State Rep. Jim Waldman’s Terrific Session

Jim Waldman


Jim Waldman’s huge legislative victory this month — making cigarette’s more expensive with a new $1-per-pack tax — is dedicated to his father.

Edward Waldman was a developer who built thousands of homes in Connecticut and Broward County. 

He was an activist in the Jewish community. A World War II veteran.

Edward Waldman was also a two-pack-a-day man.  He died in 2001 at 76 from  smoking-related cancer.

With his dad on his mind, Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, has been fighting for three years to curb smoking by making it more expensive.  The new tax also would generate more money for the cash-poor state, a major selling point.

The idea is a no-brainer to me.  But the brain-dead Republican leadership tried to block it until the very end.

These same Republicans were very willing to raise the cost of drivers’ licenses, but balked at adding taxes to cigarettes.

The Republicans’ allies: The tobacco lobbyists.

Waldman never gave up.  He pushed and prodded.  He lobbied  every legislator he could, including Republicans.

Finally, this year Waldman won. 

The new tax he championed will discourage smoking.  It also provides $1 billion in needed money for the recession-crippled state government.  

“I’m thrilled to do something that could save the lives of many Floridians in future years, Waldman says.

When he spoke last week on the floor of the House in favor of the tax, he was applauded. 

After his speech, the new tax was passed 85-30, with five not voting.

After the vote, Waldman threaded through the House.  He  accepted congratulations, pats on the back, hand shakes.

And he was broadly smiling, as if to say: This one was for you, Dad.



Hey, Steve Geller.   Jim Waldman is looking for you.

You owe him $1.

The money is from a bet the two lawmakers made in 2006, just after Waldman got elected to the state House.

Waldman and then-state senator Geller were at a legislative conference.

Geller was the Legislature’s expert on gambling. That’s because he had three pari-mutuel facilities in his southeast Broward district. 

The two lawmakers started talking about gambling.

“I told Steve that they (the Seminoles) would have card games soon, Waldman recalls. “Geller said, ‘I’ve been here 19 years and you’ve been here 19 days. I tell you they will never have card games.’

Fast forward to this month.  The Legislature voted to allow The Seminole Tribe card games at their Broward casinos.

“I’m calling him, Waldman says. “He owes me a dollar.

Waldman also wants to thank Geller.

He says Geller’s years of work in favor of gambling was a “major factor in laying the ground work for the senate to approve Seminole card games.

Bringing home gambling for Broward County was not solely Waldman’s doing. He did help get local communities surrounding the casinos 3 percent of the take.

The deal is patterned after one he fashioned while a Coconut Creek commissioner.  The Seminoles pay that city a piece of the take at their Coconut Creek casino.

The new state agreement amounts to millions annually for the communities in Waldman’s district.   Every dollar from the Seminoles is one less dollar coming out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Waldman’s session overall has proved a great deal for the taxpayers who elected him.


24 Responses to “State Rep. Jim Waldman’s Terrific Session”

  1. Democrat says:

    From what I’ve heard, Waldman was a great city commissioner and now a great state rep. Waldman has taken a lot of grief from misguided members of his own party over the years. Maybe this year’s record will teach them a lesson.

  2. TAMARAC DEM says:

    Way to go Waldman. That’s what leadership is all about. Get a good idae and keep working it until a majority of your colleagues agree. Works in politics and in business. I wish you were my representative.

  3. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    If Waldman thinks smoking is so bad, then pass a law to ban smoking, but don’t hide behind the pretense that this is anything more than an attempt to add another tax onto people who already can’t afford it (look up the definition of a regressive tax).

    If Waldman is against things that are harmful to the population, then why not tax alcohol or fast food? That is not its purpose. This tax was not thought out, but instead was a knee-jerk reaction to our government wanting/needing more money because they didn’t plan for an economic downturn.

    Here are just a few of the things you can expect as a result of this bill:
    1) Job loss in the tobacco industry (yes, these are people trying to support their families, like you) and cigarette outlet stores (as people cross the border into Georgia or buy the untaxed cigarettes from the Indian Reservations)
    2) An increase in the black market (as proven in New York and Chicago after they passed similar bills)
    3) An increase in crime (as a result of #2)
    4) A slower restart of the economy as people now have to spend more of their money on taxes instead of purchasing goods and services that help spur an economy.

    I also did not see a single bill from Waldman being passed. Although he pushed for this tax year after year, the final credit appears to go to the budget committee for throwing it in on their own.

    I know Waldman has his fans, for whatever reason, but if you look at his actual record (0-17) you might be surprised how ineffective he has actually been.

  4. Jim Friend says:

    Broward Republican,
    FYI, the House REPUBLICAN tax and finance committee chair Ellyn Bogdanoff voted against this tax, as did others in you party. Keeping cancer cheap is more important to them than good health.
    The Republicans have no answers to the problems in society. They are a failed party.
    Waldman’s district is 51 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican. Guess you won’t be winning that one soon!!!!!

