By any account, it’s been a rough stretch for Jesse Panuccio, the embattled executive director of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
Since mid-October, Panuccio has had to explain to state lawmakers what went wrong with the launch of CONNECT, a $63-million unemployment benefits website plagued with glitches that has prevented thousands from collecting their weekly jobless payments in a timely manner....
The streak continues.
Attorney General Pam Bondi raised more money in February than her three challengers -- $92,548 from her two committees and $184,000 with her own campaign for a total of $276,548.
That’s slightly less than the $325,293 Bondi raised in January and her contributions still show a heavy reliance on party money. About 25 percent of her take in February, about $69,000, came via the Republican Party of Florida....
A bill that takes aim at Pinellas County’s reliance on absentee mail voting and introduced online registration is moving ahead in the Florida Senate.
SPB 7068 wasn’t voted on Monday, but Sen. Jack Latvala, who chairs the ethics and elections committee made clear that when it comes back in two weeks before his committee, it’ll be a top priority....
TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers have a plan to keep kids safe at school: allow teachers to pack heat.
The controversial proposal won the support of a Senate panel on Monday, despite strong opposition from parent groups, school boards and the statewide teachers union.
It is one of several high-profile gun bills gaining traction in the Florida Legislature this year — and a sign that the National Rifle Association is once again flexing its muscle in Tallahassee....
Flanked by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, civil rights leader and talk show host Rev. Al Sharpton called for the repeal of the state’s stand your ground law during a Monday march to the Capitol with several hundred supporters.
“The law is inherently wrong, whether it’s an unarmed teenager in Sanford or a man in a movie theater texting his babysitter,” Sharpton said. “It violates federal law.”...
03/08/14 State Roundup
As of Saturday, about 117,000 ballots had been cast in Pinellas County's special election for Congressional District 13 — more than half of the votes likely to be cast — and Republicans are gaining steam in the closing days. The GOP advantage in votes cast more than doubled over the last week to about 4,500 votes.
But for all the talk about an energized, anti-Obama Republican base in this off-year special election, the key to victory on Tuesday — no surprise for a swing district in the swing state of Florida — is swing voters and independents. ...
For the first time since he announced in November that he was running for governor, Charlie Crist’s political committee raised more money in a month than the campaign committee of his opponent, incumbent Rick Scott.
The “Charlie Crist for Governor Committee” raised $827,350 in February, nearly five times the $184,257 raised during the same period by Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” committee....
Gov. Rick Scott tweeted a greeting to Pres. Barack Obama, who is visiting Miami today.
"It's time to support those who fight for liberty in Venezuela," Scott tweeted to @barackobama in Spanish.
It contains a fun Vine of Scott trying real hard to speak Spanish. Played on a loop all day, it's mesmerizing. There's a mute button in the upper-left corner of the picture, so click on it if you want sound....
03/06/14 State Roundup
Capitol protests, like last summer's 31-day sit-in by the Dream Defenders, are no longer allowed thanks to a rule change that will limit more than just demonstrations.
With little fanfare, Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford on Monday approved a proposed rule by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that bans overnight stays at the Capitol and shoos members of the public from the building after 5 p.m. or 30 minutes after an official function....
Capitol protests, like last summer’s 31-day sit-in by the Dream Defenders, are no longer allowed thanks to a rule change that will limit more than just demonstrations.
With little fanfare, Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford approved a proposed rule by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that bans overnight stays at the Capitol and shoos members of the public from the building after 5 p.m. or 30 minutes after an official function....
Florida is spending about $733 million on technology this year out of a $74 billion budget.
No one person or agency accounts for this specialized and technical spending. It’s spread across numerous state agencies, departments and divisions. When problems happen, as they did with Florida’s $63 million unemployment website CONNECT, there’s no one at the state, like Gov. Rick Scott, who accepts responsibility....
Amid back-slapping and self-congratulatory remarks, state lawmakers passed a new rule Tuesday that they say will require them to actually live in the districts they represent.
"We now for the first time have standards in our rules," said Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford after the rule change was passed unanimously in both chambers. "It's a great day for us."
If such a rule sounds like a no-brainer, guess again....
TALLAHASSEE — Amid back-slapping and self-congratulatory remarks, state lawmakers passed a new rule Tuesday that they say will require them to actually live in the districts they represent.
"We now for the first time have standards in our rules," Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford said after the rule change was passed unanimously in both chambers. "It's a great day for us."
If such a rule sounds like a no-brainer, guess again....
Will Weatherford’s life got even better.
During his opening speech of the 2014 legislative session, the House Speaker announced he and his wife Courtney are expecting their fourth child.
“Courtney and I were married in June 2006, and came into office with no children in November 2006,” Weatherford said. “We will leave not just with three daughters, but I am here to tell you that we’re expecting our fourth.”...
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford laid out his agenda for the next 60 days of the 2014 legislative session, and it sounds much like his vision for the previous year -- making great social progress with as little government as possible.
Ethics reform. Instate tuition for undocumented students. Vouchers. Pension reform. Lower taxes.
In a 20-minute speech to the House and others, like Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Weatherford made the elimination of “generational poverty” a focal point for his final 60 days as speaker....