The day in Tallahassee, Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mar 6, 2008

Miami Herald--Mar. 06, 2008


Even when times are tight, lawmakers can still horse around.

A couple of them are mounting a push to make the Cracker Horse the official state heritage horse.

On Thursday, two cracker horses were making their way to the capital, tracing a journey from Tampa to Tallahassee that was made by Hernando de Soto and his men in 1539. The horses were expected to arrive in the capital Thursday afternoon.

Cracker horses, also known as marshtackies, are the descendants of Spanish horses brought to the state by explorers. The bill (HB 131) to make the cracker horse the official horse is saddled in the House by Rep. Frank Atkisson, R-St. Cloud, and Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, is riding herd over the measure (SB 230) in the Senate. Both bills are awaiting committee hearings.



Increases in what the state pays hospitals, county health clinics and nursing homes for taking care of people on Medicaid would be frozen at current levels under a bill passed by the Senate.

Normally, those health care providers get an automatic price increase each year, but the measure passed Thursday would eliminate that automatic increase.

The measure (SB 1852) still needs House approval.

The freeze elimiates $91 million that hospitals were expecting July 1 for inpatient care and another $26 million reduction they were planning on getting for outpatient care of people. The hit for nursing homes is $139 million.

The Senate passed the bill 27-13. It was sponsored by Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview.