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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. The Florida House approves a prison reform plan as lawmakers commit to creating a joint committee to finish the job

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The investigative staff at the Department of Corrections would face an overhaul, officers who injure inmates could be subject to felonies, and the state would start a pilot project to put body cameras on prison guards, under a prison reform bill unanimously approved Friday by the Florida House.

    The proposal is the first part of a bi-partisan agreement between the House and Senate to address questions of inmate abuse, allegations of staff cover-ups and evidence of organizational troubles that have been festering in the state's prison system for years. The agency and its staff are also under investigation by both state and federal law enforcement agencies....

  2. In Tallahassee, Republican family feud grinds legislative session to a halt

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Republicans in the Florida Legislature have met the enemy, and it is them.

    They can't agree on using federal money for people with no health care and as a result, budget negotiations are in disarray in a year with a $1 billion surplus. Unable to resolve their differences after months of refusing to compromise, Republican lawmakers will end the regular session next Friday without completing the one task they are required to do: passing a state budget....

    The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature joined on March 3 to cheer Gov. Rick Scott for his State of the State address. Now, as the session draws to a close, GOP lawmakers can’t agree on using federal Medicaid money for people with no health care and as a result, budget negotiations are in disarray.
  3. House prepares to adopt changes to prison system

    Blog

    The investigative staff at the Department of Corrections would face an overhaul, officers who injure inmates could be subject to felonies, and the state would start a pilot project to put body cameras on prison guards, under a bill set to be given preliminary approval today in the Florida House.

    The proposal is the first part of a bi-partisan agreement between the House and Senate to address questions of inmate abuse, allegations of staff cover-ups and evidence of organizational troubles that have been festering in the state’s prison system for years. The agency and its staff are also under investigation by both state and federal law enforcement agencies....

  4. Fracking bills passed by divided Senate committee

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Despite warnings that they were creating a road map for companies to circumvent the state's public records law, a divided Senate committee advanced a bill Thursday that could allow oil and gas companies to shield the chemicals used in the fracking process.

    The measure, SB 1582, builds on legislation pending before the House and Senate that imposes new rules and penalties on oil and gas activities known as fracking, while banning local governments from prohibiting the controversial activity....

  5. Senate advances bill relating to disclosure of fracking chemicals

    Blog

    Despite warnings that they were creating a “roadmap” for companies to circumvent the state’s public records law, a divided Senate committee advanced a bill Thursday that could allow oil and gas companies to shield the chemicals used in the fracking process.

    The measure, SB 1582, builds on legislation pending before the House and Senate that imposes new rules and penalties on oil and gas activities known as fracking, while banning local governments from prohibiting the controversial activity....

  6. Bradley: Gaming bill in trouble as compact talks resume

    Blog

    Senate Regulated Industry Committee Chairman Sen. Rob Bradley said Wednesday that discussions with the Seminole Tribe and the Senate are underway over the resolution of the portion of the gaming compact with the state.

    But "there is such a large distance between the two parties” that he expects it “will be very difficult to come to a meeting of the minds” before the session ends on May 1. The casualty, he said, is likely to be passage of any gaming bill this session. ...

  7. Gov. Rick Scott threatens Republican senators with veto power

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As a confrontation over the state budget escalated, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday privately called several Republican senators into his office individually, threatening to veto their priorities if they failed to cooperate with his plan to lower taxes and spend more money on schools.

    Scott reminded senators he wants $673 million in tax cuts and attempted to tie that to the impasse over health care policy and the state budget debate, which is sending the Legislature into overtime....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks at a news conference at Norris Sports Group on March 27 in Naples.
  8. Governor target hospitals - and profits -- in his talks with senators

    Blog

    As Gov. Rick Scott met with senators Wednesday to increase the pressure on them to pass his tax cut package, he was armed with a document.

    Holding the six-page document, compiled by the Agency for Health Care Administration, Scott points to the data on profit margins for local hospitals in each member's district.  ...

  9. Scott calls in senators, threatens vetoes, warring with hospitals

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott used the threat of his veto pen on Wednesday and privately called several Republican senators into his office individually, threatening to veto their priorities, reminding them he wants tax cuts, and showing them a list of local hospitals which he suggests are making unreasonable profits.

    The message, according to several senators who spoke with the governor: Why aren’t we cutting taxes if we are willing to send taxpayer money to profitable hospitals?...

  10. Sky-diving as agri-tourism? Never mind

    Blog

    Matt GaetzRep. Matt Gaetz is one of the Florida House's more accomplished debaters, but last month he couldn’t get a judge to agree that his client’s skydiving business constitutes “agri-tourism.’’ So on Tuesday, he prepared an amendment that would have asked his House colleagues to carve out an exception to the law....

  11. House committee approves bill to phase out dog racing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The calm in the lobbyist-packed committee room belied the intensity of the behind-the-scenes battle under way to end the House of Representatives' resistance to gambling expansion.

    Before the Finance and Tax Committee met, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli added a legislator to help pass the bill that opens the door to slot machines in Palm Beach and Lee counties, destination resorts in Miami-Dade and Broward, and the phasing out of greyhound racing across the state....

  12. House committee narrowly passes gaming bill as pressure mounts

    Blog

    The calm in the lobbyist-packed room belied the intensity of the behind-the-scenes battle underway to end the House’s resistance to gambling expansion.

    Before the Finance and Tax Committee met, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli added Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton to the committee -- an extra vote of assurance to help the bill make it through the tough committee.

    As the vote looked close, lobbyists Ron Book, Brian Ballard and Sean Pittman quietly met in the corner of the meeting room with Rep. Hazelle Rogers, attempting to get the Lauderhill Democrat to end her opposition to the bill. The lobbyists represent Palm Beach and Naples tracks who have been trying for year to get slots at their tracks....

  13. Florida Channel says it agreed to mute name of inmate during Senate hearing

    Blog

    The Florida ChannelThe state-run public television channel agreed to remove the name of an inmate from the audio file of a Senate hearing in which a Department of Corrections whistle-blower alleged that potential criminal activity was ignored or cover-up at the agency, the executive director of The Florida Channel told the Herald/Times....

  14. Private prison services could face new scrutiny under oversight plan

    Blog

    Looming in the background in the legislative debate over prison reform is a question that could come into new focus: How productive was the move to privatize prisons and inmate health care and how much farther should it go?

    Florida legislative leaders last week tentatively agreed to the creation of a joint legislative oversight board with the power to investigate and monitor the performance of Florida’s troubled Department of Corrections. It’s goal is to secure the safety of inmates in the face of mounting reports of suspicious inmate deaths, excessive use of force and allegations of cover-ups at the agency that houses more than 101,000 prisoners, said sponsors of the measure, Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami....

  15. Private prison vendors could face new scrutiny in Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Looming in the background in the legislative debate over prison reform is a question that could come into new focus: How productive was the move to privatize prisons and inmate health care and how much farther should it go?

    Florida legislative leaders last week tentatively agreed to the creation of a joint legislative oversight board with the power to investigate and monitor the performance of Florida's troubled Department of Corrections. Its goal is to secure the safety of inmates in the face of mounting reports of suspicious inmate deaths, excessive use of force and allegations of coverups at the agency that houses more than 101,000 prisoners, said sponsors of the measure, Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami. ...