  5. Floridan says:

    I didn’t thought Waldman was a particularly impressive commissioner in Coconut Creek, but he has shown growth in Tallahassee.

    On another note, if TheBrowardRepublican is upset about the regressive cigarette tax, what does he/she have to say about the many, many such “fees” that the GOP-dominated Legislature imposed this year?

  6. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    The Republican Legislators voted against the cigarette tax because it is an unfair tax, however more Republicans voted for it else it would not have even passed.

    From my viewpoint, I have no problem getting rid of cigarettes altogether instead of using them as a tax subsidy. Do you want to tax cigarettes in order to pay for healthcare, or would you rather get rid of cigarettes altogether so you don’t even have the healthcare?

    As for Jim Friend’s support of Waldman just because he’s a Democrat, is that really all you consider? Do you vote for a person just because he claims to be a Democrat (Waldman was a Republican up until he decided to run for office in a Democratic district) rather than looking at their voting record and representation of the community? Do you think Waldman represented the Democrats when he put forth a bill to make the sheriff position non-partisan, or when he voted to weaken class-size restrictions?

    Try looking beyond the Democratic label for once and prove to me why you think Waldman is doing a good job because I am really not seeing it.

  7. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    In response to Floridan’s question about the implementation of so many “fees,” I am against them.

    From back in the days of the Bush administration, the Republican Party has forgotten that it is supposed to be for less government, not more. The fees are just their way of showing that they can’t balance a budget.

    If you lost part of your income, would you be able to charge your boss additional fees for getting the report done on time or for including the TPS report cover sheet? No, you would have to cut back on what you were spending your money on.

    Maybe as a legislator, when you are dealing with billions of dollars, it loses its meaning to you, but this is real money for the people who are already having a hard time making ends meet.

  8. alert says:

    the bottom line with this tax,it means an additional 800 million dollars.

  9. Jim Friend says:

    The Republican were behind drivers license renewals increases to $48 from $20. Republicans voted for a 28 percent increase in the cost of registering a car. Republicans raised filing probate when someone dies to $395 from $280. So much for being against the “death tax!” You can call them fees, but they are regressive.
    When the Republicans say they are against the cigarette tax because it is regressive, what they really are saying is that they are a bunch of hypocrites. The ones representing Broward are Ellyn Bogdanoff, Adam Hasner and Jeff Atwater. Remember that next year.

  10. Rep. Martin Kiar says:

    I rarely ever post on blogs, but I felt it important to post on this blog on this topic. I just wanted to commend my good friend Rep. Jim Waldman for his hard fought and tireless fight to pass this piece of legislation. It was because of Jim’s advocacy that this bill passed. It is also because of Jim that cigarette smoking will be curbed significantly, especially amoung our youth, and as a result, many thousands of lives will be saved and many thousands of people will be spared from terrible inflictions, such as cancer. Thank you Jim for your hard work on this issue. It was a pleasure to co-sponsor and vote for this great legislation.

    Rep. Martin David Kiar

  11. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Broward Republican,
    If the additional tax cuts down on smoking the real business loss will be bourne by oncolgists and cardiologists. I don’t think they will miss the business.

  12. I. P. Freely says:

    The auto registration fee was not raised since 1963 (ch Law 1963-528). To say that these services cost the same today as in 1963 is silly.

    The fee increases are much less than if they had been adjusted for CPI.

  13. Rep. Martin Kiar says:

    Just wanted to make a correction to my post. I co-sponsored Jim’s bill, which I believe was HB 11.

  14. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    Jim Friend says: When the Republicans say they are against the cigarette tax because it is regressive, what they really are saying is that they are a bunch of hypocrites.

    Based on your use of the word hypocritical, there are Democrats in the same boat. This should be about what is right, though, and not simply about party affiliation. I have already stated that the Republican Party needs to get back to their mantra of lower taxes (and fees). You can keep repeating me as long as you like.
    Sam Fields says: If the additional tax cuts down on smoking the real business loss will be bourne by oncolgists and cardiologists. I don’t think they will miss the business.

    I did not say there will not be positive results as a result of this tax, but there are negative ones that also need to be balanced out. Case in point, Sweden and Canada have reduced their cigarette taxes over the last several years after determining that the harm wrought by black markets outweighed the generated revenue or costs saved by people persuaded by the tax to quit smoking. You also have a 2001 report by the Congressional Budget Office ( which concluded that while tobacco taxes encourage people to quit smoking, “those people are most likely to be from the middle- and upper-income brackets, probably because the affluent can afford to try more effective anti-smoking programs, more easily substitute another vice for tobacco, or generally are less likely to need solace in the butt of a cigarette.” (effectively making the regressive tax even more regressive)
    Here is a pretty aplicable quote for this topic: Government grows as dependent on the sin tax’s revenue as taxpayers are dependent on the sin.

