Greetings from Florida where the emerging term “snowmageddon” is only but an abstract concept.
Florida once again made headlines this week. Tucked somewhere between the uprisings in the Middle East that we haven’t seen since the good old days of the Cold War and Sarah Palin’s latest political musings, some may have read that a Federal judge in Florida tossed out Obama’s entire health care law that the Democratic-controlled congress rammed through (before reading it, apparently). Judge Roger Vinson, a Reagan appointee, found the “individual mandate” portion of the act unconstitutional, ruling that congress cannot compel people to purchase health insurance as a requisite to be in good standing under the law. The judge also found that the individual mandate is not severable, and thus the entire law needs to be rendered unconstitutional as opposed to just the individual mandate portion. Regardless of his ruling, Vinson refused a request by Florida and other states to compel the Federal government against moving forward with implementing the law as it moves through the legal process. This effectively keeps the health care act in effect until a higher appellate court rules otherwise.
Reaction to the judge’s decision was quick and expected. Florida’s new governor Rick Scott issued a statement saying, “ObamaCare is an unprecedented and unconstitutional infringement on the liberty of the American people. Patients should have more control over health-care decisions than a federal government that is spending money faster than it can be printed.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi, who took over Florida’s lawsuit originally filed by her predecessor Bill McCollum, also reacted to the ruling. “We all know we need health-care reform; this is not the way to do it,” Bondi said after the ruling. “It’s unconstitutional. It’s a violation of our rights … It’s about our liberty. It’s about more than health care.”
Florida Democrats were also quick to respond and decry the ruling as an act of judicial activism. All-in-all, the reactions to the ruling were best summarized by the twitter post of a prominent Florida political reporter: “Inbox full of statements. Republicans happy, Democrats pissed. I get it.”
Another bit of news out of Florida this week probably did not rise to the level of beltway punditry conversation, but made some shockwaves among the political chattering class in Tallahassee nonetheless. On Wednesday Governor Scott’s rescinded 154 of Governor Charlie Crist’s late appointments to various boards and commissions. The 154 appointments were made by Crist in the last months of his administration and were awaiting final Senate confirmation. Scott sent a letter to Senate leadership notifying them of his decision, but offered no official explanation as to why he pulled the appointments. The governor’s office issued a statement indicating that his removal of Crist’s appointments were part of the governor’s reevaluation of state government operations, and that the governor may reconsider appointing some. Revoked appointments include controversial members of the Public Service Commission and some other lesser known boards such as the Barbers Board, whose appointee was former Governor Charlie Crist’s personal barber.
Rescinding a former governor’s previous appointments is not unprecedented, as incoming Governor Crist pulled almost 300 of outgoing Governor Jeb Bush’s appointments in early 2007 angering many in Crist’s (former) party at the time.
To my readers and friends up north defrosting frozen pipes, shoveling snow and paying state income taxes, I won’t say that I feel your pain so as to not come across as disingenuous.
Until next week!
Christian R. Cámara, Director of Florida Insurance Project