to the web site of Lee Republican Women Federated! Thank you very much for visiting and we hope you find our web site informative and a place you will want to visit again. Lee Republican Women Federated (LRWF) is a member of the Florida Federation of Republican Women which was chartered in 1950 and a member of the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) which was started in 1938. Our affiliation with both these groups allows us to say that we are part of a grassroots organization of over 100,000 women throughout the country who support Republican candidates and issues at all levels of government.
PLEASE NOTE: Our meeting venue has changed to The Edison Restaurant, Bar and Banquet Center, 3583 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33901.

Upcoming Speakers:

LRWF August Dinner Meeting 8/11/2014

Program will feature candidates running for FL Senate, District 30, incumbent Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and challenger Dr. Michael Dreikorn.

LRWF July Luncheon Meeting

7-14-2014 Program will feature candidates running for Lee County School Board.

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July 13th, 2014

Program will feature candidates running for FL Senate, District 30, incumbent Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto and challenger Dr. Michael Dreikorn.

July 4th, 2014

The persistent march of terrorists and tyrants around the globe gives us reason to reflect on the precious gift of freedom we have been given and must continue to safeguard.

In signing the Declaration of Independence, 238 years ago, our Founding Fathers defied an intolerable King and proclaimed a God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those men signified to the world that, although they yearned for peace, they would not submit to despots. Their demand for liberty offered no compromise.

As Thomas Jefferson later wrote, the Declaration was “an expression of the American mind”—one that refuses to accept insufferable evil, abuses, and usurpations and holds the freedom of its people supreme.

This is the spirit America was founded upon.

This is the heritage we all share.

This is what makes us Americans.

Much time has passed, but many of the challenges our forefathers faced have not changed. One doesn’t have to look very far on the world map to find nations where people suffer under brutal oppressors.

“Terrorism” is an often-used word because the maiming and killing of innocents is so frequent. Suicide bombings, IEDs, mass killings, kidnappings, and hijackings are tools of their trade.

Hamas recently kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teenagers who were waiting for a bus to get home from school. They committed no wrong; they were targeted, forcibly taken, and shot.

Hundreds of girls remain missing in Nigeria, kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram.

We remember when Taliban forces shot Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager because she was campaigning for girls’ education. Courageously, she continues to advocate for it today.

We remember watching Neda Agha-Solten perish on the streets of Tehran during anti-government protests from a gunshot wound to the chest.

We remember when the Syrian government gassed hundreds of beautiful, faultless, cherished children in their sleep last year, shocking the conscience of people around the world.

And, there are countless others whose stories have not been told.

Most of us, because we are Americans, will never have to suffer as these people and their families have. Thank God for the blessing of being an American and those who have fought and continue to fight to keep us free.

And, remember, those Americans who are trapped, at this moment, in dark corners of the world.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, has been brutalized and remains imprisoned in Iran for merely sharing his Christian faith. Another American citizen, Kenneth Bae, is imprisoned in North Korea for also sharing his Christian faith. And, Meriam Ibrahim, a young mother who was forced to give birth with her legs in irons because she would not renounce her Christian faith, was kept in a Sudanese prison with her two small American children. Due to international outcry over their plight, they are finally out of jail, but are still waiting to experience real freedom in America.

We should never take our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for granted. Too much of the world does not recognize them. We must still hold these truths.

Just as those brave men did 238 years did ago, let us affirm our commitment to a government defined by consent of the people—a transformative concept that launched America into becoming the greatest force for freedom the world has ever seen.

On this Fourth of July raise up your American flags high and wave them proudly. The spirit of our star-spangled banner makes us who we are. That spirit keeps us strong, safe, and free.

Written by Ted Cruz for The Heritage Foundation

July 1st, 2014

You don’t have to agree with Hobby Lobby or share its owners’ opposition to abortion to recognize that the government should not be able to force Americans to set aside their deeply held beliefs simply because they go into business.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court agreed and upheld the right of Americans to live and work according to their convictions in a 5- 4 decision today.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the justices ruled the government will not be able to force Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties to provide coverage of four drugs and devices that can end the life of a human embryo.

As Justice Samuel Alito noted in the majority opinion today, there were plenty of other ways for the government to provide the drugs and devices in question to women who wanted them without forcing private family businesses to violate their convictions.

