Posts Tagged ‘florida legislature’

Florida AIDS drug waiting list longest in U.S.

Posted on: February 27th, 2012 by Mikhail Zinshteyn 1 Comment


Advocates launched a campaign to urge the Florida legislature to secure funding for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the same week it was announced that almost 1,100 Floridians who live with HIV are on the drug assistance programs waiting list.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, NASTAD (.pdf) shows that as of Friday, Florida has the longest AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list in the U.S. The data also show that over 4,250 people in 11 states are on an ADAP waiting list across the U.S.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program, known as ADAP, is a nationwide, federally-funded payer of last resort for people who cannot afford their HIV/AIDS medications. The program has been in a funding crisis since 2010, which prompted many states, including Florida, to implement cost containment measures (.pdf) such as waiting lists.

In response to the rise in the ADAP waiting list, the Florida HIV/AIDS Advocacy Network writes, “the Florida Senate’s budget proposes an increase for Florida’s ADAP program, but currently there are no recommendations for similar increases from the Florida House of Representatives.”

The Florida HIV/AIDS Advocacy Network has also launched a campaign “to gain support among House members to join the Florida Senate and work together to eliminate the waiting list for Florida ADAP.”

Florida’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS reported in mid-Febraury that 1,000 people (.pdf) were on the ADAP waiting list, and that almost half of those were living in Broward (252) and Miami-Dade (243) counties.

Gov. Rick Scott’s press office wrote to the Independent over a week ago that, “While Gov. Scott did not propose additional funding to ADAP in his 2012-2013 budget recommendations, he is looking at the whole program with the goal of reducing unnecessary administrative costs and making it operate more efficiently so that more people can be served with the funds we already have.”

Other HIV/AIDS advocates and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, have called on Scott to support state funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

Week two of the Florida legislative session

Posted on: March 21st, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

This week, the legislature sent its first bill to Gov. Rick Scott: a merit-pay plan that limits newly hired teachers to one-year contracts. #


The week was punctuated by more grim news about the state budget shortfall, which has risen from $3.6 billion to $3.75 billion. Lawmakers began toying with their budget plans, but one big-ticket proposal — the Senate’s plan for health and human services spending — is set to drop on Monday. #


Here’s our second weekly summary of what went down in the Capitol. Did we miss something? Send feedback to [email protected]. #


The first bill to pass both houses of the Florida legislature was Senate Bill 736, an overhaul of how the state pays and evaluates teachers. Opponents raised questions over how districts will pay for new tests that will be used to evaluate teachers under the plan, which Democratic Orlando Rep. Scott Randolph called “the mother of all unfunded mandates.” #


Even after the bill passed, lawmakers also had questions about how teacher pay will change. Pay increases for highly rated teachers will  likely have to wait until districts have more money available. The Orlando Sentinel has a guide to the bill and how it’s supposed to work. #


Meanwhile, the Senate discussed cuts to education funding smaller than those proposed by the House. #


The Senate also unveiled its immigration proposal, which is substantially different from the House’s version, though critics warn both bills could lead to increased racial profiling. The Senate measure focuses on promoting agreements between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials. #


Other provisions include an effort to bill the federal government for the costs of unauthorized immigration borne by the state, as well a requirement that all employers use E-Verify, which Judiciary Committee chair Anitere Flores moved to soften on Monday with the support of the business community. Later in the week, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said he wants the requirements back in the bill. #


High-speed rail is dead in Florida, for real this time. President Barack Obama is disappointed in Gov. Rick Scott’s decision (something Scott is probably proud of), but he’s not alone. Here’s what former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy told an applauding crowd of economic-development folks gathered in Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel: #

“Your high-speed rail was a no brainer … it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Murphy, who helped engineer Pittsburgh’s transformation from a rust-belt city to a biotech region. “It could have branded you as much as Disney has branded you. You could have said: ‘Look at us — we’re a 21st Century City.’ ” #


The rail connector would have helped attract Siemens expansions and China-based companies to locate in the area, he added. #

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood chided Scott for not thinking far enough into the future. #


