Florida Legislature

In tight Florida Senate race, Mark Foley hosts fundraiser for Ellyn Bogdanoff

One of the most important Florida Senate races is a rematch between Democratic state Sen. Maria Sachs and Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff who lost a bitter race to Sachs in 2012.

Much is at stake. If Bogdanoff wins she is expected to support state Sen. Jack Latvala in his bare knuckles brawl with Sen. Joe Negron to become the 2016 senate president. Plus, a Bogdanoff victory would give the Senate a veto proof edge that could make Florida's next governor - Republcian Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist - miserable.

Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley is hosting a fundraiser tonight for Bogdanoff as his West Palm Beach home.  

Senate district 34 includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

The invitation to tonight's fundraiser is below.


Foley bogdanoff



Florida begins redrawing congressional maps on Thursday as taxpayers foot the bill

After a Leon County Judge tossed out Florida's congressional map and ordered a new one by August 15, Florida legislators will trudge back to Tallahassee Thursday to do it over again. Florida taxpayers should feel a tad cranky about this.

So far, taxpayers have footed the bill for the original map - found to be a gerrymandered mess that violates Florida's constitution. Republican leaders decided to fight challenges to the map and that trial also is being paid for by the taxpayers.

Now, taxpayers will pay again to fix a map that Republican leaders - with the acquiesence of most Democratic legislators - created with little interest in what was best and fair for Florida voters.

On Sunday, House Speaker Will Weatherford sent an email to House members letting them know they may have to adjust their vacation plans.

Here's the email:

Continue reading "Florida begins redrawing congressional maps on Thursday as taxpayers foot the bill" »

Judge orders Florida to redraw congressional map by August 15

Hatchet135 copy
Well this is going to create quite a stir. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis today ordered the Florida Legislature to redraw congressional seats by August 15 followed by a special election.

This is certain to create uncertainty for Florida's congressional delegation. This order raises almost as many questions as it answers. If there is a special election in August does that mean winners will have to run again in November?

What will the Republican led Legislature do during this special session to avoid further court action? Will Governor Rick Scott weigh in? Will this be an issue in the already contentious governor's race?

Republicans may a mess of the congressional map in an effort to gain a political edge. It now appears to have been a costly and foolish mistake. Unfortunately, taxpayers will foot the bill for fixing it.

This story continues to develope.

 UPDATE: Excerpts from Lewis ruling -

"I agree the Legislature should redraw the map. Unless and until it becomes obvious that it cannot or will not do so, I will not consider other options."

"The Legislature's only obligation is to produce a constitutionally compliant map."

"To do nothing, when you could, means that you lessen the ability of many citizens to fairly elect a representative of their choice..."

"The State finds itself facing elections under an unlawful redistricting plan."

"The Legislature has shown. . . that it is capable of adopting and submitting a remedial map very quickly when time is of the essence."

It is Ordered:

"The Legislature shall submit a remedial or revised map no later than noon, on Aug. 15, 2014."

"The Secretary of State and Supervisors of Elections shall collaborate to present by noon, Aug. 15, 2014, a proposed special election schedule and comments or suggestions regarding the conduct of such an election, assuming a revised map will be in place no later than Aug. 21."

 "By noon Aug. 18, 2014, the parties shall submit objections, if any, to the revised map and/or election schedule."

"Oral argument, if appropriate, will be heard on objections to the map and/or proposed election schedule on August 20, at 9 a.m."

Read the entire ruling here:

Will Pam Bondi enforce shacking up law?

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she is fighting a lawsuit challenging the state's constitution ban on same-sex marriage. Bondi insists she is doing it because as Attorney General it is her job to protect us.

In a press release posted on her campaign website, Bondi says: "anything less than the best defense of our voters' policy preferences would disenfranchise the electorate, undermine the judicial process, and cast aside the professional responsibility that guides me every day as Attorney General."

Of course, this is nonsense. Attorneys General in other states have not pursued similar cases in light of a series of federal court decisions saying state bans of same sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution.

