Saturday, January 19, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST January 19, 2008

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Is your State Senator a Co-sponsor of the Anti-Discrimination Bill?

January 18, 2008

Dear activists and allies,

State Senators Dave Aronberg and Nan Rich have joined Senator Ted Deutch insponsoring legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing andpublic accommodations based on sexual orientation.

If your State Senator has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor, please contactyour legislator's office and ask if your State Senator will sign on as aco-sponsor to S. 572 today.

To access the membership roster for the Florida Senate, go to:

Links from that page that will take you to the web pages of each StateSenator, where you will find contact information.

Thank you.

Judge Rand Hoch (retired),
Palm Beach County Human Rights Council

P.S. If you have not yet read Working in the Shadows (an ACLU report onending discrimination for GLBT Americans), you can access a copy from QuickLinks. -

For further information contact:
Rand Hoch
(561) 804-9399 (office)
(561) 358-0105 (mobile)

Senator Ted Deutch
(561) 496-5939


St. Petersburg Times

Democrats' votes may not count, but do matter

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published January 19, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- First the presidential candidates decide to blow off morethan 4-million Florida Democrats. Now, it seems the national media may aswell.

"Does Florida count? Not on the Democratic side. Period," said NBC Newspolitical director Chuck Todd, a Miami native. "It's a meaningless contestwhere no one's really contesting, no one's campaigning. I'm trying to getpeople not to use the word 'win' because there is nothing to win."

Meaningless? The votes of more than a million Democrats in America's biggestbattleground state won't matter?

"The national press tends to give contests importance based on what thecandidates deem important, so my guess is that the Florida Democraticresults will be given about the same weight as Wyoming's Republicancaucuses," said Rick Klein, ABC News' senior political reporter.

In other words, the national media will pretty much ignore Florida'sDemocratic primary.

There are about 136,000 registered Republicans in Wyoming, by the way,compared to 4.1-million registered Democrats in Florida. But Wyoming stillhad 12 delegates at stake when it voted Jan. 5, while Florida Democrats havezip, punishment for holding a primary earlier than allowed under nationalparty rules.

more . . . . .


St. Petersburg Times

Allstate back in business
Judges say the state, which wants more information on rate hikes, can't banthe insurer.

By TOM ZUCCO, Times Staff Writer
Published January 19, 2008

Allstate's journey into Florida insurance regulation purgatory lasted all ofone day.

A three-judge appellate panel on Friday overturned an order by stateInsurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty banning Allstate Corp. from selling newpolicies in any line of insurance in the state. Regulators say Allstate hasrefused to comply with subpoenas seeking documents that explain why theIllinois-based insurer wants to raise homeowners rates in defiance of astate law passed last year.

Without issuing an opinion, 1st District Court of Appeal Judges Edward T.Barfield, Michael E. Allen and James R. Wolf ruled that Allstate couldresume normal business immediately.

A spokesman for McCarty's office said regulators are drafting a responsedetailing why Allstate's license should be suspended and would file thebrief within the court's 10-day limit. Regulators also have the option ofimposing a one-time fine of up to $25,000 on the nation's largest publiclytraded home and auto insurer. Separately, Allstate has been fined $25,000 aday since September for refusing to comply with similar subpoenas inMissouri, but it has yet to pay the fine.

Gov. Charlie Crist, one of the industry's most ardent critics, said Fridaythat he was disappointed by the court's action.

more . . . . .


Florida Times-Union

Obama, Huckabee on top in Northeast Florida

The Times-Union
January 18, 2008

Northeast Florida is bucking trends in a new state poll, with likely votershere favoring Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama, while their statewidecounterparts are leaning toward John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

The poll commissioned by The Florida Times-Union and South FloridaSun-Sentinel also shows that Democrats are more certain of their choices andRepublicans more likely to switch candidates before the state's Jan. 29primary.

Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that the top issue in the campaign isthe economy and jobs, but Republicans followed with immigration and the Iraqwar, while Democrats chose health care and the war in Iraq.

McCain led Republican candidates overall at 26 percent, although RudyGiuliani is close behind at 22 percent. Huckabee was third at 17 percent andMitt Romney fourth at 16 percent.

GOP voters in Northeast Florida preferred Huckabee, who led with 30 percent,followed by McCain at 25 percent, Romney at 14 percent and Giuliani at 11percent.

more . . . . .



