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Today in Tallahassee: Education and unemployment top the agenda

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott likes to say the two most important things for families are education and work. Both of those issues will top the day in the state Capitol.

The House Education Committee has scheduled a seven-hour hearing on a controversial bill (HB 7019) that would end teacher tenure and create a performance-pay system. It is the final committee hearing for the proposal before it can be debated on the House floor. The Senate version (SB 736) is scheduled for a final vote today.

The state this morning will update Florida's unemployment rate, which currently is 12 percent. In the afternoon, the Republican-led House is expected to pass an unemployment tax cut along party lines. The bill, which would mean fewer benefits for out-of-work Floridians, would be the first substantial legislation approved by the chamber this session.

Also Thursday:

Prisons: Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, will hold a press conference to promote their bills to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses and non-violent crimes. The proposal (SB 1334, HB 917) has been derided in years past as soft-on-crime, but this year is a possible budget-saver. Scott's top prison official, Ed Buss, supports the idea of giving judges flexibility to decide sentences.

Marijuana: Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, holds a press conference to promote a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1407) to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

Tax cap: A constitutional amendment (SJR 958) that would cap state tax collections based on inflation and population growth is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Budget Committee.

Today in Tallahassee: Education and unemployment top the agenda 03/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:02am]
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