Bondi explains her position this way: “This case is not about which policy choice is better or worse. And this case is not about whether the debate should continue (which it surely will). This case is about whether states can make their own determinations."

Indeed. And Florida has made some interesting determinations.

You better not be living with someone of the opposite sex. It is against the law.

Yup. Florida is one of only three state that forbids a man and woman from living together. 

Continue reading "Will Pam Bondi enforce shacking up law?" »

A photo history of dropping the hanky at sine die

Note: Crowley Political Report first offered this to readers at the close of the 2013 Florida Legislature. With today being the last day of the 2014 session....we revisit the history of hank dropping.

Each year at the close of Florida's 60 day legislative session, the sergeants of each chamber go the Rotunda to drop a handkerchief signaling the end of the session. It doesn't always work out. There have been times when one chamber has left early, sometimes in a huff, which makes a mess of the hanky drop.

The whole thing got started when the Senate President and House Speaker had no other way to signal the end of the session. There was a time when the chambers did not face each other. That got remedied when the chambers were aligned. Then of course with the advent of phones the whole ceremony became simply symbolic. 

In one of these photos one might spot a young Ron Book looking on. And you will also see when one chamber sergeant dropped a tablecloth instead of a handkerchief. Is is also interesting to note that until fairly recently, spectators were not roped off.

Sine die 19551955 - House Sergeant-at-Arms Amos Davis dropping handkerchief.


Continue reading "A photo history of dropping the hanky at sine die" »

Tallahassee cops tracking cell phones without warrants ACLU protests



Thousands of lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and citizens are gathered in Tallahassee for the annual 60-day legislative session. Warning - you might want to turn off your cell phones.

Apparently, the Tallahassee Police Department has used a device called "stingray" that allows it to secretly track cell phones and "reveal their precise locations and information about all of the calls and text messages they send and receive," according to the ACLU.

There is an ongoing court case about Tallahassee cops using this technology that has been largely kept secret.

According to the ACLU:

 It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential.

The devices, likely made by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are called “stingrays,” and unfortunately this is not the first time the government has tried to hide their use.

Tallahassee police have secretly used this technology more than 200 times, according to ACLU.

A Wired story described it this way:

The shocking revelation came during an appeal over a 2008 sexual battery case in Tallahassee in which the suspect also stole the victim’s cellphone. Using the stingray — which simulates a cellphone tower in order to trick nearby mobile devices into connecting to it and revealing their location — police were able to track him to an apartment.

During recent proceedings in the case, authorities revealed that they had used the equipment at least 200 additional times since 2010 without disclosing this to courts and obtaining a warrant.

The ACLU nails it here:

Potentially unconstitutional government surveillance on this scale should not remain hidden from the public just because a private corporation desires secrecy. And it certainly should not be concealed from judges.

Unfortunately, it is appears that this technology is being used by other law enforcement agencies in Florida and elsewhere.

Read more from ACLU here.

Wonder if the Legislature cares.


Quinnipiac poll shows Marco Rubio well ahead of Jeb Bush

Look, the fact is that any poll on April 3, 2013 trying to tell you what voters are really thinking about 2016 is, well, silly.

Most voters don't give a flip about 2016. They don't care about 2014. But, what would a pollster do if pollster wasn't polling. Birds have wings, birds fly.

Supporters of Florida Senator Marco Rubio will point to the poll and note that he with a meager 19 percent support, he leads the field. Others will note that former Florida governor, Jeb Bush is at the bottom with a mere 10 percent.

This poll really tells us very little about the future. But it is fun to read anyway. Just keep in mind what Peter Brown of Quinnipiac writes:

“Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite.”

They sure don't. Nor should they.

Here's the Quinnipiac statement:

There is no front-runner now for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, leaving a five-way horse race with no candidate above 19 percent among Republican voters, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie, who ran better than other Republicans against top Democrats in a March 7 survey of all American voters by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, gets only 14 percent of Republican voters today.

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio gets 19 percent of Republican voters, with 17 percent for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 15 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 10 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.  Other contenders are at 3 percent or less.