Applying the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to closely held family businesses, the Court found that the government cannot coerce the Greens’ and Hahns’ businesses to violate their beliefs.

As the Court noted today: “Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.”

Passed by Congress in 1993 by broad, bipartisan majorities, RFRA protects Americans from substantial burdens on religious freedom unless the government can show it has a compelling government interest and does so in the least restrictive way possible. That’s a high bar and one the Obama administration failed to meet under this mandate.

Today’s decision rejects the administration’s argument that Americans’ religious freedom ends when they open a family business.

Having essentially exempted the health plans of nearly 100 million individuals from this mandate and provided a religious exemption (albeit narrow) to houses of worship, the Obama administration was unable to show a compelling reason for burdening the religious freedom of the Greens’ and Hahns’ businesses.

To be clear, the decision today applies only to the Obamacare rule that was threatening the religious freedom of the Greens’ and Hahns’ family businesses. Other claims for religious exemptions by closely held family businesses from other laws will have to be litigated on a case-by-case basis. RFRA doesn’t provide a blank check for religious believers to do whatever they want in the name of religion and neither does today’s decision.

With today’s ruling, the Greens’ and Hahns’ family businesses will be able to continue offering their employees generous healthcare plans (which cover most forms of contraception) without fear of government penalties. And the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood remain free – like all women – to make their own decisions about these four drugs and devices (as well as other birth control) and to purchase or find insurance coverage for them. But the government cannot coerce these family businesses to participate in those decisions in violation of their beliefs.

Article from the Heritage Foundation

June 27th, 2014

Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better   by Peter H. Schuck

Reviewed by Judy O’Donnell

Our federal government employs about two million people and does business with untold numbers of contractors and consultants.  In 2011, it spent about $3.8 trillion on programs that touch everyone.

Unfortunately, as the author reminds us, Americans have a dismal view of the performance of their government.  In 1958, 73 percent of respondents told pollsters they trusted Washington D.C. to do what is right “just about always.”  In 2011, 10 percent held that view.  This crisis of confidence can be attributed to dysfunction in Congress and poor performance of government.

The author, who claims he is a Democrat, uses cost-benefit analysis and relies on empirical evidence to assess a vast number of programs and finds, with a few exceptions; they are terribly wasteful and ineffective.   Schuck makes a compelling case that many domestic programs, including those that have public support among Republicans as well as Democrats, deliver benefits at costs that are much higher than necessary and contain damaging unintended consequences.

The authors targets include federal drought insurance, income transfers to the disabled, student financial-aid programs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, ethanol subsidies, and the Dodd-Frank reform of financial institutions.

The government workforce is “demoralized, poorly equipped, marginalized, publicly scorned and undisciplined,” because it is virtually impossible to suspend, demote, or fire a civil service worker.

The majority of the book lays out all the bad programs we have going on, but really gives little in the way of solutions.  Schuck supports field-testing new programs through pilot programs.  He also calls for enhanced enforcement and audits.  His principal aim is to help tailor the ends of government to its institutional means and capacities by persuading liberals that they need to worry a lot about the political implications of poorly performing government programs and convince conservatives that, since big government is here to stay, they can—and should—demand greater efficiency.

That said, his claim that policies often do not satisfy even the most minimal standards is likely to demoralize Democrats and energize Republicans.

June 27th, 2014

Of the more than 24,000 unaccompanied children who entered the United States illegally last year, most haven’t left — even those who were detained.

“Eighty-seven percent of those are still here in [court] proceedings because we have no final orders,” said Tom Homan, executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testifying yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee.

And the problem has gotten worse this year – more than 52,000 minors traveling without their parents have been caught crossing the southwest border since October, including a record 9,000 in May.

The children, most of whom come from Central America, are processed in Nogales, Ariz., before moving to the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees detention shelters and works to find parents or guardians in the country.

An HHS official today confirmed to The Daily Signal that an unaccompanied minor being housed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, was hospitalized and diagnosed with H1N1, or swine flu, which is contagious. The  official, calling it an isolated case, said the child is responding to treatment and being monitored.

As politicians on both sides point fingers – the title of yesterday’s House hearing, “An Administration-Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors,”spoke to that – border officials charged with managing the crisis say the facts on the ground are more clear.

