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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. Senate offers to fund private lawyers in redistricting challenge

    Blog

    Faced with subpoenas for information in a second redistricting lawsuit, the Florida Senate is offering to reimburse 21 senators up to $5000 to allow them to hire private lawyers to defend themselves in public records requests.

    The $105,000 allocation is on top of the more than $1 million taxpayers are already paying to defend the Senate in redistricting challenges brought by the League of Women Voters, and a group of Democrat-allied citizens, which challenged the congressional plan and are awaiting trial on a lawsuit challenging the Senate map....

  2. Florida Supreme Court rejects appeal to the blind trust law

    Blog

    In an unanimous ruling, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal to review a lower court decision upholding the state's blind trust law.

    The former chief of staff to the late Gov. Reubin Askew, Jim Apthrop, filed the appeal after the First District Court of Appeal rejected his lawsuit as "speculative," since no official was currently using the 2013 blind trust....

  3. Is there a way to bridge the legislature's health care divide? Some new thoughts

    Blog

    Florida legislators may have ended their stalemate last week when they agreed to convene a three-week special session to resolve the budget crisis in June, but they didn’t agree on the hard part: how to resolve stark differences over health care.

    Some compromise ideas are emerging — from using $600 million intended for tax cuts to bail out hospitals that treat poor patients, to seeking a one-of-a-kind federal waiver, to drawing federal money without passing it through Medicaid....

  4. Ideas emerge to bridge Florida's legislative divide

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators may have ended their stalemate last week when they agreed to convene a three-week special session to resolve the budget crisis in June, but they didn't agree on the hard part: how to resolve stark differences over health care.

    Some compromise ideas are emerging — from using $600 million intended for tax cuts to bail out hospitals that treat poor patients, to seeking a one-of-a-kind federal waiver, to drawing federal money without passing it through Medicaid....

  5. Gov. Rick Scott orders prison reforms similar to those proposed by lawmakers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — After months of silence as Florida's prison system came under fierce legislative criticism, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday issued an executive order requiring the head of the Florida Department of Corrections to make several changes to the troubled agency that she already had the power to do.

    "The department's number one focus is the safety of Florida's correctional officers, communities and the inmates in state custody and supervision,'' Scott said in a statement late Friday in announcing the order....

    Gov. Rick Scott issued the executive order Friday.
  6. House, Senate leaders agree to meet in June for special session

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — It's a start.

    After dissolving the annual legislative session last week over a budget and health care impasse, House and Senate leaders on Wednesday agreed on one thing: the dates of the special session to finish their work.

    In a joint news release, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, announced that they will convene a "tentatively scheduled" special session on June 1 and conclude it on June 20....

    Senate president, Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, center, wants to expand Medicaid and draw down federal Affordable Care Act money to compensate for the loss of LIP money in the future.
  7. Accord reached! House and Senate agree to start special session June 1

    Blog

    It's a start.

    After dissolving the annual legislative session last week over a budget and health care impasse, House and Senate leaders have now agreed on one thing: the dates of the special session to finish their work.

    In a joint press release issued Wednesday, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner announced that they will convene a "tentatively scheduled" special session on Monday, June 1, and conclude it on Saturday, June 20....

  8. FDLE arrests two prison guards for inmate abuse

    Blog

    Dwight Sims@JKnipeBrown

    Two guards at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City have been charged in connection with the brutal beating of an inmate, which they allegedly tried to cover up....

  9. Court sides with lawyers for consumers in ruling against PSC

    Blog

    In a rebuke to the Public Service Commission, a state appellate court ruled Monday that the utility regulator hurt utility customers when it refused to explain why it banned the public’s lawyers from asking questions in certain rate cases. 

    The ruling by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ordered the PSC to explain why it refuses to allow the Office of Public Counsel to conduct discovery in pending rate cases as had previously been the tradition. ...

  10. Gauging the political fallout from Tallahassee gridlock: Will it matter?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House quit early. Senate Democrats sued. The state still has no budget, and no one has figured out a compromise on how to pay for health care.

    But last week's legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn't appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016....

    Republican Florida senators huddle on Wednesday, the day after the House adjourned early. From left: Alan Hays, Umatilla; Greg Evers, Baker; Senate President Andy Gardiner, Orlando; David Simmons, Altamonte Springs; and Garrett Richter, Naples.
  11. Gridlock and uncertainty in GOP ranks, but does it matter?

    Blog

    @PatriciaMazzei and @MaryEllenKlas

    The Florida House quit early. Senate Democrats sued. The state still has no budget, and no one has figured out a compromise on how to pay for healthcare.

    But last week’s legislative meltdown in Tallahassee, dramatic and dysfunctional as it was, doesn’t appear to threaten the political future of Republicans who control both chambers of state government — or of anyone else in their party running for office in 2016....

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

    Blog

    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....

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

    Blog

    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."  ...

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

    Blog

    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....

  15. 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....