The March 7 poll of all American voters, pitting Vice President Joseph Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo against Christie, Ryan or Rubio showed Christie was the second most popular leader, topping Biden and Cuomo but trailing Clinton.

“Three years before the nominating process, the Republicans have no clear favorite,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “Sen. Marco Rubio benefits from his exposure giving the GOP response to the State of the Union while Congressman Paul Ryan is known as the Republican vice presidential candidate.  But history tells us being the running-mate on a losing ticket does not help one’s presidential chances. The last three Republicans in that spot were Sarah Palin, Jack Kemp and Dan Quayle, while the Democrats in that role were John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Lloyd Bentsen.”

Republican voters say 59 – 23 percent that they prefer someone with experience as a governor, rather than a senator as their party’s nominee.

Continue reading "Quinnipiac poll shows Marco Rubio well ahead of Jeb Bush" »

Who not to tick off in Tallahassee

Press corps skits one
Many of them have been in Florida's Capital for decades. They have seen it all.  They have a reputation as one of the toughest groups in the nation. And they are not to be fooled with or you will really tick them off.

Florida's Capital Press Corps is about to embark on another legislative session. It is a considerably smaller group than it once was. News organizations have sharply cut back and much talent has been lost.

But for those of you who dismiss the "Mainstream Media," you do so at your peril. No one looks deeper, works harder, knows more, and has more impact in Tallahassee than the Capital Press Corps.


Many of the "leaders" in Tallahassee learn this the hard way. No one has had a tougher lesson than Gov. Rick Scott who stormed the Capital two years ago with a haughty attitude toward the press corps that created a lasting anmosity. He is still paying the price.

Consider this - some of the reporters have been in Tallahassee since Bob Graham was governor. Many can name the last 10 House Speakers and Senate Presidents. 

They know how long Wayne Mixson was governor (look it up).

Of course no one is perfect. The press corps will spend the next 60 days telling readers and viewers about every tiny step in passing the state budget. After all is said and done, they will spend almost no time during the next 10 months actually following how the money is spent.

Sometimes you get the feeling that they have been in Tallahassee too long and need to spend a couple of months back at their home newspapers to get a better feel for their readers. They might learn that no one cares that the deputy assistant to the assistant deputy has been transferred from the who-cares Senate Committee to the who-cares House Committee.

But that is nitpicking. When it matters, there is no tougher group of reporters. They carry on a long tradition that dates back to the 1970s when reporters like Bob Shaw, Virginia Ellis, John Van Gieson, Barbara Frye, Bill Mansfield, and others raised hell.

Who do you think are the best reporters in Tallahassee today?

Bonus points if you can name reporters in photo above.

  Press corps

Florida House stalls Right to Speak bill

Crowley Political Report will be the first to admit - it is a shame that legislation like this is necessary in the Sunshine State. 

Dark clouds hover over any number of public meetings where officials find the idea of allowing the public to speak to them a terrible inconvenience. 

On behalf of the public, Crowley Political Report apologizes. We would suggest, however,  that if allowing the public to speak to you is bothersome, it may be time for you to return full time to the private sector.

Now let's be frank, most government bodies allow folks to speak at their meetings. But from time-to-time, citizens are blocked from exercising what Crowley Political Report foolishly thought was an already a well established right in those documents called the U.S. Constitution and Florida Constitution.

Apparently not. So state Sen. Joe Negron offered up Senate Bill 206, that would put into Florida law the right for people to speak before boards and commissions subject to the Sunshine Law.

The Senate wisely passed this bill - unanimously. Thank you, Sen. Negron.

Now, the legislation sits in the House. The clock is ticking. We are a day away from the end of the 60-day legislative session.

House Speaker Dean Cannon can fix this. He needs to get SB 206 to the floor. And he needs to encourage his members to pass it. He owes it to every Floridian who deserves the right to be heard by their government.


Florida Republican says lets have firing squads - or toss them off a bridge

Sometimes Crowley Political Report worries that Florida is becoming the nation's largest lunatic-fringe state. Now, we have a Republican legislator who is introducing legislation to use firing squads to execute death row inmates.