“Only one thing can end the frenzy of law-breaking at the border – an end to the ‘catch-and-release policy’ for illegal-alien juveniles,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Signal. Krikorian added:

Every illegal alien caught at the border must be detained until his hearing, so that word gets back to Central America that it’s no longer worth making the trip.

President Obama has added capacity to process and place the border crossers, directing Homeland Security Secretary Jeh C. Johnson to coordinate assistance from various sections of the government, including HHS,  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Coast Guard. Even so, officials at the border say, they face a shortage of manpower.

‘Motivated by Rumors of Amnesty’

Officials, based on recorded interviews with the children, can’t definitively declare a reason for the surge. But  those who testified said misinformation about current U.S. immigration law and the prospect of amnesty for illegal immigrants have been motivators.

“Reports from ICE officers and agents on the ground corroborate reports that the majority are motivated more by rumors of amnesty than the situation in their countries,” said Chris Crane, president of National ICE Council 118 of the American Federation of Government Employees. The union leader added:

Impoverished countries don’t read our laws or read cut-off dates. This crisis is putting a tremendous strain on ICE ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] and its limited manpower and resources nationwide.

Brandon Judd, president of the AFGE National Border Patrol Council, who represents 16,500 border agents, said diverting resources to the child migrant problem has hurt enforcement resources where it matters.

“We are adequately staffed to process them, but we have to strip the line to do it,” Judd said. “The actual border takes a hit because we have to take people out of the field to do it.”

The influx of child migrants has spotlighted another shortage: a lack of immigration judges.

Homan said that once the children arrive here, they likely won’t leave for a while – if at all – because there are too few immigration judges to see them.

Hearings can take several years, Homan said.

Each child receives his own hearing. Most of the children do not have lawyers, though they have the right to a counsel at their own expense.

‘They Blend Into the Community’

But just bringing the children to court can be a challenge, because Border Patrol agents sometimes have no means to verify their identity.

“Most will never appear in court,” Judd said. “They fail to appear and then they blend into the community. The chance they are deported is small.”

Some of the children – and separately, women traveling with children – seek asylum. Based on a screening interview with the border crossers, an officer determines whether a credible fear exists.If so, the officer may refer the minor or adult to an asylum hearing at an immigration court.

Ronald Vitiello,  deputy chief of border control for customs and border protection at the Department of Homeland Security, said unless the children carry documentation or have prior history in the U.S., agents can’t confirm their ages and names.

Most of the minors say they are between 14 and 17 years old, though some report being as young as 5.To add to the challenge, children under 14 cannot be fingerprinted under U.S. law.

The White House announced plans to expedite removals and said it will expand use of monitoring devices such as ankle bracelets to track the illegal immigrants while they wait for court proceedings.

Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Guatemala on June 20 to meet with regional leaders and ask for help quelling rumors of achieving legal status in America.

To coincide with Biden’s trip, the Obama administration pledged $93 million in new programs to reduce violence in Central America. The funding includes $40 million to reduce gang membership in Guatemala, $25 million to build 77 youth centers in El Salvador and $18.5 million to build 77 youth centers in Honduras.

No Free Passes’

This week Johnson, the DHS secretary, sent anopen letter warning Central American parents who consider sending their children here: “There are no ‘permits’ or free passes at the end.”

Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said the reason for the crisis is “abundantly clear,” but the solution is more complex. The head of the Hispanic civil rights organization said that solution involves “not just law enforcement and U.S. domestic policy, but also U.S. foreign policy and the participation of international agencies.”

Marguia said a new plan from Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., “is an important step forward in addressing this crisis,” adding:

It calls for, among other things, focusing immediately on the welfare of the children, cracking down on smugglers and a renewed emphasis on fostering social and economic development in the region.

Altogether, the border surge brings circumstances different than years past.

This batch of border crossers likely don’t have criminal intentions, officials addressing the surge said, because they don’t try to be elusive. They come, rather, because they know they can stay.

“They are giving themselves up,” Vitiello said.

Article from The Heritage Foundation

June 27th, 2014
The Marijuana Usage Trend That Separates America From the Rest of the World
U.S. government data shows that changing perspectives on the drug have led to a 56 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits between 2006 and 2010 — and a 14 percent increase in the use of drug-treatment programs during that same time frame, according to NPR.

