Something amiss as Florida’s 2013 legislative session begins

Gov. Rick Scott
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On the eve of convening of the 2013 Florida legislative session, in direct opposition to Gov. Rick Scott’s new found position, the House Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act voted to reject the expansion of Medicaid.

A decision supported by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“We simply cannot count on the federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost for expansion,” Weatherford said. “The facts show that healthcare costs will go up for many Floridians, while access to and quality of healthcare will go down.”

Which brings us back to Scott’s decision to support Medicaid expansion, despite running as a fierce opponent to the federal health care overhaul.

In short, something is amiss here.

As yesterday’s action clearly indicates, House leadership did not support this decision. Nor did any member of the Cabinet, with each member publicly stating as much. And whatever base Scott once had in grassroots support certainly did not support it.

So what was Scott’s motivation? From my perspective, it comes down to two possibilities.

One, it’s as naked an attempt to pander for broad base support — votes — as it appears to be.

But even here, what politician, other than Charlie Crist, rejects party leadership and his own base to appeal to voters who are not all that likely to support them anyway?

Or was leadership playing along with a wink and a nod, to give Scott political cover for not denying Floridians access to healthcare, knowing it was never going to pass?

Along that line, the governor’s “Florida Families First” budget isn’t convincing folks that he cares about families and their needs.

“So thanks governor, in your new found interest in Florida’s families. But it is not genuine and we are not going to forget,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant said.

Or, the second possibility is Scott honestly, and mistakenly, believes it’s the right thing to do. A suggestion that brings to mind a quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

In which, I find myself cheering for the first option because the second is even more disturbing.

In truth, a lot of people supported Rick Scott in 2010 because they believed he would offer a break from the status quo. As a result of his own poor judgement and bad decision-making ability, he has rendered the voters choice in 2014 to little more than the better of two evils.

As for Medicaid expansion, a Senate counterpart committee postponed consideration of the issue, so the issue lives on for now.

By the way, if you woke up this morning with the feeling that the state was leaning noticeable toward its northeast quadrant, don’t be alarmed. That’s just the weight of all the checks being stuffed into the pockets of state lawmakers last night.

Seriously, does is make sense to forbid legislators from receiving donations while in session if it’s perfectly legal to bury them in checks the day before session begins?

If you think about it, the law encourages such behavior as it sets a deadline for lobbyists to act. Naturally, lawmakers will say that the donations are a show of support, but, we all know why the checks are written.

Happy legislating!


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Tom Tillison


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