State Legislative Update and More

As mentioned in our last post, The West Boca Community Council had a meeting tonight with a legislative update. In this post I’ll go through what the state legislators had to say, and in the next post I’ll discuss the other items that came up.
All three state legislators who spoke were excellent speakers.
We first heard from State Senator Maria Sachs, who represents what is currently Senate district 30. She has great presence and a real sense of humor. Her funniest moment was when she compared the state House of Representatives to kindergarten (lots of activity and people borrowing each other’s crayons) and the Senate to an assisted living facility.
For substance Senator Sachs limited herself to redistricting. This is something a lot of politicians (of both parties) talk about, but they don’t seem to understand that it doesn’t matter much to voters. She also mentioned the Stand Your Ground law but didn’t say anything about it. On redistricting she described the balance between “coastal communities”, which is apparently where the rich people live, and western communities where I guess we’re not as rich.
There was also an “End of Session Report” for 2012 distributed which listed and described a number of things she has been “Fighting For”. I would post a link to it but can’t find it on the internet.
Representative Steve Perman spoke next. He went into far more depth on issues. First he explained that both houses of the legislature are roughly 2-1 Republican and that it’s difficult for Democrats to have an impact, which is a common problem for minority parties.
He then talked about his opposition to auto insurance reforms that are supposed to prevent fraud by reducing PIP (personal injury protection) benefits unless you go to specific kinds of health care providers within 14 days of the accident. He seemed particularly annoyed that chiropractors are not included, which may have something to do with his work as a chiropractor. He did make a solid point that it’s not clear whether the reforms really do much about fraud, or whether they will have any effect on insurance premiums.
Perman also discussed homeowners insurance and the state “Citizens” program. A member of the audience challenged him on the fact that taxpayers in areas like West Boca are subsidizing insurance for wealthier homeowners in coastal communities. Perman did not disagree, but said it’s difficult politically to get changes through and that he feels there will be a bipartisan effort to address it.
Perman talked briefly about a new law that protects farmers who store water to help the state water system from having their land designated as federal wetlands. It was not clear why the state legislature would have any power over federal designations, but no one asked. He also mentioned a bill related to accelerating foreclosures that did not go through because of problems agreeing on the definition of when a home has been abandoned.
Perman also distributed a legislative update, but again this is something I could not find on the web. His update was more substantive than the one from Sachs.
Representative Joseph Abruzzo was the last speaker. Unlike the other two he does not seem to have a campaign website though he is running for State Senate, and he has registered a bunch of domain names related to his name. While a good speaker, he was not as dynamic as Perman nor as entertaining as Sachs.
Abruzzo mentioned that he attended President Obama’s visit today to FAU. He talked about a bill he’d pushed to get help for veterans convicted of crimes, including treatment over incarceration. It sounded like a good idea but he was unable to get this through. He mentioned the success of the Silver Alert program and that it was working well in Palm Beach County in particular. However, it wasn’t clear why he mentioned this since it became law back in 2008.
He discussed the state budget in depth, criticizing it for raising tuition at state universities and colleges, and complaining that it “gutted” the Bright Futures program and education in general. Perman had also expressed concerns about cuts to education.
Your correspondent challenged Abruzzo about where he would get money for education. He offered two areas. First, he felt that the deal with the Seminole Indians did not get enough money for the state. However, this answer did not address funding for the current year, nor was it clear why it’s appropriate for the state to be handing out monopolies to gambling enterprises.
His second answer was more relevant but a concern. He suggested the state should collect sales tax revenue on internet transactions. He denied that this would be a tax increase on Florida consumers who shop online, but the audience did not seem to find this persuasive. Online shoppers are increasingly spending borrowed money — often times turning to a forbrukslån (consumer loan) or credit cards — and are understandably not fond of paying more, especially on borrowed money that must be paid back at a high interest rate.
Abruzzo also had a habit of making “bringing home the bacon” references. Aside from this being a disturbing view of the role of a legislator, practically speaking it’s a big weakness for a member of the minority party. A Republican state senator would be better positioned to bring benefits home to the district.
There were several state Republican candidates in attendance, including Melanie Peterson, Geoff Sommers, and James Ryan O’Hara. O’Hara had the most thorough and thoughtful answer on how to address state government spending problems, and we hope to provide a complete profile of him in a future blog post.
Also in attendance was Paul Tocker, a candidate for Palm Beach County Commission, as well as other candidates for various offices (some of whom will be discussed in the next post).
Overall this was an excellent event. It was disappointing that the audience was not larger and most of the attendees were public officials, candidates or involved with political parties. We hope that the WBCC and the media will do a better job of informing the public about such events in the future, and we’d be happy to help spread the word.

State Legislative Update in West Boca – April 10th

There will be a legislative update presented to the West Boca Community Council at the Boca Lago Country Club on April 10th at 7:30 pm. Please note that the speakers are apparently all Democrats, including Maria Sachs, Joe Abruzzo and Steve Perman.
–Update: report on the event is here: West Boca State Legislative Update
Since both houses of the state legislature are majority Republican, and the Governor is also Republican, it seems odd not to have a Republican voice at such an event. But nevertheless it is worth attending.
As always, we encourage voters to ask their representatives (of both parties) where they would cut spending in order to save money in these difficult times.
We can’t find any public notice of this event on the web, but we have been told it’s happening by a source we consider reliable. Neither of the websites is up to date.

Comedy coming to West Boca

A comedy event is coming to West Boca Raton – this time at the JCC off Glades just east of 441. From the Sun Sentinel description, this might be funnier if you’re Jewish.
Personally, I like the Sarah Silverman connection. I don’t necessarily agree with her politics, but she is funny and apparently so is her dad.

West Boca High Baseball

The West Boca High School baseball team have been battling in recent games. We unfortunately lost one to Atlantic High School on Monday April 2nd. Details of that are in the Palm Beach High School Baseball website.
But coming off the state championship last year, beating Lakeland 2-0 back in May of 2011. Read more about that at TC Palm. Two players from that team were selected in the Major League baseball draft, including pitcher Michael Kelly who was picked by the Padres and signed to a substantial contract. Ream more in the Palm Beach Post.