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COLUMN

Happytown

The week where we went down the rabbit hole of Rick Scott's health care ambivalence and came up to breathe the fresh air of Orange County's domestic-partner registry. Everything is so confusing!

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Perhaps the funniest part of this ridiculous dustup is that Florida's Senate leadership, including state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart who chairs the state's Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, is already spouting off alternate plans for starting an exchange free of President Barack Obama's victory and/or federal intrusion.

"I think some of this can be done administratively through the Agency for Healthcare Administration," he said, according to the Post. "As for whether we need to have a special session, I think it's too early to tell."

Why? Because the deadline for states to get their exchange-asses in line is Nov. 16, more than a week after the presidential election. Also, Negron's projected plan doesn't take into account the letter of the law, and, basically, furthers the Republican notion that Medicaid should be privatized. Good luck with that. The fed funds Medicaid, meaning there will be even less money coming into an already broke state. Are we seceding? Somebody grab a gunnysack.

In much happier (and slightly less confusing) news, we popped up at the Orange County administration building downtown on July 6 to witness the official launch of the countywide domestic-partner registry, and boy was it jarringly different from the same type of affair that was held in January when the City of Orlando christened its influential ordinance. First of all, there was no harpist. Also, no catering (just the gay Oreos, thanks). In fact, there weren't even any representatives from the Board of County Commissioners, much less Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

Gay-rights champion – or at least ordinance champion – county comptroller Martha Haynie, who called the day "an important step for civil rights, dignity and even peace of mind" was there. Yay, Martie!

Quizzed by the Orlando Sentinel as to where her co-workers were, Haynie slyly replied that she hadn't formally invited them. Yeah, because none of them were at all aware of the event. As we've documented before, this has been Haynie's battle – at least at the county level – since day one, so it was appropriate that she (the actual bean counter among the political legumes of the county) officiated the affair. You know what's awesome? We asked Haynie about any estimates of more work coming into her office now that the county's one million residents are eligible for partnership. "The city has had over 500 people sign up," she said. "I have no idea what the demand is going to be. We currently handle two to three thousand documents a day. What's a few hundred more?"

Haynie quickly highlighted the key differences between the city and county plans – city registries will be automatically honored at the county level; county residents are encouraged to download forms from the county website and mail them in, whereas the city wants you to show up at the city clerk's office – before deferring to a printed release with website address on it in lieu of actually speaking in code ("Dubya, dubya, dubya. It makes me sound so Southern," she joked).

At least one woman in attendance whispered to us that Haynie's leadership on this issue was an inspiration. "She should run for mayor," she said. Or governor!

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