For years, former Gov. Reubin Askew had a regular invitation to the annual meeting of the Leadership Florida class in Tallahassee where he was asked to speak with Joseph Hatchett, the former federal judge whom Askew appointed the state's first black Supreme Court justice....
It’s the end of the second week of the legislative session and Tallahassee is splitsville. No lawmakers are left in town. Even the governor and attorney general have headed south. Although legislators face a funding ban during session, the governor and members of the Cabinet do not. Here are five things to watch for:
- Gov. Rick Scott will announce new funding relating to water quality at the Orange County Regional History Center.
- The governor will also hold a press conference at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami to highlight cancer research funding in his proposed budget.
- Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani will host a $3,000 per person fundraiser for Attorney General Pam Bondi at Palm Beach’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
- The staff of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be at the Orange Park Town Hall in Clay County from 10 a.m. to noon to assist constituents with issues ranging form Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs, and more.
- A wake for Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston’s father, Perry E. Thurston, Sr., will be held at 5 p.m. at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, in Pompano Beach. The elder Thurston passed away March 6, at the age of 76. A funeral will be held Saturday at the church at 11 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the centerpiece of the 2003 medical malpractice overhaul law, blasting the Legislature for creating an "alleged medical malpractice crisis" and concluding that the cap on wrongful death noneconomic damages violates the state Constitution's equal protection clause.
The 5-2 ruling, written by Justice R. Fred Lewis, suggested that legislators created a crisis to push through the caps on damages in medical liability lawsuits, which "has the effect of saving a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few."...
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the centerpiece of the 2003 medical malpractice overhaul law, blasting the Legislature for creating an “alleged medical malpractice crisis” and concluding that the cap on wrongful death non-economic damages violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause.
The 5-2 ruling, written by Justice R. Fred Lewis, suggested that legislators created a crisis to push through the caps on damages in medical liability lawsuits which “has the effect of saving a modest amount for many by imposing devastating costs on a few.”...
Eight same-sex Florida couples who legally married elsewhere in the United States have gone to federal court to demand the Sunshine State recognize their unions.
The suit, filed in Tallahassee late Wednesday by the ACLU, the ACLU of Florida and the Podhurst Orseck law firm of Miami, challenges “Florida’s refusal to recognize” the marriages of eight same-sex couples. Those 16 defendants are joined by SAVE, South Florida’s leading LGBT-rights group....
Florida legislators will start piecing together the 2014-15 state budget today, after getting fresh estimates that give them about $150 million more than they had when session began. The new money could pay for dozens of pending proposals and the House and Senate budget committees will discuss some of them. Five things to watch:
- A bill to reduce annual auto tag fees paid by drivers will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The proposal, SB 156 by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would take effect Sept. 1 and would save most Florida drivers $25 a year. It is expected to reduce state revenues by an estimated $237 million.
- The House Gaming Committee takes up the House’s proposal to overhaul the state’s gambling laws and another to authorize a constitutional amendment to shut the door on any gaming expansion without voter approval. Neither bill, HB 1383 and PCB 1401, is expected to get far without some movement from Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe, who are negotiating a gaming agreement.
- Employers would be banned from requiring access or seeking information about an employee’s social media account, under SB 198 by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, before the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.
- Gun owners could get their concealed weapons permits at their local tax collectors' office, and the information will be exempt from public record, under SB 546 by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, before the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.
- Legislators continue their selective tweaking of state ethics laws, this time tightening the rules on when members of state governing boards, such as Citizens Property Insurance and Enterprise Florida, can lobby their former employer. The bill, SB 846 by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, also imposes new lobbying rules on special districts.
TALLAHASSEE — About 300 homeowners have agreed to settle their disputed sinkhole claims with Citizens Property Insurance, the company announced Wednesday, leaving an estimated 1,800 more lawsuits still unresolved.
The group settlement involves policyholders who were challenging the state-run insurance company for failing to agree to the method and cost of repair for sinkhole damage to their homes....
About 300 homeowners have agreed to settle their disputed sinkhole claims with Citizens Property Insurance, the company announced Wednesday, leaving an estimated 1,800 more lawsuits still unresolved.
The group settlement involves policyholders who were challenging the state-run insurance company for failing to agree to the method and cost of repair for sinkhole damage to their homes.
