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Florida Legislature

  1. Sen. Jack Latvala gears up for another growler battle


    TALLAHASSEE — It was one of the most spirited battles in the Legislature this year, pitting scrappy independent craft brewers against wealthy beer distributors intent on preserving their dwindling customer base.

  2. Gov. Rick Scott shakes up FDLE, forces longtime commissioner to resign


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's transition to a second term suddenly turned rocky Tuesday when he forced the resignation of the longtime leader of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

  3. Economists project nearly $1 billion surplus for Florida budget

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Lower gas prices and rising consumer confidence prompted state economists on Monday to boost revenue estimates for next year's budget by $622 million.

  4. State reneging on abuse deal?


    TALLAHASSEE — When the state of Florida quietly agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit over the gruesome death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and the torture of her twin brother, Victor, it all but admitted it was at fault.

    The body of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona was found in the back of her adoptive father’s pickup in 2011.
  5. Man serving life for giving his car to killers will remain in prison for now (w/video)


    TALLAHASSEE — A Florida prison inmate serving a life term for lending his car to friends who committed murder during a burglary lost his bid for immediate release Wednesday.

  1. Election altered balance of Florida's school choice debate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The state representatives who lost their seats last week had more in common than their political party.

  2. New voucher program helps Florida special needs students

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The news literally made Mary Kurnik jump with joy.

    John Kurnik, 12, looks for crabs with his dad John Kurnik (left), sister Krystyn Kurnik, 14, and mom Mary Kurnik (not pictured) along the banks of Old Tampa Bay in Oldsmar. The kids, who are homeschooled, were on a nature lesson.  (JIM DAMASKE   |   Times)
  3. Gov. Rick Scott rolls out plan to increase per-student spending

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The governor's race on Thursday turned into a contest to see who would spend more on education.

    Gov. Rick Scott speaks at the Florida Polytechnic University's ribbon-cutting ceremony in Lakeland last week. [DEMETRIUS FREEMAN   |   Times]
  4. Charlie Crist campaigns in school bus to boast his education record

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Traveling on a yellow school bus, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist toured the state last week to tell Floridians that public schools would fare better under his watch than that of Gov. Rick Scott.

    Charlie Crist and running mate Annette Taddeo visit at Al Lopez Park in Tampa on Thursday to stump about education.
  5. Florida teachers union challenges voucher expansion bill

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The state teachers union filed a challenge to a controversial education law Wednesday, saying it violates a constitutional requirement that each law be limited to a single subject.

    Lee County social studies teacher Tom Faasse(cq) and Florida Education Vice President Joanne McCall announce a new lawsuit on Wednesday in Tallahassee challenging a controversial education law. The union says the law violates the constitutional requirement that each legislation proposal be limited to one subject.  A lawsuit filed by Florida teachers union at a presser Wednesday, July 16, 2014,  in Tallahassee.
  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. 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]
  2. 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.

  3. Florida Legislature adjourns 2014 session, approving medical marijuana strain and immigrant tuition



    Florida lawmakers adjourned their 2014 election-year session late Friday, approving in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, legalizing a strain of marijuana for limited medical use and expanding corporate tax credits that allow poor children to go to private schools.

    House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, waves to members of the House after he completed his farewell speech Friday. He noted that lawmakers delivered on Gov. Rick Scott’s priorities. “We’ve been very good to the governor this year.”
  4. Tampa Bay local projects in line for legislative largesse

    State Roundup


    The $77.1 billion budget that lawmakers will vote on tonight is studded with hometown projects, the first time this has happened in an election year since 2006.

    A decorated Bulls cap is shown during the University of South Florida St. Petersburg fall 2013 Commencement Convocation at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Dec. 15. USF St. Petersburg is set to get $10 million for a new building for the College of Business under the state budget.
  5. With cash to spare, legislators clamor to get pet projects in the budget

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Unlike previous years, when lawmakers struggled to plug deficits, this year's budget is awash in cash.

    Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Joe Negron, R-Stuart, speaks to reporters Tuesday about budget talks between the House and Senate. On Tuesday night, negotiators printed and distributed the budget to lawmakers, who are constitutionally required to pass it by 11:59 p.m. Friday.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. Florida lawmakers make one more push to extend health care to immigrant children


    TALLAHASSEE — A bill to extend subsidized health insurance to the state's youngest legal immigrants has stalled in the Florida Legislature, due largely to the initial $27.5 million price tag.

  5. Legislator seeks to go easier on struggling nursing schools


    TALLAHASSEE — A proposal winding its way through the Florida Legislature seeks to raise the bar for nursing education programs.

  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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Florida House votes to allow arming teachers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House on Monday approved a bill that would let teachers pack heat at school.

  4. Over sheriffs' objections, House approves bill to allow concealed weapons during emergencies

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Evacuations caused by hurricanes, toxic spills and riots could be grounds for people to conceal guns in public without a permit, according to a bill backed by the National Rifle Association that passed the Florida House 80-36 on Friday.

    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri calls the bill “crazy, it’s absurd.”
  5. Florida House bill would allow carrying guns without a permit during riots

    Public Safety

    TALLAHASSEE — Under a bill backed by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, riots could be the newest safe haven for those carrying firearms without a permit.