile? Sign up to host! My campaign will help you learn how to fundraise, and the website can help you track which of your friends are pledging...and the site also allows you to automatically solicit through your Facebook or Twitter.


Representative Luis R. Garcia, Jr. Files HB 765 Re: Unlawful Slaughter of Horses

There has been a substantial increase in the unlawful slaughter of horses recently in the State of Florida and particularly in Miami-Dade County. These horses are being slaughtered in connection with the illegal sale of horse meat.

State Representative Luis Garcia (D-Miami) and State Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa) have joined together and filed HB 765 to combat this growing problem.
House Bill 765 provides a greater deterrent to the illegal slaughter and sale of horse meat by increasing the penalties and imposing mandatory minimum sentences.

The legislation increases the criminal penalty to a third degree felony and imposes a mandatory minimum fine of $3,500 and a minimum period of incarceration of One year for the killing of a horse in violation of this statute.

HB 765 also expands the scope of the statute to include any person who knowingly transports, distributes, sells, purchases or possesses horse meat that is not clearly stamped, marked and described as horse meat for human consumption or horse meat which has not been acquired from a legally licensed slaughterhouse.

Additionally, House Bill 765 authorizes local governments to revoke or suspend local business licenses of restaurants, stores or other businesses after being convicted of violating this statute and expands scope to include all horses not just recognized breeds and hybrids.

Criminals are profiting from this misconduct. A full-sized horse can provide more than 300 pounds of meat on the black market, and horse meat sells for as much as $40 per pound.

Representative Garcia stated, “If they want to steal and kill our horses then we will take their livelihoods and possibly their freedom.” Garcia went on to say, “In the old west they used to hang horse thieves. We no longer practice vigilante justice, nor am I advocating as such, but I will not sit back any longer and let this horrendous crime continue.”

Budget Statements from House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands and Representative Ron Saunders

House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands and Representative Ron Saunders, the Democratic Ranking Member on the House Full Appropriations Council, issued the following statements in response to Governor Charlie Crist’s budget presentation.

Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston):

“I congratulate Governor Crist for recognizing the important priorities of job creation and economic development, the need to develop the talent of Florida’s students and workforce with increased education spending, and for keeping in mind the health care and other priorities of Florida families.

“Governor Crist wisely embraces the use of federal stimulus aid provided by President Barack Obama and Congress. Unfortunately, his budget dangerously relies on draining important state trust funds, draws down budget reserves to levels that will require close scrutiny, and is built on a sunny optimism that is in sharp contrast to the dire warnings of Republican legislative leaders.

“I once again call on Republican legislative leaders to begin the state’s budget writing process by committing to holding all budget talks in the sunshine, and to make budget-allocation decisions in public rather than relying on the secretive process of the past that drew criticism in a grand jury report.

“Meanwhile, I am hesitant of the governor’s call for changing the Class Size Amendment in the state constitution. I seriously doubt that Floridians will want to undo what they approved in 2002. I strongly support giving school districts the flexibility they need to deal with small increases in the student-teacher ratios. But it is important to remember that Florida still averages more students in its classrooms than any other state in the Southeast. The flexibility our schools need can be achieved by changing state law to implement the Class Size Amendment. There is not presently a need for voters to change the amendment.”

From Representative Ron Saunders (D-Key West):

“It is abundantly clear that Florida’s Republican leadership is at sharp odds with our Republican governor. While Governor Crist is eager to embrace federal stimulus funds for Florida, the Republican legislative leadership is still sounding a message of worker layoffs, stagnant education spending and painful budget cuts. It’s no wonder that Floridians are looking for an alternative to our current Republican leadership.”

Kendrick Meek Celebrates One Year Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for Women

Meek: "Equal Pay for Equal Work is Progress Florida Families Can Count in Dollars and Cents."

Miami Gardens, Fla. - Today, Kendrick Meek released the following statement regarding the one year anniversary of passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a measure that requires equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or national origin:

"Equal pay for equal work is a right that should not have required legislative action, but it took Democratic leadership to pass and a new president to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Florida's families and households are better off when a woman's income isn't shortchanged because of unfair business practices that pay working men and women unequally. More than ever, Florida families are working longer and harder only to take home less. With rising costs of college tuition, child care and retirement, this reform ensures Florida's working parents are in a better position to support their children. Equal pay for equal work is a Florida right that was long overdue."

Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years as a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company facility in Alabama. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less than her male counterparts at the facility, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of gender. However, the Supreme Court ruled that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination. The court ruled that since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer's initial decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief. Employees in Ledbetter's position would be forced to live with discriminatory paychecks for the rest of their careers under this Supreme Court decision.

Thurman Statement on News of Economic Growth in the Fourth Quarter of 2009

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman issued the following statement on the news that the nation's GDP grew by 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, the fastest growth since 2003--a sign that the national economy is moving out of recession:

"Today's news that the GDP has grown at its fastest rate since 2003 is a welcome sign that our nation's economy is turning a corner. President Obama and Democratic Leaders have worked tirelessly to implement smart policies like the Recovery Act that will help our economy grow and end the decline we experienced due to failed Republican policies.

"But as President Obama has made clear, our unemployment rate is still unacceptably high. Until every Floridian has a job, until every student is able to attend college, and until folks are able to stay in their homes and make their monthly mortgage payments, the President and Democratic Leaders will continue working to build our economy and create growth for the long-term. Floridians call on Republicans like Gov. Charlie Crist, former Speaker Marco Rubio and Sen. George LeMieux to stop playing politics with Florida's jobs and start working with Democrats to move our country forward. The Sunshine State deserves nothing less."

State Sen. Dan Gelber Applauds President Obama's Announcement of Florida's High Speed Rail Grant

State Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) offered the following response to President Obama’s announcement today that Florida is a recipient of the federal High Speed Rail grant:

“This is a huge twofer. We get an immediate boost to Florida's ailing economy while modernizing our antiquated state-wide transportation system. Moving forward with infrastructure projects like high speed rail will help rebuild our short and long term economy by putting thousands of Floridians back to work. It will also put us on track to begin modernizing our transportation system for the challenges of tomorrow.

“I was very proud to be a part of the bipartisan team that, working with Florida's labor community, helped make this moment a reality. As the President said last night, we must commit ourselves to never being anything other than the greatest nation in the world, which means right here in Florida, we have to continue to invest, to innovate and to create a workforce that can compete with anyone, anywhere. Today's announcement is an important first step on that journey.

Scott Maddox welcomes McCollum to the team

Today candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, Scott Maddox, praised Attorney General Bill McCollum for his newfound opposition to near-shore oil drilling. Maddox, the first statewide candidate to take a firm public position against this dangerous idea, welcomed McCollum to the right side of the debate.

“I don’t care if it took a new Quinnipiac poll or another revelation, he is now where he should be on this issue, and that’s good for Florida,” stated Maddox.

Last year it was Scott Maddox who took the issue head on and laid out why such an idea as near-shore drilling would hurt more than just our environment but jobs, our economy, and our state’s budget as well.

Maddox added, “For the good of this state and for the good of our economy, we can only hope that McCollum can also persuade his fellow Republicans, namely incumbent Congressman and fellow candidate, Adam Putnam to also read those polls and take a stand in the best interest of Florida’s future.”

Karen Thurman Applauds President Obama's First State of the Union Address

Thurman Says President Obama's Plans for Restoring the Middle Class, Creating Jobs and Turning the Country Around is Right Prescription for What Ails U.S. Economy
Tallahassee, FL - Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman issued the following statement regarding President Obama's State of the Union Address:

"Americans were looking for the President to lay out a vision to restore the middle class, get the economy back on track, create jobs and end the partisanship that has come to dominate Washington - and the President has succeeded on each count. The President offered common sense solutions that will get middle-class Floridians back to work.

"And while we still have a long road ahead of us, we have made significant progress in the last year. Under President Obama's leadership, we passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act, guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work. Under the President's leadership we have expanded health care to an additional four million children under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). We confirmed as the first Latina Justice in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court a woman with more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court Justice in 100 years. We passed the Recovery Act which has saved or created millions of jobs across the country and here in Florida, bringing us back from the brink of depression. And we have come farther than ever before towards passing meaningful health insurance reform - a fight that is not yet complete.

"The President offered a hand of bipartisanship to Congressional Republicans who, we hope after a year of obstruction and hyper-partisanship, will accept it and work with us to turn this country around. With a refreshing amount of candor, President Obama talked about the challenges we face and the frustrations Americans feel about the pace of change they've seen so far. The President also reminded Americans that upon taking office just over one year ago, he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression and one that was losing between 700,000 and 800,000 jobs a month, two wars, and a highly partisan opposition in Washington.

"The President's address tonight was a powerful reminder of why we worked so hard to elect him to lead our party and our nation through these challenging times. I'm confident that under the President's leadership we will weather this economic storm and as a result we will be stronger."

Highlights of Remarks By House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, Jan. 27, AP Legislative Planning Session

Ø SANDS: “In 2010, creating and retaining jobs for Florida is Job Number 1 for the Florida House Democratic Caucus.”