This story was first reported by The Florida Current and you should click on over and give it a read.

State Rep. Brad Drake of Eucheeanna is frustrated with legal maneuvers over lethal injection. So Drake would like to replace lethal injections with firing squads of electrocution. Somebody is going to have to find Old Sparky.

"There shouldn't be anything controversial about a .45-caliber bullet. If it were up to me we would just throw them off the Sunshine Skyway bridge and be done with it," Drake told The Current.

Crowley Political Report would like to congratulate the voters of Brad Drake's district - you should be proud.

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Ted Deutch uses Rick Scott as a foil to raise money

Ted Deutch wants his fellow Democrats to worry that he might be screwed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

In an email to potential donors, the South Florida congressman says:

Governor Rick Scott and his allies control the entire process for drawing new congressional districts, and Democrats without strong support will quickly find themselves targets. We cannot let this happen.

This is a decisive moment for my re-election campaign. You have an opportunity to send a loud and clear message to Florida Governor Rick Scott that I have strong, loyal, and generous supporters who will stand with me in my re-election and in the battles we’ll wage together. Now is when I need you.

Well this is certainly an interesting fundraising ploy.  While Scott has no legal role in the reshaping of state legislative districts he does have veto power over congressional redistricting. But does anyone really believe that GOP lawmakers are going to give Deutch a break because he raises a lot of money?


The best thing going for Deutch is that the GOP will probably be happy to give him as many Democrats as they can squeeze into his  Palm Beach/Broward district to help protect Republican districts.

But now that Deutch has targeted Scott and the Republicans - maybe the GOP will try to make Deutch's life miserable.

Follow us on Twitter @crowleyreport

Art by West Palm Beach artist Patrick Crowley

Florida legislature can't decide 2012 presidential primary date

Apparently too busy to worry about little things like the date for next year's presidential primary - Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon wants to create a 10-person committee to figure it all out.

Really. A 10-person committee. Apparently the 120 members of the House and the 40 members of the Senate are not capable of handling this chore.

The question is really a simple one - Should Florida move the primary to March to comply with Republican National Committee rules or leave the primary on Jan 31, as now required by state law?New hampshire

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada always have a hissy fit if any state crowds their calendar.  This argument has nothing to do with politics - it is all about the economy. The political tourism economy in the four self-annointed presidential king making states.

The threat to Florida is that the state will lose delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention which is to be held in Tampa.

This is really no threat at all. The GOP nominee will not go out of his/her way to alienate a state that will be vital to their chance of winning the White House.

There really is nothing at stake here for Florida. And even less reason for Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos to call for a committee.

Let the other states sort it out for themselves.



Florida's longest war - merit pay for teachers

LeRoy Collins 
The late LeRoy Collins (pictured above) is considered by many to be one of Florida's finest governors. He became governor in Jan. 1955 and left office in Jan. 1961.

One of his ideas while governor was to push for a merit pay plan for teachers complete with methods to determine the quality of teachers.

The issue of merit pay, teacher testing, teacher evaluations and all the other stuff that the folks in Tallahassee today think they just discovered is very old news.

In fact, after doing a little research Crowley Political Report, found that merit pay issues have been pushed by one governor or another since at least 1957.

Continue reading "Florida's longest war - merit pay for teachers" »

Rick Scott "Gosh this is great"

Rscott079 Even on the screen you could sense Gov. Rick Scott's excitement - and perhaps a hint of "I can't believe I'm here" as he gave his first State-of-the-State address before a joint session of the Florida Legislature.

"Gosh this is great" gushed Scott as he stood at the podium.

His speech was largely an extension of his campaign speech and predictably ended with his campaign tagline "let's get to work."

But he did have some rhetorical flourishes - "We build magic kingdoms. We launch ships that fly to the moon. Florida can be the state where the American dream continues to be a reality."

Some noted in their tweets during the speech that building magic kingdoms and launching ships to the moon also required heavy government spending. 

