The horse trading has started at the end of the Legislative session
By Roger Caldwell
The end of the 60 day Florida Legislative session is coming to an end, and it is time to play let’s make a deal. The major players have paid to play, and now is the time for Governor Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, and House Speaker Will Weatherford to put their heads together, and make deals.
Everyone wants to come out as a winner; therefore they are working behind the scenes to negotiate in good faith so there will not be standoffs, and limited communication. The entire process is built on respect and integrity, and their ability to be leaders. Politics deals with the allocation of billions of dollars, and the budget conferences between the House and Senate are starting to work out their differences.
There will be meltdowns, and certain representatives will get angry, but negotiations are for thick skinned politicians. Everybody wants something and everyone owes favors to certain power brokers. At this point the budget is not finalized so everyone is “horse trading.” No one can decipher how things will turn out, but there will be many twists and turns in the last days of the session.
There are certain bills that have been passed by both Houses, and the Florida legislature has sunk to a new low when it passed its Nursing Home Investor bill. Everyone in the country is well aware that Florida has a large senior population, because they retire to the sunny climate. It would appear that our legislators would be working on their side, but don’t hold your breath in Florida.
The Florida legislature has passed a bill that would shield nursing home investors from lawsuits stemming from abuse and neglect. The measure would stop “passive investors” from being named in a lawsuit unless the court determined they had an active role.
There are millionaire and billionaire investors connected to the nursing home business, and there are enormous profits made in a state where seniors will eventually need nursing care. In 2012, the nursing industry spent over three million dollars in political campaigns, and in 2014, our legislators have crafted a bill to put fewer regulations on the owners.
Seniors have died in Florida, because of some of the deplorable conditions that can be found in the state nursing homes. The investors who are really the owners are putting pressure on the workers and management to cut staff and budgets to maximize profits. If our governor signs this bill, he is against cleaning up the deplorable conditions that the state nursing homes find themselves in.
There are a half-dozen wrongful death and patient-neglect cases in the state, and investors are trying to avoid paying damage claims. It is obvious that Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford were on the wrong side of the seniors and the residents of Florida when this bill was passed in this session.
It is now time that Governor Scott does the right thing, and veto this terrible bill. We all can hope and it is important that residents write and call the governor, but it may be too late, because our legislators operate behind closed doors and in secret.