Governor Bentley tells Alabamians that the state is broke

Talking prisons, education and taxes, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley got real with Alabamians on Tuesday night. During his annual State of the State address, Bentley said that the state must increase revenues to pull itself out of debt.

Now, as we look to the future, we must take the steps necessary to help get our state out of debt and find secure financial footing. Revenue must increase. There must be growth money in the State’s General Fund.”

120313_robert_bentley_ap_605One of the ways Bentley plans to ease the debt is by closing a tax loophole that allows nearly 60 percent of Alabama Fortune 500 companies to bypass paying income tax.

That sounds like a line pulled directly from President Obama. Continue reading

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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice back for ‘Moore?’

A bill that would increase the “maximum age for election or appointment to judicial office increased to 75” will be introduced when the 2015 Alabama Legislative Session begins on March 3.

In short, the bill would allow for current Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to run for re-election. As dictated by the state’s constitution, the current age limit for election to a judicial office is 70 years old.

Moore is 68 and was re-elected to the bench in 2012 to a six-year term, almost a full decade after he was removed from office for defying a federal court order.

That order stated that Moore had to remove a two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument that he installed soon after his first election. He defied the order and was promptly removed from office.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Moore went nine years without the title of chief justice but assumed the high office again in 2013. Continue reading

Juan Lynum Attempts to Separate Himself From Competition With First Fundraiser

Orlando City Commission candidate Juan Lynum is scheduled to hold his first fundraiser on Thursday night at Draft Global Beer Lounge and Grill.

From the looks of who’s seated on his host committee, Lynum is looking to separate himself from his two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris.

While money isn’t an indicator as to who will win any political race, it does give an idea of which candidate may have the most support.

Judging by Lynum’s line-up, a list that includes former Chair of the Downtown Development Board Vernice Atkins-Bradley and Jim Pugh, Chairman of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, his support is coming from high places.

Lynum should have a decent haul of money once the doors close on his fundraising party Thursday night. That number should run north of a few thousand dollars; enough to give him a pretty good start for an election that’s a little more than a month and a half away.

For Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, their separate money chests may look small compared to what Lynum may come up with, but if they both spend money wisely, this race may get competitive over the next month.

Hill has raised almost $3,000 and Harris comes in a little under $6,000. They’ve both spent the majority of what they have as of the last reporting period, but again, their monetary success is contingent upon how they spend money leading up to Election Day.

Both Hill and Harris have positioned themselves as advocates for the voiceless. Hill has stated that she wants to build up the people of District five instead of more venues and Harris has a list of goals that include “preserving community heritage and encouraging the local economy.”

-JH

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Is House District 44 now Eric Eisnaugle’s To Lose?

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov / Eric Eisnaugle

According to filed reports and an article by the Orlando Sentinel, former Republican Representative Eric Eisnaugle has raised over $245,000 for a special election to replace former Representative Steve Precourt in House District 44.

Eisnaugle is a household name for some Floridians as he served in the Florida House from 2008 to 2012 when he was drawn into the same district as Precourt after redistricting. Eisnaugle decided to wait until Precourt faced term limits in 2014 to run, but due to special circumstances, his time arrived sooner than planned.

Precourt decided to step down early to run the Orlando-Orange Country Expressway Authority Board but that decision didn’t work out in his favor.

Eisnaugle is facing former Orange County School Board member Vicky Bell and Democrat Shaun Raja.

While Eisnaugle has name recognition and the quiet backing of the Republican Party, or at least it seems so, Bell and Raja’s chance of winning hinge on their ability to raise money and to differentiate themselves.

For Raja, pointing out Eisnaugle’s voting record in Tallahassee may be a start. Red meat for Dems would include Eisnaugle’s ‘Yea’ vote on “Drug Screening for Temporary Assistance Beneficiaries,” “Permitting Offshore Drilling,” voting ‘Yea’ on certain reproductive amendments and etc…

Bell has to prove why she’s the better Republican over a man who spent four years of his life walking the halls of the Capitol building.

Even with the few dings on his voting record, Eisnaugle should be able to dispose of Raja when the general comes.

The primary election between Eisnaugle and Bell will occur on March 11th with the special election coming on April 8th.

-JH

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Florida Senator Jeff Clemens Wants to End Discrimination in Employment Screening

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Photo courtesy of http://www.MyFloridaHouse.gov / Sen. Jeff Clemens

For those with a criminal background, you may want to sit up and pay attention to a new bill being pushed by Sen. Jeff Clemens.

SB 234 aims to “prohibit an employer from inquiring into or considering an applicant’s criminal record on an initial employment application…”

If passed, this bill should give more job opportunities for those who have records. Organizations may still inquire about an applicant’s criminal past, but only after they’ve moved through the initial screening process.

For those skeptical of this type of legislation, it may prove beneficial to Florida companies. This would give those with a criminal past an opportunity to at least have their credentials and experience vetted before being judged for past discretions.

Getting in the door for an interview is half the battle; SB 234 would remove at least one barrier for some.

In addition to this bill, Clemens is a co-sponsor of “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act,” a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. In response to this bill, and others that aim to legalize at least some form of marijuana for medicinal purposes in Florida, Orlando attorney John Morgan called them “a stunt.”

In an interview with Fox 35, Morgan said that Democrat Joe Saunders is “grandstanding” and has “zero juice to get anything done” in the Florida House.

