Sunday, February 26, 2006

Katherine Harris Plays Dumb


posted on ThinkProgress.org

Defense contractor Mitchell J. Wade pled guilty yesterday to election law fraud, among other charges for making illegal campaign contributions, including $32,000 in illegal contribution to Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).
Katherine Harris claims she had no idea there was anything amiss when she received the contributions. In a statement she said the incident “demonstrates the perils of a process in which candidates are sometimes asked to determine the intent of a contributor.”
Her story isn’t very credible, for three reasons –
1. The illegal donations arrived on the same day. Had various employees of MZM independently decided to donate money to Harris there wouldn’t have been any problem. The donations were illegal because they were coordinated by Mitchell Wade, who reimbursed his employees. Seven MZM employees sent 28K in donation on the same day, March 23, 2004. (Mitchell’s wife, Christiane sent 4K a week later.) It’s theoretically possible that all seven employees just happened to independently send maximum contributions to the same candidate on the same day, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize they were coordinated.
2. MZM was Harris’ largest campaign contributor by far. Money from MZM employees and PAC was the top source of cash for Harris’ campaign by a more than 2-to-1 margin. This makes it virtually impossible that she wasn’t aware of the suspiciously timed transaction. Here’s a chart of her top contributors from Open Secrets:


3. Wade told Harris his intentions. He took Harris out to lunch and told her MZM wanted an earmark for a defense project. According to the Washington Post, Harris asked for it but wasn’t able to get it. Harris knew exactly what Wade expected in return for the cash and did what shecould to get for him.
Perhaps Harris is completely innocent. The available evidence, however, doesn’t support that conclusion.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Thousands of errors found in Palm Beach County



BEV HARRIS : Thousands of errors found in Palm Beach County's 2004 electronic vote


BY BRIAN SKOLOFF Associated Press


An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.
Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.
Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make a difference. President Bush won Florida -- and its 27 electoral votes -- by 381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 needed for victory.
BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures.
Also, the hard drives crashed on some of the machines made by Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, some machines apparently had to be rebooted over and over, and 1,475 re-calibrations were performed on Election Day on more than 4,300 units, Harris said. Re-calibrations are done when a machine is malfunctioning, she said.
''I actually think there's enough votes in play in Florida that it's anybody's guess who actually won the presidential race,'' Harris added. ``But with that said, there's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to.''
Palm Beach County and other parts of the country switched to electronic equipment after the turbulent 2000 presidential election, when the county's butterfly ballot confused some voters and led them to cast their votes for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. The Supreme Court halted a recount after 36 days and handed a 537-vote victory to Bush.
Palm Beach County election officials said the BlackBoxVoting.com findings are flawed, and they blamed most of the errors on voters not following proper procedures.
''Their results are noteworthy for consideration, but in a majority of instances they can be explained,'' said Arthur Anderson, the county's elections supervisor. ``All of these circumstances are valid reasons for concern, but they do not on face value substantiate that the machines are not reliable.''
Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer disputed the findings, saying the company's machines worked properly. Sequoia's machines are used in five Florida counties and in 21 states.
''There was a fine election in November 2004,'' Shafer said.
She said many of the errors in the computer logs could have resulted from voters improperly inserting their user cards into the machines. The remaining errors would not affect the vote results because each unit has a backup system, she said.
Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections, said she was not aware of the report and had no comment.
Harris said one machine showed that 112 votes were cast on Oct. 16, two days before the start of early voting, a possible sign of tampering. She said the group found evidence of tampering on more than 30 machines in the county.
However, Harris said it was impossible to determine what information was altered or if votes were shifted among candidates.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CRIST DAVIS ARE TOP PICKS FOR GOVERNOR



A new snapshot of the Florida's governor's race shows that while most voters are still undecided, Republicans give Attorney General Charlie Crist a strong lead over Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher while Democrats favor
U.S. Rep. Jim Davis over state Sen. Rod Smith by more than 2-1.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, found that Crist was favored by 40 percent of Florida voters to Gallagher's 31 percent in a poll conducted Feb. 15-20.
Davis was favored by 29 percent of the Democrats surveyed compared with 13 percent who supported Smith.
But most voters still want to learn more. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said they want to learn more about Crist; 49 percent haven't heard enough about Gallagher; 77 percent haven't heard enough about Davis and 82 percent haven't heard enough about Smith.
The poll, which questioned 1,076 registered voters, is one in a series of baseline surveys conducted by the Camden, Conn.-based university in Florida and four other states before the 2006 elections.
The poll found that if the general election were held today, both Republicans would be ahead of Davis -- but the results are within the margin of error of 3 to 4 percentage points. Crist would beat Davis 40 percent to 36 percent, while Gallagher would defeat Davis 37 percent to 36 percent.
The poll also found that Gov. Jeb Bush's plan to cut $1.5 billion in taxes faces a tough sell among voters. Voters would prefer the $3 billion revenue surplus the state has amassed during the real estate boom be spent on ''other state needs'' over tax cuts by nearly 2 to 1.
While Republican voters favor the tax cuts 53 percent to 40 percent, Democrats want the state to use the money on other needs, 75 percent to 17 percent. Independents agree, with 64 percent preferring the money go to other needs while only 30 percent support tax cuts. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/13938510.htmThe poll, which includes



