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Florida Legislature

  1. 10 Pulse protesters staging sit-in at Marco Rubio's Orlando office are arrested


    ORLANDO — Police arrested 10 protesters who were holding a sit-in Monday in the lobby of the building where U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has his Orlando office on the one-month anniversary of a massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub.

    The group was staging a sit-in at the Orlando office of Sen. Marco Rubio and demanding wide reforms.
  2. Services to be Saturday for House's 'Sarge,' Wayne Westmark


    A funeral service will be held Saturday, July 16, in Tallahassee for Wayne Westmark, who patrolled the state Capitol for 22 years as the House sergeant at arms from 1976 to 1998.

    In this iconic photo on display at the Capitol, House Sergeant at Arms Wayne Westmark, left, joins his Senate counterpart, Wayne Todd, in the "hanky drop" to end the 1984 session.
  3. School choice, budget, tax cuts among the new Florida laws that took effect Friday

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators passed 279 bills during this year's session three months ago, and 161 of them took effect Friday with the start of the state's fiscal year, affecting school choice, rape kit testing, tax cuts and many more aspects of life in the Sunshine State.

  4. Sykes paperwork error keeps him out of State House race


    ST. PETERSBURG Two years ago, the Rev. Manuel Sykes wasn't happy.

  5. No contest: Fourth of Legislature elected without opposition


    More candidates are running for the Florida Legislature than in past cycles, but one of every four seats was decided with no opposition. The lucky lawmakers are 12 senators (eight Republicans and four Democrats) and 30 state representatives (16Rs and 14Ds).

  1. Gov. Rick Scott signs bill that scales back testing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Responding to a parent-driven charge to scale back testing in public schools, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed legislation to eliminate at least one exam and delay the release of school grades until the other exams are deemed valid.

    Gov. Rick Scott Gov. Scott says he “will keep working to make sure Florida students are not overtested.”
  2. Bill to address Florida testing concerns headed to Gov. Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A proposal that would reduce the testing requirements for Florida schoolchildren — and delay the release of school grades until an independent agency reviews the new assessments — is headed to Gov. Rick Scott's desk.

    "To me, that was the one education bill we needed to resolve this year," said Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Trinity.
  3. PolitiFact Florida: Do uniform policies improve school safety and truancy?

    State Roundup

    More Florida school districts might soon have millions of reasons to start requiring students to wear uniforms, thanks to a bill that just passed the House.

    The House passed a bill to give school districts $10 per child to adopt uniform policies for kindergarten through eighth grade. Can school uniforms help reduce violence and truancy.
  4. After a dozen years, Florida class-size foes may finally prevail


    For the eighth time in 12 years, Florida lawmakers are looking to roll back voters' wishes for smaller class sizes.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in February that the Class Size Amendment was “done for a political purpose.”
  5. Florida Senate moves to temporarily suspend school grades

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate took a critical step Wednesday toward temporarily suspending school grades in response to the outcry statewide among parents, teachers and superintendents who want a smoother transition as the state shifts to new standards and tests.

  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. A predicted $400 million drop in revenue could scuttle Gov. Rick Scott's tax-cut plan

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Tumbling financial markets are further clouding Gov. Rick Scott's push for $1 billion in tax cuts as the Legislature deals with a suddenly less rosy financial outlook and less money to divvy up.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he's pressing ahead with his $1 billion tax-cut plan, despite downgraded financial numbers. "We have plenty of money to be able to do tax cuts," Scott told the Times/Herald. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  2. Feds say Florida needs $1 billion in hospital funding for poor next year

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Federal health officials told Florida Thursday that the state should expect big reductions in future years for a hospital payment program that's at the crux of a political stalemate blocking passage of a new state budget.

    Gov. Rick Scott speaks to members of the media after a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell on May 6 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
  3. Florida House leaders threaten budget battle over Medicaid expansion

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The gloves are off inside the Capitol.

    "They want us to come dance?" said House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes. "We're not dancing. We're not dancing this session; we're not dancing next session; we're not dancing next summer. We're not dancing.'' [AP photo]
  4. Despite budget constraints, hometown pork still popular with Florida lawmakers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Though the Florida Senate unanimously passed its $80.4 billion budget Wednesday — and the House appears unified to approve its own version today — there's plenty of behind-the-scenes wrangling among members when it comes to pet projects.

    State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said that the outlook is good for the University of South Florida’s downtown Tampa medical center to receive at least partial funding in next year’s budget.
  5. Florida House and Senate battle over tax cuts

    State Roundup

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

  1. After Medicaid blowup, House moves forward with its own free-market health care ideas

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — After knocking down a plan to expand Medicaid last summer, the Florida House is now pushing its own ideas for health care reform.