Ø “We also stand for education accountability and reform. We stand for better health care for Floridians. We stand for tax fairness and equity, and for integrity to the legislative process.”

Ø SANDS: “We don’t want a repeat of last year. That’s when the ruling party passed about $1-billion in fee hikes on the middle class and small businesses.”
· HB 99 -- Repeals fee hikes passed by House Republicans in 2009. Sponsor: Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West.

Ø “We should look at new ideas to give businesses the incentives to develop high-tech and environmentally friendly industries…Be vigilant watchdogs and be wary of simplistic slogans. Don’t let them paint all Democrats as tax-and-spenders or unconcerned about the needs of the business community.”
· HB 597 -- Back To School Tax Holiday. Provides a sales-tax break on a variety of products, including computers and EnergyStar-rated appliances. Sponsor: Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota.
· HB 165 – Applies tax fairness by addressing goods sold on the Internet. Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee.
· HB 749 -- Gaming Compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida. Sponsor: Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.

Ø SANDS: “Today, skyrocketing unemployment compensation taxes are hitting Florida’s small businesses and threaten to drastically harm the state’s economic recovery…It is imperative that the Legislature, Congress, and the White House work cooperatively, in bipartisan fashion, to provide our state’s employers relief from business-crushing taxes.”

Ø SANDS: “Just last week, I asked House Speaker Larry Cretul to conduct joint meetings of the House Finance & Tax Council and the appropriations committee to do what the House failed to do last year---and that is to simultaneously consider the state’s potential revenues and expenditures---and to do so in an open and transparent debate.”
· January 21, 2010 letter to Speaker Cretul. Read more at

Ø SANDS: “We support holding officials to the highest standards when they are entrusted with acting on the citizen’s behalf. We are calling for a new amendment to the state constitution that will require the state budget to be written in a more open and transparent manner. We want to put an end to those so-called strike-all amendments on the floor of the House of Representatives that cut the public out of the process.”
· HJR 241 – Expands the Public’s Access to the Legislative Process and Public Records and Meetings. Sponsor: Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota.

Ø SANDS: “We think there are campaign finance reforms that should be considered, and changes that must be made to discourage public corruption, fraud, and dishonesty by government officials.”
· HB 271 – Offenses by Public Officials or Others. Sponsor: Rep. Martin Kiar, D-Parkland.
· HB 489 – Public Corruption. Sponsor: Rep. Adam Fetterman, D-Port St. Lucie.
· HB 533 -- Testimony Before the Public Service Commission. Sponsor: Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach.
· HB 343 – Standards of Conduct. Sponsor: Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs.

Ø SANDS: “We are all focused on addressing the pressing economic problems of today, but we have to have a vision for Florida in the future. No matter what political party one belongs to, we must all embrace the notion of providing our children with every chance to learn and to grow. Job creation and investing in our communities are not competing priorities.
Ø “I am truly pleased by Governor Charlie Crist’s announcement on Monday to break from Republican dogma and to call for increased spending for education.
Ø “House Democrats are also supportive of policy changes that aim to increase accountability but loosen our state’s reliance on the FCAT. That test is narrowly focused on a few subject areas—and doesn’t give a true picture of a student’s actual academic progress.
· HB 473 -- Public Education. Sponsor: Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami.
· HB 383 -- PreK Education. Sponsor: Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole.

Statement from Fla. Sen. Frederica Wilson Regarding the Secretary of Transportation LaHood's Federal Ban on Texting for Commercial Truck Drivers

“I applaud Secretary LaHood’s courage in banning commercial truck drivers from texting while driving. Truck and bus drivers need to be aware that they are not the only drivers on the road. In one-tenth of a second of being distracted, they can cause a fatal accident. This has happened too many times on our highways.

“I am especially proud of Secretary LaHood, because for the third year, I have filed “Heather’s Law” (SB 244), which will prohibit the use of a cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle, except when using a headset or a hands-free device. I named the bill after Heather Hurd, a young woman who was killed while driving to Disney World to meet with her wedding planner by a person who allegedly was texting while driving a tractor trailer traveling in excess of the 65 mph and did not see that 10 cars were stopped ahead of him.

“Now is the time for the State of Florida to follow Secretary LaHood’s lead and ban texting while driving for all drivers in the state.”

Representative Darryl Rouson files HB 787: The Child Abduction Prevention Act

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 350,000 child abductions by a member of the child's family occur each year. Thousands more go unreported.

House Bill 787, filed this week by Representative Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), addresses the complex and tragic issue of family child abduction. Representative Rouson is deeply committed to addressing the welfare of some of our most vulnerable members of society, its children.

“I am horrified that child abductions by family members are occurring at such a high rate,” Representative Darryl Rouson said. “This legislation gives judges more discretion and the ability to fight family child abductions so our children remain safe. We can prevent these abductions and save the courts lengthy and costly litigation.”

The Child Abduction Prevention Act adds risk factors a court may consider when determining whether children are at risk of abduction, domestic or international. If the judge determines there is a credible risk of the child being abducted, the act empowers them to choose appropriate preventive measures to help prevent the child from being abducted.

The purpose of imposing these measures is to deter the potential abduction of an at-risk child. By identifying risks and initiating additional safeguards, Florida’s courts are more likely to see a reduction in litigation and the need for involvement of law enforcement agencies is expected to be reduced.

"The paramount concern is always the best interest and safety of Florida’s children,” Representative Rouson said.

Poll: Rep. Suzanne Kosmas more likely to be elected if real healthcare reform passes

Democracy for America released a new poll this morning of 10 swing freshman Democratic districts -- including Rep. Kosmas'.

The results show that if health care reform passes, Rep. Kosmas is more likely to be re-elected in 2010. And those polled said they would be less likely to vote in 2010 if Congress does not pass a health care bill.

We also just sent a strategy memo to top Senate aides urging them to expand the health care measure by reviving the public option.

The bottom line of the poll: freshman Democrats are in trouble in 2010 if Congress fails to pass a public option.

Topline results are below and full results are at

• 68% of voters want a public health insurance option
• By 5 to 1, voters want their Representative to fight to add the public option over simply passing the Senate bill
• By 3 to 1, persuadable voters are less likely to vote for a local Democrat if Congress doesn't pass a public option as part of reform
• 55% say Democrats need to do more to fight big corporations
• 56% say Democrats haven't done enough to fulfill Obama's 2008 campaign promises
• 52% of Democrats less likely to vote in 2010 if Congress doesn't pass public option -- Republicans more likely

A quote from our political director is below if helpful.

Charles Chamberlain, political director, Democracy for America:
"Our poll shows that by proposing less change instead of more change, the Senate is asking House freshmen to commit political suicide. We hope these freshmen side with their constituents and fight to pass the public option through reconciliation."

The NY Times covered the poll and strategy memo this morning:

Representative Adam M. Fetterman files the Ethical Practices Act of 2010

Representative Adam M. Fetterman (D-Port St. Lucie) and Senator Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland) have filed the “Ethical Practices Act of 2010” pertaining to public disclosure by state legislators.

House Bill 587 and Senate Bill 438 constitute a significant bipartisan effort to prohibit legislators from voting upon, or participating in, any legislation that would result in their enjoying any special private gain for themselves, or their relatives. The bills require lawmakers to publicly state their (or their relatives’) interests in any legislation from which they would derive a gain or a loss.

Currently, legislators can vote on any matter in which they, a family member, or business, holds an interest, even if they would derive a benefit from the legislation being signed into law; they only need to disclose such an interest within 15 days after casting their vote on the legislation.

“The current state of the law allowing legislators to vote upon matters from which they and their family members will make money is, in a word, repugnant,” said Representative Fetterman. “It is no wonder that many Floridians have lost faith in their elected officials. The Ethical Practices Act of 2010 is a step in the direction of restoring the people’s faith in the government that is supposed to serve them, not legislators’ personal interests.”

Senator Dockery has filed this important legislation for three consecutive years.
“Given the public’s justifiable lack of trust and confidence in elected officials throughout the country, it is imperative that reforms of this nature be enacted,” said Senator Dockery. “The Florida Legislature should take immediate actions to ensure that our state is at the forefront of initiatives helping to restore citizens’ faith in government.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thurman Statement on President Obama's Initiatives To Help Struggling Middle Class Families Get Ahead

From FDP:

Continuing his effort to put Americans back to work and ease the economic hardship on America's families, President Barack Obama today laid out a five-point plan to help middle class families afford soaring child care costs, care for their aging relatives, save for retirement, and pay for college tuition. The initiatives are the result of the President's Middle Class Task Force led by Vice President Joe Biden, which held meetings across the nation about the best way to rebuild the economy and ease the economic burden on the middle class.

"As middle class Americans continue to struggle in this economy, President Obama and Vice President Biden are doing everything in their power to fight for them and help put Americans back to work, create jobs, and strengthen our economy for the long-term," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman. "These steps will help ease the burdens on middle class families who are struggling in this economy, and will provide the help families need to make ends meet. These common-sense initiatives will help families cope with the challenges they face and are a sign that the President and Vice President are taking seriously the burden middle class families face everyday."

