Today's news -- August 8, 2017





Latvala's “plan” to undermine HB 7069 *

A powerful Republican state senator considering a run for governor hasn’t been shy about his distaste for a controversial new law benefiting charter schools. But it appears he might have tried to kill it behind closed doors. Sen. Jack Latvala, chairman of the chamber's appropriations committee, discussed a “plan” to scuttle FL HB 7069 (17R) with a Democratic colleague who later filed an amendment to try to strip the bill of its funding, according to text messages obtained by Politico. But Latvala won’t say more about what Hail Mary strategy he might have employed. The Clearwater Republican had voted for the bill despite denouncing it on the Senate floor on the last day of the 2017 legislative session, which had been extended by three days in part because of disagreements over the nearly 300-page priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. But when Gov. Rick Scott called a special session for June, some senators saw it as a second chance to undermine the bill. Among those were Sens. David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Gary Farmer (D-Fort Lauderdale). Newly released communications suggest Latvala might have been involved, despite promising Senate President Joe Negron he would support his priorities in exchange for the prominent chairmanship. While the governor outlined his expectations for the special session June 2 -- he demanded that lawmakers increase funding for public schools, economic development and tourism -- he and legislative leaders insisted they hadn’t worked out a more comprehensive agreement in secret. But the next day, Farmer pinged Latvala to find out more. “How you feeling about this deal? Education still sucks,” Farmer wrote in a text message on June 3. “I might have a plan,” Latvala responded. He added that he had sent a draft of an economic development bill to Farmer’s personal email address and asked him to offer feedback. “Will do,” Farmer said. “And I am game to help …w e can’t let 7069 become law.” About an hour later, Farmer asked if Latvala had five minutes, presumably for a call. Latvala said, “Yes. Now.” Later that evening, Farmer asked: “Can’t we file amendments on the education funding bill that would undo parts of 7069?” “Not sure. But think they might be outside the call,” Latvala replied, raising the point that lawmakers’ activity during special session needed to be related to the reasons Scott called them back to the Capitol. During the three-day special session, Farmer sponsored amendments that would have cut the amount of funding in H.B. 7069 from about $420 million to $40 million. They failed. The text messages between Latvala and Farmer were not included in the Senate’s initial response to Politico's public records request. The Senate provided the additional texts, from Farmer, on Monday, after an article on the first batch had been published.


Study will look at statewide school funding formula

A study will go forward on the state’s redistribution of money from poorer to wealthier school districts in a funding formula a Volusia County critic called “backwards Robin Hood.” The formula has cost Seminole, Osceola and Lake schools tens of millions in local tax revenue being redirected to more affluent districts, including Orange and Miami-Dade. In the latest fiscal year, 55 school districts sent a portion of their money to just a dozen other districts that have higher costs of living, which drives up the cost of education. “We need to look at a holistic approach, because education is a statewide duty,” state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, said Monday. Hukill requested an evaluation last month in conjunction with Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton. The study of the “district cost differential” formula -- green-lighted by Senate President Joe Negron last week -- will be conducted by two legislative research divisions that Hukill said are well-regarded, and she hopes it will be “complete before we go into session” January 9. “We want them to take a look at the factors that are included,” she said. “Maybe we should adjust the factors; maybe we should use different factors.” It isn’t the first time that Hukill or other legislators have sought either to eliminate or to examine the funding formula, which is one of many components in determining schools’ financing by the state. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $100,000 spearheaded by Hukill in the budget this year to study the formula. Last year, a bill by state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, to repeal it died in committee. At the time, Metz, a former Lake County School Board member, noted that Lake was the state’s 19th-most-populous school district but next-to-last in per-pupil funding. He said the funding disparities highlighted the need to study the K-12 funding formula. The formula has been in place since 2004 and was designed to adjust for the higher cost of living for wealthier school districts, including Palm Beach and Sarasota, where personnel costs are higher. Orange’s school district, for example, has received $32 million since the formula started and isn’t pushing for changes in the way state dollars are doled out.


Magistrate recommends 2 percent raise for Polk teachers (Marianne Capoziello quoted)


Duval district reassigns nearly 40 teachers just before start of year (Terrie Brady and Chris Guerrieri quoted)


Bay district celebrates new year with back-to-school rally (Alexis Underwood quoted)


Civil rights groups urge state to consider neediest children in ESSA plans


The NAACP report: Why are charter supporters complaining?


Trump’s after-school cuts could lead to more hungry kids, lower test scores


Florida near bottom of list on health care ranking


Cuts to mental health care could leave thousands without help, advocates say


State reports dozen more Zika cases


Ben & Jerry's backs state felon voting rights restoration


Thousands of properties in state now in high-risk flood zones


Never enough money to undo damage to natural Florida


For the last time, Trump hasn’t made the economy any better


Our broken economy, in one simple chart


Unions urge slow-down as self-driving car laws pick up speed


The list of things Flynn could be charged for seems to be expanding


A better way to protect Mueller


Facing Trump subsidy cuts, health insurance officials seek a backup plan


Will Congress force me to deny health care to children once again?


Before it can hire foreign workers, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago advertises at home -- briefly


Sessions scolds Chicago for suing over “sanctuary cities” threat


Miami-Dade complied with Trump to change its “sanctuary” status


Rubio says Trump-sponsored immigration bill is “not going to pass”


Government report finds drastic impact of climate change on U.S.


Federal agency censors use of term “climate change”, emails reveal


Report: More will go hungry due to climate change


Secrecy and suspicion surround Trump’s deregulation teams


Warren blocks Trump’s pick for antitrust chief


Trump’s stalled trade agenda leaves industries in the lurch


Canada vs. Mexico: Trump seeks to divide and conquer in NAFTA negotiations


Trump likes when CIA chief gets political, but officers are wary


U.S. may begin airstrikes against ISIS in Philippines


Trump finally starts winning -- by copying Obama


In attacking senator, Trump opens himself to criticism over the military. Again.


Trump bashes the media but still loves good press


The case of “Nicole Mincey,” the Trump fan who may actually be a Russian bot


How Trump's FCC aided Sinclair's expansion



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