The Buzz on Florida politics

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Latest Buzz on Florida politics

Facing Democratic criticism and national news coverage over fired legislative aide Benjamin Kelly, state Rep. Shawn Harrison said that he hired Kelly despite a conviction for not filing tax returns because, "I believe in second chances."

Harrison, a Tampa Republican, also said that when he hired Kelly in 2014, he believed Kelly had completed his sentence and restitution for the 2012 conviction.

But court records leave it unclear whether Kelly has since paid his taxes in full.

Keep reading   4 min. read  

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio came under fierce criticism at CNN's town hall, drawing boos and hard questions from Parkland students and the angry father of a murdered 14-year-old, yet also earning credit for showing up, unlike fellow Republican Rick Scott.

The NRA's A+ rated Rubio sought a moderate tone throughout the night, an emotional and lively forum in Broward County, and backed some gun restrictions, including raising the age limit for buying assault rifles to 21 from 18 and restricting the capacity of magazines.

Rubio also came out against arming teachers with weapons, an idea floated earlier in the day by President Donald Trump and one before the GOP-led Florida Legislature.

Keep reading   8 min. read  

In a state where top Republican lawmakers have pushed bills to make it easier to get guns and shied away from calling for drastic gun control measures, some have assumed Florida’s legislators are reliant on money from the National Rifle Association.

But that’s not how it works. Though the group spends millions on some candidates, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (when you count donations and expenditures on his behalf, according to the New York Times), they don’t spend much at all on individual statehouse campaigns.

More than 17 years ago, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund gave $500 to State Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, who last week declined to comment when reporters asked him what to do to stop mass shootings. It was a drop in the bucket of Bean’s 2000 campaign, which raised more than $223,000.

Keep reading   4 min. read  

WASHINGTON — Raw with grief, tears flowing, six students and families from Parkland met Wednesday with President Donald Trump and implored him to lead the country into action on what has become a recurring national horror.

"We will not stop," the president declared from the White House's State Dining Room, vowing to do something and suggesting an array of measures from stronger background checks and mental health screenings for gun purchases, to the more controversial idea of arming teachers.

Trump said the session would lead to action and not just more talk, "like it has been in the past. This has been going on too long, too many instances. We're going to get it done."

Keep reading   5 min. read  

It was a tense day at the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, largely because of the Parkland shooting survivors and gun control activists who descended on the statehouse in the thousands. But there was internal turmoil as well.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, told reporters after the floor session ended that the Senate has been unwilling to start budgetary negotiations.

"We don't know what to say more to the Senate in terms of, 'Let's start negotiations,'" he said. "They've completely stonewalled us. They're acting like  kindergarteners."

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As students were making their way to Florida's Capitol in Tallahassee Wednesday morning to demand gun law reforms, a Republican lawmaker from a few states away wrote a Facebook post that appeared to question whether the teenage protesters were, in fact, students.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe's comments came as some right-wing media figures have attacked the credibility of a handful of students who have become the most vocal advocates for gun control since a lone gunman killed 17 people at their high school in Parkland, Florida.

Read More: Florida lawmaker's aide fired after saying outspoken Parkland students are actors

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Brandon Minoff, 18, and his brother Aiden, 14, survived the Parkland school shooting. The older brother told Fox News Tuesday that he has a problem with the way the news media has covered the tragedy.

"I know many people who are pro-gun and others who support gun control but it seems that the media is specifically targeting those in support of gun control to make it seem as if they are the majority," Brandon told Fox News. "And the liberal news outlets are the ones that seem to make the bigger effort to speak to these people, and I'm talking from experience."

Several of Minoff's classmates have taken to television and print to call for gun restrictions. Some have even gained enough of a following to draw the ire of conspiracy theorists.

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The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School got a real-life lesson in the perils of high expectations Wednesday as they met with state legislators to discuss their promise of stricter gun laws and left disappointed that the progress that appeared likely would only be incremental.

"We have been to many meetings, spoken to only a few legislators," said senior Delaney Tarr at a noon press conference. "And the most we've gotten out of them is 'We'll keep you in our thoughts. You're so strong. You are so powerful.' "

"We've heard enough of that," she said. "We know what we want. We want common sense guns laws. We want stronger mental health and background checks to work in conjunction. We want a better age limit. We want privatized selling so you can't just walk into a building with $130 and walk out with an AR-15. We want change, and we know how to get this change."

Keep reading   8 min. read  
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From the Miami Herald's Rob Wile: 

Even as Florida teachers work to protect their students from gun violence, many may be unaware that they have a personal stake in firearms themselves.

Bloomberg reports that the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan holds shares valued at $528,000 in American Outdoor Brands Co. Formerly known as Smith & Wesson, American Outdoor manufactured the AR-15 rifle that Nikolas Cruz allegedly used to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. The total shares held is 41,129.

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida became the epicenter of an historic debate over gun violence Wednesday as a growing #Never Again movement seized the national spotlight to demand action a week after the massacre in Parkland.

At a raucous two-hour rally outside the state Capitol, thousands of people, many of them students, militantly demanded action by legislators in the last two weeks of the session or risk being thrown out of office, as they mourned the deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

"They were students and teachers and coaches and they died because you failed," student Sheryl Acquaroli said of Florida's leaders, "and they are bigger heroes than you will ever be."

Keep reading   7 min. read  

Conservative filmmaker and lightning rod Dinesh D'Souza sparked controversy — and apologized on Wednesday — for mocking a photo of emotional Parkland students watching the Florida House vote down a ban on assault weapons.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida could start sharing voter information to make sure people aren't registered in other states under a bill now headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved the bill.

The measure sponsored by Rep. Ross Spano would allow the Department of State to share voter information with other states provided that the effort is not controlled by the federal government. It also allows Florida to share driver's license information

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WASHINGTON –  Students and families from Parkland, as well as the those who endured the Columbine and Sandy Hook tragedies, will meet this afternoon with President Donald Trump.

The 4:15 p.m. meeting comes as Stoneman Douglas High School students march in Tallahassee and CNN is to hold a 9 p.m. town hall focused on the rampage and the debate over guns. (Trump declined an invitation; Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio will participate.)

"As the President has said many times, it is the right of every American child to grow up in a safe community.  That begins in America's neighborhoods, where the brave men and women of law enforcement have the President's full support.  And it extends to our schools, where teachers across our nation invest their lives in their students.  No parent should ever have to wonder if their child will return home from school at the end of the day," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday.

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