James L. Rosica, (@JlRosicaTBO)
For the third year in a row, a Florida House speaker has closed the door on expanding Medicaid in the state even as a coalition of Florida businesses is joining traditional advocates for the poor in urging acceptance of federal dollars to provide some added coverage.
Steve Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican, made clear that the GOP-controlled “House still stands where we stood before: We do not plan to do anything on Medicaid expansion.”
His predecessor as speaker, Wesley Chapel Republican Will Weatherford, similarly refused to consider any expansion that included federal funds.
Speaking at the annual Associated Press legislative planning meeting, Crisafulli also said, “I am a never-say-never kind of guy.”
Asked whether calling it “expanding access to health care” may earn a proposal a hearing, Crisafulli said, “The name doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s the policy” the House objects to.
The speaker’s position seems to leave no room for “A Healthy Florida Works,” a business coalition plan that would use money from the federal Affordable Care Act to create a private insurance marketplace so enrollees could pick their own coverage.
James L. Rosica, (@JLRosicaTBO)
Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday said his scheduled trip to Pennsylvania next month “is all about jobs.”
Scott spoke at the Associated Press legislative planning meeting held in the Capitol before the state Legislature’s annual 60-day session.
Scott’s office has said the newly re-elected Republican governor will follow up on his Jan. 6 inaugural speech call for companies in northern, high-tax states to relocate to Florida.
Scott will first travel to Philadelphia in late February “to meet with job creators and business leaders to discuss why they should … buy a one-way ticket to the Sunshine State.”
His trip will be about getting “companies that are doing business in the state … to move to Florida and add more jobs for Floridians,” he said Wednesday.
“My job … is about jobs, doing everything I can to get more jobs in this state,” the governor said.
Scott said he already had meetings set up with business leaders there, though he wouldn’t say which ones.
In fact, when directly asked which companies he was interested in luring away, he said, “All of ‘em.”
Matt Dixon, (@Mdixon55)
St. Petersburg Attorney Matthew D. Weidner filed a complaint Wednesday seeking a criminal probe into allegations the Cabinet violated state open meeting laws when discussing the ouster of Florida’s top cop.
Gov. Rick Scott fired former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey in December without informing the three-member Cabinet, which also oversees the department. Bailey later told the Tampa Times/Miami Herald Capitol Bureau that when he was “forced out” Scott’s former top attorney told him that Cabinet members were aware of the move.
“This request is based on the statement of Gerald Bailey…who indicated that “he was forced out by Scott and was told by General [Counsel] Pete Antonacci that he had the concurrence of all three Cabinet members,” according to a complaint filed with Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs.
If Cabinet officials spoke with Scott outside of a public meeting, it would be a violation of state Sunshine Laws. Since Bailey’s comments were first reported, Cabinet members, which include CFO Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Agriculture Commissioner Pam Bondi, said Scott’s office did not inform them Bailey was being fired.
Late last week, Meggs said he would not get involved with the case.
Check back for more details
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)
Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli laid out a 2015 legislative agenda that included a focus on tax cuts, natural resources and education and employment options for people with disabilities.
The roll out of their 2015 work plan – a tradition started a with Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Will Weatherford, when they held the same roles – came during the annual pre-legislative session meeting hosted by the Associated Press.
“One of our fundamental beliefs is money is better with the taxpayers than the government,” said Gardiner, R-Orlando.
The work plan 2015 would:
- Provide tax relief through tax cuts
- Create a path to economic independence for people with “unique abilities” through postsecondary designation programs serving students with disabilities, expanding policy guidelines and increase personal learning scholarship accounts; and create financial literacy programs designed to help people with development disabilities participate in the economy independently
- Develop a plan for statewide funding and policy strategy for water and natural resources
- Promote adoptions by restoring an adoption subsidy program for state and local government employees
- Boost Florida’s investment in K-12 and higher education by increasing per-pupil funding, keeping higher education affordable and increasing performance funding for universities.
Gardiner and Crisafulli said both chambers will also take a look at the statewide assessment system. Crisafulli said House and Senate leaders are aware of concerns over the assessments.
“I have a message … we hear you, we you very clearly,” said Crisafulli. “We will make appropriate reforms, while still continuing to get a first rate education.”