More money could flow into Florida politics under bills proposed this session. A House committee voted to revive a bill vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist that would bring back Leadership Funds — cash conduits controlled by the party leadership in each house of the legislature, which were banned two decades ago. A separate bill aims to raise the limits on campaign contributions. #


The Census Bureau released data for Florida (which showed a substantial increase in the state’s minority populations), and the legislature released maps that hinted at where Florida’s two new congressional seats might be located. #


See also: This map of changes in the state’s population. Try zooming in. #


Gutting growth management: The House voted to revive a measure that would ease urban sprawl controls, while a separate panel advanced a measure that would scale back the state’s growth management regime: The chamber rolled out its first stab at plastic surgery on Florida’s once-heralded growth law Thursday, a proposal that repeals mandates for local governments to have new roads, schools, parks and recreation in place alongside new development — a requirement called “concurrency.” #


Plans to overhaul the state’s judicial system, backed by Speaker Dean Cannon, began advancing in the House. #


Howard Troxler: #

It is revolution. It is constitutional usurpation. It is practically a whole new form of government. #


But I’ll tell you what it ain’t. It ain’t “conservative.” #

The changes could also land Supreme Court justices in the infamous Taj Mahal courthouse intended for the First District Court of Appeals. #


+ Scott celebrated Open Government Week by launching a website that selectively releases public records, many of which seem to support his political objectives, such a list of the state’s big-ticket pensioners. #


+ A House panel approved a pension reform bill less drastic than Scott’s plan, but more severe than the Senate’s. #


+ Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is moving ahead with his “Choose Life” license plate bill, but plans on making new changes called for by fellow senators, which include placing tighter controls on how the group spends its money. #


+ Scott wants $800 million over two years for economic development incentives, which he could dish out at his discretion. The Senate doesn’t seem too keen on the idea. #


+ Tuition hikes may be coming for state universities. #


+ Senate President Haridopolos reiterated his intention to keep supporting a drug database the House is working to eliminate. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is advancing a separate piece of legislation aimed at “pill mills.” #


+ Lawmakers are working to override local ordinances intended to curb fertilizer runoff. #


+ A proposed constitutional amendment that would place a binding cap on state revenue cleared the Senate. #


+ Haridopolos wants Florida’s presidential primary to be No. 5 — after South Carolina, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire. #


Word has it that Scott may be planning to dodge a lawsuit by submitting the Fair Districts amendment for approval. #


+ “Business-friendly tort reform” is popular in the Senate. #


+ Where did that crazy-sounding ban on farm photography come from? #

Florida legislature wraps up its first week; here’s what happened

Posted on: March 14th, 2011 by The American Independent 2 Comments

The Florida Legislature officially began its 2011 session last week.

There were protests by progressive groups. There were tea parties. There were speeches by Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

“I say let’s shoot the sharks nearest the boat first,” Haridopolos said in his speech.

The Senate then began firing away, at ObamaCare, at possible tax increases by future generations of lawmakers, and at the current system of teacher pay and job security.

The House, meanwhile, kicked off its session with an overhaul of the state’s unemployment compensation system.

This is the first of our weekly recaps (this one’s out a bit late) of what went down in the Capitol.

Turning back the clock on civil rights

Florida earned a place on the national stage as one of handful of states clinging to Jim Crow-era restrictions on voting rights for felons, as Florida’s cabinet voted unanimously to roll back changes put in place under Gov. Charlie Crist that allowed offenders to have their rights restored automatically after serving their sentences.

Adam Serwer wrote in a blog at The Washington Post:

Let’s be clear about who is affected by this. According to the Brennan Center, a quarter of those disenfranchised by such laws in Florida are black. Florida’s original felony disenfranchisement law was enacted during Reconstruction, as an effort to limit the political power of newly freed blacks.

Felony disenfranchisement laws serve no civic purpose — no one ever stopped themselves from committing a crime simply because they might lose the right to vote. The formerly incarcerated have served their time, the argument for punishing them post-release by denying them the right to vote is pure politics masquerading as tough-on-crime moral uprightness. Florida Republicans are moving to restrict the voting power of a Democratic constituency in a presidential swing state, nothing more, nothing less.

A spokeswoman for Bondi’s office emphasized that the decision changes made based on principle, not politics.

