New abortion funding ban forces changes in Palm Beach County

New state law erases funding at Planned Parenthood clinics
New state law erases funding at Planned Parenthood clinics

A new state law banning taxpayer dollars from flowing to organizations that perform abortions has prompted Palm Beach County’s Children’s Services Council to revamp funding for a teen outreach program.

The council this week said the Urban League of Palm Beach County will directly run 12 teen clubs it currently subcontracts with Planned Parenthood for at least some services.

The council said decision will not change its current funding of  $330,435 to the Urban League for the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), nor will any students be affected.

The changes are set to take effect July 1, the same day the new state law bars public money from going to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood has estimated it will lose $204,000 with elimination of its TOP subcontract.

Supporters of the bill (HB 1411) Gov. Rick Scott signed into law said it’s important that public dollars not go to organizations that perform abortions – even if that might be only part of their overall mission.

Planned Parenthood operates 22 health centers across Florida, including three in Palm Beach County. Fifteen of the centers provide abortion services, including those in Wellington and Boca Raton.

The organization, along with abortion rights advocates, said the new law is punitive and part of efforts in 18 states this year aimed at barring public dollars from flowing to abortion providers.

Scott and Cabinet break deadlock on insurance commissioner, promoting deputy as a compromise


On their third attempt at reaching a consensus, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet agreed Friday to promote insurance regulator David Altmaier to the post of state Insurance Commissioner — while keeping his outgoing boss, Kevin McCarty, on board for an additional 60 days.

Altmaier’s selection came after another deadlock ensued between Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Scott over the selection. Atwater on Friday again recommended Delray Beach Republican Rep. Bill Hager, a former Iowa insurance commissioner, for the post but, as in two earlier meetings, Hager was a no-sale with Scott.

Scott’s own favorite applicant, Tampa-area Jeffrey Bragg, a retired insurance industry executive, was already rejected by Atwater. The governor and chief financial officer, who oversees the insurance commissioner’s office, must agree on a selection, under state law

Friday’s meeting was as awkward as the earlier attempts to settle on a candidate.

After Hager failed, Atwater’s fallback candidate, Deputy Commissioner Belinda Miller, also didn’t win Scott’s OK. So Atwater turned to Altmaier, who has worked at the Office of Insurance Regulation since 2008 and was among three applicants interviewed Friday by Scott and the Cabinet.

Altmaier impressed the governor and Cabinet — with all but Atwater joining Friday’s meeting by conference call — with his grasp of insurance markets,his ability to respond to a decision Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court seen as threatening to the workers’ compensation system, and his focus on the consumer.

“This guy is impressive,” Atwater said.

Altmaier will get a $165,000 annual salary. McCarty, the state’s insurance commissioner since 2003, was set to step down May 2, but earlier agreed to stay on to assist with the transition as hurricane season nears.

Scott and the Cabinet agreed to that offer Friday, but made the point that Altmaier is in command.



Scott takes to Facebook to urge anti-Trump efforts cease

Gov. Scott takes to Facebook to urge halt to anti-Trump movement
Gov. Scott takes to Facebook to urge halt to anti-Trump movement

Gov. Rick Scott called on fellow Republicans Wednesday to stop trying to derail Donald Trump’s road to the party’s presidential nomination.

The Florida governor, who endorsed Trump a day after he won the state’s primary last month, posted the message on his Facebook page. Trump’s sweep of five states Tuesday may have sparked Scott.

“It is time for the ‘Stop Trump’ movement to end,” Scott wrote. “Yesterday’s election results show that the anti-Trump efforts didn’t work.

“Republicans now need to come together,” Scott added. “Donald Trump is going to be our nominee, and he is going to be on the ballot as the Republican candidate for President. The Republican leaders in Washington did not choose him, but the Republican voters across America did choose him. The voters have spoken.”

Scott also warned that those looking to block Trump from gaining the nomination are effectively helping Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“If the anti-Trump groups don’t stop now, their efforts will be nothing more than a contribution to the Clinton campaign,” Scott wrote.

The long-awaited Donald Trump pivot: from ‘Lyin’ Ted’ to Hillary Clinton’s ‘woman’s card’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday night with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie behind him. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday night with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie behind him. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

On the night he swept five primaries, part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump declared himself the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and made a long-awaited pivot to the general election — but not the kind of shift the GOP establishment was promised last week.


Trump was expected to do well in Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island. The main suspense was whether he’d use his victory speech to adopt a more “presidential” tone, as his newly hired senior adviser Paul Manafort promised to Republican National Committee members last week in Broward County.


