Posts Tagged ‘Ocala’

‘Choose Life’ officials won’t explain where license plate money is going

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by Sam Petulla No Comments

Florida's "Choose Life" license plate (source: mybapc.com)

A Florida bill that overhauled how money made off of the state’s “Choose Life” license plates would be spent was officially signed into law in August 2011, but exactly where the money is going and how the measure has improved the Choose Life mission remains unclear.

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Florida Occupy groups organize for upcoming legislative session

Posted on: December 14th, 2011 by The American Independent 1 Comment

An Occupy Miami protester (Photo: FLORIDA INDEPENDENT/Ashley Lopez)

This past weekend, Occupy Wall Street-inspired groups from all over the state came to together in Orlando to outline priorities for the upcoming state legislative session. (more…)

Florida Water Coalition places ‘slime’ billboards along I-75

Posted on: December 7th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

One of the Florida Water Coalition billboards (Photo: Florida Water Coalition)

The Florida Water Coalition, a group that recently filed a petition against the state’s recently drafted water rules, has put up two billboards in an effort to “educate Floridians and visitors about the state’s widespread algae pollution problem and to urge citizens to let their government representatives know that they don’t want more delays – they want clear limits on the amount of sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution  in our public waters.” (more…)

Florida elections law sponsor: ‘Nothing’ in law limits ‘participation’

Posted on: December 6th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

State Rep. Dennis Baxley (Photo: myfloridahouse.gov/Mark Foley)

Politico reports that Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, says that nothing in Florida’s elections law, which he sponsored, is “going to limit anybody’s participation.”

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Planned Parenthood to join Awake the State at rallies tomorrow

Posted on: October 31st, 2011 by The American Independent 3 Comments
Planned Parenthood has announced it will join Awake the State in rallies taking place all over Florida tomorrow. (more…)

State-funded ads for amendment to ban Fla. taxpayer funding for abortions costing more than actual abortions

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is the sponsor of a a house bill that would amend the Florida Constitution to ban taxpayer funding for abortions. According to a recent article in the Ocala Star-Banner, the state of Florida will spend more money advertising the amendment before the 2012 election than it has on actually funding abortions. #


House Joint Resolution 1179 would ban the use of public funding for abortions in Florida. Somewhat similar to the Hyde Amendment, the bill provides exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger. Opponents of the legislation argue that the bill is unnecessary at best, and a political maneuver at worst, because current Florida law already prohibits the state from funding abortions. (The state also provides the same exceptions.) #


From 2008 to 2010, the state of Florida only paid for 20 abortions that fell under those exceptions. These procedures cost the state $3,119. #


A recent bill analysis by the House Judiciary Committee reports that between 2009 and 2010, Florida Medicaid paid for 4 abortions at a cost of $534.60. #


Interestingly, the cost of advertising the amendment far exceeds how much the state has spent on abortions for women facing a pregnancy due to rape or incest, or a pregnancy that risks their life. #


The committee analysis of Baxley’s amendment reveals that the Florida Division of Elections expects to pay $106.14 per word to advertise the proposed amendment before the 2012 elections, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The judiciary committee’s bill analysis explains that the the Division of Elections within the Department of State is “required to publish the proposed constitutional amendment twice in a newspaper of general circulation in each county.” #


Despite the costs, Baxleys says in the interview that the bill addresses an important issue. #

“I think it’s far-reaching and it’s controversial, but we as a state will address the sanctity of life, which is a foundational issue,” he said. #

HJR 1179 is still awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. #

All Florida Dem-introduced amendments struck down before final vote on abortion-restricting bills

Posted on: April 27th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Last-ditch efforts to provide more protection for women in the six abortion-restriction bills discussed today during House floor action failed yesterday. #


About a dozen amendments were introduced by Democratic representatives yesterday. Most of them were aimed at providing more protection for women. Each amendment was voted down — mostly along party lines. #


Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, introduced seven amendments. Four of his measures sought to expand the exceptions for bans on public funding for abortion to a woman who faces a “serious risk to her health” — and not just to a woman who will die if she does not end her pregnancy. #


This exception has received bipartisan support in the past. State Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ocala, voted in support of a similar amendment introduced by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, in the Senate during a committee meeting earlier this month. The amendment sought to provide more coverage for women under the health care exchanges created by the federal health care reform bill. Many states have followed suit in restricting the amount of coverage women receive for abortions under these exchanges. #


Randolph also sought to add language to the Choose Life, Inc. license plate bill. The amendment would require that “agencies that receive the funds [from purchase of the license plates] must use at least 70 percent of the funds to provide for the material needs of pregnant women who are making an adoption plan for their children committed to placing their children for adoption, including, but not limited to, clothing, housing, medical care, food, utilities, and transportation.” The bill’s original language does not specify how much of the funds should be used on actual services for women. #


A second amendment proposed by Randolph to the Choose Life, Inc. license plates bill, would require that “agencies that receive license plate funds must provide medically accurate information and materials with reference sources for any and all statements of a medical nature.” Crisis pregnancy centers in Florida that receive funds from Choose Life, Inc. have been found to distribute scientifically inaccurate information in the past. There was no provision in the original bill that required these agencies to support medically accurate information. #


Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, proposed an amendment to the mandatory-ultrasound bill that would require the state to “reimburse the woman the cost of the ultrasound … if the physician determines that an ultrasound is not medically necessary and the woman waives the right to view and waives an explanation of the ultrasound.” #


Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, sought to allow women who “state that they need an abortion performed” to waive the ultrasound requirement before an abortion procedure. #


Not one of these amendments were adopted. Each bill, with its original language, is set for a final vote today. #

Florida House passes election law rewrite, despite continued dearth of evidence for fraud

Posted on: April 22nd, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

The Florida House passed its version of a controversial rewrite of state election laws, which Republican supporters said was intended to ensure the integrity of the state’s voting system.

“This is a great country, our vote is precious and we’re going to protect it,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the sponsor of the measure.

Democrats contended the measure was aimed at solving “an imaginary problem” with a measure that would stifle the vote going into the 2012 elections. They questioned why Republicans were pushing provisions that would make it more difficult for voters to change their addresses on election day and impose tight deadlines and new registration requirements on groups that sign up new voters.

“I’ve figured it out,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “We’re afraid that the people are going to figure out what’s been going on here [in Tallahassee] for the last few weeks.”

Republicans have yet to illustrate a systemic problem of fraud that the bill would help prevent, though Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, contended that investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement turned up some instances. In one case, someone tried to sign up an unnamed dead actor. Petition gatherers have attempted to add students to the voter rolls without their knowledge during ballot initiatives. “In another case,” he said, “Mickey Mouse was registered to vote.”

Here’s what happened several years ago with Mr. Mouse, according to a St. Petersburg Times article published at the time:

Mickey Mouse tried to register to vote in Florida this summer.

Orange County elections officials rejected his application, which was stamped with the logo of the nonprofit group ACORN.

More recently, the Times reported:

A spokesman for Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state’s chief elections official, said that in 2010, no cases of voter fraud were referred to the agency concerning voters changing their name, address or political party affiliation at a polling place.

Again, today:

Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who has served under two Republican governors, has repeatedly said Florida’s state-of-the-art electronic voter database that requires a four-digit unique numerical match for every voter has virtually eliminated fraud. In 2009, Browning’s office said state voter registration laws ensure that only eligible people can vote.

“We have to know where this fraud is happening,” said Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar. “I think if Rep. Baxley’s good bill passes, then we’ll have a better sense of where that fraud occurs.”

Gaetz compared the bill to a pill mill measure the House passed earlier that day.

“Does every problem have to reach that level of magnitude before we can get buy-in on the notion that reform needs to happen in our state?” he asked. “I certainly hope not.”