"But while the President and Democrats have been putting the middle class first, Republicans like Sen. George LeMieux, Gov. Charlie Crist, and former Speaker Marco Rubio have made it clear they're on the side of the special interests, Wall Street, oil and health insurance companies. The Florida Democratic Party calls on Republicans to get on the side of working families and start working with us, but given their history, we're not expecting much."

The recommendations of the Middle Class Task Force will:

Reduce costs of child care by nearly doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for families earning less than $85,000 per year and increasing child care funding by $1.6 billion, helping an additional 235,000 children.

Ease the burden of student loan payments by ensuring that no student pays more than 10 percent of his or her income above a basic living allowance on loan repayment.

Help workers save for retirement by requiring employers to provide an option for employees to enroll in a direct-deposit IRA.

Protect retirement by expanding tax credits to match retirement savings and enact new protections on those savings.

Support families caring for elderly relatives, help them to manage this responsibility and allow seniors to live in their communities for as long as possible.

Response to Governor Crist's Proposed Education Budget

House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement:

“I am encouraged today by Governor Charlie Crist’s decision to break from Republican legislative leaders and to talk about providing more money for education in Florida.

“It is evident that Governor Crist and the people of Florida owe a great deal of thanks to President Barack Obama and members of Congress for providing Florida with economic stimulus dollars that are helping our state meet critical needs.

“I will reserve judgment on some of the governor’s education policy proposals, such as his call to freeze the Class Size Amendment, until they can be more closely reviewed. But I remain hopeful that the governor’s recommendations will begin a fruitful, bipartisan discussion about how Florida will enhance its public schools and grow its economy.”

Rep. Mary Brandenburg Files House Bill 729 on Tattoo Safety

As tattoos have grown in popularity, respected tattoo artists and medical professionals have recognized the need to enhance the health practices associated with the industry.

Today, state Rep. Mary Brandenburg (D-West Palm Beach) joined representatives of several statewide health associations and tattoo artists in announcing the filing of legislation to make safer the process of getting a tattoo in Florida.

House Bill 729 filed by Representative Brandenburg for the 2010 legislative session will protect the public health and require parental consent for children to get a tattoo.

The legislation will require that no individual under the age of 16 be tattooed, except for medical reasons by a doctor or dentist. The proposal also calls for any individual under the age of 18 receiving a tattoo to be accompanied by their permanent adult guardian.

Additionally, House Bill 729 will require tattoo artists to be licensed by the Florida Department of Health, which will provide classes concerning blood-borne pathogens that must be completed for obtaining or renewing a license. Furthermore, under the proposal, all tattooing must be done in a facility licensed for tattoo artistry by the Florida Department of Health.

Among those supporting House Bill 729 are the: Florida Medical Association, the Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, the Florida Professional Tattoo Artists Guild, Florida Blood Services, and the Florida Association of Beauty Professionals.

“The absence of statewide regulations of the tattoo industry in Florida allows unnecessary health risks,” said Representative Brandenburg. “I am proud to work with tattoo artists and medical professionals on legislation that will protect the public health and help small businesses. Passage of House Bill 729 will be a big step in helping prevent the spread of infections and communicable diseases.”

Path to Victory

Thank you for showing such strong support for Loranne Ausley as she launched her campaign for CFO. You have helped ensure that she has the support to build a campaign to win this race in November.

Thanks to you, we are on our way to electing Loranne Ausley CFO to continue Alex Sink's record of taking on fraud and waste in government, standing up for working families, and fighting to ensure that we invest wisely in our state's future.

But don't take my word for it. Here is what Senator Bill Nelson said when he endorsed Loranne:

"As the senior U.S. Senator from Florida, I can tell you that Democrats are united behind Loranne. Just as important -- Floridians from all over the state are supporting her candidacy because she has the experience and record cutting waste and abuse we need in Tallahassee. And, I can think of no better person to take up this mantle than my good friend Loranne Ausley. She will be a fantastic CFO -- and I plan on campaigning hard on her behalf."
And former Senator Bob Graham added:
"I have known Loranne for many years. I know her head and her heart and I know she will make an excellent CFO. Her passion for looking out for taxpayers, for public accountability will serve our state well. I strongly endorse her and will work hard to help her become our state's next great leader."
If you haven't yet, please join Senator Graham and Senator Nelson and be a part of her campaign today.

There is no doubt that adding Loranne as a candidate was great news to start off this year, and Democrats are well down the path to victory in November.

We are on that path because of you. In 2009, we had what can only be described as our most successful non-election year in our party's history -- driven by support from grassroots supporters like you.

We ended 2009 with over $1 million more to spend on the 2010 elections than the Republican Party -- a record fundraising success fueled by grassroots donations from people like you. Thanks to thousands of Floridians investing in our party, we raised over $6.7 million last year, and enter the year with over $2.6 million on hand.

Our fundraising success is not the most important measure of support for the party though -- that belongs to the 147,468 people who decided to join our party this year. They increased the Democratic Party registration advantage over the Republicans to nearly 800,000 voters. That is hundreds of thousands of Floridians making the choice to join us in changing the direction of our state away from Republican leadership.

It is no secret how we got here. Floridians know that Tallahassee is a mess. The Republicans who have dominated Tallahassee for the past decade have taken our state down the wrong path. And now Floridians are turning to leaders like Alex Sink, Kendrick Meek, and Loranne Ausley to help get us out of the mess the Republican leadership got us into.

You helped us make 2009 a record-breaking year for the Party in more ways than one. Now, as the most important election year in over a century begins, I am counting on you continue your efforts to help our state.

I am proud to work here at the Florida Democratic Party, under the steady leadership of Chair Karen Thurman and with our party's leaders across the state. I know that the only way we can win next November is because we are all working together, fighting to bring new leadership to Tallahassee.

Thank you for everything you've done to get on us on the path to victory, and with your help, we will win next November.


Scott Arceneaux
Executive Director
Florida Democratic Party

Rep. Alan Williams Announces a `Hope for Haiti Now' Viewing Party

“Hope for Haiti Now" will be a widely viewed international telethon aimed at raising needed funds for disaster relief in Haiti. The program will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Friday via numerous media outlets, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, and CMT.

To encourage local participation in the telethon, State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) joins Tallahassee City Commissioners Andrew Gullium and Leon County Commissioner John Dailey in hosting a viewing party for Hope For Haiti Now. The event begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Duval, 415 North Monroe Street, in Tallahassee.
The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and United Nations World Food Program, Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Yeli Haiti Foundation relief organizations will benefit from "Hope for Haiti Now.” Proceeds from "Hope for Haiti Now" will be split evenly among each organization's individual funds for Haiti earthquake relief.

The global telethon will feature performances by Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, and Sting in New York City; Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift and a group performance by Keith Urban, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow in Los Angeles; and Coldplay, and a group performance by Bono, The Edge, Jay-Z, and Rihanna in a newly added London location. All musical performances will be available for purchase for $.99 per song through the Apple® iTunes® Store beginning Saturday, January 23, with all proceeds benefiting Haiti relief funds managed by "Hope for Haiti Now" charities.

The Tallahassee community and the world have felt a deep sense of responsibility and urgency to donate money, time and talent in the wake of the Haiti tragedy.
“My heart goes out to the Haitian people as they deal with the terrible aftermath of this devastating earthquake,” said Representative Williams. “The people of Haiti need our help. Please join us for this important viewing party.”

Statement From House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands

In response to a January 21 letter from Rep. David Rivera, Council Chair, Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development:

“It is plainly evident from Chairman David Rivera’s partisan-tinged remarks today that the Republican leadership wants to play politics instead of accepting our well-intentioned offer to address Florida’s budget crisis in a thoughtful manner.

“It is both disappointing and ironic that today’s inflammatory remarks come from the same leadership team that last year raised nearly $3 billion in taxes and fees on the middle class, raided numerous state trust funds, and made substantial budget decisions in secret.

“Florida House Democratic Caucus members remain committed to working cooperatively and transparently with our Republican counterparts to develop a fiscally responsible state budget.

“Tax relief for small businesses and the middle class that will stimulate the economy and grow jobs for Floridians remain our top priority. What Council Chair Rivera apparently fails to recognize is that not every tax is created equally. Some tax increases and tax cuts can and do stimulate the economy, while others increase the burden on small businesses and middle class. That’s why it is essential to look at finances and expenditures simultaneously when crafting a responsible state budget.

“I reiterate the sincere desire of the Florida House Democratic Caucus to work with Speaker Cretul and our colleagues in the Republican Party in a meaningful manner in addressing Florida’s economic crisis.”

Top Target

I am excited to share that we have been designated a ‘Top Target' by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee! Your strong support has propelled us to the top tier of races in the entire country.

As proud as I am to be among the 17 candidates given the “Top Target” designation, I know that it means that now we need to work harder than ever. We are happy to be winning 46% - 42% in the most recent poll, but those numbers wont mean anything on election day unless we can communicate our message of rebuilding the middle class and facing down the special interests to every voter in FL-12.

