[We should] toughen prison sentences to keep Florida's children safe from sexual predators, and expand DNA collection to include all felony offenses and sexually deviant misdemeanors. Florida should expand the dangerous sexual felony offender law to that all second-time sex offenders are subject to a minimum 20-year sentence. The act will also provide a mandatory life sentence for all third-time offenders. It will also allow misdemeanor sex offenses to be enhanced to felonies and apply the enhanced penalties to those crimes
Solution: Streamline the appeals process in criminal cases. Florida should create a new, more efficient, less expensive process for reviewing criminal cases that instills more public confidence in the criminal justice system. This could be accomplished by limiting the time convicted felons have to appeal their sentences.
The tragedy of Sept. 11 has revealed that gangs are also a threat to our domestic security. The deep infiltration of gangs in our society is extremely attractive to terrorist organizations.
Florida should increase funding for additional law enforcement resources to combat gang activities. Florida should pattern its gang elimination program after the successful Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program. GREAT is a curriculum-based program aimed at teaching students skills to help them avoid gangs, violence, and drugs.
Florida's 2+2 system promotes our public community colleges as the primary point of entry for an undergraduate education, while the statewide articulation agreement guarantees community college graduates who receive an associate of arts degree admission to a state university. By providing many student with affordable access to an undergraduate education, the 2+2 policy reduces the enrollment pressures on state universities for the first two years of an undergraduate program.
Parental involvement is at the heart of education. Parents know their children best, love them most, and are in the best position to know if a school is successfully teaching their children. Consequently, parents should have the means and ability to influence their children's education.
Vito Fossella (R-NY) introduced a House bill to create a federal tax credit of $4,500 per family to offset the cost of private or parochial school tuition. Florida school districts, meanwhile, receive about $10,000 per student enrolled in a public school. That is why school choice means more money for education without raising the tax burden.
Thus the answer to Florida's education woes is not more spending but smarter spending. Success is not defined by per student spending or classroom size but by learning outcomes.
Public-private partnerships could also be extended to the provision of other school services. Privatizing school services such as transportation in numerous states, including Illinois and Alabama, resulted in substantial savings and improves service quality. A 1998 study by Florida's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found that privatized school transportation could save Florida over $13 million annually. Another are to examine for public-private partnerships is school provision of cafeteria food. In sum, public-private partnerships will enable schools to free up money for other educational uses.
Florida should implement a voluntary statewide incentive program for energy efficiency. Florida should explore incentives for homes that pledge to meet the FGBS or similar standards. Increasing the energy efficiency of new homes will save homeowners money and will reduce the need for costly new electric generating facilities.
Florida should create an Energy Efficiency Fund to offer loans to public schools, public hospitals, cities, counties, special districts, and public care institutions. Eligible projects are those with proven energy savings, such as lighting and HVAC efficiency improvements.
Solar energy & biofuels appear to be especially promising alternative energy sources for Florida. Florida has obvious advantages in the area of solar energy and is also pursuing the productio of ethanol. Recent scientific developments and expected future developments could greatly expand the types of feedstock available to produce ethanol at a lower cost than that of either corn or sugar. Thanks to past initiatives, Florida also appears to have achieved a leadership position in the development of hydrogen power. Clean, safe nuclear energy is another promising option to diversify Florida's energy portfolio. Other promising areas include waste-to-energy conversion and wind and water power.
Solution: Offer incentives to encourage purchases of hybrid vehicles.
Many states, Florida included, passed legislation to help consumers offset the initial price of purchasing a hybrid vehicle. And like other states, Florida currently offers hybrid vehicle owners a commuting advantage. Hybrid drivers are allowed to drive in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane at any time, regardless of their vehicle occupancy.
Florida should offer free and/or discounted parking and free or reduced tolls on Florida's toll roads for high fuel efficiency vehicles. The idea would be fairly easy to implement--hybrid vehicle owners could simply obtain a special E-PASS allowing hybrid vehicles to pass through tolls at a free or discounted rate. Additionally, Florida should provide tax incentives for all clean alternative-fueled vehicles and hybrid passenger vehicles that get at least 40 miles per gallon on the highway.
Florida has numerous un-leveraged toll facilities that currently have comparatively low toll rates. These include Sunshine Skyway and Alligator Alley, both part of the interstate system. Florida should examine its existing toll practices and policies and explore opportunities for privatizing roads to help fund needed transportation improvements.
Websites not only show pornographic material; some also serve as a clearinghouse for prostitution, setting up perverse sexual activities, and adulterous affairs.
The Supreme Court has ruled that outright prohibition of nude dancing or photography is unconstitutional. However, the court never found that all forms of pornography must be allowed, nor has it prohibited the regulation of strip clubs that sell alcohol. Florida must adopt regulations to halt the illegal activities occurring at strip clubs and on pornographic websites.
