Governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
Supreme Court upholds E-Verify
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law requiring businesses to use the federal E-verify system, a federal employment verification database. The court upheld provisions of the Arizona law that had been challenged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and opposed by President Barack Obama's administration, which argued that states could not impose the stricter standards than the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act. In a 6-2 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Arizona's law fell under the states' rights to impose sanctions through licensing and similar laws to regulate unauthorized aliens. The Florida House failed to pass a bill approved by the Senate requiring the use of the E-verify system for checking the immigration status of people seeking a job through the state's workforce centers, and allowing law enforcement to check the status of those detained for a crime. A tougher House measure, which would have required the use of E-verify for all employers, also died at the end of the session.
Gov. Scott signs planning bill
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed the Community Planning Act June 2, a broad growth management reform measure that shifts a large share of responsibility for city and county planning from the state to the local level.
The 349-page bill, HB 7207, allows developers to apply to extend permits set to expire between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2013 for two years. Previous permit extensions authorized by earlier legislation may also be extended up to a maximum of four years for those meeting qualifications.
The measure also makes road concurrency optional for local governments, but it retains numerous provisions to discourage urban sprawl.
A section of the bill also prohibits comprehensive planning by referendum, such as would have been required by Amendment 4 defeated last November. The state's growth management laws, previously administered by the Department of Community Affairs, will now become the province of the Department of Economic Planning.
Council shoots down pay raise referendum
CAPE CORAL — The city council considered asking voters to go to the polls to approve a $10,000 pay raise for council members, but voted the idea down 7-1. Currently, council members receive $15,651.90 a year, based on 17 cents per registered voter. The mayor makes $18,414 a year, based on 20 cents per registered voter. A proposal by the city's Charter Review Commission would have increased council pay by roughly $10,000 per member by changing the compensation method to per resident. A second proposal would have allowed the council to set its own pay by ordinance. One council member argued that a higher salary would attract younger candidates, but Mayor John Sullivan countered that it wouldn't be enough to entice a younger candidate with a family to support.
Scott inks Medicaid managed care bill
TALLAHASSEE — Florida's $20 billion Medicaid program is one step closer to transitioning to a managed care operation. Gov. Rick Scott signed the two bills (HB 7107 and HB 7109) that could shift most of the state's 2.7 million Medicaid recipients into managed care programs. State officials must now convince the federal government, which picks up most of the Medicaid tab, to let it make the change from the traditional fee-for-service model that has defined the health safety net since its inception.
Victor Crist files to retain seat
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — District 2 County Commissioner Victor Crist filed paperwork with the county's Supervisor of Elections office to run again for the north county seat in 2012. Last year, Crist, a Temple Terrace marketing executive and former state senator, filled an unexpired term in winning the seat against no-party candidate Stephen Morris.
Romney making campaign stop
SARASOTA — Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney already has Florida on the agenda with a visit to the Sarasota Republican Club set for June 16 luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club. Co-hosts for the fundraiser include Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice and State Reps. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, and Doug Holder, R-Sarasota. Other co-hosts include Carlos Beruff, president of Medallion Home, developer Henry Rodriguez, and 1-800-ASK-GARY founder Gary Kompethecras.