several questions about Florida ballot questions, is available at: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x12942.xml?ReleaseID=877

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Swift Boating Nelson


Adam Goodman, a campaign consultant for Katherine Harris, says Nelson's no mission specialist."Bill Nelson borrowing the Lawton Chiles legacy is like him borrowing a spacesuit and calling himself an astronaut," Goodman said in an earlier interview about how Nelson compares to former Gov. Chiles, a popular two-term Democrat from the 1990s.

Read The Full Story......

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Playing Politics With Florida Beaches

A House companion bill to the Martinez-Nelson measure offered by Rep. Jim Davis has so far failed to attract any Republican co-sponsors. That's shameful.Some members, it's said, don't want to do anything that might be viewed as helping Nelson, a Democrat, who is being challenged by Republican Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota this year.
"Shameful Politics On Gulf Drilling".

Friday, February 17, 2006

Immigration Issue Threatens GOP's Fla. Stronghold

At least one influential Cuban, Pepe Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), said it might be time for the Cubans to do the unthinkable -- reconsider their unwavering loyalty to Republican candidates.

"This community must face the realization that politicians, especially national politicians, come here to Miami when they need our votes and forget their promises," he said. "President Bush came here and said he would review this policy, and nothing has happened. Cuban voters will be looking into this reality a little bit when they cast their votes."

Florida Mainstream Democrats AKA DLC- Florida

Florida Mainstream Democrats Gathering


The Friends of Rod Smith Caucus, er, we mean the Florida Mainstream Democrats hold their second annual conference at Disney Feb. 18. Sen. Bill Nelson, former Senate candidate Betty Castor, CFO candidate Alex Sink, and agriculture Commissioner candidate Eric Copeland are supposed to be there, among other. Unlike last time, organizers decided to invite more gubernatorial candidates than just Rod Smith. Jim Davis will send a surrogate, while Rod Smith has a conflict too and can't make it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Election Reform 2000-2006

 
NOTE: On February 9, electionline.org released its latest annual report, What's Changed, What Hasn't and Why: Election Reform 2000-2006. The report can be obtained online here; to request a paper copy, e-mail publications@electionline.org.
 
 


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Political Talk For And By Political Junkies

Clay Shaw most endangered

Writing in Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg gives us his top ten list of most endangered House incumbents. All but one are Republicans.
Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN)
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA)
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT)
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM)
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT)
Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN)
Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) to help Ron Klien Beat Shaw Visit: http://www.ronklein2006.com/
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stop the Florida Health Care Crisis

Thousands of Florida residents don’t have health insurance, and thousands more can’t afford the coverage they need. A significant part of the problem is big, profitable employers that don’t offer their workers affordable health benefits. We can’t wait any longer for the federal government to act on this crisis.
Working families and reform-minded legislators are coming together in Florida to make sure the state’s biggest businesses pay their fair share of their workers’ health care costs. We’re working on “Fair Share Health Care” legislation that would stop large, profitable corporations like Wal-Mart from shifting costs to workers, taxpayers and other businesses.
You can help pass Fair Share Health Care legislation in Florida by sending a message to Florida state legislators. Take action today:


Click Here to Take Action
When big companies don’t pay their fair share of health care costs, everyone else pays. The cost of health care goes up across the board. Taxpayers have to foot the bill to cover the uninsured. And the responsible businesses that do provide health care for their workers have to compete with these low-road employers.
Bills in the state House and Senate—H.B. 813 and S.B. 1618—will require large companies to meet minimal standards for providing health coverage to their workers or to pay into a statewide health care fund. Companies with at least 10,000 employees will be required to invest 9 percent of their payroll into health care.
Most of the big companies in the state already meet the standards. But companies that don’t are moving their costs to workers and their competitors—and that’s just not fair.
Send a message to your governor and state legislators today and tell them to support the Fair Share Health Care bills.
http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/fl_fairshare/xd63i62h7we3mn?
Thank you for all you do.
In solidarity,
Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO

