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‘Nullifers’ revolt creates tea party divide

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A group of tea party organizations is apologizing for what they called “disrespectful and inappropriate behavior by some conservative activists at a Senate committee meeting earlier this week.

Leaders of more than a dozen Florida-based tea party groups – including Palm Beach County Tea Party’s Pam Wohlschlegel – signed off on a letter sent the apology to senators today while asking lawmakers not to create a state-based health insurance exchange. That was the issue that drove dozens of tea partiers led by lawyer KrisAnne Hall, who later got into it with Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. Hall and others were demanding the state “nullify” the federal health care act, upheld this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our compatriots were responding from an over-abundance of passion for freedom. They were spontaneously trying to participate in a process that has been frustrating and opaque for years and their response was not pre-meditated and not intended to interfere in your process,” the leaders wrote today. “However, speaking over a sitting Senator who is using his allotted time to represent his constituents is unacceptable. We cannot allow basic rules of civil conduct to be violated and we will endeavor to ask our fellow patriots to respect the process in ways we ask to be respected as well. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts to protect the natural rights of Floridians protected by the Florida and U.S. constitution to life, liberty and property.”

Some of the tea partiers at the Senate committee’s Monday meeting interrupted and booed Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. Smith pointed out that the U.S. Constitution is an “imperfect document” that had to be amended to do away with slavery.

Gaetz further angered Hall with a history lesson about Andrew Jackson that included a reference about shooting and hanging Civil War-era “nullifiers” that launched an Internet firestorm.

Oral arguments set in federal health care lawsuit

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has set June 8 for oral arguments in the the federal health care lawsuit but denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s request for a full court hearing.

The fast-tracked lawsuit by 26 states, including Florida, and the National Federal of Independent Businesses is ultimately headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are pleased that the 11th Circuit scheduled oral argument this June, so we can resolve this case and protect Americans’ individual liberties,” Bondi said in a statement. “This case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a case of such national importance should have no delay.”

Pensacola U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in January ruled the health overhaul unconstitutional, saying the U.S. Commerce Clause did not allow the federal government to require every citizen to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Doing so would give the federal government such sweeping powers that it could force its citizens to eat broccoli, he contended.

Vinson, who is based in Pensacola, declared the entire health act invalid.

Earlier this month Vinson put a stay on his ruling while the appeals proceed – meaning the health act could continue to be implemented – but gave the White House a week to appeal. President Obama’s administration filed the appeal on March 9.

Bondi asks for full court hearing in federal health care lawsuit

Friday, March 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Pam Bondi wants a full-court review of the President Obama administration’s appeal in the federal health care lawsuit.

Bondi filed a motion with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta seeking an en banc hearing, meaning the appellate review would be held before all 10 federal judges.

The reason for her request, Bondi said in a press release, “is to avoid any unnecessary delays that may arise if a three-judge panel decides the case and then refers it for a hearing by the full 11th Circuit.”

If the court agrees to her request, the case would be heard on June 6, according to Bondi.

“This case is so significant to all Americans that it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible,” she said in the release. “If granted, the petition would allow a faster track to the Supreme Court.”

Scott budget plan rolls back corporate biz tax, cuts property taxes $1 billion

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott’s budget plan includes a tax cut for businesses that would decrease corporate income taxes from 5.5 percent to 3 percent and roll back property taxes by $1 billion, the governor said in Tampa this afternoon.

Scott did not reveal details of how he plans to come up with the savings while also closing a $3.62 billion budget deficit but is scheduled to release his entire budget on Monday in Eustis.

Scott’s also blaming Florida’s budget woes in part on the federal health care law recently struck down by a Pensacola federal judge as unconstitutional.

Scott calls halt to federal health care law implementation

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s fought against federal health care reform since its inception, said today Florida won’t begin implementation of the federal health care law ruled unconstitutional by a judge yesterday.

“We are not going to spend a lot of time and money with regard to trying to get ready to implement that until we know exactly what is going to happen,” Scott told reporters this morning. “I hope and I believe that either it will be declared unconstitutional or it will be repealed.”

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled yesterday that critical components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional. The Department of Justice indicated it would file an appeal and ask the judge to issue a stay on his order.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who picked up the challenge after her predecessor Bill McCollum initiated the lawsuit, said she and the 25 other states who’ve joined Florida’s lawsuit are trying to decide whether to by-pass the appellate court and seek resolution directly from the Supreme Court, which both sides agree will ultimately rule on the law.

Scott said he is not concerned about whether a delay in implementing the law in Florida could create problems if the Supreme Court upholds it.

Scott said state officials “will have enough time” to implement the measure before the 2014 deadline.

