Wasserman Schultz: House Democrats will continue protest today on gun laws

Sun-Sentinel Editorial by Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Last Wednesday, House Democrats took to the floor of the House to stand in solidarity with millions of Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. But this time, it was different. We didn’t just stand to offer meaningful thoughts and hopeful prayers — we staged a 24-hour sit-in to demand a vote on common-sense gun laws.

In the words of voting and civil rights heroine Fannie Lou Hammer, we are “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Tired of trying to put into words the reason why this happened again, and why we failed to prevent it.

Tired of observing a moment of silence and stopping there, as if stillness and silence are the only powers at our command against the epidemic of gun violence.

Tired of the hurt, which aches in a place deeper than flesh and blood and bone.

Tired in our souls because one mass slaughter is already too much to bear, and yet we have suffered this hurt as a nation again and again.

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Senator Steve Geller Statement on Florida DEP Proposal to Increase Allowable Toxins in State Waters

Senator Steve Geller

Senator Steve Geller

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is currently reviewing the level of certain chemicals that can be discharged into Florida’s waters. It is proposing that the levels of over ½ of these be increased, including several known carcinogens. One of these chemicals is benzene, used in fracking. Many people believe that one of the main reasons for this re-evaluation is to increase benzene limits, to make fracking easier in Florida. The DEP is using a “Monte Carlo” method for calculating the acceptable standards which is not used by any other state or by the Federal Government. These changes will be voted on by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, a Governor Scott appointed body that hasn’t met in about two years. Of the seven Commission seats, two are vacant – the positions representing Local Governments and the Environmental Community. It is not acceptable to increase levels of known poisons and carcinogens that can be discharged into Florida’s waters using determination methods not used in any other state. Floridians need to organize and let our leaders in the Legislature and Cabinet know that we are opposed to this little-publicized attempt to harm Florida’s waters and potentially poison Floridians.

A shorter excerpt of this statement first appeared in the Sun-Sentinel on June, 26, 2016.

Rick Scott deserves an F on public education

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board | Friday, September 26, 2014 3:52pm

As he campaigns for re-election, Gov. Rick Scott portrays himself as a champion of public education who has increased spending, befriended teachers and ensured Florida’s schoolchildren will be better prepared for to enter college or the job market. His record is at odds with his rhetoric. In 16 years since Republicans took over the Governor’s Mansion and began pushing major education policy changes, no governor has been so coldly calculating and cynical about what happens to Florida’s traditional public schools.

From his first year backing steep budget cuts and nonsensical teacher assessments to his repeated favoring of private interests, Scott has all but ignored the state’s constitutional duty to provide uniform, high-quality and free public schools. The state has its fourth education commissioner in four years. The governor’s Board of Education has pandered to the tea party’s misinformation campaign on the Common Core State Standards, and it has set the stage for a potentially disastrous standardized testing change this spring. This is not the work of a governor engaged in enhancing the state’s investment in children but of a former CEO who treats education like an expense line to be managed and squeezed.

In four years, Scott has done far more to undermine public education than to support it.

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Politics, not families, matter most matter to Scott

Sun Sentinel|September 27, 2014|By Randy Schultz, By Randy Schultz

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott campaigned at Capt. Anderson’s, the popular restaurant in Panama City Beach owned in part by State Rep. Jimmy Patronis. Two days later, Scott named Patronis one of Florida’s five utility regulators. It was another serving of smelly Florida politics.

Patronis has no background in energy and law, the best training for those on the Florida Public Service Commission, which Patronis joins on Jan. 1. Patronis does have experience in regulation when it comes to his time in the Florida Legislature, but that background should have disqualified him for a job in which he is supposed to balance the interests of utilities against the interests of customers.

When it comes to regulation, Patronis has tried to abolish it. Since 2009, he has become known for annually sponsoring terrible environmental bills that special interest lobbyists write. He has gutted wetlands protection and made it easier to open phosphate mines. He has tried to forbid local governments from requiring supermajority votes on large development projects. Last year, his bill again delayed the Everglades cleanup deadline, and gave sugar growers a chance to stop paying a share even if the water isn’t clean enough.

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Marc Yacht: Voters should oust the politicians who refuse to expand Medicaid

Marc Yacht, Context Florida

Because Florida Republican officials are refusing federal Medicaid dollars, about 1.3 million low-income Florida residents will not get health-care coverage.

Obamacare pays the full cost of expanding Medicaid for the first three years. After that, the federal government pays 90 percent of the cost.

A family of four could qualify for Medicaid earning up to $32,000 per year. Salaries to 400 percent of HHS federal poverty guidelines would qualify for subsidies.

Prior to Obamacare, 4.1 million Floridians lacked health insurance. Despite Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to block Medicaid expansion and enrollment, the number of uninsured has been reduced to 3.4 million.