Central Florida deserves a representative who will work hard for everyone in this district, not just do what the big banks and insurance companies ask them to do. Every day that I have represented the residents of this beautiful place, I have done my best to be an independent voice for their needs and values, and that is the approach I intend to take to Washington.

I hope you will join our team today, so that we can keep this momentum and win this seat for hard working Florida families come election day!


Lori Edwards


Bill to Assist Military Families Moves Forward

From the Senate Dems:

Senate Bill 644, creating the Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Program, passed unanimously through its first committee today. Sponsored by Senator Charlie Justice (D-St. Petersburg), the bill will provide much needed financial assistance to struggling military families by utilizing private donations. Currently, active duty soldiers in Florida’s National Guard cannot accept financial assistance due to federal regulations.

“This is an important bill, that will immediately provide some relief for our military families who are struggling through this tough economy,” Senator Justice said. “There are funds available. This bill will allow us to access this money for its intended purpose.”

According to the Department of Military Affairs, there is close to $300,000 of private donations ready to be disbursed. The funds will go to help families of Florida National Guardsmen serving on active duty with living expenses.

The next stop for the bill is the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Gelber Comments on Dockery-Fetterman Legislative Proposals to Restore Public’s Faith in Government

State Senator Dan Gelber offered the following comments on the legislative proposals announced today by Sen. Paula Dockery and Rep. Adam Fetterman aimed to restore the public’s faith in government:

“I commend my colleagues, Sen. Dockery and Rep. Fetterman for their work to restore the public’s faith in their government.

“Late last year, I announced a series of legislative and constitutional proposals that I will be advancing during the 2010 legislative session intended to increase oversight and accountability of state government. It is time that we work to restore the public’s trust in their government and state leaders. The measures I have proposed will go a long way in bringing greater integrity and oversight to Florida government.

“I spent the better part of a decade fighting corruption in Florida as a federal prosecutor, so I have seen this malignancy up close. My hope is that collectively, we will work to clean up government and arm our prosecutors and law enforcement officials with the tools they need to combat those who betray the public’s trust.”

Background on the legislation filed by Sen. Gelber

The measures proposed by Gelber include reform intended to open up government operations, provide more independence to internal oversight, and give state prosecutors additional statutory tools to fight corruption of government. The legislative and constitutional proposals focus on the following areas:

· Improve open government provisions by applying more sunshine to the Florida Legislature and faster response to record requests.

· Stronger internal oversight mechanisms by granting greater autonomy and independence to Inspector General’s.

· Give state prosecutors more statutory tools to fight corruption.

· Enhance State Board of Administration Accountability by replacing the Attorney General with the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services on the SBA and allow the Attorney General to conduct proper oversight.

· Reform campaign finance by precluding legislators and statewide officers from participating in raising or controlling Committees of Continuous Existence “CCEs” or Electioneering Communications Organizations “ECOs.”

"Florida Farm Fresh Schools Program" SB 140 Passes First Committee

Legislation sponsored by Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) which would encourage school food programs to purchase locally grown fresh produce passed the Senate Education Pre-K – 12 Committee on Wednesday. The primary goal of SB 140 is to ensure that Florida’s children receive and expand the variety of fruits and vegetables they consume, and make a positive improvement in children’s diets. “Children are more likely to achieve academic success when they have a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Siplin. “This legislation also aims to stimulate Florida’s farm industry by encouraging school districts to purchase locally state grown produce when possible.”

Every year, Florida schools spend millions of dollars for fresh produce. “The Florida Farm Fresh Schools Program” is intended to keep more of those dollars within the state. It also promotes healthy eating habits among students and assists small local farmers.

“Incorporating locally grown products into school meals supports local economies, reduces transportation costs, and helps to preserve farms and farmland,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson.

The legislation next heads to the Senate Committee on Agriculture for a hearing.

Senator Justice Tackles Toxic Toys Again

Senator Charlie Justice (D-St. Petersburg) will once again spearhead the effort to ensure that children’s products are free from harmful toxins, this time focusing on the dangerous metal of cadmium. Recent reports have shown that manufacturers have circumvented the restrictions on lead in children’s products by using the metal cadmium as a substitute. Cadmium, a known carcinogen, is just as toxic as lead, hindering brain development in the very young according to recent research.

“As a parent and legislator, I find it outrageous that the industry thinks it is ok to substitute one harmful product for another,” Senator Justice said. “It is up to us to remain vigilant and not allow, under any circumstances, products that contain toxic materials to reach our shelves or our children’s hands.”

Drafting state legislation that will ban cadmium in children’s products sold in Florida, Senator Justice has also sent a letter to U. S. Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux urging them to support Federal legislation being introduced to resolve this issue (letter attached). The Associated Press reported last week that hundreds of children’s jewelry items have tested positive for harmful levels of cadmium. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is asking parents to throw out all children’s jewelry that they deem questionable to be sure their kids are safe.

“There is nothing more important to our economy and our families then ensuring the safety of the goods sold in our stores,” Justice said. “I will continue to fight to make sure that the products we are buying for our kids are safe.”

In 2008, Senator Justice filed the Florida Toy Safety Act, regulating lead in children’s products. That same year, congress passed sweeping consumer safety legislation enacting strict regulations concerning toxics, including lead, in children’s products.

A marathon

A few days ago, I began my campaign to be Florida's next CFO.

As you know, running a statewide campaign is more of a marathon than a sprint and from our very first step, we begin this journey with several of Florida's top leaders standing behind us.

As a runner myself, I know what it takes to complete a full marathon. Running more than 26 miles is not easy - it requires training, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. But most importantly, it requires the strong support and backing of those who share your values and believe in achieving what many believe is the impossible.

The next 10 months are going to be the most important marathon of my life and will have a dramatic impact on the future of our great state.

Will you run with us? Please join our campaign for CFO, by signing up today

I am going to need you to help make sure we will not only run a good race, but that we win. We must elect a CFO who will continue taking on fraud and waste in government, standing up for working families, and fighting to ensure that we invest wisely in our state's future.

As an attorney and a lawmaker, I have always worked hard to ensure that our state invested prudently and that tax dollars were spent efficiently and responsibly. And, as the Chair of the Healthy Kids Corporation, with a $300 million annual budget, I know how important it is to wisely invest in our state's future and bring affordable health insurance to our children.

I know I can win this race, and I know that I have the experience and dedication to be the watchdog over taxpayers' money, working every single day to hold the politicians in Tallahassee accountable.

Please join our campaign and help us cross the finish line in November.

But even after I have put everything I can into this race, I know this marathon will require the support of people all over the state. Already, I am honored that some of Florida's legacy leaders have stood up to join me --- will you?

Every person who joins our campaign will send a clear message that, together, we can stand up to typical politicians and that we can protect real Floridians.

Stand up and support our campaign and send a message today.

Thank you for all your help in starting this campaign and I can't wait to see you out on the campaign trail.


Loranne Ausley


Monday, January 18, 2010

Doug Tudor Garners Key Labor Endorsement

President Ken Wood announces that International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 79 has unanimously endorsed Democrat Doug Tudor in his candidacy for the U.S. House’s open seat in Florida’s 12th Congressional District. This is the second time Tudor has earned this key labor endorsement.

Upon learning of this major endorsement, Tudor stated “I am proud to stand with the Teamsters as we work together to improve the quality of life, pension protections, and workplace safety standards for all workers. The Teamsters have played an important role in building our nation, and they will continue to be a major social, economic, and political force well into the future.”

Doug is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, which is the senior enlisted rank of E9. He retired on February 29, 2008, and he was the Democratic nominee for the same seat in 2008. He ran against third-ranking Republican Adam Putnam and garnered over 137,000 votes. His effort was the second best in the state for any challenger that didn’t take the seat, and his race had the best dollar-to-vote ratio in the state.

During his Navy career, Doug served in a variety of assignments afloat and ashore, in and out of the United States. His final tour of duty was at Headquarters, U.S. Central Command on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. During eight years at Central Command, Doug served as the Flag Writer, or Senior Administrative Assistant, for three Commanders – General Tommy Franks, USA; General John Abizaid, USA; and Admiral William Fallon, USN. He is a veteran of the combat zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, eastern Africa, and the Levant.

Florida’s 12th Congressional District encompasses east Hillsborough County, most of Polk County, and west Osceola County. The District has a Democratic-majority registration and is considered a key race in the 2010 cycle.

The Teamsters have a 106-year history of organizing and educating workers so they will attain a higher standard of living. Internationally, they have over 1.4 million members.

Maddox calls for quick action on disaster relief

This week Scott Maddox, Democratic candidate for Agriculture & Consumer Services, completed a tour of South Florida farms and nurseries, where he surveyed crops damaged by the unseasonably harsh cold weather that had engulfed all of Florida for the past ten (10) days.

“As the Democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner in Florida, I want to join with current Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson in calling on Governor Crist to immediately ask for agricultural disaster relief from the federal government for those hit hard by this historic freeze in Florida,” Maddox said. “There is no time for delay; these growers need our help.”

