Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:
All Aboard Florida, Miami to Orlando railway, picking up speed: Building a new passenger rail system in the United States is a delicate balancing act. The public’s transit needs, the cost and financing, the impact on the environment and the repercussions for the taxpayer create a complicated puzzle of challenges that require a careful give-and-take approach to achieve an effective project that satisfies all the parties involved.Some rail systems never work without huge costs to the taxpayer, and Southeast Florida’s Tri-Rail is a good example. Most business leaders in this part of Florida have come to realize that Tri-Rail is a bottomless pit that gobbles up public money like black holes gobble up stars.But now, Florida has a significant rail company with a familiar name that has jumped into the competition, and it has the experience and the potential to get it right. Read more.
Teachers union asks Scott to veto school vouchers bill: The statewide teachers’ union is asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto a bill that would expand Florida’s school voucher program.The Florida Education Association, which has about 140,000 members, sent its request to Scott on Wednesday. Among other things, the bill (SB 850) creates partial scholarships open to students in higher-income families in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Read more.
Lawsuit seeks to ban blind trusts for public officials: Open-government advocates are backing a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the Florida Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of a 2013 law that allows elected officials to put financial assets in blind trusts that do not offer detailed public disclosure of the holdings. The lawsuit was filed by Jim Apthorp, former chief of staff to the late Gov. Reubin Askew. It has the backing of the First Amendment Foundation, the League of Women Voters and half a dozen media organizations that will file friend-of-the-court briefs, including the Associated Press, The Miami Herald and The Florida Times-Union. Read more.
Campaign fights focus on open legislative seats: Less than six months before the November elections, campaign-finance reports point to a relatively small number of competitive races for state House and Senate seats.All 120 House seats and 20 of the 40 Senate seats will be on the ballot, but only a handful of incumbents — and almost none in the Senate — face challengers who are raising substantial amounts of money. Read more.
Hannity: I’m moving to Florida with a ranch in Texas: Sean Hannity says it’s official: He’s moving to Florida, and he will have a ranch in Texas. Hannity first threatened to leave New York, the state where he was born and now resides, in January after Gov. Mario Cuomo said conservatives have “no place” in his state. Since then, the Republican governors of both Texas and Florida have made pitches to Hannity to move to their states. Both have no state income tax. Read more.
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