Kathleen McGrory, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Kathleen McGrory

Kathleen McGrory is a state government reporter in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She has been with the Miami Herald since 2006. Her previous beats include breaking news, the Miami-Dade school district and Miami City Hall. She holds degrees from Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Phone: (850) 222-3095

Email: kmcgrory@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @kmcgrory

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

    Health

    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.

    But Rep. José Félix Díaz, a Miami Republican, says the actual price is a lot lower: $7 million to $15 million. He's fighting to have the measure included in the state budget.

    "If we don't act, these kids will not get primary care," said Díaz, whose bill would eliminate a five-year waiting period for coverage under Florida's KidCare program. "They will enter our system with chronic issues."...

  2. SEIU targets Republican lawmakers with constituents in coverage gap

    Blog

    The state healthcare workers' union has a new strategy in its fight to expand Medicaid coverage: reaching out to voters "who've been screwed out of healthcare coverage by their representative's refusal to act."

    SEIU Florida will be knocking on doors this weekend in four state House districts.

    The targeted lawmakers include Republican Reps. Manny Diaz, Jr., of Hialeah; Erik Fresen, of Miami; Kathleen Peters, of St. Petersburg; and Bill Hager, of Delray Beach. Each lawmaker represents more than 4,600 residents who are missing out on coverage, according a union analysis....

  3. Union appeals to Florida voters in the Medicaid 'coverage gap'

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — The state health care workers' union has a new strategy in its fight to expand Medicaid coverage: reaching out to voters "who've been screwed out of health care coverage by their representative's refusal to act."

    This heat map, created by SEIU Florida, shows the number of residents in each Florida House district who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap....

  4. Flurry of education bills dominate debate in Legislature

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — As schoolchildren prepared to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests for the last time, the state Senate put its unanimous support behind a proposal that would simplify the school grading formula for next year.

    The bill by Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, would not pause the grading system for three years, as district superintendents had hoped. But schools would not be punished for poor academic performance in the 2014-15 school year, as children begin taking a new test....

  5. Democrats call attention to raising Florida's minimum wage, but it's a losing battle

    Business

    TALLAHASSEE

    They held protests and press conferences. Several even spent the week living on $7.93 an hour. But try as they might, Democratic lawmakers could not spark a discussion about increasing the state minimum wage. "It's a debate that's being had everywhere but Florida," said Sen. Dwight Bullard, the Miami-Dade Democrat leading the charge. "Republicans are blocking it." The GOP had its reasons for not engaging on the issue, some members said, including a belief that increasing the minimum wage would slow job growth....

    From left, Democrats Kionne McGhee and Cynthia Stafford, both of Miami, and Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach were among nine lawmakers who tried living on minimum wage for a week.
  6. Miami-Dade lawmakers seek apology from college president

    Blog

    A day after Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón ignited a war of words by blasting four local lawmakers, the other side fired back.

    In a sign of growing backlash, the response wasn’t limited to the targets Padrón initially criticized for opposing a key MDC funding bill. Instead, the four were joined by seven other members of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation in co-signing a letter that called Padrón’s statements "something we cannot and will not tolerate."...

  7. Weakened voucher bill heads toward House floor vote

    Blog

    Democrats and Republicans clashed Wednesday over a proposal that would expand the state’s school voucher program and create another voucher-like program for children with special needs.

    Democrats made their concerns known by proposing a series of "unfriendly" amendments, one of which would have required students in the voucher program to take the state tests. But each was rejected by the Republican-led chamber, and the bill advanced toward a final vote....

  8. Florida lawmakers clash over school choice

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — Democrats and Republicans clashed Wednesday over a proposal that would expand the state's school voucher program and create another voucher-like program for children with special needs.

    Democrats made their concerns known by proposing a series of "unfriendly" amendments, one of which would have required students in the voucher program to take the state tests. But each was rejected by the Republican-led chamber, and the bill advanced toward a final vote....

    House Speaker Will Weatherford says he feels good about the bill's chances.
  9. Senate panel won't budge on watered-down charter-school bill

    Blog

    A Senate panel on Wednesday further watered down a proposal seeking to encourage charter school growth.

    The original 39-page bill would have stripped school systems of their power to negotiate contracts with privately managed charter schools by mandating the use of a standard contract.

    It would have also required districts to share their unused buildings.

    The proposal is now two pages, and does little more than clarify that military commanders can establish charter schools on their bases. (Similar language is included in a bill that Gov. Rick Scott already signed into law.)...

  10. Anti-smoking groups work to kill e-cigarette bill in Florida

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill seeking to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors has attracted some unlikely opponents: the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.

    The anti-smoking organizations weren't always lined up against the proposal. But they became outraged when state lawmakers added language that would go farther, stripping local governments' ability to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes and tobacco products....

    An e-cigarette tank is filled with a blend of e-liquid at Blue Lab Vapor in Largo.
  11. Lawmakers look to draw medical tourists to Florida

    Tourism

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers have a new vision for the tourism industry.

    Forget Mickey Mouse and the beaches. Their goal is to make Florida an international destination for people seeking top-notch medical care.

    Proposals in the state House and Senate seek to pump $5 million into efforts to promote Florida's health care industry to potential patients worldwide.

    That's welcome news to providers like Broward Health, a public health system that already sees thousands of so-called medical tourists each year....

  12. Ride-sharing service Lyft launches in Tampa despite PTC warning

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Lyft is going rogue. The ride-sharing service, which uses a smartphone application to connect passengers with drivers who use their personal vehicles, began accepting passengers in Tampa on Friday evening.

    That happened despite a letter sent last month to Lyft by the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission that made it clear the San Francisco-based company does not meet the requirements to operate legally here....

  13. Uber bill targets Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission

    Blog

    A bill moving through the Florida Legislature was refashioned Friday to take aim at the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission.

    The original proposal (HB 1389) sought to let technology-based transportation companies circumvent local municipalities and win approval directly from the state. It was nicknamed the Uber Bill, after the California-based digital booking service that has been rebuffed by government agencies in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties....

  14. House, Senate approve budget plans; now the dealing begins

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — With broad bipartisan support, lawmakers approved rival $75 billion state budgets Thursday that include a $500 million package of tax cuts and fees and the highest overall spending on education in Florida history.

    Benefiting from a surplus of about $1.2 billion, the largest in an election year since 2006, the House and Senate budgets have sailed through with little rancor within the chambers — and relatively small differences between their plans and that of Gov. Rick Scott....

    At center, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, asks for applause to be lowered after leading a budget bill into passage Thursday on the floor of the Senate in Tallahassee.
  15. Toll battle leads to MDX shakeup bills

    State Roundup

    By PATRICIA MAZZEI AND KATHLEEN MCGRORY

    Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE — A local agency that defied opponents by setting new tolls for Miami-Dade's busy Dolphin Expressway is caught in the crosshairs of the Florida Legislature.

    Two South Florida lawmakers want to reshape the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, better known as MDX, and require the county commission to sign off on toll hikes....