STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (EVENING EDITION): WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2015
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
SUPERVISORS SAY CONGRESSIONAL MAP NEEDED BY DECEMBER
Facing the likelihood of revamping precinct and district boundaries, election supervisors said in a court filing this week that counties need a new congressional map by Dec. 1. The filing came as Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis plans to hold a hearing Thursday on congressional redistricting plans offered by the Florida House, Senate, voting-rights groups and other plaintiffs. The hearing is part of a long-running battle about the constitutionality of current congressional districts, which the Florida Supreme Court ruled violate the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” standards approved by voters in 2010. After considering the proposals, Lewis faces an Oct. 17 deadline to recommend a plan to the Supreme Court. In the filing Monday, the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections pointed to a need to revise precincts in advance of presidential primary elections scheduled for March 15. That includes aligning precinct lines with revamped congressional districts and, in some cases, moving voters to new precincts, according to the filing. The process includes getting approval from county commissions for the new precincts and being prepared to send out overseas military ballots 45 days before the presidential primaries. As a result, the supervisors said they need a congressional map by the beginning of December. “Based on the presidential preference primary in Florida set to occur on March 15, 2016, and in order to have precincts established and voters therein notified of their proper precincts, supervisors of elections will need to have the final district map with new district lines provided to the counties no later than December 1, 2015, in order to be properly prepared for that election,” the filing said.
BONDI, HOSPITAL SYSTEM REACH $3.5M SETTLEMENT
Two days after the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $115 million legal settlement with Adventist Health System, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday her office has reached a $3.5 million settlement with the Altamonte Springs-based hospital system. Both settlements, which stem from whistleblower lawsuits filed by Adventist employees, involve allegations that the hospital firm had improper financial arrangements with physicians. A statement from Bondi’s office said the allegations included submitting false Medicaid claims and awarding doctors based on the number of tests and procedures ordered. The federal allegations centered, at least in part, on Adventist’s Park Ridge Health hospital in Hendersonville, N.C. “Adventist-owned hospitals, such as Park Ridge, allegedly paid doctors’ bonuses based on the number of (tests) and procedures they ordered,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina, said in Monday’s announcement by the Justice Department. “This type of financial incentive is not only prohibited by law, but can undermine patients’ medical care.”
STATE MAY ADD ROAD RANGERS TO ‘MOVE OVER’ LAW
Drivers would have to slow down or move over a lane when approaching a “Road Ranger” vehicle parked on the side of a road, under a proposal from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The proposal for the 2016 legislative session is part of an agency package that will be presented Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet. The proposal requests that lawmakers add the service-patrol vehicles known as Road Rangers to the state’s “Move Over Law.” The law requires motorists to move over a lane, or slow down to a speed that is 20 mph less than the posted speed limit, when approaching emergency vehicles parked on roadsides. Under the proposal, it would apply to Road Ranger vehicles when they are on the side of a road with amber lights rotating or flashing.
For comprehensive coverage of the political landscape, demographics, and voting statistics of Florida House districts, purchase The News Service of Florida’s 2015-2016 Political Almanac of Florida
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