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Florida News

  1. As Florida's 2015 session begins: 5 people and 5 issues to watch

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — The 2015 session of the Florida Legislature begins Tuesday here with new leaders facing fresh challenges and competing demands for a projected $1 billion budget surplus.

    Traffic passes Florida’s historic Old Capitol building at the intersection of Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee on Saturday night. Behind it, the Capitol awaits Florida’s lawmakers, who begin their annual 60-day legislative session on Tuesday. 
  2. Chronic prison woes remain unresolved at start of Legislature session

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The two DVDs were only minutes long but they depicted deplorable conditions in the state's prison system: uninhabitable dorms, inmate-on-staff assaults and roofs that were so porous that prison staff rigged sheets of cardboard to serve as makeshift gutters.

    The Department of Corrections chief is seeking $15 million for repairs to facilities, including Lancaster Correctional Institution.
  3. State audit highly critical of Florida's unemployment system CONNECT

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — Ever since the troubled launch of the state's unemployment website in October 2013, Gov. Rick Scott and his team have staunchly defended the lifeline for hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians.

  4. Florida's craft beer industry poised to win long-sought changes

    State Roundup

    ST. PETERSBURG — At 2 in the afternoon, Green Bench Brewing is empty but for a bearded bartender and a dark-brown dog named Porter. Within a few hours, though, this brewery transforms into a packed nightspot, with bartenders, over the din of a live band, serving pints and flights of craft brews made on-site.

    Nathan Stonecipher of Green Bench fights for growlers.
  5. Jeb Bush exploits non-candidate status to rewrite campaign finance playbook

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — As Jeb Bush continues a torrid fundraising schedule across the country, he is pushing new boundaries of campaign finance law, exploiting his status as a noncandidate to avoid contribution limits and amass a cash pile already in the tens of millions.

    Jeb Bush says he’s  merely ex-ploring a run for president.
  6. Falling prices, fewer workers have Florida strawberry farmers doubting future

    Agriculture

    PLANT CITY — Three aerial photographs hang on the wall of strawberry farmer Carl Grooms' office, each a testament to years of expansion.

    Farm worker Berna Venegas carries just picked strawberries on Fancy Farms in Plant City on Feb. 26. The berries will be sold under the Wish Farms label. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
  7. Governor's budget cuts funding for hundreds of health care workers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Nutritionists who advise poor families, health counselors and family support workers are among hundreds of health care positions that would be cut under Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget.

  8. Jeb Bush faces the heat at CPAC and stands ground

    State Roundup

    OXON Hill, Md. — Jeb Bush walked into a hostile swarm of conservative activists here Friday but, backed by scores of supporters who often drowned out boos with cheers, stood his ground on immigration and Common Core while touting his time as governor.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fielded questions from moderator Sean Hannity.
  9. Finding Fletcher: A man's search for what became of his troubled childhood best friend

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    A single spotlight illuminated one end of an otherwise dark room at the Pinellas-Pasco County Medical Examiner's office. William Pellan sat behind a computer, eyes fixed to the image of a dead man. Everything I needed to know was on that screen, glowing on his face. But Florida law forbids non-family …

    Andrew Meacham is encouraged that others are now involved in 
the search for Fletcher, including St. Petersburg police.
  10. Gov. Scott faces big hurdles to push his legislative agenda

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE

    On the night he won re-election in November, a beaming Gov. Rick Scott bolted on stage to rowdy chants of "Four more years!" Dismissed by pollsters as a likely loser, Scott clawed his way to victory, using his personal fortune to pay for a pounding barrage of TV ads that doomed rival Charlie Crist. …