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                                       Capitol Report 2010

April 9, 2010

540 Beverly Court                                                                    Ben Wilcox, LWVF
Tallahassee, Fl. 32301                                                              Governmental Consultant


Overview

Week six of the 2010 legislative session is over and there was action on issues that fall under the League's priorities.  First the good news. Governor Charlie Crist this week vetoed House Bill 1207 dealing with campaign financing. This was a victory for the League of Women Voters of Florida and its members who contacted the Governor and asked him to veto this bill. The legislation did some good things, but overall it was a bad bill because it would have created a new way for legislative leaders to raise unlimited campaign contributions from special interests with business before the legislature.


These Leadership Funds would have provided a direct conduit for those who seek to manipulate public policy and buy access and influence with legislative leaders. The League believes that rather than legitimizing Leadership Funds, the legislature should close existing loopholes in campaign finance law. Governor Crist deserves a lot of credit for bucking legislative leaders and members of his own party who supported this bill. 


The so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR legislation was pulled from its scheduled committee of reference this week and now will likely be heard next in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. Senate Joint Resolution 2420 by Senator Haridopolos would require state government to follow a strict formula for raising and spending funds. It would severely restrict the ability of future legislatures to raise new revenues and meet the state's needs in education, public safety and health care.
The League believes passage of this legislation would be disastrous for Florida. Call or e-mail these committee members and tell them to vote "NO" on SJR 2420.
•    Chair: Senator Thad Altman (R)
•    Vice Chair: Senator Charlie Justice (D)
♣    Senator Michael S. "Mike" Bennett (R)
♣    Senator Jeremy Ring (D)
♣    Senator Ronda Storms (R)


Senate Bill 6 dealing with teacher compensation was passed by the House Thursday night and will soon be on the Governor's desk. The League opposes this bill because it requires all teachers be retained, certified and compensated based on student test scores on standardized tests -- not years of experience or degrees held. It abolishes the program that rewards teachers who become National Board Certified Teachers. It would also penalize school districts financially if they consider length of service or degrees held when determining compensation or reductions in force. While initially saying he supported the bill, Governor Crist now says he has concerns about it. The League of Women Voters of Florida urges the Governor to veto this bill.

Please call or e-mail Governor Crist and tell him to VETO Senate Bill 6.

E-mail - Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com
Phone - (850) 488-7146

There is a meeting on Monday of the Senate Reapportionment Committee. There are no bills on the agenda; only a "discussion" of the FairDistrictsFlorida amendments. The League is monitoring several "shell" bills or placeholders. These bills could become alternative redistricting amendments that the legislature would put on the ballot designed to confuse voters and weaken the FairDistrictsFlorida amendments. The shell bills include Senate Bills 2286, 2288, 2682, 2684, 2688, 2690. 


Next week, conference committees will begin meeting to try to resolve the differences between the House and Senate on the budget. The Senate has passed a $69.4 billion budget that includes a major Medicaid restructuring plan. The House version of the budget is $67.2 billion and it includes a drop in public school spending as well as cuts to public defenders and prosecutors. The two chambers will now begin negotiations in hopes of reaching an agreement on the budget before the end of the session.
Next week the legislature will have a full slate of committee meetings as well as floor sessions. Please contact your legislators and Governor Crist as soon as possible.    


League Priority Issues for 2010

The LWVF has set six program areas for 2010 including Government, Education, Justice, Social Policy, Sustainability and Natural Resources. Under three program areas there are priority subcategories as follows:

Government: Promote an open government that is responsive to the people of the state.

■ Equitable Taxation - The League supports tax legislation which does not jeopardize   
   local service, addresses infrastructure deficits and removes unfair tax exemptions
   that affect governments' ability to serve citizens. 

■ Redistricting Reform - The League supports single-member election districts that are
   equal in population, that provide access for minorities, are compact and, when possible,
   take local characteristics such as political and geographical boundaries into
   consideration.

■ Citizen Initiatives - As bills addressing citizen initiatives arise; the League will oppose bills that increase the moneyed interests' strangle-hold on the initiative process and the legislative process and, where appropriate, advance the idea of a citizen statutory initiative.

■ Elections - The League supports legislation that promotes stricter election audits and
   would give the Supervisors of Elections more flexibility in selecting early voting sites.
  
Education: Priorities are: Funding, Accountability and Civic Education.

Social Policy: Priority is Health Care.

Get Involved!
We are still looking for folks to participate in the Lobbying Corps so please contact Marilynn Wills (marilynnwills@msn.com) or Rebecca Sager (rsager@music.org) if you are interested. 

Updates on League legislative issues will be provided on a regular basis through Capitol Report which is published every week during the Session. Important information may also be accessed through the Internet at www.leg.state.fl.us.

Watch for your Capitol Report each Friday of the Session for news on priority issues and what you can do to help.  FOR FURTHER INFO: The newsletter is available at the LWVF's website:  http://www.lwvfla.org/ . For updates on or copies of proposed legislation, call legislative information at 1-800-342-1827 or visit the Florida Online Sunshine homepage at www.leg.state.fl.us


LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF FLORIDA

540 Beverly Court
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
Email:  lwvf1@comcast.net
Fax: (850) 222-4485
Telephone:  (850) 224-2545

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