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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. Tallahassee gift 'ban' no end for freebies

    Blog

    The chief advocate of a 2005 gift ban prohibiting Florida lawmakers from having meals, drinks and trips paid by special interests now has meals, drinks and trips indirectly paid by special interests.

    Sen. Tom Lee, who vowed that his ban would change the behavior of legislators, has received more in personal reimbursements from his political committee than any other state senator since 2013....

  2. Even after the gift ban and reform, freebies flow to Florida lawmakers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The chief advocate of a 2005 gift ban prohibiting Florida lawmakers from having meals, drinks and trips paid by special interests now has meals, drinks and trips indirectly paid by special interests.

    Sen. Tom Lee, who vowed that his ban would change the behavior of legislators, has received more in personal reimbursements from his political committee than any other state senator since 2013....

  3. Florida Legislature heads toward special session because of Medicaid impasse

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Republican leaders said Wednesday that they won't approve a budget by the scheduled end of the legislative session in 15 days because of a showdown over Medicaid expansion.

    Asked by reporters if he agreed that it was already too late to meet their deadline, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said he did.

    "I would assume most likely we're looking at a special session," Crisafulli said. ...

    House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said the federal government has changed its position on Medicaid expansion.
  4. Florida House passes $690 million tax cut package

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Cellphone users, widows and widowers, college students and small businesses are among the latest pawns in a showdown over Medicaid expansion in Florida.

    On Thursday, the Florida House overwhelmingly passed a $690 million tax cut package that could save those groups money, but only if the Senate signs off on the plan.

    Senate leaders say that won't happen as long as negotiations remain stalled between the state and federal government over a $2.2 billion program that helps hospitals treat low income patients. In a compromise with the federal government, the Senate is proposing to restore those funds by expanding Medicaid, an idea that House Republicans oppose....

  5. Gaetz ignores examples of Kansas, Louisiana in making case for tax cuts

    Blog

    A main selling point in the Florida House’s proposed package of $690 million in tax cuts is the premise that they will pay dividends later.

    “When we have less taxes, we can grow the economy and have more revenue,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Fort Walton Beach Republican who chairs the House’s Finance & Tax Committee. On Wednesday during House discussion of the tax package, Gaetz credited last year’s cuts of more than $500 million with producing a budget surplus this year of more than $1 billion....

  6. Medicaid showdown threatens $690 million tax cut package

    Blog

    Cell phone users, widows and widowers, college students and small businesses are the latest pawns in a showdown over Medicaid expansion in Florida.

    On Thursday, the Florida House is expected to overwhelmingly pass a $690 million tax cut package that could save those groups money, but only if the Senate signs off on the plan.

    Senate leaders say that won’t happen as long as negotiations remain stalled between the state and federal government over a $2.2 billion program that helps hospitals treat low income patients. In a compromise with the federal government, the Senate is proposing to restore those funds by expanding Medicaid, which House Republicans oppose....

  7. The Buzz: Take hike for lobbyists' Gucci loafers? Just a joke

    State Roundup

    Perhaps inspired by Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran's rousing speech last week, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, filed an amendment that would increase the sales tax on Gucci loafers sold to lobbyists.

    "I will proudly declare war on all the special interests … all the Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests, powers-that-be, who are standing in that hallway (outside)," Corcoran said in his anti-Medicaid expansion monologue. "Come to war with us. I'll fight. And if it costs me my political career or yours, so be it."...

  8. Are lobbyists about to be hit with Gucci-wearing tax?

    Blog

    Perhaps inspired by Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran's rousing speech last week, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, filed an amendment that would increase the sales tax on Gucci loafers sold to lobbyists....

    Crisis for lobbyists
  9. Richard Corcoran, de facto leader of the Florida House

    Blog

    By 2007, Richard Corcoran was a well-paid and deeply entrenched Florida political operative tied to several House speakers and Gov. Jeb Bush.

    But, ambitious and restless, he quit his job as chief of staff to House Speaker Marco Rubio to run for office himself.

    “I’d get moments of frustration,” Corcoran said. “Someone finally told me, 'You have to decide if you want to be the man behind the man or try to be the man.’ ”...

    Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.
  10. Richard Corcoran takes center stage leading Florida House

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — By 2007, Richard Corcoran was a well-paid and deeply entrenched Florida political operative tied to several House speakers and Gov. Jeb Bush.

    But, ambitious and restless, he quit his job as chief of staff to House Speaker Marco Rubio to run for office himself.

    "I'd get moments of frustration," Corcoran said. "Someone finally told me, 'You have to decide if you want to be the man behind the man or try to be the man.' "...

    Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes spent years building relationships before running for his own spot in the Legislature.
  11. Florida House leaders threaten budget battle over Medicaid expansion

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The gloves are off inside the Capitol.

    The Florida House overwhelmingly approved a $76.2 billion budget Thursday that was more than $4 billion less than the Florida Senate plan passed a day earlier, a discrepancy largely due to the House's staunch refusal to expand Medicaid.

    House leaders are adamant they aren't about to back off, even it means that the two chambers, both controlled by Republicans, won't come to an agreement by the scheduled end of the legislative session in May....

    "They want us to come dance?" said House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes. "We're not dancing. We're not dancing this session; we're not dancing next session; we're not dancing next summer. We're not dancing.
  12. As House budget set for approval, showdown with Senate gets real

    Blog

    The stage is set of an epic budget showdown between the Florida House and Senate.

    Later today, the House will vote -- and overwhelmingly approve -- its $76.2 billion budget. On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved its $80.4 billion budget 36-0....

  13. Showdown with House set as Senate unanimously passes $80.4 billion budget

    Blog

    Senators passed its $80.4 billion budget Wednesday by a 36-0 vote that showed a unified front in a looming showdown with the House over how to address a drop in federal money that has left a hole of at least $1 billion.

    “We’ve been dealt a fairly difficult hand this session,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee, R-Brandon....

  14. Senate restores some Amendment 1 money for land buys

    Blog

    In an effort to quell anger from environmental advocates who supported Amendment 1, the Florida Senate agreed to spend in next year’s budget $35 million for Florida Forever land acquisition and another $20 million for land acquisition for springs restorations.

    “We want to send a message to those who supported the amendment and tell them, we hear you,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park....

  15. Mid-session report: Winners and losers in budget pork

    Blog

    Lawmakers faced with a potential $1 billion hole in next year's budget aren't holding back requests for money that will make them look good back home.

    Through March 20, members of the Florida House requested $2.9 billion in a raft of requests chock full of hometown projects, even as lawmakers struggled to span a gap in the budget caused by the possible end of federal aid for the care of low-income patients....