Sen. Clemens employment screening bill is currently in the commerce and tourism committee, and if passed, would take effect July 1st, 2014.

-JH

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While Attention Is Cast on Race For District 5, Trouble Abounds at the Top

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum

Orlando isn’t necessarily considered a hot bed for political stories, so anytime something alters the status quo in the city, it makes headlines.

Last week, Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum abruptly retired from the seat that she’s held for the last 16 years. She was fighting for her political life as two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, were contesting to take over the role of commissioner for District Five.

In an effort to “continue the legacy of leadership” that Ms. Lynum has constructed over the last decade and a half, her son Juan entered the race this past Friday to try to take her place.

Mr. Lynum noted that he’s running “to sustain the programs and initiatives that Commissioner Daisy Lynum established and for us to build on that foundation.”

While some may disagree with his reasoning for wanting to run, his challengers included, there are issues facing the district that aren’t necessarily the fault of Commissioner Lynum.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was elected back in 2003 and said in his inaugural address that he wants his success as mayor to be measured by his ability to rebuild the community of Parramore; a community represented on the city commission by Ms. Lynum.

Since that speech, Dyer has intently worked to transform Parramore into a contemporary utopia. From the destruction of the old Amway Arena to the recent soccer stadium deal, Parramore is being reconstructed through Dyers vision.

It may not be the Parramore that many who value the history and legacy of the community want, but it surely fits the eye of Mayor Dyer. There hasn’t been a concerted effort put forth by the mayor to preserve Parramore’s history, or the city of Orlando’s history for that matter.

Dyers vision is fixated toward growth without regard to the tattered trail he leaves behind.

In his inaugural speech, Dyer talked about the working poor and a robust living wage. In his latest State of the City speech from February 2013, Dyer didn’t mention the poor. He didn’t talk about attempting to fix Orlando’s ranking as the lowest-paying major metropolitan area in the nation.

Instead he mentioned Sun Rail, building a new soccer stadium, renovating the Citrus Bowl and lowering property crime. Dyer seemed progressive in his first speech, since then, he hasn’t shown much progress toward improving the lives of the working class and working poor.

Commissioner Lynum has been criticized for not voicing enough of an opposition to Dyer’s agenda , failing to create more employment and economic opportunities for the residents of Parramore and not offering respect to her constituents.

That may all be up for debate, but what Dyer has done to the community of Parramore and the city of Orlando seems to be much worse.

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

According to a recent column by Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel, Dyer wants to give the Orlando Solar Bears, the city’s minor league hockey team, almost $400,000 in fees and revenues; all money the city currently receives.

The team will also receive a $100,000 “advertising payment” from Orlando for at least the next two years.

Maxwell also notes that these deals weren’t confirmed by the city commission.

The latest round of bad news for Mayor Dyer is that he wants to tear down historic Tinker Field to make way for the reconstruction of the Citrus Bowl. The only problem with that is he didn’t warn or tell the commission that he planned to tear it down. In talking about the expected demolition of the field, Commissioner Sam Ings called Dyer’s blatant disregard for the field as “malfeasance.”

Where is the outrage over Dyer’s behavior compared to that of Commissioner Lynum?

Understandably, there is anger at Commissioner Lynum. She’s the proxy for the voters of district five and many believe that the voters of that district deserve someone better. Parramore seems to be dying a slow death and many of the residents are considered working poor or just poor.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Parramore won’t be fixed in one. While Commissioner Lynum shoulders some of the blame for what’s happened in her district, Dyers takes the king’s ransom.

Orlando may look good on the outside because of its tall buildings, new venues, shiny sports teams and progressive tint. On the inside it has a deep void; a legacy of gating residents off from city commissioned events, a sinking working class, a rising rate of disgruntled voters, and a mayor with a history of being politically nonchalant to the voters who matter the least.

For the voters of District Five, choose the candidate who will best represent the interests of the community at City Hall. Once that is done, turn your ire toward the politician who is tearing a part the community and changing it into something unrecognizable.

Until some of the anger and outrage is focused and pointed, everything that’s being fought over right now is for naught.

-JH

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Rep. Joe Saunders and Sen. Jeff Clemons Divulge Medical Marijuana Legislation

Representative Joe Saunders and Senator Jeff Clemons have filed legislation to legalize the use of medical cannabis in the state of Florida called “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act.”

The act is named after Cathy Jordan, a Florida resident currently suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease

Information released to the media by Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons outline what’s included in the bill and how it will benefit the public.

The act is geared toward “Floridians with chronic health conditions and disabilities that use or can benefit from the use of marijuana for medical treatment without further suffering from out state’s antiquated drug laws.”

Florida is one of 30 states that outlaw the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but this isn’t the first, or only bill, that will come up for debate in the legislature this year.

Representative Matt Gaetz has filed legislation called “Charlotte’s Web,” a bill that would legalize cannabis with .5 percent and resin from the plant. Gaetz and others who are not in favor of the total legalization of medical marijuana state that “Charlotte’s Web” does not provide a high, only relief from pain.

In addition to the two medical marijuana bills being floated, Orlando attorney John Morgan poured almost $2 million into an initiative to have a constitutional amendment for the legalization of medical marijuana placed on the November ballot.

Regarding Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons, their bill promises to save tax dollars for Floridians, but according to the Florida Times-Union, any economic impact from the approval of medical marijuana in Florida is indistinct.

For more information on “The Cathy Jordan Act” and “Charlotte’s Web,” please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

-JH

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