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2 posts from April 6, 2014

April 06, 2014

Session at midpoint: Election year squelches controversy, aids harmony and rewards contributors

The Florida Legislature has passed the halfway point of its 60-day session and the fruits of its labor can be summed up in two words: election year.

With Gov. Rick Scott struggling in the polls as he seeks a second term in November, the Republican-led legislature has worked to send him bills to bolster his image while avoiding issues that could complicate the governor’s political prospects.

In one month, lawmakers swiftly passed a repeal of the 2009 auto tag fee that will save most drivers $25 a year and touted it as the largest general revenue tax reduction in a decade. They enacted tuition credits for returning military in an effort to make the state friendly for veterans. They strengthened penalties for perpetrators of sex crimes in response to newspaper reports on repeat sex offenders.

And, in one of many bills pushed by the National Rifle Association, they sent the governor a measure Thursday to allow people to fire warning shots in self-defense.

Before the session began, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said his goal was to help Scott “put points on the board” by passing popular legislation.

This week, Weatherford declared that the goal is “not to worry about elections this session. We’re here to do what we think is right.” Story here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/05/4041743/at-session-midpoint-legislature.html#storylink=cpy

Jeb Bush on GOP: 'We've lost our way,' need to 'listen and learn' from campaigns

From the New York Times:

With eyes increasingly on him, Jeb Bush signaled on Sunday the kind of campaign he would mount if he ran for president: one arguing against ideological purity tests while challenging party orthodoxy on issues like immigration and education.

Even as he sharply criticized President Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and health care, Mr. Bush made clear that he would run against the style of politics that has characterized recent Republican nominating contests. He said he would decide by the end of the year, in part on whether he thought that with a “hopeful” message, he could avoid “the vortex of a mud fight.”

“We need to elect candidates who have a vision that is bigger and broader, and candidates that are organized around winning the election, not making points,” Mr. Bush told an audience at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum here. “Campaigns ought to be about listening and learning and getting better. I do think we’ve lost our way.”

He added, “I’m not being critical of my party, but campaigns themselves are reflective of this new America.”

Mr. Bush, the former two-term governor of Florida and the son and brother of former presidents, returned to the bosom of the family’s extensive political network to discuss his future and the country’s. His town-hall-style conversation capped a three-day reunion celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first Bush presidency, ensuring that much of the talk would center on whether there would be a third. Story here.