  2. Ideas emerge to bridge Florida's legislative divide

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators may have ended their stalemate last week when they agreed to convene a three-week special session to resolve the budget crisis in June, but they didn't agree on the hard part: how to resolve stark differences over health care.

  3. Florida Gov. Rick Scott asks hospitals to consider profit sharing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is pitching a new idea to help Florida hospitals handle the potential loss of federal funds for treating indigent patients: profit sharing.

    Gov. Rick Scott unveiled an ambitious environmental plan that promises to spend $5 billion over the next 20 years. [Getty Images]
  4. Meet the Arizona doctor House Republicans like to quote

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Dr. Jason Fodeman may not be a household name in Florida.

  5. Gov. Rick Scott calls for special session, says tax cuts may be sacrificed to end stalemate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Blaming the federal government for Florida's financial woes, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday said he was prepared to call Florida lawmakers back for a special session to complete the budget — and even encourage them to pass a bare-bones budget if necessary.

    Gov. Scott says his tax cuts are in jeopardy.
  1. Lawmakers want to advertise 'the truth' about rising property taxes paying for increased education spending


    TALLAHASSEE — When Gov. Rick Scott rolls out his budget proposal today, he'll talk about spending more money on schools, but some fellow Republicans say he's not telling taxpayers the whole truth.

    Gov. Rick Scott will roll out his budget proposal today. One topic will be spending more money on public education. Some fellow Republicans say he’s not telling taxpayers the whole truth.
  2. Dramatic rise of renegade 'no party' voters is reshaping state politics


    TALLAHASSEE — Three simple letters have ignited a civic rebellion in Florida that could reshape the state's politics for decades to come.

    Hillsborough County supervisor of elections staffers Ida Booth, left, and Edwin Crawford help register first-time voters, including Edwin Cobos, bottom left, and Sergio Acuna, recently at Sickles High School.
  3. Gov. Rick Scott gets out-voted as Cabinet approves ranch preservation plan


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott was handed a rare setback Tuesday as Cabinet members overruled him and voted to preserve one of the last surviving ranches in central Florida.

  4. Gov. Rick Scott announces 40 new jobs from Kentucky — or is it Ohio?


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott bagged 40 more jobs Tuesday at the expense of Kentucky, a state that has two things Scott doesn't like: an income tax and a Democratic governor.

  5. Take 3: Florida lawmakers try to fix 'tainted' lines for Congress


    TALLAHASSEE — They look like simple lines on a map, but they will make and break political careers.

    Former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist, shown here during a West Palm Beach event  last year, is among the politicians who stand to gain the most from changes in congressional districts. The state Legislature meets in a special session beginning Monday to redraw congressional maps. Crist is considering running in a redrawn 13th District. [GETTY IMAGES]
  6. Activists question Gov. Rick Scott's rush job on environmental appointment


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's decision to speed up the reappointment of Florida's top environmental regulator is drawing suspicion from grass roots activists across the state.

    Jon Steverson may be reappointed as the head of DEP today.
  7. For 2015 Florida Legislature, simply no end in sight


    It's a good thing for Florida taxpayers that state legislators don't get paid by the hour.

  8. Being a Florida lawmaker a path to wealth for many


    TALLAHASSEE — In the wake of the Great Recession, which left the average Florida family struggling to make ends meet, at least one group of people continues to get richer: It pays to be elected to the state House or Senate.

  9. Embattled Florida elections chief goes on the defense


    TALLAHASSEE — Under fire once again for lapses in oversight of Florida's voter database and lax communication, Gov. Rick Scott's top elections official says he'll "over-communicate" in the future.

    State auditors recently said Ken Detzner needs to improve his management of the voting system.
  10. 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.

  1. Why I still want my gun


    FOUR HOURS. That's it.

    In order for me to get a concealed weapons permit in Florida, my firearm competency certification class took four hours.

  2. Openly carry guns in Florida? Bill clears first hurdle in House

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A controversial measure that would allow Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to carry those firearms openly in public easily cleared its first hurdle Tuesday, but the legislation still faces several more tests before it could become law.

    Rep. Matt Gaetz, joined by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, discusses his open-carry gun bill on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
  3. School guns proposals stalled in Florida Senate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A proposal that would allow certain teachers to carry guns in public schools is on life support after the Senate Education Committee declined to vote on it for the second meeting in a row.

  4. Bill for concealed carry in evacuations headed to Gov. Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Floridians soon could be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the first two days of an emergency evacuation, even if they don't have a concealed license to do so.

  5. 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.