Friday, February 03, 2006

Another Loss For Clay Shaw

Area lawmakers on losing side
BY LESLEY CLARK
lclark@MiamiHerald.com
WASHINGTON - South Florida Republican lawmakers were fast out of the gate last month in backing Rep. Roy Blunt -- a show of support that could complicate several members' attempts to secure committee chairmanships, as Blunt Thursday lost the race for the U.S. House's second most powerful post.
Those signing up to boost Blunt included Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a front-runner for the House International Relations Committee; Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, a Miamian who hopes to lead the House Rules Committee, and Rep. Clay Shaw of Fort Lauderdale, who is in a competitive race to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.
Committee chairs are essentially picked by House leadership, and observers Thursday said they were uncertain whether endorsing Blunt would damage the House members' chances. Blunt remains the GOP whip.
'My initial answer is, `I don't know,' '' said Rep. Rick Keller, an Orlando Republican who serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee with John Boehner of Ohio, the newly minted majority leader.
Keller said he gives Ros-Lehtinen, who has campaigned furiously for international relations, an ''80 or 90 percent chance,'' noting that her chief rival, Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, also backed Blunt.
He wouldn't predict Shaw's or Díaz-Balart's chances, but said Boehner is unlikely to exact revenge on those who didn't support him.
''I do know that one of the reasons John Boehner won is he's a very likable guy, not a mean-spirited or retaliatory person,'' Keller said.
A spokeswoman for Shaw discounted any suggestion that the race for chair would be affected.
''He's running just as actively as he ever has been,'' said Gail Gitcho. ``He looks forward to working with the new leadership on all the efforts ahead of us.''
The House shuffle -- prompted by the resignation of the indicted former majority leader, Rep. Tom DeLay -- resulted in an influential leadership post for one Floridian: Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow was named House Republican policy

ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE PETITION FALLS 155,000 SIGNATURES SHY

The Times-Union -- February 3, 2006
by Jeff Brumley


The coalition of state religious groups, collectively known as Florida4Marriage.Org, fell nearly 155,000 certified signatures short of the 611,009 needed by 5 p.m. Wednesday to place the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment before voters this year.
The Jacksonville-based Florida Baptist Convention and the Florida Catholic Conference in Tallahassee were among the religious organizations that participated in the effort.
Undeterred, the group's leaders on Thursday pledged to continue their signature-collecting campaign to place the amendment, which defines marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman, onto the ballot in 2008.
"We want to launch a '155,000 signatures in 55 days campaign' and just complete this thing," said John Stemberger, an Orlando lawyer and chairman of Florida4Marriage.Org. Signatures already collected in the effort are valid for four years, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Elections said.
Opponents welcomed news of the signature shortfall, calling it a victory for "fair-minded Floridians" opposed to discrimination but adding they aren't letting down their guard.
"Our message is that the fight's not over," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a statewide gay-rights group participating in an anti-amendment coalition called Fairness for All Families.
Smith said the coalition will have a series of meetings across the state this month to warn Floridians of the continuing campaign, which she said threatens domestic partnership benefits for unmarried gay and straight couples alike.
"It's hard to celebrate when this kind of organized attack on your families is happening in your state," Smith said.
Stemberger and others who worked for the proposal disputed opponents' claims that the signature shortfall represents voter disapproval.
Rather, they fell short because they had more signatures to collect and less time than previous citizen initiatives.
A busy hurricane season also hampered their campaign, which they said was waged with unpaid volunteers.
Previously, signatures for citizen initiatives could be collected and certified until up to 90 days before an election. But Florida voters approved an amendment in 2004 shortening the deadline to Feb. 1.
"You sort of have a steep hill to climb" with the shortened time frame, said Sheila Hopkins, associate for social concerns for the Florida Catholic Conference.
The minimum number of valid signatures required was 8 percent of the total number of registered voters who cast ballots in Florida in the last general election. This year that meant 611,009, compared with 488,722 needed in 2004, according to the Division of Elections Web site.
The amendment was born in Jacksonville in 2004 when messengers at the Florida Baptist State Convention adopted a motion for the constitutional protection of marriage. Amendment supporters say the current state law banning same-sex marriage could be overturned by the courts.
Gov. Jeb Bush said the petitions failed because of logistics, not because Floridians disagree with the idea. The Republican Party of Florida had contributed $150,000 to the effort, but Bush said the other successful amendments were better-funded.
About 20 other states have approved similar measures, including 11 in the last general election.
"It just didn't have the kind of financial support that these other ones do," Bush said. "I think if it was on the ballot, it would pass by two- or three-to-one."
In Jacksonville, the state Division of Elections' Web site showed that congressional districts that include First Coast counties generated 77,220 valid signatures, 3,717 more than the the minimum required.
http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/020306/met_marriage.shtml


