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Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg City Hall. He now covers state politics and government as part of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Phone: (850) 224-7263.

Email: mvansickler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

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  1. Call him Dudley Do-Over

    Blog

    There was no mistaking where Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, stood on HB 7003, a bill that proposes an overhaul of the state's water management system....

    Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg
  2. House overwhelmingly passes water management bill

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Dismissing pleas from environmental groups, the Florida House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed an agricultural industry-backed overhaul of the state's water management and preservation system that could force taxpayers to pick up more costs.

    HB 7003, which revises the state's oversight of water quality and quantity, now heads to the Senate where it faces a much tougher battle....

    Rep. Matt Caldwell, R- Lehigh Acres, takes a sip of bottled spring water after his water bill passed the Florida House on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Water bill surges through House with bipartisan support

    Blog

    Despite pleas from environmental groups, the Florida House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed an agricultural industry-backed overhaul of the state’s water management and preservation system that could force taxpayers to pick up more costs.

    HB 7003 makes numerous revisions to the state’s oversight of water quality and quantity, including new action plans to protect natural springs that are impaired, an easing of regulations on landowners north of Lake Okeechobee and an expansion of a program that helps landowners near impaired waters to reduce fertilizer-polluted discharge....

    Rep. Matt Caldwell, R- Lehigh Acres, takes a sip of bottled spring water after his water bill passed the Florida House, Thursday.
  4. With water bill on verge of passing House, environmentalists look to Senate

    Blog

    Environmental groups sent alerts marked “URGENT” warning members about HB 7003 minutes before it was taken up Wednesday afternoon on the House floor.

    “With this bill, Florida legislators are protecting developers and Big Ag at the expense of the public,” said an e-mail blast from David Guest, managing attorney at the Florida office of Earthjustice....

    Rep. Matthew Caldwell
  5. Crisafulli pushes overhaul of state water policy, testing; $500 million plus in tax cuts

    Blog

    Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli stressed an overhaul of the state’s water policy, more than $500 million in tax cuts, and a revamp of the state’s student testing in his opening remarks to lawmakers on the 1st day of legislative session on Tuesday.

    A soft-spoken 43-year-old Merritt Island Republican, Crisafulli oversees a House chamber with a commanding 81-39 GOP advantage over Democrats. But his manner is modest, and has been viewed by some as more accommodating than his predecessors....

  6. FDOT construction boom headed your way

    Blog

    Never mind that Mapquest ranked Interstate 95 and Interstate 4 last out of 66 interstates in the U.S., or that driving in Tampa Bay, Orlando or Miami can be an endurance sport. 

    According to the Florida Transportation Commission, the nine-member board appointed by Gov. Rick Scott that oversees the Department of Transportation, things will get better out there on the roads and highways....

  7. State audit highly critical of Florida's unemployment system CONNECT

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — Ever since the troubled launch of the state's unemployment website in October 2013, Gov. Rick Scott and his team have staunchly defended the lifeline for hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians.

    But on Friday, the state's auditor general issued a scathing 45-page audit that joins mounting evidence that CONNECT is a system in disarray.

    The audit found lapses that seemed to touch on every facet of CONNECT, which now costs $77 million, more than $14 million more than the previous estimate of the website....

  8. Audit blasts CONNECT, states it broke law

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly refused to answer questions about problems with Florida's unemployment claims system, CONNECT, since it launched in October 2013.

    But according to an audit released Friday by the state's Auditor General, there are a number of critical issues with CONNECT, which is now estimated to cost taxpayers $77.9 million.

    Chief among them is that the system broke Florida law by requiring its users to log in by using their Social Security Numbers, exposing them to an unnecessary risk. Florida law prohibits agencies from requiring SSNs if it's not imperative....

  9. Out of office, Weatherford lingers near the public stage

    Blog

    How does he do it all?

    Just last month, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, announced that he and his brothers Sam and Drew were opening a consulting company. The aptly-named Weatherford Partners would provide clients "with a broad range of business expertise and will invest capital directly into private companies with a strategic focus on Florida."...

    What will he do next?
  10. Overhaul of water policy on fast track in Florida House

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill pushed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to overhaul the state's water management system won bipartisan approval Thursday from the House Appropriations committee.

    At nearly 100 pages, HB 7003 outlines numerous revisions to the state's management of water quality and quantity that supporters, including House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, say modernizes Florida's water policy to accommodate future growth....

  11. Overhaul of water policy on fast track in House, next stop: Floor vote

    Blog

    It’s a complicated bill that House Speaker Steve Crisafulli says will modernize Florida’s water policy.

    So far, at least, the nearly 100-page HB 7003 is finding little opposition in the House, easily passing the Appropriations Committee on Thursday with bipartisan support....

  12. Putnam vies for more control of state waterways

    Blog

    In another sign of frayed relations between the state's top Republican leaders, a tug of war is unfolding between Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam over arguably the state's most valuable commodity: water.

    Putnam is lobbying for a bill that would overhaul the state's water management, loosening rules on pollution in the northern part of Lake Okeechobee in favor of more lenient standards....

  13. Putnam looks to shift oversight of state water to his department — away from Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — In another sign of frayed relations between the state's top Republican leaders, a tug-of-war is unfolding between Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam over arguably the state's most valuable commodity: water.

    Putnam is lobbying for a bill that would overhaul the state's water management, loosening rules on pollution in the northern part of Lake Okeechobee....

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is lobbying for the shift.
  14. RPOF tees up fundraising-palooza day before session begins

    Blog

    RpofinvitephotoIf there's a Coachella festival for Florida GOP fundraising, it just might be the one March 2 at the Governor's Club....

  15. After loss to Pam Bondi, George Sheldon nabs fix-it job in Illinois

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — George Sheldon may have lost his bid for Florida attorney general last year to Pam Bondi, but his reputation as a Mr. Fix-It of troubled agencies is still intact.

    On Tuesday, he starts his new job as head of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, which has come under fire recently for revelations of violence at group juvenile care facilities, botched investigations into child deaths and mounting worker caseloads....

    George Sheldon is tasked with bringing order to Illinois’ troubled child services department.