Bondi said that the waiting period should be seen as part of a normal sentence. People should have to earn their rights back and prove they are committed to living lives free of crime. As Gov. Rick Scott, who also supported the changes, said: “A permanent loss of civil rights is part of the debt owed to society,” adding that having them restored is a privilege that has to be earned.

“I believe that if you are convicted of a felony that there should be an appropriate waiting time before you have your rights restored, and I firmly believe that someone should have to ask to have their rights restored. That is a privilege,” Bondi said.

Bondi explains plans to delay restoration of civil rights for felons from Travis Pillow on Vimeo.

Bondi said she supported “de-coupling” legislation that would allow felons’ to obtain professional licenses and make it easier for them to find work, separating those rights from the right to vote, run for office, or serve on a jury.

Several Democratic lawmakers who spoke against the changes argued they were being pushed through too quickly, and had not been made public until after the cabinet meeting began. Comments from the public were limited to two minutes per speaker, and half an hour overall.

“Payola” for Rick Scott’s jobs chief?

The Senate’s budget panel on economic development discussed briefly plans to merge pieces of the Department of Community Affairs and the Agency for Workforce Innovation and other agencies under one “Commissioner of Jobs.”

Under the proposal, the new agency (Jobs Florida) would be tasked, among other things, to “Recruit new businesses to this state and promote the expansion of existing businesses by expediting permitting and location decisions, worker placement and training, and incentive awards.”

The jobs commissioner could also receive “privately-funded performance bonuses” from the state’s public-private economic development projects. According to the Palm Beach Post, Senators from both parties mentioned “differences of opinion” with some parts of the proposal, and one Democrat on the panel described the job czar’s compensation scheme as “payola.”

More stalling for rail projects

Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put Florida’s high-speed rail money up for an open bid, opening the door to a scheme supported by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that could allow local governments to revive the line between Tampa and Orlando.

House Democratic leader Ron Saunders praised Nelson’s efforts in a statement – aftertouting to a Tea Party crowd his vote against the project in 2009.

Scott also announced he would wait until after session to decide what to do about $235 million in contracts for Central Florida’s SunRail commuter train that he held up upon taking office. Would that give him leverage over lawmakers who supported the project?No, said House Speaker Dean Cannon. Not unless he had my children in in handcuffs,said Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander.

Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, who filed a court challenge against Scott’s effort to nix the high-speed rail line, said the governor displayed a lack of respect for the legislative process, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Although the Supreme Court decided last week it didn’t have the authority to order Scott to accept federal rail funds, Altman said someone would have to challenge Scott again because now he was threatening to ignore a specific spending direction of the Legislature.“He’s clearly violating his executive authority and at some point that’s going to have be checked because he’s doing a lot of damage,” he said. “We have a democracy for a reason. That’s not the way he’s making decisions. He’s making them unilaterally and behind closed-doors.”

Drug database death watch

A House committee voted to eliminate a prescription drug database and place new restrictions on doctors dispensing medications, effectively rolling back the efforts of previous lawmakers to crack down on painkillers and other prescription pills. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company donated $1 million to fund the effort, and lawmakers speculated about what Gov. Scott intended to do about the private-sector money for a project he opposed. According to the Palm Beach Post, Scott’s spokespeople say that’s up to the foundation set up to run the monitoring program, not the governor.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos has repeatedly thrown his support behind the database, and his spokesman said the house proposal is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Also:

+As the “son of Senate bill 6″ passed the Senate, and concerns were raised over what it will cost.

+A House panel cleared an immigration bill that might face constitutional issues. The Senate is set to take up its own version on Monday.

+The investor information service Moody’s released a report saying tax cuts could hurt the state’s finances. Scott brushed off those concerns, saying he was “very comfortable” with the impact his overall fiscal package would have.

+House Speaker Dean Cannon proposed a sweeping set of reform measures for the state’s judicial branch that, among other things, could split the state Supreme Court in two.

+A legislative budget analyst announced that proposed cuts to the medically needy program, which helps provide care for the catastrophically ill, won’t save the state much money.

+The glocks won what the News Service of Florida described as “Docs V. Glocks, Round 1.” Meanwhile, Sens. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, were among lawmakers who successfully threw their weight behind an amendment striking provisions of a different firearm bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses.