The company has watched as lawsuits have ballooned in recent years as most homeowners were challenging Citizens for forcing them to repair their homes by putting grout in the ground instead of underpinning their homes with steel beams, or both....
After a year of damaging news reports about child deaths from abuse and neglect, a Florida Senate committee on Tuesday passed a package of proposals intended improve the quality and quantity of regulation over the state’s child welfare system.
The wide-ranging bills proposed by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee are intended to improve what Senate President Don Gaetz called “a porous system” that has led to hundreds of child deaths under the state’s watch....
Florida legislative leaders will get new insights into how much extra money they will have this year as economists meet today to put the final estimates on the revenue projections for the next fiscal year. Five things to watch are:
- The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will consider three significant bills aimed at holding down the cost of tuition including (SB 1148) that would eliminate inflation-based tuition increases and reduce what are known as “differential” tuition increases.
- The Senate Rules Committee will consider several bills, including a proposal (SB 220), filed by Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, that would make clear discrimination is prohibited against pregnant women in such issues as employment.
- Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Panama City to highlight money for early childhood education in his budget at the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida.
- Embattled Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Jesse Panuccio has his confirmation hearing before the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
- State economists meet to revise general-revenue estimates and provide legislators with new projections for building their 2014-15 fiscal year budget.
03/11/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — After a year of damaging news reports about child deaths from abuse and neglect, a Florida Senate committee on Tuesday passed a package of proposals intended to improve the quality and quantity of regulation over the state's child welfare system.
The wide-ranging bills proposed by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee are intended to improve what Senate President Don Gaetz called "a porous system" that has led to hundreds of child deaths under the state's watch....
A bill portrayed as an attempt to keep politics out of judicial appointments dissolved into a tense political dispute Tuesday as the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out a constitutional amendment to give the next governor the ability to stack the court -- against the wishes of Democrats.
The proposal by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon and chairman of the committee, on its surface looks like a simple attempt to clarify Florida law that now raises questions about whether an outgoing governor or his incoming successor is entitled to make the appointments to the Florida Supreme Court when the vacancy occurs on inauguration day....
The Florida House and Senate will each meet to take up a short list of their top priority legislation and the Florida Press Corps caps off the day with an entertaining salute to legislating. Here are five things to watch today:
- The full Senate will meet to pass its proposal (SB 860) to make Florida a more veteran-friendly place by increasing financial aid and job assistance programs for military veterans. Also on the Senate agenda is legislation to increase regulation of Assisted Living Facilities (SB 248).
- The full House will meet to take up a package of bills to crack down on sexual predators who re-offend. The measures (SB 522, 524, 526, 528) have already passed the Senate and are expected to be signed quickly by the governor.
- Florida's trauma centers come into the spotlight again as the House Health Innovation Subcommittee takes up a bill (PCB HIS 14-01) to resolve a legal fight between competing centers in in Central Florida. The debate comes on the heels of an investigative report by the Tampa Bay Times that explored how trauma centers profit by charging excessive and often-arbitrary fees.
- The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will take up two bills (SPB 7072 and 7074) that attempt to overhaul the state's management of child welfare in the wake of a series of high-profile child deaths last year.
- The governor will be teased and impersonated. Former Gov. Charlie Crist will be the focus of a few punchlines. And legislators and lobbyists become fodder for an evening of ribald humor. It's all a part of the Sometimes Annual Capitol Press Corps skits held at The Moon at 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit scholarships for students pursuing a career in journalism.
By Ivan Penn
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy filed a petition Monday to block a St. Lucie nuclear reactor from returning to service until the public vets unusual wear inside the plant's steam generators.
In a complaint to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Southern Alliance accused the NRC of allowing unit two of the St. Lucie nuclear complex to operate outside of its license....
Arcades like Dave & Busters and Chuck E Cheese will no longer be in violation of state law when they operate their coinless games under a bill that won unanimous support Wednesday in the Senate Gaming Committee.
The bill, PCB 668 by Sen. Kelli Stargel, is intended to fix a law passed by legislators last year that outlawed Internet Cafes but snagged family amusement centers in the process. The groups organized, pleaded with lawmakers to revise the law and urged local police not to enforce it against them. Legislators returned with bills to revise the ban.
Now, skeptics say, the remedy could cause another round of troubles for the state’s porous gambling laws....