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Florida Legislature

  1. 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 serving pints and flights of craft brews made on-site over the din of a live band.

    Green Bench Brewing owner Nathan Stonecipher at his establishment in St. Petersburg. The number of breweries statewide has about doubled since 2011 and microbrewery evangelists see this spring's legislative session as a critical opportunity to foster faster growth. (LARA CERRI  | Times)
  2. Gov. Scott faces big hurdles to push his legislative agenda

    State Roundup


    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. …

  3. PolitiFact Florida: Fact-checking attack on Debbie Wasserman Schultz about her pot votes


    As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., weighs a potential presidential bid in 2016, a long list of politicians are considering whether to run for his Senate seat.

  4. Gov. Rick Scott faces concern from fellow Republicans over 'tax increase' to fund schools


    TALLAHASSEE — In touting his plan for record school spending, Gov. Rick Scott is ignoring a fact that concerns some of his fellow Republicans: He wants property taxpayers to pay more.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives his State of the State address to a joint session of the Florida Legislature, Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
  5. Romano: Here's a novel idea — openness and transparency in Florida government


    In another era, this probably wouldn't qualify as news. In another state, it might go largely unnoticed.

  1. Gov. Rick Scott faces concern from fellow Republicans over 'tax increase' to fund schools


    TALLAHASSEE — In touting his plan for record school spending, Gov. Rick Scott is ignoring a fact that concerns some of his fellow Republicans: He wants property taxpayers to pay more.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives his State of the State address to a joint session of the Florida Legislature, Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
  2. Florida Gov. Rick Scott suspends 11th grade tests

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE High-school juniors across Florida rejoiced Tuesday upon learning that Gov. Rick Scott had suspended the new 11th grade test in language arts.

  3. Are Florida schools ready for new computerized tests? Some say no



    Sitting in a tiny conference room Thursday, Chris Jackson and Dustin Lester focused on a series of green-and-white bar charts. Their task: Determine whether 22,500 computers — all talking at once to Florida's testing website — would cripple the Pasco school district's online operations.

    Megan Lipinczyk, right, a language arts teacher, helps fourth-grader Sai Chappadi, 10, while using new laptops Thursday at Turner/Bartels K-8 School in New Tampa. Officials are assessing whether servers can handle so many computers at once.
  4. Jeb Bush hosts education summit, raises funds in Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — He looked like a presidential candidate on Tuesday, hosting a $1,000-a-person lunchtime fundraiser at a posh Tallahassee hotel and convening lawmakers to discuss one of his top priorities.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, pictured at an Economic Club of Detroit meeting Wednesday in Detroit. [AP photo]
  5. Senate leaders propose fix for Florida's testing troubles

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — An influential lawmaker on Monday proposed what may signal a shift in Florida education policy and at least some relief for students, teachers and parents: Less, not more, testing.

  1. In GOP-dominated Legislature, black lawmakers caucus struggles

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — When the last cocktail had been poured and the last guests had floated away from the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators' annual Scholarship Gala last month, thousands of dollars had flowed into the nonprofit foundation, courtesy of five-figure checks from a variety of special interests …

    As Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, left, looks on, the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, is interviewed at the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators’ 21st annual Scholarship Gala in Tallahassee.
  2. Watchdog report says power companies wield too much influence in Florida Legislature


    TALLAHASSEE — To understand the influence of Florida's largest electric companies in Tallahassee, look no further than your monthly bill.

  3. Big money, powerful lobbying groups push Florida voucher proposal


    TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 200 schoolchildren greeted Senate President Don Gaetz last month when he visited a Catholic school in Pensacola to get a firsthand look at the impact of Florida's controversial school voucher program.

  4. Capitol's dash for cash: Florida lawmakers race against time, picking up checks


    TALLAHASSEE — The race for campaign cash shifted into high gear Monday as dozens of state legislators sought contributions from lobbyists before today's start of the legislative session when such fundraising is banned for two months.

    Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, receives a campaign contribution from veteran lobbyist Paul Jess of the Florida Justice Association, at a fundraiser Monday in Tallahassee, the last day he could raise funds before the 2014 session begins.
  5. Times/Herald special report: Tallahassee's torrent of campaign contributions


    TALLAHASSEE — When Florida legislators open their annual 60-day session on Tuesday, many of the decisions about what issues make it onto the agenda have already been made — thanks in large part to the powerful special interest groups and a torrent of cash flowing into the coffers of legislative political …

  1. 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.

  2. Gov. Scott proposes $77 billion budget with $673 million in tax cuts

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a proposed $77 billion budget Wednesday that spends nearly all of a $1 billion surplus on tax cuts and an increase in education spending, but it also cuts the state workforce further while shifting education costs to local taxpayers.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media during a pre-legislative news conference, Wednesday in Tallahassee. (AP Photo)
  3. Gov. Rick Scott proposes $5 billion Everglades plan

    State Roundup

    Standing outside a Miami airboat attraction with some of the state's top environmentalists and a caged panther named Harley, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday proposed spending $150 million in his next budget on Everglades restoration and habitat preservation.

    Gov. Rick Scott unveiled an ambitious $5 billion, 20-year environmen­tal plan.
  4. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs budget, vetoes $69 million in spending

    State Roundup

    PANAMA CITY — Gov. Rick Scott signed a $77 billion state budget Monday, the largest in Florida history, packed with hundreds of millions of dollars in popular election-year projects championed by his fellow Republicans in the Legislature.