Over the past few days, Maddox has been touring facilities in South Florida hit by the recent weather. Officials from the Dade county Farm Bureau assisted with a tour to survey the damage in Homestead, which included a visit to Maddox’s hometown area of Redland, where his family still owns land in cultivation.

This visit provided clear evidence that action is needed immediately in order to provide assistance to the agricultural community.

“Growers across the state of Florida are hurting. We need immediate action to ensure that they will receive some relief,” Maddox said.

With numbers now being released that suggests up to 30 percent of Florida’s crops have been damaged, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been lost, now is the time to request federal aid so that these farms and nurseries can hope for a speedy recovery.

“I urge our Governor to act immediately. Agriculture is essential to our state's economy. Growers across the state deserve swift action.”

Rep. Janet Long Applauds Business Leaders' Support For Stronger Early-Education Standards

In the wake of a new report from the business community about Florida’s workforce, State Rep. Janet Long (D-Seminole) today called on legislative leaders to embrace her plan to improve Florida’s pre-kindergarten program.

“Florida’s business leaders agree that an important step toward building a workforce capable of meeting the high-tech demands of the 21st Century is to ensure that today’s pre-kindergarten teachers hold at least a four-year college degree.

“For the third consecutive year, I have filed a bill in the Florida House of Representatives to require teachers in the state-sponsored pre-kindergarten program hold a bachelor’s degree. Today, I am inviting legislative leaders to join me and the state’s business community in embracing this bold initiative.

“Under House Bill 383, pre-kindergarten teachers in the public program would be required to meet the new standard by July 1, 2013. Currently, pre-kindergarten teachers in private schools who participate in the program only have to be credentialed by an approved social services agency.”

Representative Long filed a similar bill last year that was cosponsored by House Education Policy Council Chair Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) and supported by the Florida House Democratic Caucus. Though the legislation did not pass, Representative Long said she is hopeful that the business community’s backing will bring a more favorable outcome in the upcoming 2010 legislative session.

In its “Closing the Gap” report this week, The Florida Council of 100 endorsed the concept of requiring all teachers who participate in the public pre-kindergarten program to be required to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.

Franklin Sands Statement Re Florida Council of 100 Report, Closing The Talent Gap

Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands (D-Weston) issued the following statement in response to today’s Florida Council of 100 “Closing the Talent Gap” report concerning the state’s workforce.

“I applaud the Florida Council of 100 for developing a detailed report on how to improve public education in Florida. The business community is an important stakeholder in our education system and their input is appreciated.

“The report contains some recommendations that many Florida House Democratic Caucus members support, including increased academic standards for high school graduation, enhanced use of end-of-course exams, and a requirement that primary teachers in the state’s public prekindergarten programs hold at least a four-year college degree.

“However, while I sincerely hope to see education reform addressed in a bipartisan fashion this year, I am concerned that many of the recommendations in the report will bring controversy and unproductive political rancor. The report unnecessarily includes several troubling recommendations, including a proposal to revive the unconstitutional `Opportunity Scholarship’ vouchers, a weakening of the Class Size Amendment that voters approved in 2002, and a greater emphasis on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test rather than what Florida House Democrats support, a broader and more progressive accountability system.

“I urge legislative leaders to review the report with a great deal of caution, concern and with an eye toward building bipartisan consensus on education reform.”


From Kendrick Meek:

Yesterday, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that was centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince crippled Haiti; this is the strongest earthquake to hit this area in over 200 years. Communication and infrastructure networks have been severely disrupted and the vast devastation of this disaster is still coming into light.

Floridians know how to come together during times of disaster and right now our Haitian neighbors need our assistance. Please consider making an immediate donation to the Red Cross or Yele to aid in the humanitarian relief effort.

For your convenience, there are three direct ways you can donate to the Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund or Yele's response efforts:

Click here to make an immediate online donation to the American Red Cross--any amount will help with response efforts.


Text "Haiti" to 90999 right now from your mobile phone and give $10 to the American Red Cross.


Text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 via your cell phone to donate to Wyclef Jean's Yele organization.

Your donation will help provide food, water, temporary shelter, medical services, and emotional support for our friends in Haiti who need it most. Please encourage your friends to help too by forwarding them this message.


Kendrick Meek


Florida's Next CFO

From FDP:

Over past year I have been telling you about the amazing opportunity we have to shape our state's future. With every office in the cabinet up for grabs, we now have found a great candidate for every office -- and one of the most important positions in the cabinet is that of CFO.

For the past three years, we have had an amazing CFO in Alex Sink. And, we deserve to have a CFO that can follow in CFO Sink's footsteps. I am excited to tell you that we have found the woman for the job: Loranne Ausley.

Yesterday, Loranne announced that she is running for CFO, and I couldn't be more excited to email you about it. You have always been there for Democrats across Florida -- so I wanted to ask you to be one of the first to join Loranne Ausley's campaign for CFO.

Help Loranne launch her campaign and be one of the first to sign up today.

I am so excited to email you and have you be one of the first to join, but before I could even email you, so many others have stood up to support Loranne. She's already gotten the support of leaders like Senator Bill Nelson, Former Senator Bob Graham, Congressman Kendrick Meek, and Florida's current CFO Alex Sink -- just to name a few.

I wanted to share with you some of what CFO Sink said in endorsing Loranne to succeed her as CFO:

"From having worked with her, I saw first-hand her strong commitment to government accountability and her dedication to the job. I know she will be an outstanding CFO -- someone Floridians can count on to help weed out wasteful government spending and be a consumer watchdog in Tallahassee."

While Loranne has the support of some of the best Democratic leaders in the state, she is going to need your help to win next November.

Please, take a minute and be one of the first to join Loranne Ausley's campaign for CFO.

There has not been a more critical time to ensure that we have another great CFO for Florida. The culture of corruption and cronyism in and around the political process has to stop, and too many politicians are putting their own ambition over the needs of Floridians.

All you have to do is look at her experience to know that Loranne Ausley is the woman for the job.

As an attorney and a lawmaker, Loranne worked hard to ensure that our state invested wisely and that our tax dollars were spent efficiently and responsibly. And as the Chair of the $300 million per year Healthy Kids Corporation, she has been a strong leader in investing in Florida's future and bring affordable health insurance to the children of this state.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are backing another one of the same crowd of politicians that have put partisan politics and ambition over the needs of Floridians: State Senate President Jeff Atwater.

As Senate President, he broke his promise when he led the Senate to raise taxes and fees by $2 billion, and instead of cutting waste, he raised fees on hunters and fishers, as well as forced layoffs of teachers across Florida. He even chose his own political ambition over the needs of unemployed Floridians by rejecting $444 million in federal unemployment aid, ensuring Florida didn't get our fair share.

This is just the beginning of what we already know of Jeff Atwater's failed record in Tallahassee. His leadership was even called "embarrassing" by fellow Republicans. We don't need to promote him to CFO -- we need a strong CFO that will watch out for Floridians and Loranne is the one to do it.

Be one of the first to join Loranne's campaign and help us win next November.

Your support has been so critical to the Party, and I know you are going to be a huge help to Loranne. Thank you again for everything you do.


Karen L. Thurman


Statement from Florida Senator Frederica S. Wilson Regarding the Earthquake in Haiti

“As the State Senator for Florida District 33 in Miami, I represent hundreds of Haitian immigrants whose families are suffering today as the result of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday.

“I call upon our citizens to pray for the victims and ask for their help in gathering supplies and much needed aid for this already impoverished country.

“I am especially concerned about the children and young people, particularly their safety and education which may be interrupted and their futures curtailed.

“I call upon Governor Crist, the Obama administration, and the State Department to urgently respond to the needs of the families in Haiti who are just beginning to recover from four back-to-back major storms.

“We will be asking local merchants, major businesses and citizens to assist in joining forces with the American Red Cross and Save the Children to help the families affected by this horrific event. We particularly appeal to businesses heavily patronized by residents of District 33 in the northern areas of Miami-Dade County.

“On behalf of the citizens I represent, we extend our heartfelt compassion to all of Haiti, to children who may be separated from their families, and mothers separated from their children. We pray for their unification.

“For those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, we pray for your strength and fortitude, as you unite in solidarity to face the hardship of this devastating event brought upon your country.

“May God bless your people. May God bless the Nation of Haiti.”

Statement Regarding A Major Earthquake in Haiti

From the House Dems:

State Representatives Yolly Roberson, Ronald Brise and Mack Bernard issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened and shocked by what we are learning of yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti. We join Florida House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands and all the members of the House Democratic Caucus in standing firm with the people of Haiti in this time of desperate need.

“We will urge Florida to put available resources toward helping those affected by the disaster, and we urge all Floridians to work with established relief organizations in bringing both immediate and long-term assistance to Haiti.

“This disaster requires the attention of our state and nation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this disaster.”