Donald Trump strategist Paul Manafort (left) and Trump endorser Ben Carson have both said the Trump familiar "on the stage" will be changing soon. (AP photo / Wilfredo Lee)
Donald Trump strategist Paul Manafort (left) and Trump endorser Ben Carson have both said the Trump familiar “on the stage” will be changing soon. (AP photo / Wilfredo Lee)

Manafort told RNC members that Trump has been “projecting an image” with his insult-throwing, anti-establishment performances on the primary campaign trail, but “the part that he’s been playing is now evolving.”


Trump pushed back against that notion Tuesday night.


“I’m not changing. I went to the best schools. I’m like a very smart person…I don’t want to change my personality. It got me here,” Trump told reporters.


He called on rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich to get out of the race. In what could be considered a shift from primary to general election mode, Trump refrained from calling Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Instead, he directed several barbs at all-but-official Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.


Trump called her “Crooked Hillary” and, echoing Bernie Sanders, attacked Clinton from the left on trade and Wall Street. And he closed the night by doubling down on his claim that Clinton is playing the “woman’s card” in her campaign.


“I think the only card she has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said.


The toned-down Trump promised by Manafort could make an appearance today when he’s scheduled to deliver a foreign policy address — perhaps even reading from a teleprompter — in Washington, D.C. Follow and @gbennettpost on Twitter beginning around noon for coverage.


After taking on Middle East, Beruff targets media and Democrats

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff

After catching heat for telling Broward County Republicans that he would refuse “anybody from the Middle East into this country,” Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff found a new target Tuesday.

The media. And Democrats.

“The liberal media is out of control,” Beruff said. “And Democrats refuse to deal with reality. They make things up, sensationalize common sense solutions and exacerbate this obsession over political correctness.

“I stand by my answer and will repeat: anyone with ties, or possible ties, to terrorism should not be allowed in the United States,” he concluded.

Beruff, a Manatee County developer close to Gov. Rick Scott, is among five prominent Republicans running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio.

U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Alan Grayson of Orlando are running on the Democratic side, and Murphy was among those in his party critical of Beruff’s comments, calling them “dangerous to our democracy.”

Beruff said he’d make an exception for U.S. entry for Israelis, because of that nation’s strict security measures. But he told the Sun-Sentinel following Monday night’s meeting of the Broward Repubican Party that Christians and Muslims from elsewhere in the region should be kept out until the “immigration department” is “fixed.”

Scott, who appointed Beruff to lead his healthcare commission last year, sidestepped the candidate’s comments. Instead, he touted the state’s tourism numbers, adding, “I want people to come to our state.”



Scott running radio spots in advance of California trip

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott is laying down some air cover with radio spots in advance of his corporate hunting trip to California next month.

The ads in San Francisco and Los Angeles warn of the Golden State losing 700,000 jobs because of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown agreeing to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2022.

Using the classic ad scene of two women talking, the spot notes the minimum wage hike “hurts the same people it was supposed to help” and concludes that California, “is beautiful, but you just can’t afford to live here.”

Before last year’s recruitment trip to California — which was aimed at luring port traffic — Scott accused Brown of running a “tax and spend administration.”


Donald Trump makeover continues with ex-Christie manager, D.C.-area office

Donald Trump strategist Paul Manafort (left) and Trump endorser Ben Carson have both said the Trump familiar "on the stage" will be changing soon. (AP photo / Wilfredo Lee)
Donald Trump strategist Paul Manafort (left) and Trump endorser Ben Carson have both said the Trump familiar “on the stage” will be changing soon. (AP photo / Wilfredo Lee)

Part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump — who’s been “projecting an image” on the stump but is transitioning into a “real different guy” — has hired New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s former presidential campaign manager and opened a Washington, D.C.-area office  to build relations with members of Congress and map delegate strategy.


Former Christie campaign manager Ken McKay will serve Trump as “senior adviser to support the delegate operations team” as Trump tries to lock up the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.


GOP veterans appear to be supplanting Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
GOP veterans appear to be supplanting Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

“Ken has a proven track record in winning state political races,” Trump said in a statement released by his campaign. “He will support our delegate operations team and bolster our ground game efforts. He brings tremendous experience to the job, and I know he is up to the task of working with my team.”


Trump has relied primarily on political outsiders for most of his campaign, but McKay is the latest veteran GOP operative brought on in recent weeks. Trump has also hired former Scott Walker campaign manager Rick Wiley and former Ben Carson adviser Ed Brookover. And he recently brought on longtime Republican strategist Paul Manafort as a senior adviser who appears to have eclipsed the influence campaign manager and “protective bubble” enforcer Corey Lewandowski.


Manafort was the one who assured Republican National Committee members in Hollywood last week that a more establishment-friendly version of Trump will emerge soon.


“When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose…You’ll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You’ll see a real different guy,” Manafort told the RNC members.


The Washington Post reports that much of Trump’s new brain trust met today at a new Washington-area headquarters in Alexandria, Va.


