Tuesday, October 02, 2007

FLORIDA DIGEST October 2, 2007

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Language barrier: Wording change would doom tax plan

Michael Mayo
News Columnist
October 2, 2007

Why would state leaders go to the trouble of appealing a court ruling thatkilled the Jan. 29 vote on a new property tax exemption system, instead ofsimply fixing the flawed language that triggered the lawsuit?

"Pure politics," said Eric Hersh, the mayor of Weston who brought the suitas a private citizen. "They know this will never pass if they have to put in[the ballot summary] that this would end Save Our Homes. It's much easierfor them to lose in court and then blame me for voters not getting thechance to vote."

The theory makes sense. The Legislature could easily put the initiative backon track by revising the ballot summary at its special session that startsWednesday.

But leaders might smell defeat. The Jan. 29 vote needs 60 percent approvalto pass, and recent polls show support dipping below 50 percent.

They probably figure it's better to roll out the usual scapegoats - anactivist judge, an obstructionist South Florida mayor - than to have afailed referendum put at their feet.

"If they were being honest with people, then they'd just clarify thelanguage," Hersh said. "But they haven't been up front about this since dayone."

Hersh does not have a problem with letting Florida voters decide the fate ofthe so-called Supersized Exemption initiative. It would create a slidingscale of tax exemptions on Floridians' primary homes between $50,000 and$195,000.

But Hersh does have a problem with the ballot summary language, which hecalled "disingenuous." A Tallahassee-based judge sided with Hersh last week,scuttling the Jan. 29 vote that could have changed Florida's constitution.




No-fault insurance expires, but some advise sitting tight

By Harriet Johnson Brackey
October 2, 2007

You don't have to change anything on your auto insurance, now that personalinjury protection is no longer mandatory in Florida. But should you?

South Florida's insurance agents were dealing with that question fromconsumers Monday, as the state's no- fault insurance system expired. Nolonger are Florida drivers required to have $10,000 in personal injuryprotection on their auto coverage.

The discussion grew even more confusing when Gov. Charlie Crist announcedMonday morning that he would put a reconsideration of PIP on the agenda forthe Florida Legislature's special session, which begins Wednesday. Thatmeans the law, now expired, could be resurrected.

"I don't want to tell clients to drop coverage and then change it back,"said Paul Mack, president of The Mack Insurance Group in Deerfield Beach. "Ithink people should sit tight at the moment."


Pensacola News Journal


After budget cuts are done, what will be next in Capitol?

Wednesday's special session of the Legislature to find more than a billiondollars in budgets cuts will focus closely on the numbers, as it has to.

And, of course, because two-thirds of the money is in education and healthcare - especially Medicaid - that's where cuts will come from.

But for legislators it will raise other questions they will have to thinkabout later.

For instance:

Is the sales tax the best way to fund state government? For Florida it isthe single-biggest source of revenue.

It's not an easy question.

The state has been buffeted by the ups and downs of the sales tax. After thehurricanes, the rise in sales tax revenue spawned by rebuilding provided asharp rise in tax collections that helped paper over the rising cost ofinsurance.



South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com


Charging to use roads? Here's my two cents

Ralph De La Cruz
Lifestyle Columnist
October 2, 2007

How long before we have to pay to walk out of our homes?

It'd be a staggered pay schedule: 50 cents in off-peak hours between 10 p.m.and 6 a.m. Five dollars for the prime walking-out-the-door time from 6 to 9a.m. And a buck-and-a-half the rest of the day.

Far-fetched, you say?

A decade ago, I would have said the same about the sell-off of ourinfrastructure, particularly our roads.

And yet, here we are hurtling toward the privatization of major parts of ourstate's road system.

They're talking about toll lanes for 595 west of State Road 7, and I-95between Miami and Fort Lauderdale - so-called "Lexus lanes" because thosewill be the folks able to afford up to $5 per trip.

And that's just the tip of the transponder.

Gov. Charlie Crist wants to privatize the Beachline Expressway in Orlandoand Alligator Alley. Even Tampa Bay's iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

What next?



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