+The federal government started investigating Scott’s firing of one of the state’s health ombudsmen. began his tenure under Jeb Bush.

+Novelist Stephen King joined the thousands of progressive protesters who held rallies around the state on Tuesday, and said he might write a horror story about Rick Scott.

+Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, unveiled a measure backed by tea parties and environmentalists that would prevent taxpayer-backed Citizens property insurance from issuing new policies for beachfront homes vulnerable to hurricanes.

+A senate panel cleared a scaled-back version of a measure that would require public employees to contribute to their pensions.

+Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, filed a bill to legalize medical marijuana.

+Dockery continued her yearly tradition of filing an ethics bill, which builds on recommendations issued recently by a statewide grand jury to crack down on political corruption. Will it go anywhere this time?

+Bills that would have provided for golf courses in Florida state parks have been withdrawn in both the House and the Senate.

Notes from last week’s Florida legislative meetings

Posted on: January 18th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Immigration

State senators began to mull plans for immigration reform, holding their first of at least three information-gathering meetings on the topic.

Some lawmakers, as well as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, cast doubt on the prospects of an Arizona-style law, with Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, suggesting there would be an immigration-enforcement bill of some kind presented during the upcoming session, but that it would not allow for racial profiling.

One law professor explained why some immigration enforcement measures at the state level may not be constitutional.

Several lawmakers expressed their frustration with the limitations of the E-Verify system, while Gov. Rick Scott stood by his support for it.

Medicaid reform

Lawmakers pressed ahead with their still-developing plans to reform the state’s Mediciad system. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said one of his goals is to free up funding for other parts of the state budget.

The Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee he chairs also heard the latest round of projections from legislative economist Amy Baker, who said demand for Medicaid services has continued to rise, in part because the recession has driven down incomes and unemployment remains high.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, asked Baker if she had done any studies on “induced demand.” Was the state luring more patients into its Medicaid program by providing “optional” services like vision care? Many private-sector employees earning, say, $50,000 a year don’t get coverage for that kind of care in their health plans, he noted.

Was the state discouraging people from looking for work?

Gaetz’s question builds on earlier work by the panel, which is comparing the program that provides health care for low-income families and the disabled with private-sector health insurance plans.

Regulatory freeze

Lawmakers learned Wednesday that staff is still trying to figure out how the legislature will handle the new requirement created by House Bill 1565 that lawmakers approve rules passed by state agencies that are projected to cost the state $1 million in economic growth over five years:

Florida politicians’ campaign theme of reining in government regulation could wind up being a breathless endeavor in the Capitol a while.

State legislators were told Wednesday morning that a bill they pushed through in special session last November requiring agencies to re-submit rules to lawmakers for approval would require the Legislature to annually ratify around 1,700 rules during the 60-day lawmaking session.

To be clear, 1,700 is the number of rules passed by state agencies each year. It’s still not certain how many will trigger the need for a vote by the legislature. It will be up to agencies to decide whether a rule meets the threshold and bring it to lawmakers for approval.

So far, only one rule, a licensing requirement for physicians, is slated for legislative approval. An executive order by Gov. Scott freezing new regulations will likely limit the number of rules expected to come up during this year’s session.

The St. Petersburg Times reports:

The order dumped 900 rules on Scott’s newly-created Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform. As of Thursday, five of those rules had been approved. One allows lottery officials to create new scratch-off games each week. Another amends rules regarding installation of utilities on state roads. The others involve purchasing, Medicaid reimbursements and prescription drug coverage.

Among the hundreds still on hold: Rules that would allow the state to better monitor pain clinics and require nursing home workers to undergo rigorous background checks.

Members of the legislative staff are still wrestling with the law’s implications: can lawmakers approve all the rules at once, in a giant omnibus bill, or do they have approve them one-by-one?

Other developments

+ The same order that froze regulations also temporarily froze hundreds of government contracts, including Orlando’s SunRail project and road work planned by the Department of Transportation.

Scott told a gathering of Senate Republicans on Tuesday that like any CEO taking over a company, he needed a little time to get a handle on who was doing what.

Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich called on Scott to lift the freeze on transportation projects, saying it could kill jobs. The governor defended his decision again Wednesday, and started releasing dozens of contracts late in the week.

+ Lawmakers learned Wednesday that the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars by reforming the way it buys prescription drugs:

“This is incredible,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine.

“Hopefully somebody from the governor’s office is in here. If they’re not I would recommend somebody hand carry this down to the first floor right now,” Thrasher said, waving a copy of the presentation.

+ Senate President Mike Haridopolos officially launched his U.S. Senate bid, complete with a website and plans for a fundraiser-cum-”strategy meeting” promoted by former Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke. He then picked up an endorsement from outgoing Republican Party of Florida chairman (and fellow state senator) John Thrasher at the party’s annual meeting this weekend.

+ Sen. Negron objected to the use of the term “foreclosure mills” to describe law firms under investigation by the attorney general’s office:

“It could also be called a very busy law firm because you provide very good service to your clients,” suggested Negron, R-Stuart, a lawyer with the West Palm Beach-based Gunster law firm.

He also didn’t like the finding by Scott Palmer, the head of the AG’s mortgage fraud investigation, that banks aren’t using loan modifications enough to avoid foreclosure.

“Where does … the government have the right to tell the bank what’s in your best interest?” he wanted to know.

+ Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, filed a bill proposing a constitutional amendment that would extend state senators’ terms from four years to six, and representatives’ terms from two years to four, capping terms for both at 12 years. From his statement:

“To change the culture in Tallahassee, a place where lobbyists have increasingly gained more power and knowledge than legislators, and where fundraisers are as frequent as committee meetings, we must revisit the issue of term limits,” said Representative Kriseman. “Less campaigning allows for lawmakers to focus solely on policies which move Florida forward, and to address issues in the long-term, while still honoring the wishes of the voters who sought to place sensible limits on our length of time in office.”

Senator Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has filed similar legislation in the state Senate.

+ Paul Hawkes, the judge behind the infamous “Taj Mahal” courthouse, was again hauled in front of a Senate panel for a dressing-down led by Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Hawkes “made multiple statements at odds with the facts” during his testimony.

+ House Speaker Dean Cannon ordered an investigation into the oil spill claims process.

+ Haridopolos joined Gov. Scott in questioning the use of state money for the planned high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, while other lawmakers from both parties, along with the business group Associated Industries of Florida, continued to rally behind the project.

The debate seems to hinge on how much of the state’s $280 million share of funding can be extracted from the private sector. (The federal government has already pledged nearly $2.4 billion for the $2.7 billion project.) Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, said that Haridopolos’ public skepticism could have a chilling effect on private investors.

Scott and Haridopolos both seemed interested in courting companies to foot the bill:

“I think that 90 percent being paid for by Washington D.C. should be more than commercially viable, not only for the short term, but also in the operation and maintenance relm,” said Haridopolos.

+ Haridopolos also expressed doubts about Scott’s tax cut plans, in light of the state’s ever-darkening budget picture.

+ The House Select Committee on Water Policy began weighing plans to change oversight of water management districts.

+ Another newly created House panel, on federal affairs, lashed out against what some Republican members saw as the Obama Administration’s encroachment on states’ rights. Democrats argued the subcommittee had been created for “political reasons.”

+ The Senate criminal justice committee considered plans to enforce a ban on synthetic marijuana products, which one expert described as “considerably more dangerous than the real stuff.”

+ Lawmakers began looking into ways to require state employees to contribute to their pensions.

Florida Republicans continue fight against Affordable Health Care act

Posted on: December 6th, 2010 by Luke Johnson No Comments

Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolis, R-Merritt Island, who announced he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, last week filed a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would “prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”

The joint resolution filed by Haridopolis proposes the amendment be submitted to voters for approval or rejection at the next general election or at an earlier special election.

Haridopolis joins state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who in mid-November filed the same resolution in the Florida House of Representatives.

In July 2009, Plakon filed the Florida Health Care Freedom Amendment 9, very similar to this new resolution. Amendment 9, also known as HJR 37, was blocked from appearing on the Nov. 2 ballot by a Leon County judge who said a proposed ballot summary for the amendment had several phrases not addressed in the proposal.