Solution: Eliminate anonymity and increase the costs to those arrested for and/or convicted of running a business that promotes sex crimes.
Florida's 2006 Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee is modeled after the Texas Sunset Review Commission, which abolished 47 agencies or programs, saving $736.9 million in taxpayer dollars. Like the Texas Commission, the Florida Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee will systematically review ALL the duties, operations, and programs of state agencies and their advisory committees. The committee should also determine whether certain public/private entities have upheld their promises. Many agencies and programs may continue unaltered after the review; however, having been subjected to a critical review these programs will hold a greater accountability than any non-reviewed program.
Currently, a small, non-diverse group of citizens (the voters of IA and NH) have a disproportionate impact on the nomination of presidential candidates. While these states provide the benefit of beginning the presidential election in small communities that can be easily traversed and thoroughly campaigned, a large and diverse state should follow them. The only way to change the status quo is to force candidates to be tested by more diverse populations and to address a wider range of issues. Holding Florida's primary earlier would apply that force.
Moving Florida's presidential primary to a time that would highlight Florida's concerns and issues would ensure our national influence in choosing a presidential candidate
Examples of citizen initiatives adopted in 2004 include authorization of the use of slot machines, and an increase in the minimum wage. These provisions do not belong in our Constitution. The purposes of these amendments could have been accomplished by legislative action.
A 2006 bill established closer regulation of the petition process. Legislation should require paid circulators to wear a badge identifying them as paid circulators; prohibit compensation of petition circulators on a "per signature" basis; and create a process for revoking one's own signature. These changes would help return the citizen initiative process to its original intent.
Medicaid reform provides more money for consumers in two eligibility categories--low-income families and persons who are elderly and disabled. The remaining Medicaid patients should be able to benefit from the reform initiative as soon as possible.
Reform relies on capitated managed care systems to achieve fiscal accountability and better value for patients. The plan also invites active participation through the development of provider service networks (PSNs), an innovative method of service delivery in which providers offer expertise in care management.
Florida will design an e-budget website that will display a detailed, issue-level budget and allow the publi to comment on the budget. This budget will be restructured from an input-based methodology appropriating money for employees, salaries, travel ,furniture, and contracts, to a results-based approach.
The new e-budget will allow residents to view the funding of the budget's service or program areas by category. Viewers will see the budget at various levels of complexity; departmental, program, service, and issue. The budget will be far more transparent and understandable.
Problem: Funding is inadequate to build and maintain a transportation system that meets Florida's expanding needs.
Solution: Government should collaborate with the private sector to fund, build, and maintain needed transportation improvements.
Currently, the private sector services in such areas as road and bridge construction, engineering design, construction inspection, roadway maintenance, and toll collection. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are comprehensive services that include design-build-finance-operate-maintain schemes, with the private sector receiving "payment" through tolls collected on a road or bridge, a direct payment from the "owner," or a combination of the two.
Florida should base the felony level of identity theft crimes on the class of victim, as well as the monetary damage incurred. In Florida, any person convicted of an identity theft crime affecting a person 65 years or older will face enhanced penalties.
Current Florida law permits conviction for possession of another's identification information only of the state can prove intent to USE the information. We should eliminate the "use" requirement.
To enhance child safety, Florida will require social networking sites to set up verification systems to require parental notification and consent for minors to use these sites. The consent form should detail what data is collected from users, the disclosure practices of the site operator, and what limits, of any, parents can place on their children's use of the site. Civil penalties will be enforced against anyone that falsifies or otherwise allows a minor access to the site without the proper parental notification and consent.
Solution: Increase incentives for developers to construct affordable housing. The 2006 Legislature encouraged the provision of affordable housing for essential service personnel, extending housing assistance to those with extremely low incomes, and providing other financial and regulatory incentives to encourage affordable housing. The legislation included density bonus incentives for land donations for affordable housing purposes. Florida should increase incentives for developers to not only provide the land for affordable housing, but also construct the housing units themselves.
The 2005 Legislature authorized a pilot program to create a block-grant structure that establishes a fixed price contrast with an independent, outcome-based evaluation. Significant progress has been made, but greater opportunities exist in the movement toward block-grant, outcome-driven operations. These programs should be modified as necessary and expanded as soon as feasible.Florida should enhance independence and flexibility in community-based care.
Fostering growth in downtrodden regions requires a bold, dramatic, and innovative approach to economic development and urban revitalization. The Legislature should institute a pilot program that creates a tax-free zone in the most economically depressed areas of our state. Florida must resolve to break down the economic obstacles that exist in many urban centers today with the same vigilance and zeal used to assail racial and gender barriers over the past forty years.
The above quotations are from 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future, by Marco Rubio.
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