Thurman Calls On Floridians To Donate To Haiti Relief Efforts

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman today calls on all Floridians to donate to Haiti recovery and relief efforts, releasing the following statement today:

"Today, as the thoughts and prayers of Floridians from both sides of the political aisle are with the people of Haiti after the series of tragic earthquakes, it is vital that we do our part to assist in the relief and recovery efforts. By donating to the Red Cross and other relief organizations, Floridians can help save lives and ease the suffering for those who have been affected by this disaster. That's why I call on all Floridians today to join me in donating to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to 90999 on your cell phone or by visiting"

Kendrick Meek Campaign Encourages Aid for Haiti By Asking Floridians to Visit KendrickMeek.Com and Contribute to Red Cross

Kendrick Meek's U.S. Senate campaign is asking visitors to to make a donation through his website to aid the Red Cross with disaster relief in Haiti following a devastating earthquake that has crippled the island nation.

"During these times of natural disaster, our first response is to donate food, clothing, and blankets to the disaster zone, but this goodwill often causes delays in the supply chain providing recovery to those in danger. By clicking on the link to the Red Cross on KendrickMeek.Com and making a contribution, needed financial resources will go directly to the Red Cross who possess the know-how to quickly provide disaster relief and aid in the recovery effort of the Haitian people. Floridians always come together during times of crisis and natural disaster, and our neighbors in Haiti need our assistance. I am encouraging Floridians to visit and donate to the Red Cross to aid in the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti," said Kendrick Meek.

Meek represents the 17th Congressional District of Florida, which includes Little Haiti. He represents more Haitian Americans than any other member of Congress. Since his election to Congress in 2002, Meek has traveled to Haiti over 15 times, most recently leading a bipartisan delegation of South Florida lawmakers to the island.

Since the earthquake struck, Meek has been in contact with the White House, President Clinton's office where the former president serves as a U.S. envoy to Haiti, the State Department, Southern Command, Red Cross, as well as with Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Raymond Joseph.

Senator Aronberg to Make Inquiry into State Emergency's Preparedness in Wake of Ex-EOC Chief Resignation

State Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres), chairman of the Senate Military Affairs and Domestic Security Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the recent changes at the Division of Emergency Management.

"In the recent wake of yet another attempted terrorist attack over American soil, I have serious questions about the impact the alleged actions of the previous interim director may have had on the Division of Emergency Management, its resources, and our preparedness.

"To that end, I have sent a letter on behalf of the committee to the new interim director David Halstead with a series of questions intended to ascertain the readiness of his agency in the wake of recent top personnel changes and any resulting vulnerabilities. Depending on the information we receive, our committee may request Mr. Halstead’s appearance at an upcoming meeting."

Lesperance Announces Most Successful Fundraising Quarter

Attorney and Democratic candidate for Florida House of Representatives in District 117, Lisa Lesperance today announced her campaign raised more than $16,000 in the October through December reporting period. The total is Lesperance’s most successful to date and brings the campaign total for all reporting periods to more than $47,000.

“I am delighted by the continued strong support for my campaign,” Lesperance said. “I’ve been talking about the need for change in Tallahassee and that’s a message that’s obviously starting to get through.”

The final quarter of any year is traditionally a weak point for any political campaign with time and attention interrupted by holidays. Lesperance’s $16,000 total was raised from more than 100 different contributors.

“Raising money isn’t easy but it’s part of the process,” Lesperance said. “The key is having the resources we need to get our message out this summer.”

District 117 is an open seat currently represented by term-limited Republican Rep. Julio Robaina. Lesperance will face the term-limited Mayor of Palmetto Bay, Eugene Flinn, in the Democratic Primary. Flinn reported raising $2,375 from nine total donors in the same time period.

For more information on Lisa Lesperance visit

Florida Democrats On Path To Victory in 2010: Enter Election Year With $1.04 Million Cash on Hand Advantage; Democratic Voter Registration Advantage G

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux sent the following memo today to Party Leaders on our path to victory in 2010. A PDF copy of the memo can be downloaded by clicking here and the text of the memo can be found below.


To: Florida Democratic Party Leaders

From: Scott Arceneaux, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director

Subject: Florida Democrats On Path To Victory in 2010: Enter Election Year With $1.04 Million Cash on Hand Advantage; Democratic Voter Registration Advantage Grows To 800,000

As the 2010 elections quickly approaches, Chair Thurman asked me to take the opportunity to update you on where the Florida Democratic Party stands. As you know, the Republican Party of Florida is currently imploding, having just ousted its gubernatorially appointed Party Chair and with the battle between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist having emerged as the showcase fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Additionally, Bill McCollum continues to show that after 20 years in Congress and with 14 political campaigns under his belt, he has no new ideas to bring Florida's economy into the 21st century. Instead, McCollum plans to run on a platform of maintaining the status quo.

But as Democrats, we can't just pray the Republicans continue down their losing path; rather, we must get up and fight everyday for the future of Florida. In 2009, the Florida Democratic Party had what can only be described as our most successful non-election year in our party's history. Our efforts to strengthen the grassroots, hold Florida Republicans accountable, and recruit strong leaders to run for office moved Florida Democrats well down our path to victory.

Voter Registration: Democrats' Advantage Grows To Nearly 800,000 Voters

Over the course of 2009, Floridians continued to join the Democratic Party in record numbers, ending the year with Democrats having a nearly 800,000 person voter registration advantage. According to the Florida Division of Election data, by registering 144,468 new voters last year, Democrats widened our advantage by 43,443 voters in 2009. As Democrats continued to out register Republicans every month since the 2008 election, this voter registration gap will continue to be a major advantage for Florida Democrats in 2010 and beyond.

Snapshot of Registration Picture as of Jan. 1, 2010





Florida Voters





Newly Registered Voters in 2009





With nearly three times the number of Florida Hispanic voters joining the Democratic Party and just three percent of African-American voters registering as Republicans in 2009, Florida's changing demographics will ensure that the Democratic Party will continue to grow moving forward. While Democrats have been successful at registering voters in all age groups, the nearly 16% advantage among voters under 35 is striking.

Demographic Breakdown of Newly Registered Voters, Jan 1, 2009 - Dec. 31, 2009

























Party Fundraising: Democrats Enter 2010 With $1.04 Million Cash On Hand Advantage

The past year was a banner fundraising year for the Florida Democratic Party, where we shattered not only our historical averages, but also the goals we set as we entered the 2010 election cycle. In 2009, the Florida Democratic Party raised a record $6,764,946, almost twice our historical average for a non-election year.

More importantly however is the amount of money the Florida Democratic Party saved in the off year in order to have the resources needed to elect Democrats across the Sunshine State. By being fiscally responsible with our party's donations, we enter 2010 with $2,630,067 cash on hand. After the RPOF announced that their party entered 2010 with just $1.59 million on hand this past weekend, we now know that the Florida Democratic Party has an eye-popping $1.04 million cash on hand advantage.

With a record number of new grassroots donors, the Florida Democratic Party is well prepared to continue our record fundraising through the 2010 elections.

Anti-incumbent Environment Good For Florida Democrats

Floridians know that Tallahassee is a mess. The Republicans who have dominated Tallahassee for the past 11 years have taken our state down the wrong path, the Republican culture of corruption reigns supreme in our state's capital, and the Republicans' failed policies are not only responsible for our economic crisis, but it is clear that the Republicans have no new ideas or plans on how to attract new jobs or industries to Florida.

In 2009, the Florida Democratic Party had great successes in holding Republicans accountable for their failed ways. For the first time in Florida history, a Speaker of the House resigned in disgrace, being brought down by a major corruption scandal. Charlie Crist's poll numbers have crashed as Floridians woke up to the fact that he continues to put his political ambitions above our state. And, the Republican Party just ousted their Chairman.

The chaos in the Republican Party of Florida, combined with Floridians looking to throw the metaphorical "Republican Bums" out of office, confirms that the national anti-incumbent environment works to the advantage of Florida Democrats.

As we move into the most important election year in over a century in Florida, the Florida Democratic Party will continue to hold the Republican politicians in Tallahassee accountable for their failed policies.

Are Republicans Prepared To Continue Defending Thrasher's Ethics Issues and Republican Corruption Through 2010 Elections?

From FDP:

Attempts by the members of the Republican smoky back room club in Tallahassee to install former lobbyist and sitting state Senator John Thrasher as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida proves that the Republican culture of corruption reigns in Tallahassee, once again illustrating why Floridians are going to throw the metaphorical "Republican Bums" out of office across the Sunshine State in 2010.

"While it unfortunately isn't shocking that someone like John Thrasher, who has been convicted twice for breaking Florida's ethics laws, would think he is above the law, Floridians today are disappointed that Republicans like Charlie Crist, Bill McCollum, and Jeff Atwater would make a backroom deal to anoint Thrasher as the new leader of the Republican Party given his extremely questionable ethics and the conflicts-of-interest with his position in state government," said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "With AmEx-gate, hangar-gate and so many other Republican ethics scandals characterizing the RPOF over the last several years, are Florida Republicans prepared to continue defending their party's corrupt ways?"

As the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday:

"A key sticking point for state Sen. John Thrasher's bid for chairman of the state Republican Party is that he would be barred from asking for cash during the 60-day lawmaking session.