Abortion waiting period put back on hold in Florida

Justices put 24-hour waiting period for abortions back on hold
Justices put 24-hour waiting period for abortions back on hold

Florida’s 24-hour waiting period before women can obtain abortions was put on hold again Friday by the state Supreme Court.

In their 5-2 ruling, justices agreed to block enforcement of the waiting period until they decide whether to take up the challenge to the law brought by Gainesville Woman Care and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

“We are pleased that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with the trial court that Florida women should not suffer this burden while there is an ongoing challenge to this unconstitutional law,” stated Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida.

“Forcing women seeking an abortion to make multiple visits that are medically unnecessary especially burdens poor and working women, and is potentially dangerous,” she added.

The waiting period was approved by the 2015 Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. But within a day of the measure taking effect last July, a Leon County judge issued an injunction blocking any delay for women seeking abortions.

The state fought that ruling and in February, the First District Court of Appeal ordered the waiting period into place. Clinics around the state have been complying with that decision, said Laura Goodhue, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in Florida.

Goodhue noted that the 24-hour wait can actually stretch into days or weeks because doctors may not always be on hand to perform abortions at a particular clinic.

Scott and the Republican-led Legislature advanced another law this year that toughens regulations on Florida abortion clinics and bars organizations that perform the procedure from receiving state and local taxpayer dollars.

Planned Parenthood says that law will cost the organization about $500,000 in Florida, with about half the loss coming in Palm Beach County.

The taxpayer-backed Children’s Services Council would be barred from continuing to steer $204,000 in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood for a teen outreach program.

Planned Parenthood also would lose the $44,600 it receives through the Palm Beach County Health Department for family planning and health programs serving 2,500 lower-income women.



National GOP rejects rules change

Solomon Yue, an RNC committeeman from Oregon, wants Republican convention rules changed to make it harder for a "fresh face" to be nominated.
Solomon Yue, an RNC committeeman from Oregon, wants Republican convention rules changed to make it harder for a “fresh face” to be nominated.


At its quarterly meeting in Hollywood, the Republican National Committee Thursday rejected a change that its sponsor said would make it more difficult for party elites to bring in a “fresh face” to seek the nomination at the convention.

Solomon Yue, a RNC committeeman from Oregon, has proposed that the GOP convention use Roberts Rules of Order instead of Congressional rules.

The House of Representatives rules, which have been used at past conventions, give more latitude to the convention’s presiding officer — expected to be House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. — to open nominations to consider other candidates if no candidate wins on the first ballot. Under Roberts Rules, such a scenario would require a majority of convention delegates to agree.

While agreeing his proposal would make it tougher for anyone other than the delegate leader, part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump, or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, to be considered for the nomination, Yue said he’s neutral in the race and is only trying to bring transparency to the process.

Not changing rules, Yue said, “will blow up this convention as well as the party, as well as cause us to lose, in November, the White House spot.”

Yue, a refugee from Communist China, cited the images of U.S. helicopters evacuating people from the American embassy in Saigon at the fall of South Vietnam.

“If we don’t do it right, and we lose this election, there won’t be a chopper for you and me,” Yue said.

Randy Evans, from Georgia, was opposed.

“We’re basically changing the rules in the seventh inning of the ball game,” Randy Evans of Georgia said. “I don’t think it’s right that you change the rules.”

Sen. Jeremy Ring also considering governor’s race, joining Gwen Graham

Sen. Jeremy Ring
Sen. Jeremy Ring

With Democrat Gwen Graham making it official Thursday that she’s considering running for governor in two years, state Sen. Jeremy Ring also is declaring that he’s making calls about mounting a campaign.

Ring, D-Parkland, is term limited. But he said that he has been quietly exploring the idea of succeeding fellow multi-millionaire Gov. Rick Scott.

Graham’s possible entry isn’t an obstacle, Ring said Thursday.

“It comes down to three things: experience, message and how much money can raise,” Ring said. “I think nobody can match me on two out of three of those things.”

Ring said his 10 years in the state Senate give him a firm grasp on the issues facing Florida. As a former executive at Yahoo!, Ring has pushed for lawmakers to support more entrepreneurial programs in education and business recruitment — policies which he said would be a key part of his statewide message.

While Ring is worth $13.7 million, according to his latest financial disclosure report, raising money is the third rung on his ladder to the Governor’s Office that he’s going to be working hardest on.

“It’s a long way out,” Ring said of the 2018 race.

Ring has been a centrist Democrat, a social liberal whose support for business initiatives has won him praise from Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Senate.

That could open some doors for him in fund-raising, although Graham also has cast herself as a moderate Democrat, saying her approach is the “North Florida way.”

The Democrats eyeing the race are joined by Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is widely seen as a likely contender for governor. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also looks like he could be available.