Hernando Should Reject Rock Mine Proposal

Tampa Bay Times

The Hernando County Commission should think more about the future than the past today when it considers whether to recommend changing the county’s comprehensive plan to allow rock mining on more than 500 acres of desirable land just off a key business corridor. The county has a long history of using rock mining to create jobs, but its future is in residential communities, ecotourism and smarter commercial development. The commission should reject the land-use change and stand up to the pressure from well-connected landowners.

Cemex, which is based in Mexico and is the world’s largest rock mining company, is seeking the land-use change to allow the mining and to adjust a commercial development proposed for part of a 730-acre parcel. The company would lease the land from several Brooksville business power brokers and argues that the new mine would be a natural extension of its existing mining operations in Hernando. Officials say the mine would be out of sight to most visitors, and the county would require a 400-foot buffer between well-traveled State Road 50 and an earthen berm around the mine.

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Court Ends Gov. Rick Scott’s Plan on Drug Tests

Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott’s callous and condescending plan to drug-test welfare recipients has been demolished by a federal appeals court.

In a 54-page rebuke, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vigorously upheld a lower court’s ruling that it’s unconstitutional to make welfare applicants undergo warrantless and “suspicionless” drug screens, as mandated in a law championed and signed by Scott.

“The State has failed to establish a demonstrable or peculiar drug-use problem among [welfare applicants],” the three-judge panel said unanimously. “If anything, the evidence extant sugg

If Hernando is to thrive, it must invest in itself

Dan DeWitt, Hernando Times

Dan DeWitt

Hernando County is the mean old man on the block.

His house is neglected, dank and dingy. You don’t visit unless you have to, and you don’t hang around long. If a ball is hit in his yard, nobody retrieves it because he’s got a reputation for hating kids.

We could have changed this last week, put a little money into our place to make it more welcoming to investors and home buyers with children. We could have made it a place that the most talented and ambitious of these children are not so eager to leave.

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Can Republicans hold on to Senate majority in 2016?

Chris Cillizza, Aaron Blake and Sean Sullivan, Washington Post

Congratulations, Republicans! You won the Senate majority! Now, can you hold on to it for more than two years?

Looking at the 2016 Senate map, there’s reason for doubt. Republicans will have to defend 24 seats, compared with 10 for Democrats. And the raw numbers don’t even tell the whole story. Seven seats held by Republicans — Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — were carried by President Obama in 2008 and 2012. And there is chatter about potential Republican retirements in Arizona and Iowa. If either John McCain or Chuck Grassley decided to call it a career, each of those races would be major Democratic targets.

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How Much of a Difference Did New Voting Restrictions Make in Yesterday’s Close Races?

Wendy Weiser, Brennan Center for Justice

The Republican electoral sweep in yesterday’s elections has put an end to speculation over whether new laws making it harder to vote in 21 states would help determine control of the Senate this year. But while we can breathe a sigh of relief that the electoral outcomes won’t be mired in litigation, a quick look at the numbers shows that in several key races, the margin of victory came very close to the likely margin of disenfranchisement.

North Carolina

In the North Carolina Senate race, state house speaker Thom Tillis beat Senator Kay Hagen by a margin of 1.7 percent, or about 48,000 votes.

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