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Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas is capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald and co-bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a graduate of the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. Before she became bureau chief for the Herald in 2004, Mary Ellen was Tallahassee bureau chief for Florida Trend magazine and also served as a senior writer for the Palm Beach Post. She was bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post from 1990-94, after which she worked part time for 10 years while her daughters were young. She is married to John Kennedy, senior writer for the Palm Beach Post's Tallahassee bureau. They have two daughters.

Phone: 850-222-3095

Email: meklas@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

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  1. Odds do not favor backers of bill to allow new casinos in South Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The odds of passing a sweeping rewrite of the state's gambling laws appeared long on Thursday as a House committee began debate on a draft proposal to expand gambling in Florida and ended with no commitment to take up the bill for a vote.

    Meanwhile, progress appeared to be occurring on another gambling debate — behind closed doors — as key lawmakers confirmed they continue to talk about renewing the portion of the gaming compact that expires in July with the Seminole Tribe ....

  2. House committee begins gaming debate but no end is in sight

    Blog

    The odds of passing a sweeping rewrite of the state’s gambling laws appeared to dim Thursday as a House committee began debate on a draft proposal to expand gambling in Florida and ended with no commitment to take up the bill for a vote.

    Meanwhile, progress appeared to be occurring on another gambling debate -- behind closed doors – as key lawmakers confirmed they continue to talk about renewing the portion of the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe that expires in July....

  3. Warning signs were ignored in Broward child's short, 'painful' life

    Blog

    Ahizya OsceolaThe purple bruises on either side of Ahizya Osceola’s jaw were telltale signs: Someone, a child abuse expert said, had grabbed the 3-year-old’s face forcefully enough to leave fingerprints....

  4. House and Senate advance prison plans as some in House call for more oversight

    Blog

    As the Florida House and Senate advanced vastly different prison plans on Tuesday, some House leaders hinted that there may be room for compromise.

    The full Senate advanced SB 7020, a proposal to create a Florida Corrections Commission, an independent oversight board with the power to hold Department of Corrections officials accountable for prison budgets, discipline and investigations. The Senate adopted a handful of amendments to the bill and will take it up for a final vote as early as next week....

  5. Bill to shield tobacco industry from damages in Engle lawsuits in limbo

    Blog

    The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee adjourned its meeting early on Tuesday, with time to spare, but did not take up a bill intended to shield the tobacco industry from punitive damages in thousands of pending cases from injured Florida smokers. 

    The bill, HB 1067 sponsored by Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, would retroactively apply a 1999 cap on punitive damages to any claims that were filed before that date. The measure would effectively limiting the potential payments to about 4,500 Florida smokers and their families who have sued cigarette makers but are still awaiting trial over claims that the industry deceived them about the dangerous and addictive properties of cigarettes....

  6. House plan rejects independent oversight for prison reform

    Blog

    Prisons Miami HeraldA 51-page prison reform bill intended to weed out abuse and corruption at the state’s troubled corrections agency has been whittled down to a modest 12 pages in the House amid quiet opposition from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration....

  7. Florida House version of prison reform whittled down, rejects independent prison oversight

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A 51-page prison reform bill intended to weed out abuse and corruption at the state's troubled corrections agency has been whittled down to a modest 12 pages in the House amid quiet opposition from Gov. Rick Scott's administration.

    The House proposal abandons the Senate plan (SB 7020) to require the agency to be held accountable to an oversight board which would dilute the ability of the governor to have complete control over the agency. ...

  8. Culture of brutality permeated North Florida prison as officers in charge flourished

    Blog

    James KirklandDepartment of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones has vowed to "fix what needs to be fixed" at the agency that has been the focus of intense scrutiny from legislators and federal law enforcement agencies....

  9. Capitol Buzz: A few things to watch today in Tallahassee

    Blog

    Florida legislators ended a busy week and headed home late Thursday, leaving an empty legislative calendar for Friday. Here are two non-legislative things to watch:

    * FSU students, climate activists, and other concerned citizens will cap off the Sunshine Week events and deliver a public records request to the office of Gov. Rick Scott Friday morning, asking him to disclose all correspondence between the governor and Department of Environmental Protection. The group is seeking communications in the wake of news that the governor’s agency imposed an unwritten ban on the use of the words “climate change” and “global warming” and will deliver petitions protesting the policy. Sunshine Week is a national effort begun in Florida dedicated to focusing attention on government transparency and accountability.  ...

  10. House wants to 'downsize' prison agency as Dems keep the heat on

    Blog

    Dems and prisonsThe Florida House is advancing a long-term plan to “down-size” the Florida Department of Corrections, including a yet-to-be released bill that adopts many of the reforms initiated by the Florida Senate but without the independent oversight commission that could investigate corruption....

  11. Seminole Tribe says no progress on compact as Legislature 'postures'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Seminole Tribe is on the defensive.

    After five years of quietly writing a monthly check to the state as part of the landmark gaming compact that gave them the exclusive right to operate card games at their Hard Rock casinos, negotiations over renewing the deal have ground to a halt.

    Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature sent a signal that they may not renew the deal that allows the Tribe to operate black jack, chemin de fer and baccarat when that portion of their agreement expires in July and have not included it in their draft budgets. ...

    Seminole Tribe general counsel Jim Shore met with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board on March 10 in  St. Petersburg. (


MONICA HERNDON | TIMES)
  12. Capitol Buzz: 5 things to watch today in Tallahassee

    Blog

    Thursday is traditionally budget day in the Florida Legislature and this week is no exception. Here are five things to watch:

    * The House Appropriations Committee meets for three hours this afternoon and takes up a long line of bills relating to education, land management and rules relating to law enforcement officers' operation of body cameras.

    * The Senate Appropriations sub-committees meet Thursday morning to review and discuss their proposed budgets and take up a handful of bills. Among them: a bill expanding options for Bright Futures scholars (SB 1140) and another reforming the state's K-12 testing laws (SB 616), including the repeal of the 11th grade Language Arts assessment....

  13. Seminole Tribe says no progress on compact as Legislature 'postures'

    Blog

    CasinoThe Florida Seminole Tribe is on the defensive. ...

  14. Florida Senate puts money into prison oversight

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate on Wednesday put money behind its pledge to reform the state's troubled prison system, voting to spend $6.9 million on system changes and create an independent oversight commission that would have the power to investigate corruption and abuse.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously for the wide-ranging bill being pushed by Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, in the wake of reports of suspicious inmate deaths at the Department of Corrections, allegations of cover-ups, and claims by whistleblowers that the agency's chief inspector general has sabotaged investigations and ignored inmate abuse....

  15. House plan allows sheriffs to house more state inmates

    Blog

    Jail Miami HeraldFlorida’s sheriff-run jails would be the beneficiaries of the fallout of Florida’s troubled prison system under a bill passed unanimously Wednesday by a House committee that would allow courts to keep inmates in county jails for up to two years to avoid entering the state’s prison system. ...