"Senators are prevented by rule from "directly or indirectly" raising campaign cash for themselves, political committees, or parties during the spring legislative session.

"Thrasher and his GOP supporters are taking the position that there are no legal issues with a sitting member of the Legislature also serving as state party chief.

"But as word spread this week that Jim Greer was resigning the Republican Party of Florida chairmanship and Thrasher was being positioned to replace him, Democrats screamed that not only would Thrasherbe unable to raise cash for the party - but that the party itself might be precluded from raising cash during session, since the chairman is the official head of its fundraising arm.

"Who do you think accepts contributions on behalf of a political party? At the end of the day, it's the chair," said Mark Herron, a Democratic elections lawyer in Tallahassee.

And the Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times noted:

"Democratic lawmakers argue that Thrasher's potential dual roles create a host of conflicts of interest. How can he serve as both party chairman and as chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee? Would he use his power as party chairman as leverage in legislative talks?

"It certainly creates an opportunity for everything he does to be questioned," said Democratic Sen. Charlie Justice of St. Petersburg, vice chairman of the ethics and elections panel. "Mixing politics with policy does not allow us to put our best foot forward. He's going to come under a lot more scrutiny."

Sen. Democratic Leader Al Lawson To Republican Leadership: "You Can't Serve Two Masters."

Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) on Tuesday released the following statement regarding news reports that Senator John Thrasher (R-Jacksonville) may assume the helm at the Republican Party of Florida.

“I am deeply concerned over the news that a fellow Senator may take over as head of a major political party while maintaining his legislative membership.

“In a body that has long been known and respected for its collegiality, its decorum, and most of all, its bi-partisan independence, a decision to simultaneously remain in this Senate while leading the Republican Party of Florida threatens its very foundation. You cannot serve two masters.

“Floridians are among the growing numbers of Americans whose cynicism and distrust of government have deepened as scandal followed scandal, and politicians followed their own self interests rather than the interests of the people. A move such as this would only further heighten that alienation.

“In addition, our own rules not only bar any Senator from raising money for a political party during a legislative session, they also preclude any Senator from allowing personal employment ‘to impair his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of [their] official duties.’

“With the announcement just yesterday that the RPOF had topped $4.5 million in contributions during the final quarter of 2009, does the Senator honestly expect Floridians to believe that either his independence or the independence of this Senate in carrying out the people’s business can be maintained? Especially when the bulk of that money typically comes from special interests with a self-serving agenda?

“The Republican Party of Florida has just given Senator Thrasher 4.5 million reasons why he should reject such a misguided move. As lawmakers, our primary duty must be service to the people. Not the party machine.”

Thurman Reacts To RPOF Chairman Greer's Resignation

Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement reacting to the resignation of Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer:

"As Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer moves on, I would like to wish him all the best in the future and thank him for his service to the political process.

"As Chairman Greer's counterpart at the Florida Democratic Party, I understand the unique pressures and difficult responsibility of leading one of Florida's two major political parties. While we haven't always seen eye-to-eye, I will sincerely miss our spirited debates."

Analysis Shows 2009 A Fundraising Failure for RPOF

From FDP:

Before we can look forward as we begin this New Year - a year which is shaping up to be one of the most exciting election years in Florida history with Democrats poised to continue making major gains - we must look back at the 2009 fundraising totals as the 4th quarter fundraising reports are being prepared.

While Florida Democrats expect to have another banner fundraising quarter to cap off a record setting year, history shows that despite their internal conflicts the Republican Party of Florida should have outraised the Florida Democratic Party by a 3-1 advantage. Since they did not, this is a huge victory for Democrats up and down the ballot in 2010 across the Sunshine State.

Off Year Fundraising Totals

The past year was an excellent fundraising year for the Florida Democratic Party, where we shattered not only our historical averages but also the goals we set as we entered the 2010 election cycle. With a record number of new grassroots donors, the Florida Democratic Party has never been in better financial shape entering an election year.

A historic analysis of campaign finance data from the Division of Elections shows that the Florida Democratic Party is in an extremely strong position, where Democrats have significantly closed the fundraising gap between the two parties.

Through the 3rd Quarter of 2009, the Florida Democratic Party raised $4,641,566. Once our 4th quarter finance report is finalized, we expect to smash our 2007 fundraising record.

During the same period, the Republican Party of Florida raised only $8,838,708, which is $6,256,023 short of their 2007 record. Even if the RPOF raised $4.5 million in the 4th quarter as is being reported, their 2009 fundraising can be viewed as nothing more than a failure since the RPOF will have raised $1,756,023 less than they did in 2007.

Additionally because of the Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer's grandiose spending, much of their money has already been spent.

Chart 1: Money Raised by Off Year





















1st - 3rd Q of 2009



[Source: Florida Division of Elections]

Fourth Quarter Fundraising

Chart 2: Money Raised by Off Year Fourth Quarters



10/01/1997 - 12/31/1997



10/01/1999 - 12/31/1999



10/01/2001 - 12/31/2001



10/01/2003 - 12/31/2003



10/01/2005 - 12/31/2005



10/01/2007 - 12/31/2007



[Source: Florida Division of Elections]

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thurman Continues Working To Ensure Florida's Votes Count As The DNC's Democratic Change Commission Finalizes Recommendations

From FDP:

Dunnellon, FL - Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman released the following statement reacting to the DNC's Democratic Change Commission recommendations to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee for improving the presidential nominating process. After the Rules and Bylaws Committee acts upon these recommendations, the full DNC membership will consider the issue:

"I would like to thank DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and the members of the Democratic Change Commission for their hard work taking on the challenge of improving the presidential nominating process.

"While working with the Change Commission, I saw firsthand their genuine commitment to improve the Party's 2012 presidential nominating process and ensure that every person's vote is counted.

"While the commission's recommendations unfortunately don't address the issues that put Florida's 2008 primary vote in question, today's action by the Change Commission is the first step in a long process. As the recommendations move to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee and later to the full DNC, we will continue working with Chairman Kaine and the DNC members as we work to ensure that Florida's votes are counted in 2012 and beyond."

Rep. Mark Pafford Files Legislation Regardng Public Service Commission

State Representative Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) filed legislation for the 2010 legislative session to bring testimony before the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) into the sunshine. House Bill 533 will require individuals who provide public comment at PSC hearings to disclose any financial relationship with a utility company, including any charitable contributions, gifts or any positions of governance that are held by an employee of a public utility within the organization represented.

Representative Pafford, a member of the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, thought of the idea for the bill while attending a public hearing regarding utility issues. He was concerned at the lack of transparency of those testifying before the PSC and wanted to prevent a reoccurrence.

“I heard employees of utility companies discuss the names of those who would be testifying and what that person would be addressing before they even made it to the microphone,” said Representative Pafford. “This is not in the best interest of our consumers or good government, and legislation is needed to address this situation.”

A SunSentinel analysis in September 2009 found that more than a third of the customers, business leaders and politicians who praised Florida Power & Light at three forums held in South Florida had financial or family ties to the company and its employees.

State Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey) has agreed to sponsor the bill in the Florida Senate.

Record in Congress Makes for Credibility Problem As McCollum Questions Constitutionality of Health Reform, Social Security, Medicare

Former Congressman Bill McCollum continued his track record of trying to dismantle the American health care system today by joining an exercise in political rhetoric in arguing the constitutionality of current health care reform efforts. McCollum's arguments seem disingenuous at best given his own record in Washington.

"Congressman McCollum's argument is not just silly, it's insulting to the people of Florida given his record of trying to dismantle Social Security and Medicare every chance he could get," said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "Under McCollum's flawed logic, Americans are "forced" to have Social Security and Medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks. Is McCollum declaring Social Security and Medicare 'unconstitutional?' Is that why he devoted so much of his Congressional career to undercutting them?"

A list of McCollum's actions in Congress to destabilize and dismantle Social Security and Medicare follow.

