INAPPROPRIATE APPROPRIATIONS, OR HOW CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS HOLD PHANTOM GRUDGES: “The massive new appropriations bill unveiled Monday night includes four provisions that block funding to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an anti-poverty activist group better known as ACORN. The bicameral, bipartisan appropriations bill is the product of last year's budget deal between Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), filling in the details of the blueprint they agreed upon. ACORN, however, no longer exists. The group dissolved in 2010, penniless, after Congress cut off its funding in 2009 based on a selectively edited video released by conservative provocateur James O'Keefe. O'Keefe manipulated the footage to give the impression that ACORN workers were encouraging tax avoidance related to prostitution and child smuggling, but multiple subsequent investigations cleared the group of any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the House GOP has voted 13 times since the organization disbanded to block its funding. House Appropriations Committee spokesperson Jennifer Hing, who was not immediately available to comment, has repeatedly described the ACORN funding language as a standard provision included in appropriations bills.” (via Huffington Post)
ATTORNEY GENERAL PAM BONDI AND THE ART OF AVOIDANCE: “Emails from the public received by the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in the last four months of 2013 overwhelmingly ask her to back away from her opposition to the proposed medicinal marijuana ballot initiative. FCIR obtained the communications in response to a public records request for all email from the public regarding the issue between August 1, 2013 and Dec. 7, 2013, as Bondi’s office challenged the pot measure’s ballot wording last month in the state Supreme Court. From a total of 98 emails sent to the AG’s office in that time frame, 96 ask the state not to oppose the medical marijuana ballot initiative, and 6 support the AG’s opposition. One does not address the issue. The missives range from angry to pleading. Many of them claim to come from Bondi supporters who are disappointed in her opposition to the proposed measure. According to addresses the letter writers provided, they came from all over the state, including Tampa, Naples and Jacksonville. ‘I voted for you, however had I understood your position in the legalization of marijuana I would not have,’ reads one from a ‘registered voter’ in Lutz.” (via Florida Center for Investigative Reporting)
DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU CARE?
WE’RE NOT ENCOURAGING FRACKING, BUT WE’RE ENCOURAGED THAT GAS COMPANIES ARE ENCOURAGED ABOUT FRACKING IN FLORIDA, SO LET’S GIVE THEM A LEG UP: Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero and sponsor of both bills, said he was motivated to file legislation because of news reports in 2012 that reflected oil and gas industry interest in fracking in Florida. Rodrigues said his bills do not allow or encourage hydraulic fracturing in Florida as some opponents claim. He said Florida law already allows the practice although it is not being done now. ‘This is a disclosure bill,’ he told the subcommittee. ‘This is not a fracking bill.’ Environmental groups said the bills would prevent the public and doctors from learning about chemicals that could poison drinking water, citing a chemical spill in a West Virginia river last week that forced 300,000 people to rely on bottled water. Some opponents argued that hydraulic fracturing should be banned rather than requiring disclosure. (via The Florida Current)
LIKEWISE, HOW TO SOLVE ANOTHER PROBLEM THAT DOESN’T EXIST, ESPECIALLY IN THE GUN RANGE KNOWN AS FLORIDA: “So how big is the problem of insurance companies discriminating against homeowners and auto owners for owning a gun? According to the staff analysis of the bill: ‘Professional staff of the Banking and Insurance Committee requested information from the OIR regarding the use of firearm ownership information as an underwriting factor by the top 5 writers of homeowners’ insurance. According to the OIR, only one of these companies addressed firearm ownership in the underwriting guidelines. Citizens does not use firearm ownership in the underwriting process and the Citizens clearinghouse application does not contain questions about firearm ownership.’ The staff analysis also notes that existing state and federal law already protect the privacy rights of gun owners. So, maybe it's not a big problem -- but it must clearly be worth fast-track attention. ‘This bill will stop some wrong doing and insurance companies who don’t discriminate don’t have to worry about a bill that says you can’t discriminate,’ said Marian Hammer of the NRA and the Unified Sportsman of Florida.” (via Tampa Bay Times)
SO PRESIDENT OBAMA WALKS INTO A CAFÉ WHERE A TECH JOURNALIST IS WORKING; HILARITY ENSUES: “When the president arrived, 40 minutes later—stepping out of his SUV, smiling, with a little wave—the nerves subsided. The cafe is split into two long halves, and he first turned to visit its opposite half, smiling, shaking hands, shaking more hands. And then—for the first time in nearly an hour—I could work. I found that I was so accustomed to his voice, how he holds his body, his aura, that ignoring him in person is as easy as ignoring a TV. Easier, in fact. He stops being the president and starts being That Guy Who You See In Tweets, That Guy Who Gives Speeches, That Guy. That Guy shook exactly half the hands on the other side of the restaurant. He came back to our side. He addressed the five people sitting adjacent to me—who were, indeed, apparently there to talk to him. That Guy said he would save our whole side of the restaurant for after the meal. But then, next to me, on my other side, he spotted a baby. He apologized to the group. He could not resist, he said, a baby.” (via The Atlantic)
MEET EL PRESIDENTE!: