Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FLORIDA DIGEST - March 25, 2009

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Hurrah! Antidiscrimination Repeal Fails in Gainesville
Gainesville's Amendment 1 - which, if passed, would have repealed a number of antidiscrimination protections for LGBT residents in the college town - failed at the polls Tuesday. With the majority of precincts reporting, results have the amendment failing with 61% voting no and 39% voting yes. The repeal movement began last year after the city commission revised the antidiscrimination law to include protections for transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations -- including restrooms. Opponents using scare tactics about mixed-sex public bathrooms gathered enough signatures to place a referendum of the protections on the ballot. Charter Amendment 1 would have eliminated not only transgender protections but also protections for gays and lesbians in the North Florida city. It would also forbid the city to add protected categories that are not included in the Florida Civil Rights Act, which does not recognize sexual orientation and gender identity.

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-Gainesville voters keep anti-discrimination laws
The Associated Press
Voters have turned down a measure that could have stripped Gainesville government's anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the vote from Tuesday's referendum was 58 percent against changing the law.,0,2985175.story

Palm Beach Human Rights Council
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-Record Number Sponsor Florida Gay Rights Bills
(Tallahassee) Forty Florida legislators are working to enact a statewide law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. At the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, state senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) and state representative Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) have introduced legislation (SB 2012/HB 397) to expand the protected classes in both the Florida Civil Rights Act and Florida's Fair Housing Act. he Council is a non-profit organization that has been in the forefront of Florida's gay rights movement since 1988. "For the first time in history, 25 percent of our state lawmakers are on record supporting legislation to ensure that gay, lesbian and transgender individuals have the same rights as all other Floridians," said Council president Rand Hoch. [...] More than 90% of the Fortune 500 companies have written policies prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and a quarter of them also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Joining Deutch as co-sponsors of the civil rights bill are state senators Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach), Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa), Charlie Justice (D-St. Petersbeurg), Nan Rich (D-Weston), Jeremy Ring (D-Margate), Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) and Eleanor Sobel (D-Hallandale Beach). The thirty co-sponsors of Skidmore's bill include Representatives Joseph Abruzzo (D-Wellington), Mary Brandenburg (D-West Palm Beach), Ronald Brisé (D-North Miami), Dwight Bullard (D-Miami), Chuck Chestnut (D-Gainesville), Gwyn Clarke-Reed (D-Deerfield Beach), Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota), Luis Garcia (D-Miami Beach), Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach), Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville), Bill Heller (D-St. Petersburg) Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach), Marty Kiar (D-Davie), Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg), Janet Long (D-Seminole), Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach), Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), Kevin Rader (D-Delray Beach), Scott Randolph (D-Orlando), Betty Reed (D-Tampa), Michelle Rehnwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee), Yolly Roberson (D-Miami), Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach), Franklin Sands (D-Weston), Ron Saunders (D-Key West), Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood), Darren Soto (D-Orlando), Richard Steinberg (D-Miami Beach), Priscilla Taylor (D-West Palm Beach) and Jim Waldman (D-Coconut Creek).


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-No guaranteed raises for Broward teachers
By Kathy Bushouse and Robert Nolin
Shortly after a rally by 1,000 angry teachers, Broward School Board members Tuesday night rejected guaranteed raises for the upcoming school year. Several board members, however, said they would be willing to talk raises soon. Board members voted 8-1 in favor of Superintendent James Notter's recommendation that the board not approve raises for the 2009-2010 year. Board member Phyllis Hope voted against it.,0,6358034.story

Miami Herald
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-Broward commissioners agree to oppose Seminole gaming pact
Broward commissioners agreed Tuesday to oppose the Seminole Tribe's efforts to negotiate a gambling compact with Florida -- unless Broward gets a cut of a proposed revenue sharing pact. At the same time, they agreed to adopt new procedures suggested by the county auditor to ensure Broward is getting its accurate share of slot machine profits from local racetracks. Broward Administrator Bertha Henry suggested commissioners oppose the revenue sharing proposal for Seminole casinos submitted to Gov. Charlie Crist's office by Coconut Creek City Manager David J. Rivera.

-Bill strengthening Florida auto emissions rules unlikely to pass
A bill to toughen emission standards gathered steam in the Senate, but is going nowhere in the House.
As Gov. Charlie Crist savored one victory Tuesday in his goal of revamping Florida's energy policy, he also suffered a major defeat. In the Senate, the Environmental Preservation Committee unanimously passed a bill to require Florida cars to meet tougher greenhouse gas emission standards beginning in 2011, steamrolling a lineup of opponents from the state's business and automobile lobbyists in the process.

Fort Report
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-CFO Alex Sink's recent moves make gubernatorial run look likely
By Adam C. Smith
Most of the political world in Tallahassee is convinced Charlie Crist will give up his governor's seat to run for the U.S. Senate, so what about Alex Sink?

-Legislature may reject $1.1 billion in stimulus funds
Gary Fineout
Florida may forfeit more than $1.1 billion in federal stimulus aid unless the GOP-controlled Legislature agrees to increase the number of out-of-work people eligible for help.

-Obama shoots back and scores
With a sharp retort about AIG, the president was on his game with the press, weaving through questions and driving home his economic plan.
By Mike Madden
The defining moment in President Obama's prime-time news conference Tuesday night came about midway through. Nearly all the questions up to then had dealt with the ragged economy and the administration's plans to turn it around. So when a reporter asked Obama -- who, as you may have heard, is the nation's first black president -- to talk about how race has affected the first couple months of his time in office, it wasn't entirely clear how he would answer.

-Crist remains coy on possible Senate run
By Jim Ash
"Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate" update number 1,317. The perpetually optimistic governor, who said he will decide at the end of the legislative session whether he will run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando, remains firmly on the fence.

-Floridians are slow to sign up for new health-care coverage
Anika Myers Palm
Despite a high-profile launch and attempts to make the program appealing to low-income Floridians, the state's new health-insurance program hasn't attracted many participants during its first two months.,0,1482006.story?track=rss


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