 

June 24th, 2014

7-14-2014 Program will feature candidates running for Lee County School Board.

June 9th, 2014

Many people think President Obama’s speech at West Point was all about politics. Setting up straw men and knocking them down, the president defined himself mainly by what he wasn’t. He was not an isolationist. He was not a warmonger. Of course, no one seriously claimed he was either one. Nor are these extremes real-world strategic options.

Yes, the president’s speech was offered as a defense against his political critics. But it would be wrong to conclude that politics is the only factor driving Obama’s foreign policy. There appears to be a strategic purpose as well: Put simply, it is to limit American power and to redefine the very nature of American leadership in the world.

Prior to Obama, presidents tended to see American power as a good thing. It helped secure the peace and provide world order. It served the values of freedom and democracy by supporting allies. Whatever American presidents of the post-World War II era may have thought about particular wars, they did not doubt the goodness and necessity of American military power—both as a means of defense and as exerting a deterrent and stabilizing force for the world as a whole.

Obama sees it otherwise. At West Point he was careful to give a nod to the traditional view that military power is the “backbone” of American leadership. But as with almost all statements about America’s role in the world, he had reservations, particularly with respect to things military. “Military action cannot be the only—or even primary—component of our leadership in every instance,” he said. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”

The sarcasm is revealing. So, too, is the proliferation of “ifs”, “ands” and “buts” to qualify (and contradict) every hard statement about the efficacy of American power. The president clearly thinks that American military power is overrated, if not downright problematic. What is particularly odd is his apparent belief that it has no real value unless it is actually used. For example, at West Point he proclaimed that the armed forces’ main job is to defend what he calls “core interests — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” If military forces are to be used for any other purpose, for humanitarian causes, for example, it must be done so “multilaterally,” either through the United Nations or cooperation with some undefined “others.”

It’s important to be clear what he’s talking about here. Obama is describing the active use of force. There is no consideration of the residual value of military power—and thus of the armed services themselves—as a deterrent to war, which after all was the central military strategy not only throughout the Cold War but even in the decades thereafter.

Obama’s distrust of American power is not mere rhetoric. He is putting his money where his mouth is. He’s making deep cuts to America’s armed forces. The one announcement of increased investment in security in the West Point speech was to spend $5 billion—not to modernize America’s armed forces, but to aid other countries in combating terrorism. His entire strategic push is to get others—the U.N., our allies—to do more so we can do less. That’s true not only when he implores our NATO allies to “pull their weight,” but when he expects the Afghan government to take our place in combating the Taliban after our withdrawal.

Preaching to others to do what we are ourselves unwilling to do is not leadership. It is an abdication of leadership. Our indispensable role has always been to do what others cannot do, and at the top of that list was to provide enough credible military strength to maintain a balance of power in favor of us and our allies.

It’s a shame the president has such doubts about the country he leads.

Morning Bell, Heritage Foundation

May 30th, 2014

All Washington is speculating on when—not if—U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki will have to step down. And once that happens, all the chatter will turn immediately to who gets to take the hot seat next. In many ways, that’s the wrong question.

Washington is ever fixated on who’s in and who’s out. But the most important question here is: How can we build a more effective and efficient Department of Veterans Affairs?

That’s a task that requires much more than a new face in President Obama’s cabinet. To fix VA, the next secretary will need an attentive, committed partner in the White House and bipartisan support in the Congress. That’s the only way to establish the administrative and legislative foundation necessary to deliver the world-class service our veterans deserve.

So rather than start with names, let’s start with identifying five fixes all of Washington needs to pursue to get VA right.

1) Create a culture of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lack of accountability is not a problem specific to VA headquarters or the Phoenix hospital; it is department-wide. The VA Management Accountability Act can be highly useful in achieving this goal: The secretary needs to be able to fire the leaders who work underneath him. Employees found to be in violation of VA procedures should face real consequences—not just be shuffled over to another slot in the bureaucracy. The same goes for middle management and rank-and-file employees, who right now are largely sheltered from oversight.

2) Empower employees to speak up about wrongdoings. The revelations of falsification of wait lists and bureaucratic corruption have come largely from whistleblowers who were courageous enough to speak truth knowing their truth-telling likely would cost them their job. Many more stories are waiting to be told. The inspector general’s interim report from the Phoenix VA states that investigators received “numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers at this facility.” VA employees should not be afraid to speak out on such matters. Whistleblower protections should be strengthened, the inspector general’s budget increased, and the inspector general should be empowered to pursue these new allegations.