  15. Floridan says:

    This is what we’ve come to — Republicans arguing that a $1.00 cigarette tax is just too much of a burden on the people.

    Let’s face facts — Florida is ranked 47th in the nation in state and local tax burden.

    Forty-seventh (a dozen spots below Mississippi, for God’s sake)! And still the Republicans tell us we are overtaxed.

    What a sorry state of affairs.

  16. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    The discussion was not so one sided as to only look at whether or not Floridians are undertaxed or overtaxed. My point is to ask why we are increasing the tax now (the last time was in 1990)? What has changed? Are the legislators all of the sudden concerned about wanting to (force) help people stop smoking, or was it simply that they needed more money in a budget crisis?

    I was also hoping to point out that an increase in the cigarette tax presents negative aspects and not just positive ones.

    Yes, Florida ranks very low when compared to other states for collecting taxes, but that does not mean that we should automatically raise everyone’s taxes until we catch up. Every state is different (for instance, we get a lot of income from snowbirds), so you need to figure out what is the best balance for Florida and not for everyone else.

  17. The Old Ghost says:

    What has changed, BrowardRepublican, is that the revenue is down so much that the state can’t provide the needed services. Schools are cutting classes and courses. Medicad is broke. What would Republicans do? Not educate our children or let people go without medical care?
    Yes, Jim Waldman used to be a Republican. Then, like St. Peter on the road to Damascus, he saw the light and became a Democrat.

  18. Floridan says:

    BrowardRep: ” . . . so you need to figure out what is the best balance for Florida and not for everyone else.”

    Balance?! There is no balance. The Republican legislators are cutting programs, robbing the state’s trust funds, transferring money from capital to operational accounts, trying to sell off the state’s infrastructure, etc., etc. All to avoid budging on their myopic “no new taxes” pledge.

    Republican legislators have abdicated their responsibility to the people of Florida.

  19. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    The Old Ghost says: Then, like St. Peter on the road to Damascus, he saw the light and became a Democrat.

    Yes, and the light was that he wanted to win an election instead of trying to fix things within the party he chose to join in the first place.
    Floridan says: Republican legislators have abdicated their responsibility to the people of Florida.

    Well, Floridan, I hope that I change your blanket-statement viewpoint of Republicans by saying that I agree with you.

  20. TAMARAC DEM says:

    I called a friend of mine who lives in Coconut Creek who speaks very highly of Waldman. She said that he was a Commissiner and the Mayor going back to the early ninties. She said Waldman was a republican in the early eighties (when he would have been in his 20’s) but changed to a democrat around 1990. That’s 20 years ago and he’s been a top notch democrat ever since. I’m sure some of the republican loving bloggers or democratic Waldman detracters (who Waldman probable defeated in past elections or who want to cut him down to advance their own personal ambitions) will reply to this with some snide comment. My Coconut Creek friend was right. Now is the time for all good democrats to come to the aid of our country (state). Not look for ways to start fights within our bigger tent.

  21. Just Le says:

    Ok lets see. Keep smoking and pay the higher tax thus pay the state more money. Nope don’t think I wanna do that. Quit smoking and have the state finacially control what I choose to do with my life. Nope again not gonna happen. Buy from the Indians, screw the state. Start smoking cigars, screw the state. Ok I have choices.
    Wonder how Jim’s dad would have felt about having to pay more taxes on his 2 pack a day habit?
    Wonder why they didn’t just increase the taxes for all sins instead of just one? Oh right I forgot, lobbyists and the occasional liquid lunches the politicians enjoy. What was I thinking?
    I still want to know how all these people got elected by running on lowering property insurance rates and yet they allowed them to be raised again.

  22. TheBrowardRepublican says:

    TAMARAC DEM says: and he’s been a top notch democrat ever since.

    I keep hearing people repeating the same thing on this blog: “He’s a good Democrat” or a “Good representative.” But all I see is someone who failed to pass any of his proposed bills over the past 3 years (let alone the 30 he co-sponsored this year, other then the four “recognition” bills). I also see where he has championed Republican crusades as of late.

    Now, I don’t mind him siding with Republicans, but I do not see how that makes him a good representative for, as Jim Friend states, a district that is 51% Democrats?

    So all I am asking is this:
    If you think Waldman is doing so well, please name me some of his legislative accomplishments.

  23. no fan of waldman says:

    wow – you asked for his accomplishments and the comments abruptly stop!

    He was not in his 20s when he swiched parties, he was in his mid to late 30s and running for office!!

  24. Scott Yardley says:

    Waldman received $1000 campaign money from the tobacco industry.


    10/06/2010 500.00 DOSAMAR CORP. 4775 NW 132ND STREET MIAMI, FL 33054 TOBACCO PRODUCTS