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Florida Legislature

  1. Florida Legislature moves to change school start date rules

    Blogs

    Since 2007, Florida school districts have not been able to start classes earlier than two weeks before Labor Day.

  2. 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."
  3. Aides to governor and Cabinet spar over making agency changes

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's planned purge of the leaders of three state agencies is hitting roadblocks as Cabinet members say he's moving too hastily and not giving the embattled directors a chance to defend themselves.

  4. Florida House releases draft of its testing bill

    Blogs

    The Florida House has been fairly tight lipped about testing while the Senate tackles the topic.

  5. Like school uniforms? A bill encouraging them moves in Florida House

    Blogs

    A bill that "encourages" Florida public school districts to adopt student …

  1. Florida Senate panel votes to scale back testing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A plan to scale back testing in Florida schools cleared its first vote in the Florida Legislature on Wednesday, winning the approval of the Senate Education Committee.

    Senator John Legg,R- Trinity, answers questions, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, about his Education Accountability bill. SB 616 passed the Senate Eduction Pre-K-12 committee, Wednesday.
  2. 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. 
  3. Gov. Rick Scott faces concern from fellow Republicans over 'tax increase' to fund schools

    Legislature

    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.
  4. 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.

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

    Testing

    LAND O'LAKES

    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.
  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. 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. 
  2. 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.

  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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]
  1. 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."
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

  4. 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]
  5. 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.

  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. 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.