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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


Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

  1. Court rules House violated constitution but it's too late to bring them back


    Five justices of the Florida Supreme Court concluded Friday that the Florida House violated the state constitution but denied the request by the Senate Democratic caucus to order lawmakers to return to Tallahassee and compete their work after adjourning three days early.

    "In my view, the House’s unilateral adjournment clearly violated the Constitution,'' wrote Justice Barbara Pariente in a concurring opinion by Justice Barbara Pariente and signed by four other justices....

  2. Seminole Tribe urges governor and lawmakers to resume gaming talks


    Frustrated by the lack of progress over talks to renew their gaming compact with the state, the Seminole Tribe of Florida sent a letter Friday to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature urging them to resume negotiations to allow them the exclusive right to operate black jack and other card games in exchange for payments to Florida.

    "The certainty provided by a multi-year agreement to renew the banked card games would allow the Tribe to move forward with plans to invest over $1.6 billion in capital improvements and hire thousands of new employees,'' the Tribe said in a statement accompanying the letter. "The State would further benefit by receiving billions of dollars in exclusivity payments from the Tribe over the term of the new agreement."  ...

  3. Senators counter: House misconstrues the constitution, court should order them back


    In a lengthy response to the House's request to dismiss their lawsuit, the Democrats of the Florida Senate countered Friday that "by unilaterally adjourning sine die with more than seventy-two hours" remaining in the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers violated the constitution and deprived Senators "of their opportunity to fulfill their duties and responsibilities."

    The court gave the Senate Democrats two-and-a-half hours to file the response to the House's request to dismiss the case. The Senate Democrat's responded that the separation of powers doctrine does not prohibit the court from ordering the House back into session but, they argued, there is lengthy precedent for the court to act in similar cases, and they are entitled to an emergency order that forces the House to return to Tallahassee....

  4. Florida Supreme Court says House violated Constitution

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The state Supreme Court on Friday found that the Florida House violated the state Constitution this week when it adjourned early, but a majority of justices concluded it was far too late to force lawmakers back to town to finish their work because only hours remained until the end of the scheduled legislative session.

    "There is simply no way to mandate that the entire Florida House of Representatives return to Tallahassee to continue conducting its legislative responsibilities," Justice Barbara Pariente wrote late Friday, eight hours before the midnight end to the regularly scheduled lawmaking session....

  5. House tells court: Separation of powers means stay out of Legislature's troubles


    Citing major court cases of the past, the Florida House of Representatives urged the state's high court to dismiss the claims of Senate Democrats that they legislative dispute that resulted in them adjourning three days early was unconstitutional.

    "As a threshold matter, the Petition should be dismissed because it seeks relief that is contrary to the separation of powers,'' lawyers for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli wrote in a 23-page brief filed by 10 a.m. "...The judicial branch cannot, consistent with the separation of powers, question or intrude upon the internal procedures or the manner in which the Florida House of Representatives has chosen to exercise its legislative prerogative to adjourn sine die."...

  6. Judge orders Google to release data on Gov. Scott's G-mail account


    In a major defeat for Gov. Rick Scott, a California judge on Thursday ordered Google to turn over the computer IP addresses for all correspondence to and form the governor’s private G-mail account since Jan. 15, 2011, and the accounts of two of his former staff. 

    Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mary E. Arand ruled that the governor’s attempt to quash a request by Tallahassee lawyer Steven R. Andrews to Google to withhold the information was not valid....

  7. California judge orders Google to turn over data on Gov. Rick Scott's Gmail account

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — In a major defeat for Gov. Rick Scott, a California judge on Thursday ordered Google to turn over the computer IP addresses for all correspondence to and from the Florida governor's private Gmail account since Jan. 15, 2011, and the accounts of two of his staffers.

    Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Mary E. Arand ruled that the governor's attempt to quash a request by Tallahassee lawyer Steven R. Andrews was not valid....

  8. Supreme Court orders House to respond to early exit lawsuit by 10 a.m. Friday


    The Florida Supreme Court has ordered the Florida House to submit a response by 10 a.m. Friday, May 1, to the lawsuit filed today by the Senate Democratic Caucus, accusing the House of violating the constitution. 

    The Senate Democrats will then have a mere 2.5 hours to reply. Here's the order.  Download Filed_04-30-2015_Scheduling_Order...

  9. Gardiner calls for 20-day special session in June, Senate Dems sue


    Andy GardinerSenate President Andy Gardiner conceded Thursday that the House will not be returning to complete the work of the regular session and offered to reconvene in a special budget session June 1 to 20 to focus exclusively on the budget and all "similar bills" that were left incomplete this week when the House abruptly left town....

  10. Dems continue attack on House swing districts with mailers


    Diaz_mailer_backDemocrats continue to hammer House Republicans in vulnerable districts over their early exit this week and are now dropping thousands of mailers in nine swing districts, a day after announcing they were targeting those same districts with robo-calls. ...

  11. Clemens rejects congressional bid because Tally is 'so entertaining'


    Here's the release from Sen. Jeff Clemens, announcing he will not run for Congress, in the district opening up by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy's run for U.S. Senate. It's worth the read:

    Today, State Senator Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) announced that he will remain focused on his re-election to Senate District 27, eschewing a run for the open Congressional seat in Florida District 18. ...

  12. Major Florida prison reform bill dies in wake of House, Senate feud

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A plan to increase oversight of the state prison system and impose new penalties on officers who injure inmates died in the Florida Senate on Wednesday, another casualty of the hostilities between the feuding chambers.

    Working solo after the House abruptly adjourned the day before, the Florida Senate unanimously voted to reject a prison reform compromise bill that was passed last week by the House....

    “They changed it. They dumped it on our doorstep, and we’re going to dump it back on theirs,’’ said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, center, after the vote over the Florida prison reform bill.
  13. CMS tells Florida: LIP money not dependent on 'whether or not' state expands Medicaid


    Hours after Gov. Rick Scott announced he's filed a lawsuit suing the federal government for linking the Low Income Pool to Medicaid expansion, CMS released a statement saying that LIP funding is "not dependent on whether it expands Medicaid." Here's the lawsuit. ...

  14. Prison reform compromise among the dead bills on session floor


    By Mary Ellen Klas and Michael Auslen

    As the session melted down on Tuesday, Senate President Andy Gardiner announced that the prison reform compromise -- which featured the Senate agreeing to withdraw from its position for an independent oversight board -- was now a casualty of the impasse.

    "The last three days of session, we should be negotiating that as a partner," Gardiner told the chamber after the House had adjourned three days early. Of the prison reform bill that was passed by the House last week, he said: "That bill's not going to make it."...

  15. House's adjournment was well-planned, but some House members didn't get memo


    The decision by the Florida House to adjourn early was known among a small handful of members of the lobbying corps, who positioned themselves in the chamber for the historic announcement.

    It was known among the House's leadership, which had the House Majority Office prepare a four-page document answering what they expected would be commonly asked questions about the House's position on the budget impasse and Medicaid....