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5 posts from January 2, 2013

January 02, 2013

Fiscal cliff deal leaves $6.5 billion-dollar tax hike for Floridians

Congress may have kept the nation from going over the fiscal cliff, but it failed to avert a multi-billion dollar hit to Florida’s struggling economy.

The decision to let the 2010 deduction in the Social Security payroll tax expire will cost Floridians an estimated $6.5 billion, said Sean Snaith, director for Institute Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida.

With 7.1 million Florida households seeing a tax increase, the result will be a contraction in the state economy, Snaith said.

“It’s going to provide a headwind in terms of our recovery that’s less money spent on child care, groceries or clothing,’’ Snaith told the Herald/Times. “The net effect is it’s going to be a drag on growth.’’

The payroll tax was temporarily reduced in 2010 from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent at an annual cost of $120 billion, but it expired Dec. 31, 2012, when neither side in Congress moved to extend it.

That means that every paycheck will see a slight increase starting this month. The median Florida household, which earns $45,000 a year, will pay $900 more in taxes in 2013.

Although opponents said the compromise fell short because it did not do enough to resolve the nation’s debt crisis or reduce spending cuts, supporters said it was necessary to avoid a fiscal calamity.

“The American people cannot afford, nor do they deserve, this massive New Year’s tax hangover,’’ said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, one of five Florida Republicans who joined with eight Democrats in the congressional delegation to vote for the compromise. “While this bill has its flaws, it immediately and permanently cuts taxes on 98 percent of the American people and 97 percent of small businesses.” More here. 


Five Florida Republicans join majority in the House to pass fiscal cliff deal

The U.S. House just passed the fiscal cliff deal, 257-167.

Florida Republicans voting yes: Mario Diaz-BalartBill YoungIleana Ros-LehtinenAnder CrenshawVern Buchanan.

Every Florida Democrat voted yes.


Continue reading "Five Florida Republicans join majority in the House to pass fiscal cliff deal" »

Rubio was among the eight Senate votes to reject fiscal cliff deal

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was one of eight senators to vote the deal to resolve the "fiscal cliff."

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted yes. The deal, which raises taxes on individuals making $400,000 and more, passed 89-8. (details here) In the House, another 2016 hopeful, Rep. Paul Ryan, supported the plan. Here's Rubio's statement:

“I appreciate all the hard word that went into avoiding the so-called 'fiscal cliff',' " Rubio said in a statement. "I especially commend Senator McConnell's efforts to make the best out of a bad situation. Nevertheless, I cannot support the arrangement they have arrived at. Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing. But rapid economic growth and job creation will be made more difficult under the deal reached here in Washington.

“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they'll pay this new tax and, chances are, they'll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.

-- Alex Leary

“Of course, many Americans will be relieved in the short term that their taxes won't go up. However in the long run, they will be hurt when employers pass on to them one of the largest tax hikes in decades. Furthermore, this deal just postpones the inevitable, the need to solve our growing debt crisis and help the 23 million Americans who can't find the work they need.”

Rubio is feeling out a possible run for president and his vote would inoculate him against a primary charge that he voted to raise taxes. Judging from twitter reaction, his vote went over well with conservatives.

Services for Former Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton Announced

Memorial services fo former Supreme Court Justice Ben F. Overton will take place in Gainesville, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg this month.

A funeral service for Overton, who died last Saturday at the age of 86, will take place in Gainesville on Saturday, Jan. 5.

A Lying in State and memorial service will take place next Monday in Tallahassee.

Another service and burial will take place in St. Petersburg on Jan. 9.

Overton served on the Supreme Court from 1974 to 1999, authoring more than 1,400 opinions. A press release from the Supreme Court is here. Speakers at his memorial services will include: Chief Justice Ricky Polston, former Gov. Reubin Askew, former Justice Parker Lee McDonald, and Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte.

Information for memorial services is below:

Saturday, Jan. 5: Funeral service at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville at 10:30, with a reception at Oak Hammock.

Monday, Jan. 7: Lying in State from Noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Building rotunda in Tallahassee. A memorial service will follow starting at 2:00 p.m. in the courtroom.

Wednesday, Jan. 9: A final service will be held on January 9 at St. Anne of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg at Noon. Burial will follow in St. Petersburg.

See the press release below

Services for former Justice Ben F. Overton Announced

A funeral service for former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben F. Overton will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville at 10:30 this coming Saturday with a reception at Oak Hammock.  Overton, 86, died last Saturday in Gainesville due to complications from heart surgery. 

There will be a Lying in State next Monday from Noon to 2:00 p.m. in the Supreme Court Building rotunda in Tallahassee.  A memorial service will follow starting at 2:00 p.m. in the courtroom featuring speakers that include Chief Justice Ricky Polston, former Gov. Reubin Askew, former Justice Parker Lee McDonald, and Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte.

 During the Lying in State, the family will receive visitors in the Lawyer’s Lounge at the Florida Supreme Court building, main floor.

 A final service will be held on January 9 at St. Anne of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg (Seminole) at Noon. Burial will follow in St. Petersburg.

 The earlier press release on Justice Overton is available on the Court’s website:




New Miami-Dade camping law may clash with federal law protecting homeless

When Miami-Dade commissioners voted unanimously this month to ban overnight camping at “county facility property,” they opened the doors to debate about how police should apply the measure to homeless people.

The action was a clear shot at the Occupy Wall Streeters who flooded public spaces, including outside County Hall, in the summer of 2011.

In addition to making it illegal to camp on county property, the measure toughens permitting rules for public gatherings and permissible “free speech’’ zones. It also gives police the authority to arrest violators, including the homeless.

But a 25-year-old court ruling could present a conflict, some legal observers say. A 1988 federal court decision in the Pottinger vs. The City of Miami case found that Michael Pottinger and about 6,000 other homeless people in Miami could not be harassed or punished for occupying public property because doing so would violate their fundamental right to travel, and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The new ordinance specifically provides that if police direct a homeless person occupying a county facility to leave, the officer first must look for sleeping space for the homeless person at a county shelter. If there is none, or if the person refuses the option, he or she can be arrested for trespassing if they remain or return to the space.

An ACLU lawyer said the measure could again open the door for police to harass and arrest homeless people.