Since a series of pre-session immigration meetings, Miami Republican Anitere Flores has led the Florida Senate’s immigration reform efforts. That all changed earlier this week. #
Senate President Mike Haridopolos told reporters Wednesday that he has put Senate Budget chair J.D. Alexander in charge of the legislation as the session draws to a close. Flores said that’s a likely sign that the chamber is moving in a different direction on the issue. She said she’s “eager” to find out what that will look like. #
Taking the measure away from Flores, a Cuban native who represents a center of opposition to the law could be a sign the Senate plans on taking a harder line on issues such as E-Verify, which is a priority among advocates of tougher enforcement, though it has also drawn steady opposition from business groups, which are still working to carve out “safe harbors” in the measure as the session draws to a close. #
Immigration may seem like a strange fit for Alexander, the Senate’s fiscal policy point man. No one (including Alexander himself, based on comments he made earlier this week) seems to have figured out where he stands on the issue. Haridopolos said he has the right “skillset” for the job. #
Before Easter, the Senate was supposedly waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to weigh in on the issue. That hasn’t happened yet. #
On the campaign trail, Scott called for bringing an Arizona-style immigration crackdown to Florida. The issue polls well and may have given him a boost in the Republican primary, but governing may prove a bit more complicated, especially in a state as large, ethnically diverse, and closely tied to Latin America as Florida. #
With the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program in a funding crisis, Florida Department of Health data shows that in 2008 the state led the nation with the highest number of reported cases of HIV infection.
Rick Scott's record as a businessman is controversial. He is famous for earning a fortune in for-profit hospitals, until he was ousted as head of the country's largest hospital chain in 1997, during an investigation that led to a criminal indictment of the corporation for massive Medicare fraud. To rebound, in 2001, Scott launched Solantic, a statewide chain of walk-in clinics based in Jacksonville. From the beginning, Scott and Solantic were dogged by lawsuits that accused the chain of serial discrimination.