3) The department must be made to answer congressional inquiries in a direct, transparent and timely manner. The House Veterans Affairs Committee documented hundreds of congressional requests for information that have been ignored by department officials. The committee has tried to shame VA into compliance by publicizing the lack of cooperation, but that tactic was met with more inaction and unresponsiveness.

4) Increase the efficiency of service delivery and elevate the quality of care provided by the VA system to that found in the private sector. Recent reports indicate the work schedules of VA doctors are several times lighter than those of their private-sector counterparts. Such inefficiency, driven by excess regulation, red tape and so-called “protections,” necessarily leads to increased wait time. Obama acknowledged the system’s productivity problems when he talked of the need to bring the department into the 21st century. It is not a matter of resources, but rather creating the incentives for those resources to be used efficiently.

5) Increase medical options for our veterans. VA already has a program that allows veterans to go outside the VA health care network on a per-fee basis. Despite the resistance from VA employees, that program needs to be dramatically expanded. Veterans should be given the direct choice to access private care—based on triggers such as geographic hardships, excess wait times or a general lack of quality care. At a House hearing on Tuesday, VA officials admitted they’ve been operating under misguided priorities, and they need to refocus on making outcomes for veterans the primary goal—not the perpetuation of VA’s monopoly. Injecting choice into the VA system also allows free-market incentives to induce VA to improve their service, lest veterans go somewhere else for care.

These priorities are not just for the next secretary. No one man or woman can make it happen. All of Washington—House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, Veterans Affairs and the White House—needs to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

VA has a legal obligation to provide services to veterans. But all us have a moral obligation to give back to those who have served us. As advocates, we can fight for a better VA—and we must. And as individuals, we can welcome veterans back into our communities and help them thrive—and in doing so, inject the courage, selflessness and leadership America desperately needs right now.

James Carafano, a 25-year Army veteran, is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies and E.W. Richardson Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Pete Hegseth, an Army veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, is the chief executive of Concerned Veterans for America and a Fox News contributor.

May 19th, 2014

10 Issues Passed & 10 Issues Failed

 

Florida lawmakers ended the 2014 legislative session late Friday after passing a budget and a flurry of other bills dealing with issues such as child welfare and school vouchers. But hundreds of bills died as lawmakers headed home to gear up for re-election campaigns. Here are 10 issues that passed during the session and 10 issues that failed.

PASSED:

— BUDGET: Buoyed by a surplus topping $1 billion, lawmakers passed a $77.1 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The spending plan is the largest in state history and includes additional money for public schools, child-protective investigators and protecting and restoring the Everglades and other waterways.

— CHILD WELFARE: Lawmakers approved a package of changes to the child-welfare system after highly critical reports about children dying because of abuse and neglect. The bill includes steps such as trying to bolster investigations of child deaths and increasing transparency and accountability at the state Department of Children and Families and at privatized community-based care agencies.

— GUNS: The Republican-dominated Legislature passed a series of bills backed by gun-rights advocates, including a measure — dubbed the “warning shot” bill — that would allow people to threaten to use force, including showing guns or firing warning shots, in self defense. Another bill seeks to prevent schoolchildren from being disciplined for simulating guns while playing or for wearing clothes that depict firearms.

— JUVENILE JUSTICE: After struggling in the past to reach agreement on the issue, lawmakers approved a bill that seeks to bring Florida in line with two U.S. Supreme Court rulings about life sentences for juveniles who commit murders and other serious felonies. The bill calls, in part, for judicial hearings and sentencing standards that would vary depending on the nature of the crimes.

— MEDICAL MARIJUANA: In an issue that quickly gained support during the session, lawmakers approved a bill that would allow a strain of marijuana that backers say would help children who suffer from a rare form of epilepsy that causes severe seizures. The substance, known as “Charlotte’s Web,” is low in euphoria-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so users do not get high.

— SCHOOL VOUCHERS: After the issue earlier appeared dead in the Senate, lawmakers Friday approved a plan to expand eligibility in the state’s de facto school-voucher system. Under the bill, additional families would be eligible to take part in the Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides tax breaks to companies that donate money to nonprofit entities that pay for children to go to private schools.