Payoff or bust? Miami-Dade vote on slot machines may affect South FloridaMiami-Dade vote may affect region

By Mike Clary
January 19, 2008


When Miami-Dade voters go to the polls Jan. 29 to make a decision on slotmachines, the immediate upshot will be the future of three strugglingpari-mutuel operations in dire need of customers, revenue and makeovers.

But larger questions that could be answered are whether residents are readyto follow Broward County's lead, expand local wagering opportunities andpotentially propel South Florida toward becoming a gambling destination thatcould one day rival Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Sound far-fetched?

Not to Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, D-Cooper City.

"People from up north might not say, 'Let's fly down to Calder Race Track toplay slots,'" said Geller. "But if we have seven pari-mutuels and threeIndian casinos, then the area becomes a tourist destination."

more . . . . .


Palm Beach Post

Avoid absentee problems by going to the polls

Palm Beach Post Editorial
Saturday, January 19, 2008

Absentee voting is not a requirement. Voters who are able should go to thepolls. They won't have to worry about how many stamps go on the envelope.They won't have to worry about making mistakes that void their ballots.

But because going to the polls requires trust of voting systems, politicalparties urge their voters to cast a ballot from home. They don't tell votersthat more absentee ballots are disqualified than ballots cast on electronicmachines. That's because there are more ways to screw up an absentee ballot,and voters are notorious for finding them.

Most recently it's postage. Even though the envelopes are marked "additionalpostage required," some voters couldn't figure out that it takes more than41 cents to mail a large envelope. No problem. The Postal Service guaranteeddelivery, if taxpayers made up the difference. Taxpayers don't pay forgasoline to get voters to the polls. So it makes little sense for them topay for postage to help voters vote from home.

But they did, until Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections ArthurAnderson put a new sticker on every absentee ballot citing the exactpostage: 91 cents for a one-page ballot; $1.14 to mail two pages.

While absentee voters have no excuses for messing up the postage, they stillmake mistakes that disqualify their votes. They don't sign their ballots,which automatically disqualifies them. Or their signature differs so muchfrom their voting registration card that it can't be verified. Absenteevoters need to periodically update their signature at the elections office.

more . . . . .


Miami Herald

Labor pains: Florida unemployment at 3-year high

Posted on Sat, Jan. 19, 2008

Florida's unemployment rate hit its highest level in more than three years,according to employment data released Friday, although South Florida joblessrates continue to fare much better than the state.

State unemployment was 4.7 percent in December, continuing to creep closerto the national average of 5 percent. Miami-Dade County's jobless rate was3.9 percent, and Broward County, 4 percent.

Many workers say they're feeling gloomy. Spherion's employee confidenceindex hit an all-time low among employees in Florida -- with people sayingthat while they felt more pessimistic than ever about the economy and jobsearching, more also said they would be looking for work.

Take 24-year-old Hollywood resident Sandra Charite, who has been out of ajob since September.

''It's just very selective. There are certain criteria they're looking forand if you don't fit, you don't get it,'' said Charite, a 2004 FloridaAtlantic University graduate who has so far only found administrativeassistant jobs.

more . . . . .


Palm Beach Post

FPL seeks flat fee on carbon

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2008

CORAL GABLES - The last thing Florida Power & Light Co. wants to tellutility regulators when it comes to how much the cost of carbon emissionswill play into building another power plant is this: "We hope the marketsets a good price."

Christopher Chapel, the company's director of governmental affairs, saidFriday that's why FPL and its parent, FPL Group Inc. (NYSE, FPL, $63.70) ofJuno Beach, would rather see the United States place a flat fee on carbonemissions instead of putting together a cap-and-trade system to try to lowergreenhouse gases.

Chapel spoke during the concluding panel presentation at a conference calledEmerging Opportunities in Carbon Markets, hosted by Environmental Finance, amonthly magazine that covers how environmental issues have impactedinvesting, insurance and banking. The two-day conference was held at theWestin Colonnade.

FPL is pushing for the United States to place a $10 per-ton fee on carbonand then gradually raise that amount by roughly $2 each year.

FPL Group is a member of the United States Climate Action Partnership, agroup of 35 corporations and clean-energy advocates that supports acap-and-trade system, but Chapel said that can be designed to mimic acarbon-fee system.

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