GROUP HOPEFUL OVER GAY MARRIAGE BAN

SW Florida News-Press -- February 3, 2006

by Aaron Deslatte
Tallahassee -- With the clock expired this year on a petition drive to put a gay marriage ban in the Florida Constitution, conservative lawmakers have decided not to press the issue in the coming legislative session.But organizers of the proposed amendment still are hoping for their day in court next week.
Florida4Marriage, an Orlando-based group backed by churches and religious organizations, fell about 150,000 signatures short of the 611,000 needed by Wednesday's deadline to place the question before voters this year.The organization's chairman, Orlando lawyer John Stemberger, said his group now would shift its goal to putting the amendment on the ballot in 2008. Valid voter signatures are good for four years.
But the group still wants the Florida Supreme Court to hold oral arguments on language of the proposed amendment, scheduled for Wednesday.The high court is charged with making sure proposed amendments that have collected 10 percent of the necessary signatures are understandable and cover only one subject.But the court isn't required to review them until the year they would actually appear on the ballot.
"We're hopeful they're going to hear the case and not cancel the hearing," Stemberger said Thursday. "If we're going to get an adverse hearing, we'd rather get that sooner than later."The ACLU of Florida, along with other gay and lesbian rights groups, plan to argue that the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment is deceptive because it also could deny same-sex partners other domestic benefits.
"We have no reason to think they won't still hear the case. The signatures still pose a threat and are still viable for the 2008 election," said Art Rosenwald, a lawyer with the ACLU legal team.Several House lawmakers had considered asking the Legislature to send the amendment to voters this year, but said Thursday they were dropping the idea unless a court ruling were to jeopardize Florida's law already on the books banning gay marriage.Gov. Jeb Bush said he had no doubt that voters would pass the amendment "by two to three to one," but said he didn't know if lawmakers should wade into the issue.
http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060203/NEWS01/602030393/1002/NEWS01

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gays and Lesbians Need Not Apply

Last night, Town of Davie Mayor Tom Truex requested that the Town
Council remove the language "sexual orientation" in a contract with
Lewis Scruggs, the company awarded the Sunny Lake Management Plan.

According to a witness, Mr. Truex stated that "sexual orientation" is
not a legal classification relating to equality and discrimination.

The Council voted unanimously 4 to 0, with Councilmember Judy Paul
absent, to remove this language from the management plan contract.

This deplorable action may violate other laws and standards in the
community, and appears designed to allow, even to encourage,
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  This is not the
first time that Mr. Truex, who has advocated for the election of other
Councilmembers on the basis of their being "Godly and righteous," has
attempted such a move.

Mr. Truex initiated this action less than 6 weeks before the March 14,
2006 municipal election, an election in which he is immune from review
by the voters because no one chose to run against him.

Only Councilmember Lisa Hubert, who also voted for the motion, is
running for reelection.

Ms. Hubert has been supported in the past by Mayor Truex and other
activists for the Republican Party of Broward, along with lobbyists,
campaign managers, and consultants who claim Democratic credentials.

It is very plausible that Ms. Hubert will benefit from gay baiting in
her District, which represents a lower class area with relatively low
number of gay residents.

Phil
954-579-3932
 
 
"He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind" Proverbs 11:29
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Political Talk For And By Political Junkies

TAKING SELECTIVE AIM AT NEW VOTERS

TAKING SELECTIVE AIM AT NEW VOTERS

Orlando Sentinel -- Scott Maxwell

"Taking Names" Florida legislators say they want more people to register to vote.