Continue reading "Rick Scott "Gosh this is great"" »

Barney Bishop and the Rick Scott love affair


Love is sometimes a fickle thing.

It was only last July when Barney Bishop of Associated Industries was so love torn that he could not decide whom he loved more - Rick Scott or Bill McCollum.

So in his own version of Big Love, Bishop joined hands with both men and endorsed each to be the GOP nominee for governor. Not exactly a profile-in-courge but a good way to hedge your bets.

Bishop has been in a swoon since Scott was elected Florida's 45th governor. And Scott has dazzled Bishop with a bouquet of promises including eliminating the corporate business tax, tossing out business regulations, eviscerating the Department of Community Affairs, and reducing the overall size of government.

Bishop is all but giddy.

Continue reading "Barney Bishop and the Rick Scott love affair" »

Can Rick Scott succeed with the Florida Legislature?


Florida's Gov. Rick Scott begins his first real test as a political leader when the gavels drop today to mark the start of the 60-day legislative session.

Much of what Scott and his fellow Republican leaders want to do in the House and Senate is highly controversial and devisive.

This may make them feel special - look at us we're taking on the big issues.

Well not really. There are often big issues and taking them on, for better or worse, is nothing new.

Continue reading "Can Rick Scott succeed with the Florida Legislature?" »

Is Rick Scott likely to win Supreme Court decision on High Speed Rail?

Crowley Political Report
has not sat in on a major Florida Supreme Court hearing since 2000 when there was a little squabble between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

And it is always dicey to interpret judicial intention from the questions justices ask and their body language - especially while watching on live web feed.

Still, when the justices issue their opinion today in the High Speed Rail case, it would be a surpise if they did not side with Gov. Rick Scott.

The justices appeared to struggle with the notion that Scott had violated the constitutional seperation-of-powers when he told the Obama administration that he did not want $2.4 billion pegged to building a high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.

Scott thinks the whole project is folly and a waste of money. The folks in Tampa, Orlando and the burgs in between disagree.

Continue reading "Is Rick Scott likely to win Supreme Court decision on High Speed Rail?" »

Did Rick Scott illegally sell the state's planes?

Florida Tribune's Gary Fineout has obtained emails showing that Gov. Rick Scott's own staff questioned whether he had the legal right to sell the state's two airplanes.

Scott’s own staff in the Office of Policy and Budget prepared outlines and documents that said that the sale of the planes needed to be signed off by the Legislature, including possibly requiring that the sale had to be approved by the Legislative Budget Commission,  writes Fineout.

And then Fineout reports this exchange (Alexander is J.D. Alexander, chairman of the Senate budget committee):

When asked about the e-mails, a spokesman for the governor repeated that the transaction had been reviewed by legal staff. But he also questioned whether lawmakers would have gotten rid of the planes on their own.

“If the Legislature were in charge of selling the state airplane, it would still be on the tarmac costing taxpayers $2.4 million a year,’’ said Brian Burgess.

Alexander took issue with the statement, saying that he tried to sell the planes and bid out the service, but that his actions were blocked by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

“It seems like they are trying to pick a fight with the Legislature or it’s sheer arrogance or maybe both,’’ Alexander said. “I can’t figure out what it is.”

You can't help but get the feeling that the governor's office considers the Florida Legislature a mere inconvience to doing the thing the intent on doing anyway.

Read Fineout's story.

A bad morning for Haridopolos but a great paycheck

Haridopolos BCC There is so much wrong with this that it is hard to believe that there is any possible good explanation.

Brendan Farrington of the AP Tallahassee bureau does a great job reporting on a very odd deal between Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Brevard Community College.

In brief, Haridopolos got paid $152,000 to write a book titled Florida Legislative History and Processes.

Farrington writes that the book is light on content, has errors and - are you ready for this - there is exactly one copy.

One copy.

Really. $152,000 for one copy.  Maybe he signed it.

None of this bodes well for Haridopolos who has just launched his campaign to be the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate.  You can already start writing the ad.

And of course, it makes Brevard Community College look like a bunch of idiots - at best.

Read Farrington's story here.