Prior to McCollum's announcement today, 10 of 19 Republican Attorneys General across the country have already joined efforts to oppose reform. "Certainly, it was hard to overlook the distinctly nonlegalistic approach various attorneys generals took" as it "attracted the attention of a slew of politically ambitious AGs" some of whom "are running for governor in 2010." [Politico, 12/24/09]


McCollum Voted Seven Times Against Securing Social Security Before Spending Surpluses: In the late 1990's, when both the federal budget and Social Security were running surpluses, McCollum voted seven times against using those surpluses to secure Social Security. McCollum's votes included a May 1999 vote against the Democratic version of the Social Security and Medicare Safe Deposit Box Act of 1999 that would have reserved all federal budget surpluses until Medicare and Social Security were made solvent. In September 1998, McCollum voted against bill that would have transferred the Social Security Surplus to the Federal Reserve, to be held in trust to ensure Social Security's solvency. (Vote 484, 10/6/99; Vote 378, 8/5/99; Vote 163, 5/26/99; Vote 76,3/25/99; Vote 4, 1/6/99; Vote 463, 9/25/98; Vote 115, 4/29/98)

McCollum Prioritized Tax Cuts for Wealthy Over Social Security Five Times: Since 1995, McCollum has repeatedly voted in favor of tax cuts for the richest Americans over ensuring the solvency of Social Security. (Vote 126, 4/13/00; Vote 331, 7/22/99; Vote 332, 7/22/99; Vote 468, 9/26/98; Vote 742, 10/26/95)

McCollum Voted To Cut Social Security By $23 Billion: In 1995, McCollum voted for the FY 1996 Republican Budget Resolution which would have reduced the rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is used to calculate the cost-of-living adjustment in federal programs - including Social Security. This reduction in the CPI and the resulting cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security would have had the effect of cutting Social Security by nearly $23 billion over seven years. (Vote 345, 5/18/95; House Action Report 104-2, 5/16/95)

McCollum For Tax Cuts Before Medicare and Social Security Solvency: In 1999, McCollum voted against a substitute amendment to save all the surplus until legislation addressing Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds solvency is enacted. Once solvency for these programs is extended, the substitute calls for net tax cuts of $116 billion over ten years. (CQ; Vote 76, 3/25/99)

One Plan Cut Benefits By Close To 50 Percent: Currently, benefits are indexed to growth in wages, yet one of the Commission's plans proposed indexing benefits to inflation, a move that could have cut benefits by close to 50 percent. According to theWall Street Journal, the plan "would gradually trim initial benefits for succeeding generations of new retirees." (Boston Globe, 11/30/01; Wall Street Journal, 11/30/01; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Social Security Reform, 12/3/01)

McCollum On Social Security: Inclined To Increase Retirement Age: "Congress must tackle Social Security reforms in the near future to ensure the health of the trust funds," said McCollum in 1998 in response to the Orlando Sentinel's Voter Guide. "While I am not tied to one specific proposal, I am inclined to favor a plan permitting some investment of Social Security taxes in the stock market, increasing the retirement age in light of increased life expectancy and productive years, and phasing out benefits for high-income retirees who already have received all they have paid into the system plus interest. I would not support proposals to raise Social Security Taxes or deny benefits to those who have paid into the system." (Orlando Sentinel, 11/1/98)

McCollum Supported Bush's 2000 Plan To Privatize Social Security: "I think that it is very critical to establish a change for the younger generation," said McCollum of his plan to privatize Social Security in 2000. "Certainly we are going to fully fund it and preserve it as it is now for the present and for those about to retire. But I think the savings account system that Texas Governor George W. Bush proposes, where there are conservative investments being made by individuals, is the best way to go." (Lakeland Ledger, 11/3/00)


McCollum Voted Against Assuring Health Insurance Portability: In 1996, McCollum voted against assuring health insurance portability and prohibiting insurers from canceling or refusing coverage based on an employee's health. (CQ; Vote 104, 3/28/96)

McCollum Voted to Cut $3.2 Billion From Medicare Spending in 1990: In 1990 McCollum voted for a Kasich substitute amendment to the fiscal 1991 Budget Resolution that included a $3.2 billion cut in Medicare spending. (HConRes310, Roll Call Vote 84, 4/26/90; Rejected 106-305)

McCollum Voted to Cut Medicare by $27.2 Billion Over Five Years in 1991: In 1991 McCollum voted for a Kasich substitute amendment to Fiscal 1992 Budget Resolution that included Medicare cuts of $27.2 billion over five years. (HConRes121, Roll Call Vote 69, 4/17/91; Rejected 114-303)

McCollum Was One of Only 89 House Members Who Voted to Cut Medicare by $25.2 Billion Over Five Years in 1991: In 1991 McCollum voted for a Gradison substitute amendment to Fiscal 1992 Budget Resolution that included Medicare cuts of $25.2 billion over five years. (HConRes121, Roll Call Vote 70, 4/17/91; Rejected 89-335)

McCollum Was One of Only 60 House Members Who Voted to Cut $138.5 Billion From Medicare, Medicaid Over Five Years in 1992: In 1992 McCollum was one of only 60 members of the United States House of Representatives to vote for a Dannemeyer substitute amendment to the Fiscal Year 1993 Budget Resolution that included $138.4 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid programs over five years. (HConRes287, Roll Call Vote 38, 3/4/92; Rejected 60-344)

McCollum Voted to Cut $34 Billion From Medicare in 1993: In 1993, McCollum voted for a bi-partisan Penny-Kasich amendment to a 1993 spending cut resolution that included $34 billion in Medicare cuts. (HR3400, Roll Call Vote 609, 11/22/93; Rejected 213-219)

McCollum Voted Twice In 1995 Against Keeping Medicaid Mandates: In 1995, McCollum twice voted against keeping federal mandates that pertain to Medicaid. (CQ; Vote 66, 1/30/95, Voted 68, 1/31/95)

McCollum Voted Four Times Against Medicare Solvency in 1999: In 1999, McCollum repeatedly voted against requiring that all federal budget surpluses be reserved and no tax cuts be enacted until Medicare and Social Security are solvent. (CQ; Vote 331,7/22/99; Vote 163, 5/26/99; Vote 76, 3/25/99; Vote 484, 10/6/99)

1995-1997: McCollum Voted Against Medicare Funding 15 Times: Between 1995-1997, McCollum has voted at least 15 times either for proposals to cut Medicare funding or against proposals to increase Medicare funding at a total of $870 billion. McCollum's votes include his eight votes in 1995 for a $270 million cut in Medicare that would have been the largest in history. (CQ; Vote 345, 7/30/97; Vote 241, 6/25/97; Vote 236,6/12/96; Vote 345, 5/18/95; Vote 820, 11/20/95; Vote 812, 11/17/95; Vote 801,11/15/95; Vote 743, 10/26/95; Vote 731, 10/19/95; Vote 727, 10/19/95; Vote 726,10/19/95; Vote 458, 6/29/95; Vote 344, 5/18/95; Vote 343, 5/18/95; Vote 342,5/18/95)

McCollum Voted Twice Times in 1997 To Cut Medicare by $115 Billion: In 1997, McCollum for the FY1998 budget reconciliation bill that cut Medicare by $115 billion. In 1997, McCollum voted for the conference report on the FY1998 Budget Reconciliation that cut Medicare by $115 billion. (CQ; Vote 345, 7/30/97; Vote 241, 6/25/97)

McCollum Voted To Cut $158 Billion From Medicare In 1996: In 1996, McCollum voted for the conference report on the FY1997 Budget Resolution that cut Medicare by $158.1 billion over six years. (Vote 236, 6/12/96)

McCollum Voted 8 Times To Cut Medicare By $270 Billion - Would Have Been The Largest Cut In Medicare History: In 1995, McCollum voted with the Republican leadership to cut Medicare by $270 billion. In fact, McCollum voted lockstep with the Republican plan to gut Medicare eight times. President Clinton vetoed the bill. (CQ; Vote 820, 11/20/95; Vote 812, 11/17/95; Vote 801, 11/15/95; Vote 743, 10/26/95; Vote 731,10/19/95; Vote 727, 10/19/95; Vote 726, 10/19/95; Vote 458, 6/29/95; St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/17/95)

McCollum Voted Against Three Proposals To Decrease 1995 Medicare Budget Cuts: During initial debate on the Fiscal 1996 Budget Resolution, McCollum voted against three Democratic substitute amendments that would have decreased the Medicare funding cuts included in the GOP bill. The amendment that came closest to passing would have reduced the Medicare funding cut by $114 billion. (CQ; Vote 344, 5/18/95; Vote 343, 5/18/95; Vote 342, 5/18/95)

McCollum Voted To Freeze Reimbursement Rates For Medicare Programs: In 1995, McCollum voted for final passage of the bill to cut taxes by $189 billion over five years. The cuts were offset through a variety of proposals including freezing reimbursement rates in certain Medicare programs. (CQ; Vote 295, 4/5/95)

McCollum Voted Against Reducing Medicare Cuts From $270 Billion To $90 Billion: In 1995, McCollum voted against reducing Medicare cuts from $270 billion to $90 billion. The reduction was part of the Democratic substitute on Medicare revisions. (CQ; Vote 729, 10/19/95)

McCollum Supported Moves to Privatize Medicare: Addressing Medicare reform in 2000, McCollum said he voted for a bill that would have created a "public-private" partnership to encourage insurance companies to offer health-insurance policies with prescription-drug coverage. The program he supported would have replaced Medicare with a federal guarantee that the insurance companies wouldn't lose money. "I think it's a good plan," he said. "I believe this is one that provides the best of all worlds." At the time, thousands of elderly residents throughout Florida had lost their Medicare HMOs after insurance companies stopped providing the coverage, a problem expected to worsen. (Orlando Sentinel, 7/7/00)

2000: McCollum Voted Against Requiring Prescription Drug Plan Access in Rural Areas: McCollum voted against requiring a Medicare prescription drug benefit to require availability in all rural areas. McCollum voted against a motion to recommit Prescription Drugs to the House Ways and Means Committee with instructions to report it back with a Medicare prescription plan made available to all Medicare beneficiaries, including those in rural areas. [Vote #356, HR 4680, 6/28/00, motion failed 204-222 (R 0-219, D 203-2)