Despite all the opposition from state Republicans, Medicaid signups in the state have beaten projections. Through February, 440,000 people have enrolled, many with the help of volunteers, including college students, citizen groups, and health insurers.

The state’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid-expansion dollars has lethal implications for the uninsured. It is projected that 1,158 to 2,221 uninsured people will die because the state refused to provide the expanded coverage.

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Mitch Ceasar column / Sun Sentinel 100 Influential Leaders

Last week: Kudos to U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch for his action, which provided the impetus in the awarding of 24 Medals of Honor at the White House this week. These heroes were overlooked because they were not viewed “as equals.” Apparently Jewish and Hispanic soldiers were not considered because of their “background.” Lets hope that acts of sacrifice and valor will now be viewed on their merit and not by their bloodlines.

Rick Scott’s Problems for Reelection

Scott Arceneaux, Executive Director of the Florida Democratic Party

Florida Insiders,

I’d like to share some thoughts with you about what I see as the biggest takeaways from the recent flurry of public polling – and what the results mean as Rick Scott staffs up his reelection apparatus and prepares for his fourth legislative session.

Florida’s electorate is famously polarized.  A 2% win in Florida is considered a landslide, and most experts agree that the race for governor of Florida will be decided by less than that.  As voters start to pay more attention to the governor’s race, I expect the race to tighten. But the same dynamics that have driven Rick Scott’s unpopularity over the past three years show no signs of changing. In 2012, Rick Scott spend over a million dollars on television in an effort to change his image and it didn’t work.  And Rick Scott spent all of 2013 traveling Florida, trying to drum up support, with staged ribbon cuttings and press events. It didn’t work. The new year finds Governor Scott taking on the role of “Daddy Warbucks,” spending January throwing around millions in tax payer dollars in an effort to show he actually does care about what the voters care about.  It’s still not working.

Rick Scott has earned his lowest job approval in nearly a year – just 41% in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Over the past three years, Rick Scott’s job approval in any Quinnipiac poll has never risen above 43%. That’s not an accident – the public understands that he consistently puts big special interests ahead of the middle class. He’s not looking out for them, and Floridians have noticed.  Rick Scott is not on the side of middle class Floridians, never has been, never will be.

On the issues that this election will be about, Floridians simply don’t trust Rick Scott. Protecting the middle class – he’s not trusted. Education – he’s not trusted. Healthcare – he’s not trusted. Raising the minimum wage? Rick Scott says the idea makes him “cringe,” siding against the 73% of voters who support giving America a raise.

These misguided priorities are causing Scott to lose key demographics we all follow. Independent voters, he loses by fully 16 points. Women, he loses by 16 points. Hispanics, he loses by 26 points.

And Scott has work to do on his home front, too. After three years of nearly constant campaigning, the governor has still not consolidated his base, with 21% of Republicans not supporting him and 34% not approving of his job performance.

The bottom line: 54% of voters say that Rick Scott does not deserve to be reelected.

The fact is that after three years of photo-ops and ribbon cuttings Rick Scott is still seen as unworthy of the public’s trust. That’s something no amount of money can help him regain.


Scott Arceneaux

Broward Democrats Chair Mitch Ceasar on the President’s State of the Union Address

President Obama presented his annual message to Congress. But what is the economic “State of the Union?” The deficit dropped, unemployment is at a five year low, and the stock market is at historic highs. Yet many people are still struggling.The presidents’ greatest point was urging America to provide workers with the new skills needed for today’s jobs, not those of 40 years ago. I applaud the president when he reminds us that America has always sought to benefit the next generation. Let’s show some bipartisanship by matching the training of today, with present and future job needs.

Raise to Minimum Wage an Urgent Need for U.S.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

A raise of the federal minimum wage is one of those common-sense proposals that is both good for the economy and good for the country. Considering there has not been an increase since July 2009, workers who depend on these wages have been losing income to inflation for over four years. A raise is long overdue.

This isn’t just a proposal supported by Democrats; economists and nearly three-quarters of Americans support giving hard working folks a raise. And research shows that it could lift approximately five million people out of poverty, ensuring a more secure future and increasing economic activity in their communities.

But incredibly, Republicans oppose this raise. They say that it would lead to job losses, a claim that ignores the economic studies that clearly indicate a minimum wage hike would strengthen the economy. Keep in mind this is the same Republican Party that caused a $24 billion hit to our economy when they shut down the government in the name of denying people health care.

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Broward Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar’s Weekly Column

After 10 months, Gov. Rick Scott has picked a Lieutenant Governor in Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez- Cantera. Many believe the choice was an election year calculation. I believe that is true, but there is a special reason. The governor made an assumption that the Hispanic community is simplistic and will “fall in love” because of a temporary appointment. This would disregard Scott’s horrible record toward Hispanics, including cutting educational dollars, fake voter purges and no meaningful Republican immigration reform. The other reasons for the choice of Lopez-Cantera were total loyalty and finally finding someone to say yes.