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Florida Legislature

  1. Lawmakers seek tax and fee cuts for gun buyers, owners

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — It could be a good year for gun rights and gun owners. The state Legislature is proposing to make Florida one of the few states offering tax breaks for purchasers of guns, ammunition and gun club memberships.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, says every item in the package is a priority to him.
  2. Insurance stands to gain in Legislature's Uber, Lyft debate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Beyond disrupting the taxicab and hotel industries, the mushrooming popularity of shared services like Uber and Airbnb has triggered a cry for regulation in the state Capitol.

  3. Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools.

    Rep. Erik Fresen is personally connected to charters.
  4. Florida House wants flags made in USA

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida marched one step closer Friday to requiring American and state flags flying at government buildings to be sewn in the United States with homegrown materials.

    The Florida House passed a bill Friday requiring state and American flags flying at government buildings in Florida to be made entirely in America.
  5. Lawmakers aim to revamp Florida's jobs incentive programs

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers are demanding sweeping changes to the taxpayer-funded programs that Gov. Rick Scott uses to attract jobs to Florida, citing the need for more openness and better accountability.

    Gov. Rick Scott says the state’s incentives program has been working.
  1. Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools.

    Rep. Erik Fresen is personally connected to charters.
  2. Senate finds compromise on student testing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers may have found a middle ground on the controversial subject of student testing.

  3. Bill would give more choices to Florida students

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Kameela Russell's daughter acted out at her neighborhood school, Madie Ives Elementary in northeast Miami-Dade.

  4. Florida House votes to scale back testing in schools

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Seeking to ease the pressure on schoolchildren — and quell the growing backlash from parents — the Florida House voted unanimously on Wednesday to scale back testing in public schools.

    Marlene O’Toole said the measure addresses concerns.
  5. Controversial campus guns bill advances in Florida Senate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Despite vehement opposition from university presidents, campus police chiefs and student government associations, the Senate Higher Education Committee on Monday approved a proposal that would allow guns on college campuses.

    Representatives from campus police departments await the vote on a controversial guns bill Monday in the Florida Senate. (KATHLEEN MCGRORY | Times/Herald)
  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

    Energy

    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

    K12

    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

    Elections

    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

    Elections

    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. Florida House and Senate battle over tax cuts

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE -- The tax cut battle lines have been drawn.

  2. Gov. Rick Scott's tax cuts and education spending at risk in House and Senate budgets

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Less than two months ago, an enthusiastic Gov. Rick Scott, fresh off his re-election victory, unveiled his plan to spend Florida's $1 billion surplus.

    Gov. Rick Scott proposed a budget of $76.98 billion.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.

  5. 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)
  1. Florida House, Senate clash over health care spending

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE —The Florida House and Senate rolled out vastly different health care spending plans Thursday, putting the two chambers on a collision course over the state's $77 billion budget.

  2. PolitiFact Florida: Medicaid and the Florida budget

    State Roundup

    After rejecting Medicaid expansion in 2013, the Florida Legislature is taking a serious look at it this session. The program pays for health insurance for the very poor.

  3. Florida Senate to consider Medicaid expansion proposal

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Senate committee will consider a controversial plan Tuesday that would extend federally subsidized health insurance to more than 800,000 poor Floridians — but require a waiver from the federal government to pay for it.

  4. Under new budget pressures, Florida Senate debates Medicaid expansion

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A potential budget crisis is fueling a new conversation about Medicaid expansion in Florida.

    Senate President Andy Gardiner, right, said a potential $1.3 billion loss in federal funds has given lawmakers a reason to reconsider Medicaid expansion. But House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, left, said, "At this point in time, we are not interested in expanding Medicaid as we know it."
  5. 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. 
  1. In paying late claims for jobless, why did Florida wait so long?

    Business

    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

    Legislature

    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

    Legislature

    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

    Health

    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

    Elections

    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

    Elections

    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. Gun advocates score victories in Florida House, Senate (w/video)

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida gun rights activists had a victorious day in the Capitol as the Republican-controlled Legislature considered two St. Petersburg lawmakers' bills, passing one through the Senate and shooting down the other.

    State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, sponsored the bill allowing lawful gun owners to carry a weapon while evacuating in an emergency. The bill passed. 
  2. Guns on campus opponents decry concealed-carry bills

    State Roundup

    Rallying around the slogan "Bullets and backpacks don't mix," about 30 people gathered on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol on Monday to protest a slate of bills that would allow concealed weapons at college campuses and schools.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.