— SEXUAL PREDATORS: Lawmakers hurried at the start of the session to pass a package of bills aimed at keeping sexually violent predators locked up so they cannot attack again. The package, already signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, came after an investigative report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found that hundreds of sexually violent predators had been released only to be convicted of new sex offenses.

— TAX AND FEE CUTS: Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders made a priority of cutting $500 million in taxes and fees. The bulk of the cuts, ultimately totaling nearly $400 million, will come from rolling back vehicle-registration fees that were increased in 2009. Lawmakers also approved smaller proposals, such as holding a back-to-school tax holiday in August.

— TUITION: Lawmakers largely went along with Gov. Rick Scott’s calls to hold down higher-education costs, including by dramatically scaling back a “differential tuition” law that has allowed universities to request annual tuition hikes of up to 15 percent from the Florida Board of Governors without legislative approval. Also, lawmakers approved changes that will hold down costs for families in the Florida Prepaid College Program.

— UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: In one of the most closely watched issues of the session, lawmakers approved allowing undocumented immigrant students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities. Also, lawmakers approved a bill that will allow an undocumented immigrant to be admitted to The Florida Bar. The immigrant, Jose Godinez-Samperio, was brought to the country by his parents at age 9 from Mexico and later graduated from law school.

FAILED:

— GAMBLING: Lawmakers spent months studying potential changes in Florida’s gambling laws, including the possibility of allowing resort casinos in South Florida. But the heavily lobbied issue did not advance during the session, in part because lawmakers said the state needs to resolve negotiations on a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

— GROWLERS: One of the most talked-about issues of the session dealt with regulation of Florida’s growing craft-brewing industry. The issue became known as the “growler” bill after the name of 64-ounce beer containers, but it died after what was more like a food fight in the beer industry.

— LAWSUIT LIMITS: Lawmakers took a timeout this year from the annual fights about limiting lawsuits, an issue commonly known as “tort reform.” Proposals were floated on issues such as trying to rein in so-called “bad faith” lawsuits and revamping the medical-malpractice system, but they did not move far. One exception was a bill that passed about nursing-home lawsuits, though that bill was negotiated by the nursing-home industry and plaintiffs’ attorneys.

— MEDICAID EXPANSION: Democrats railed throughout the session about the state’s refusal to accept tens of billions of dollars from the federal government to expand access to health coverage through Medicaid or a similar program. But House Republican leaders made clear in 2013 they wouldn’t accept the money, which would be available under the federal Affordable Care Act, and they largely ignored the issue this year.

— NURSE PRACTITIONERS: After years of debate about the idea, the House backed a plan that would allow advanced registered nurse practitioners to provide care without physician supervision. But the proposal faced heavy opposition from groups such as the Florida Medical Association, and it died in the Senate.

— PENSIONS: House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, spent two years trying to overhaul the state employees’ retirement system. He wanted to spur employees to move from the traditional pension plan to 401(k)-style investment plans. But Weatherford could not gain enough support in the Senate, where a coalition of Democrats and Republicans joined to block the proposed changes.

— RED LIGHT CAMERAS: Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, made a splash early this year when they called for repealing the state’s red-light camera law or at least making substantial changes in the local programs. But motorists should still be prepared to come to a complete stop, after those ideas stalled during the session.

— SPRINGS PROTECTION: Pointing to concerns about the health of Florida’s natural springs, a coalition of senators proposed an ambitious plan aimed at reducing pollutants going into spring systems. But while funding for springs was increased in the new budget, the House did not address the broader policy issues.

— STAND YOUR GROUND: Like Medicaid expansion, Democrats called repeatedly for changes in Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law. But Republican leaders rejected the idea, with House Criminal Justice Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, somewhat famously saying before the session started that “not one comma” in the law should be changed.

— TRAUMA CARE: Parts of the hospital industry have battled for three years about the Department of Health’s approval of new trauma centers. The House and Senate appeared to support proposals that would have ensured the continued operation of three disputed trauma centers in Manatee, Pasco and Marion counties. But the proposals died Friday after becoming tangled in broader health-care bills

Prepared by Donna Clarke, LRWF Legislative Chair