Last week the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gov.-elect Rick Scott is also focused on fighting the Affordable Health Care for America Act — President Obama’s health care reform package.

And Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi is now working with Florida’s Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum, who earlier this year filed a federal lawsuit against the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care act.

Haridopolos announces bid for U.S. Senate

Posted on: December 6th, 2010 by Melissa No Comments

FloridaToday.com is reporting that state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, will indeed run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 — a move that should come as no surprise to those who have followed rumors of Haridopolos’ ambitions since the Nov. 2 election.

Haridopolos is the second Republican to officially declare his intention to run against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.

Mike McCalister, a largely unknown Republican who surprisingly pulled in 10 percent of the vote in this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, announced his candidacy last month. As one of the architects of the state legislature’s 2011 agenda, Haridopolos has a considerably higher profile than McCalister.

Some other rumored names for the Republican primary: outgoing Sen. George LeMieux and Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack.

Florida Legislature pays down solar rebate backlog, but deficit remains

Posted on: November 30th, 2010 by The American Independent No Comments
Last week, the Florida legislature approved the use of $31 million in federal stimulus funds to pay for a portion of two energy rebate programs begun under Gov. Charlie Crist: one for rooftop solar panels and the other for energy-efficient air conditioners.

The solar rebate program had a backlog of $52 million. The legislature’s action provided slightly less than $29 million to cover the solar program. That money will be spread out evenly among customers, so rebate applicants could get slightly more than half of what they expected. (more…)

Could the Florida legislature push fetal personhood amendment onto ballots?

Posted on: November 29th, 2010 by Paul No Comments

Recent reports of a proposed “personhood” amendment that would potentially outlaw all types of abortion, as well as birth control, may have raised eyebrows, but the amendment doesn’t seem to be making much popular headway thus far. And while state legislators do have the authority to overrule the signature-gathering process, whether they plan to do so remains an open question.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, the initiative aims to define “all human beings as persons under the constitution regardless of age, race, health function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability.”

Though it is sponsored by Personhood Florida, the state arm of a national pro-life group that has attempted several variations of the amendment in other states, the initiative currently has zero valid signatures. More than 676,000 are required for placement on the ballot.

But even if the amendment lacks the required signatures, the legislature has the power to add the initiative to the ballot in the spring. Whether or not state legislators will do so remains unanswered.

“Honestly, I don’t believe that [the amendment] has any traction,” says state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who has been vocal about his support for pro-life legislation in the past. “I haven’t heard much about it and I seriously doubt the legislature would add this. We’re focused on other things right now, specifically: jobs and the economy.”

Though Plakon’s website says that he will “unequivocally support any legislation created for the protection of all human life,” the legislator says that any forthcoming pro-life legislation would focus on reasonable restrictions to abortion.

“The reality is, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, so we need to focus on limitations to abortions, such as revisiting the ultrasound bill,” Plakon says. “I think it’s important that we stay around the edges of the [abortion] issue, and I am personally hopeful that Gov. Scott will sign that bill.”

In response to Progress Florida’s announcement of a letter-writing campaign to Gov.-elect Rick Scott, demanding that he make known his stance on the initiative, Plakon says that the amendment is “citizen-led” and not reliant on Scott’s support or opposition.

One Florida representative who has aligned himself with the personhood movement in the past is Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the former executive director of Florida’s Christian Coalition. Personhood Florida cites Baxley as a supporter of the group, quoting him on its website:

PersonhoodFL is a valuable ally for the unborn children who are aborted each year in our nation at an alarming rate. Sadly, Florida has one of the highest per capita abortion rates, ranking eighth among the 50 states. As the saying goes: ‘He who asks the questions wins the debate.’ We want to ask a question of every Floridian on the November ballot, in effect: ‘Do you believe that life begins at conception and that the unborn child is a person with human rights?’ In our struggle to protect the lives of the innocent, we need to press the issue of when life begins, to get people thinking about it; debating it with their family, friends and colleagues; and ultimately supporting the Personhood of the unborn child at the polls in November.

Messages left at Baxley’s capitol office were not returned. A call to the main line of the Florida House of Representatives turned up an address for his district office, but no phone number.