“The state won’t be caught flat footed,” Scott said. “We’ll be ready.”

Six more states join FL health care lawsuit against feds

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Six more states have joined Florida’s legal challenge to the federal health care law now awaiting a Pensacola federal judge’s preliminary ruling.

Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine are now among the 26 states, including Florida, challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law. Virginia has filed a separate lawsuit and Oklahoma is considering its own as well.

Attorney General Pam Bondi filed the papers in Pensacola to add the six states to the lawsuit initiated by her predecessor Bill McCollum.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are debating a bill that would repeal the law. That measure is expected to go nowhere in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats still have the upper hand.

Lawson: Florida GOP leaders ‘psychologically intoxicated’ over health care reform

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Bill McCollum’s lawsuit against Democrat-controlled Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration has sparked a political feud not only in the nation’s Capitol but in the state’s as well.

Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson took offense at Senate President Jeff Atwater’s congratulatory press release lauding McCollum’s legal disparaging of the president’s health care reform.

The president’s office issued an unusually partisan release entitled “Florida Senate Leaders Support AG McCollum’s Legal Challenge to Unprecedented and Unconstitutional Government Health Care Scheme.”

The GOP leaders are “like little boys who are playing marbles and the ones who lost went home,” Lawson, D-Tallahassee said.

(more…)

Greer defends threat of “forced, taxpayer-funded abortions”

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by Dara Kam

RPOF Chairman Jim Greer stood by his assertion that President Barack Obama’s health care reforms could lead to “forced, taxpayer-funded abortions.”

Greer held a roundtable with reporters at GOP headquarters this morning, covering a range of issues including the hijinks at town hall meetings throughout the country, including one in Tampa that erupted in physical violence.

Opponents of Obama’s health care package claim that the changes would create “death panels” that would pull the plug on Grandma to save government spending.

“I don’t like the term death panels,” Greer said.

But, he added, “I do believe that trying to pass legislation such as this will provide opportunity for certain types of medical procedures that in some cases Americans would not be aware of or in most cases Americans would not want taxpayer funds to help facilitate.”

The chairman was apparently referring to abortions. Greer yesterday circulated a memo questioning the health care bill and whether it would “work to systematically ‘increase birth intervals between pregnancies,’ opening the very real probability of forced, tax-payer funded abortions.”

He stood by his characterization of the bill this morning.

“If the procedure is financed by taxpayer funds, then in fact the word forced or mandated would be appropriate,” Greer said.

The portion of the bill Greer refers to deals with home visitation services.

The full text follows:

“The term ‘nurse home visitation services’ means home visits by trained nurses to families with a first-time pregnant woman, or a child (under 2 years of age), who is eligible for medical assistance under this title, but only, to the extent determined by the Secretary based upon evidence, that such services are effective in one or more of the following:
(1) Improving maternal or child health and pregnancy outcomes or increasing birth intervals between pregnancies.”

Greer decried the outbursts at town hall meetings but blamed Democrats for spinning the events and not being able to answer questions about the health care bill.

(more…)

Politicians, activists react to Martinez’s resignation

Friday, August 7th, 2009 by Palm Beach Post Staff

People in Florida and national politics reacted today to reports of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s impending resignation:

“Mel Martinez’s life is a testament to the boundless promise that exists in America, where a young Cuban exile can come to the United States without his parents and rise to become a Cabinet secretary and U.S. senator. As he looks ahead towards the next phase of his life, I wish him and his family all the best.
“As Governor Crist considers who he will appoint as Florida’s next U.S. senator, I urge him to take great care in his selection. Florida deserves an interim senator who will go to Washington and serve as a true check on President Obama’s push for more wasteful government spending, government-run health care and cap-and-trade. The last thing Florida needs is a U.S. senator that will stand with President Obama instead of challenging the wrong direction he is leading our country and offering constructive conservative solutions moving forward.”
— Republican former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat

“Senator Mel Martinez made history when he was elected to the U.S. Senate and I wish him only the best in his future endeavors. It is fitting that one of Senator Martinezs final votes was to confirm a history-making Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor and I am so pleased that he cast this vote one that I wholeheartedly support.”
— Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat

“Mel has been a good Senate colleague of mine, as well as a personal friend. He also has been a dedicated public servant for Florida. I look forward to our continued friendship — and to having the same bipartisan working relationship with his successor.”
— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

“I have a great deal of respect for my good friend Mel Martinez. I know this decision was a difficult one for him, but I think he is doing what he believes is right for him and his family. We will immediately begin the process of selecting an appropriate replacement to serve the remainder of Senator Martinez’s term and I look forward to making an announcement in the coming weeks.”
— Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican candidate for Martinez’s U.S. Senate seat
(more…)

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