     Florida Gov. Rick Scott, pictured giving his State of the State address to a joint session of the Florida Legislature in March, signed a $77 billion budget Monday, the largest in Florida history. [SCOTT KEELER    |    Times]
  5. Film commissioner: Tax snub will keep movie out of Florida

    State Roundup

    Dale Gordon awoke Saturday to gray, drizzly skies and an immediate future for her industry just as depressing.

  1. Florida League of Women Voters pushes for Medicaid expansion

    State Roundup

    A drive for Medicaid expansion grew Thursday with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Florida — one of the state's oldest political groups — calling on legislators to find a "unique and flexible Florida solution" to cover an estimated 750,000 uninsured people this year.

  2. Business groups back Medicaid expansion in Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — For the past two years, the Republican-dominated Florida House has turned away federal funds intended to expand health care coverage to nearly a million uninsured Floridians.

    As a safety-net hospital, Tampa General is among those that stand to lose millions in federal funds unless Florida legislators agree to expand the Medicaid program, one factor that could push compromise on the measure this year. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT l Times]
  3. Health insurance for Florida employees gets another look

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Compared with other states, Florida's health insurance plan for government employees is about average.

  4. Florida House votes to regulate e-cigarette sales


    TALLAHASSEE — A bill that would make electronic cigarettes off limits to young people won unanimous support on Wednesday in the Florida House.

    Dominic Crupi, 24, of Clearwater smokes an e-cigarette at Vape Joe in Largo earlier this year. Crupi has been vaping for two years, and is venturing to get into the industry.
  5. Florida lawmakers pass bill to shield nursing home investors from lawsuits


    TALLAHASSEE — Investors in nursing homes in Florida would be shielded from lawsuits when residents are abused or neglected under broad new provisions authorized in a bill the Florida House sent to the governor on Wednesday.

  1. In paying late claims for jobless, why did Florida wait so long?


    TALLAHASSEE — It took Florida officials more than three months to decide to pay overdue jobless benefits to about 10,000 unemployed workers, many of whom went without checks since October because of a defective online registration system.

  2. Talk of budget turkeys ruffles some feathers


    For the past three decades, Florida TaxWatch has been a self-appointed fiscal watchdog, blowing the whistle on what it considers wasteful pork-barrel spending by the Legislature.

    Florida TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro brings out his giant stuffed bird for the organization’s post-legislative selection of “turkeys” from the budget passed in Tallahassee in 2007.
  3. Gov. Rick Scott wants $1.2 billion more for schools, bonuses for state workers


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will send the Legislature a $74 billion budget today that he says would boost spending in schools by $1.25 billion, but some of that money will never reach students.

  4. Gun makers, violent film and video creators benefit from tax breaks in Florida


    TALLAHASSEE — What do violent video games, gory movies and high-powered assault weapons have in common? They have all been blamed for tragic mass shootings, including last month's at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — and are all subsidized by Florida taxpayers. With Florida's tax code more …

    Parker, a violent action movie starring Jason Statham, received $424,820 in tax credits for production in South Florida last year.
  5. State wants bad $20M investment in movie company back

    Economic Development

    TALLAHASSEE — Call it another unfortunate plot twist in an already upsetting script.

  6. Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for more early voting days, sites


    TALLAHASSEE — After months of defending the status quo, Florida Gov. Rick Scott drew praise and criticism Thursday as he endorsed early voting changes pushed by county election supervisors.

    Steve Bozsanyi of Spring Hill checks his watch while waiting in line with his wife, Dorothy, left, to vote at a supervisor of elections branch office on Forest Oaks Boulevard in Spring Hill on Oct. 30.
  7. Interest groups, donors spent $306 million on state political campaigns in 2012


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's sputtering economy did not stop interest groups and donors from spending $306 million this election cycle on state political campaigns, according to final election year tallies released Friday.

  1. PolitiFact Florida: Suicide statistics used in guns on campus debate

    State Roundup

    A shooting incident at Florida State University late last year has reopened a debate in the Florida Legislature about whether to allow guns on college campuses.

    A fatal shooting at Florida State University’s library last year has rekindled the debate on allowing guns on campus.
  2. Florida's university system wants lawmakers to halt idea of guns on campus

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's university system wants state lawmakers to holster the idea of allowing guns on campus.

  3. Florida House panel approves guns on college campuses

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House is moving quickly on a proposal to allow guns on college campuses.

    A shooting on Nov. 20 at Florida State University in Tallahassee has brought renewed interest in campus safety. FSU president John Thrasher opposes guns on campus.
  4. Does 'warning shot' bill weaken Florida's 'stand your ground' law?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — When lawmakers passed the "warning shot" bill during the 2014 session, a key selling point was that it would prevent cases like that of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a shot to ward off her estranged husband.

    Marissa Alexander faces 60 years in prison for firing a bullet that hit a wall.
  5. NRA-backed bill done in by Sen. Jack Latvala, sheriffs

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — It's not often that a bill backed by the National Rifle Association dies in the Florida Legislature.

    Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, talks with Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, on Thursday after the defeat of a controversial gun bill.