Today's Top Story

Supreme Court Allows Nationwide Health Care Subsidies posted on 6/25/15

by ADAM LIPTAK | ny times

SCOTUSWASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 6-to-3 decision. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented.

The case concerned a central part of the Affordable...

Breaking News

  • Tax package heading to Scott's desk posted on 6/16/15

    by sean rossman | tallahassee democrat

    In a near unanimous vote, the Florida House passed a more than $400 million tax-cut package this morning, sending the bill to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

    The House passed the plan by a vote of 91 to 2, about two hours after the Senate passed an amended version.

    The House approved its own version of the bill in the first week of the special session, but Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, made several changes including upping the number of tax-free back-to-school shopping days from three to 10 and erasing tax cuts on college textbooks for a full year, compared to the three separate sales tax holidays offered in the House version.

    The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34 to 2, the only no votes coming from Democratic senators Jeff Clemens and Geraldine Thompson. The House immediately took it up at its 11 a.m. meeting.

    » Read more

  • Florida House and Senate agree on environmental budget posted on 6/16/15

    by News Service of Florida

    TALLAHASSEE - Lawmakers agreed on hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental spending during a meeting Sunday night, but disappointed supporters of a land and water conservation amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall.

    The deal struck by Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, was announced after a 34-hour break in public budget negotiations between the two sides. The Legislature is working to resolve its budget differences by the scheduled Saturday end of a special session --- 10 days before Florida has to have a spending plan in place to avoid a government shutdown.

    In all, the deal sets aside $81.8 million for Everglades restoration, $55 million to buy land and $47.5 million in funding for restoration of the state's natural springs. The Senate helped to constrain those numbers by pushing back on House attempts to bond some of the money, which would have allowed the state to spend roughly $10 for every dollar used for bonding.

    "Without bonding, we weren't really able to do anything too robust in any particular area," Lee told reporters after the meeting.

    The largest share of the land-buying money, $20 million, will go toward improvements to the Kissimmee River, while another $17.4 million will go to the state's Florida Forever land acquisition program. The state will also spend $15 million on protection easements and agreements on private land.

    In a new item that emerged Sunday evening, lawmakers also agreed to use $2 million for a project on Howell Creek in Central Florida. That watershed is in the district of Senate Rules Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

    » Read more

  • Senate won’t hear House’s health bills; proposes task force instead posted on 6/16/15

    by john kennedy | Palm Beach Post

    The House’s half-dozen bills aimed at easing regulations on hospital expansion and other health care issues will not be going before a Senate committee, the panel’s chairman said Monday.

    Senate Health Policy Chief Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said he didn’t think the Legislature’s 20-day special session was an appropriate venue for considering the sweeping changes proposed by the House.

    Instead, Bean said he wants a House-Senate task force formed to study the issues and more in coming months.

    “I believe this approach will provide the opportunity for the House and Senate to debate, discuss and take public testimony on comprehensive short and long term solutions to Florida’s health care challenges,” Bean said.

    Bean’s committee last week held a workshop on proposals to eliminate certificate of need requirements for hospitals looking to expand or open new facilities, another measure that would let nurses and physicians’ assistants prescribe certain medications, and other steps House leaders say will reduce the cost of health care.

    The legislation sailed through the House days after the chamber killed the Senate’s proposed Florida Health Insurance Exchange (FHIX), a privatized form of Medicaid expansion.

    Despite the snub on FHIX, Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said his side was open to hearing the House’s proposals.

    Now, that isn’t going to happen.

    » Read more

  • Judge rejects mediation in health-care funding dispute posted on 6/11/15

    by News Service of Florida

    TALLAHASSEE -- A federal judge Wednesday rejected a request by Gov. Rick Scott for mediation in a legal battle between the state and federal government about health-care funding.

    Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued an order that said she has already scheduled a hearing next week on a Scott motion for a preliminary injunction in the case. "The hearing is scheduled for June 19, 2015, and will require extensive preparation on the part of all parties,'' Rodgers wrote. "Requiring them, on even shorter notice, to also attend court-ordered mediation, which is not guaranteed to result in any resolution of this case, would be unduly burdensome, expensive, and not likely to advance the process any faster than the expedited proceeding currently scheduled."

    Scott filed the lawsuit in April, contending that the Obama administration was trying to unconstitutionally link continuation of the state's Low Income Pool health-funding program with expansion of Medicaid. The federal government has called those arguments "baseless" and has indicated that the state will receive about $1 billion in Low Income Pool funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

    While the $1 billion is a reduction from the current year's funding for the so-called LIP program, state lawmakers are using that number as they negotiate a budget during an ongoing special session.

    » Read more

  • CNN schedules GOP presidential debate in Florida posted on 6/11/15

    by patricia mazzei | miami herald

    CNN announced Wednesday that it has scheduled a Republican presidential debate to take place March 10 in Florida, five days before the state's 2016 primary.

    The debate had previously been listed as "pending." CNN is hosting two GOP debates this year, in September and December. Six others have been sanctioned by the party, hosted by others.

    "Given the size and competitiveness of the GOP primary field, at this time it does not appear as though the party will have chosen its presidential nominee by March 10," CNN said.

    » Read more

  • ACLU sues state over 24-hour abortion waiting period posted on 6/11/15

    by Michael Auslen | Tampa Bay Times

    The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights are suing the state of Florida after Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed into law a bill that will require women to see a doctor and wait for 24 hours before they can receive an abortion.

    Court documents requesting emergency action to stop the law from going into effect July 1 call it " a sweeping restriction on Florida women’s ability to access abortion services, unprecedented in this state." The lawsuit further argues that the new law represents an undue burden, which puts it in violation of the state Constitution's privacy rights.

    “It’s clear that the sole purpose of this law is to make it more difficult for a woman who has decided to have an abortion to get one, and to punish and discriminate against those who do,” said Renée Paradis, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, in a statement.

    » Read more

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