Just not all people.At least that's what their actions suggest.Their latest plan would require businesses that issue hunting and fishing licenses to also pass out voter-registration forms.This means we'll be courting people who care enough about shooting things -- but not voting -- to fill out paperwork.Getting more folks involved in democracy is always a noble idea. But if that's really the goal, you'd assume that the state would also be passing out voter-registration forms in more of the offices it actually runs.What kind of registration efforts are in place, for example, at the state's Health Department offices, which serve tens of thousands of people?"Nothing at all," said Health Department spokesman Fernando Senra.So what's the difference here?Well, the Health Department serves many poor people. And minorities. In other words: a lot of Democrats.Hunters are a reliably Republican lot.One Florida pollster estimated that more than 60 percent of hunters are Republicans. And a recent Gallup poll found that Republicans are 78 percent more likely to own guns than Democrats.The bill sponsor, state Sen. Carey Baker, a Republican who owns a gun shop in Mount Dora, said this week that beefing up his party's voter rolls had nothing to do with this.Conservation, he said, was his motivation for his NRA-backed measure. He wants hunters to use the ballot boxes to tell politicians to save and protect land (though obviously not the fuzzy and feathered critters who live on the land, since they want to pump 'em full of lead)."The bottom line," Baker said, "is getting more people to vote."OK. Well, how about amending your bill to also require similar efforts at the health offices?Or what about the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which issues occupational licenses -- and which also said this week that it doesn't deal in voter outreach? Shouldn't manicurists, acupuncturists and veterinarians be encouraged to vote as well?Maybe, Baker said. But he doesn't want all that on his bill."I have a good bill right now. I don't want to make it controversial," he said. "I don't want to mess up my bill."State Rep. Sheri McInvale, the Democrat-turned-Republican from Orlando who is co-sponsoring the so-called "shooter voter" bill in the House, didn't eschew the idea of getting more offices involved.But she also said she had no problem starting with hunting and fishing licenses. On the heels of the state's "motor voter" act to register voters at DMV offices, she said this proposal seems like "a natural progression."House Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, however, sounded a little more interested in getting more offices involved quickly."It's a good point," he said. "To me, the more people we can get to vote, the better."We'll see what actually passes. Health Department patients, after all, don't have quite the lobby that gun owners do.

Marriage amendment falls short in effort for ballot

Marriage amendment falls short in effort for ballot
By DAVID ROYSE

Associated Press Writer


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Backers of a proposal to change the constitution to ban gay marriage fell short Wednesday as the deadline passed for garnering enough support to get the amendment on this year's ballot.Two efforts to get petition questions on the November ballot had already turned in the required signatures - some 611,000 from various parts of the state - to get to the next step, which is a review by the state Supreme Court of the language on the proposed amendment.One of those would set a floor for how much lawmakers can spend on youth anti-tobacco education programs each year; the other would change the way legislative district boundaries are drawn, a key factor in determining who holds the political power in the state.The other group that appeared to have a shot to continue its effort to get on the ballot as Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline approached was Florida4Marriage.org. The group, backed by the Republican party, wants the Florida constitution to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Florida law already states the same.Organizers mounted a last-day push to get petitions turned in, but fell short turning in only about 455,000 signatures of the 611,009 needed, said John Stemberger the leader of the petition effort."It was an amazingly strong showing considering the resources we had," Stemberger said. "If it takes another two years it's worth the wait.

"Gov. Jeb Bush said earlier this week that if the measure didn't succeed, he may talk to lawmakers about whether the state law that already defines marriage needs strengthening, or constitutional protection. He noted that there's no current challenge to the law, but said it would be hard to respond after the fact if someone did successfully challenge it."

Hopefully it just won't succeed because it's the wrong thing," said Pastor Paul Anway, who performs gay union ceremonies - not legal marriages - at a Christian church in Tallahassee. "When we see people, groups and organizations using a religious standpoint to oppose this, it feels very discriminatory, it feels like they're trying to create a group of second-class citizens."The tobacco amendment would require the Legislature each year to spend 15 percent of the money Florida received in 2005 from its settlement with the tobacco industry, adjusted for inflation, for an anti-tobacco campaign aimed at youth. That would amount to about $54 million a year.The American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and other backers of programs that aim to keep kids from smoking have pushed for increases in spending on the program for several years.The Legislature set aside $70 million for a program that included an edgy advertising campaign after the 1998 settlement with the cigarette industry, but the amount put into the initiative declined to just $1 million in each of the last three years, frustrating its supporters.That's why they want the measure before voters, who they think will be more sympathetic to the idea than lawmakers.The redistricting ballot proposal asks voters to create a 15-member commission to draw congressional and legislative districts. Members wouldn't be able to seek elected office for four years after being on the panel, and if they couldn't agree on how to draw the lines, it would go to the Supreme Court.Currently, lawmakers draw their own districts. Opponents of the process say the party in power can thus solidify its control."The key requirement is that any plan that passes this commission has to pass by ten votes, so you're going to have to have consensus among all these members of the commission for a plan to pass," said Ben Wilcox, the director of Common Cause Florida which pushed the amendment.But opponents, including Bush, say the panel members would be appointed by politicians and wouldn't agree, so the district drawing would go to the court."It creates gridlock," Bush said.Hearings before the state Supreme Court are scheduled next week on the clarity of the amendment language for those efforts that have collected enough signatures.---Associated Press Reporter Dave Heller contributed to this report.