TALLAHASSEE — Drivers should be able to travel at 75 mph on most interstate highways in Florida, the Senate voted Thursday.
By a 27-11 vote, senators gave the Department of Transportation the leeway to decide where the speed limit can rise from 70 to 75 on about 1,500 miles of roadway on Interstate 75, I-95, I-10, I-4, Florida's Turnpike and the Suncoast Parkway.
What's the big deal, proponents wondered....
TALLAHASSEE — A closely divided Florida Senate on Thursday championed the landmark case of Jose Godinez-Samperio of Largo, who can't practice law in Florida because he's not a U.S. citizen.
On a voice vote — hours after senators rejected the idea on a 19-18 vote — a narrow majority of 14 Democrats and seven Republicans agreed to an amendment that allows the Florida Supreme Court to admit Godinez-Samperio to the Bar after he passes admission hurdles. ...
A closely-divided Florida Senate Thursday championed the unprecedented case of Jose Godinez-Samperio of Largo, a law school grad who has been denied a law license because he's not a citizen. Hours after senators rejected the idea on a 19-18 vote, they clearly approved it on a voice vote, but a final vote was delayed.
Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, changed his vote from no to yes and said in an interview he was distracted and voted the wrong way by mistake. "I think the kid deserves it. I think he's worked hard," Thrasher said. "I don't think we ought to punish kids who were brought here by their parents."...
The state Senate is likely to pass a bill this week that could increase the speed limit from 70 to 75 mph on certain Florida interstates, but it will be far from unanimous.
Several women senators in both parties are critical of the idea, calling it dangerous and an invitation to more car crashes. The opponents include Sens. Nancy Detert, R-Venice; Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville; Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange; Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura; Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood; and Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando....
TALLAHASSEE — Facing a friendly Democratic crowd Tuesday, Charlie Crist called Gov. Rick Scott "a disaster" for Florida and predicted "the nightmare will be over" when he wins in November.
In a 30-minute luncheon speech laced with scorn for his successor, Crist addressed about 300 members of the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee, many with ties to his alma mater, Florida State. Ignoring the club's tradition of light frivolity, Crist was all business as he challenged the crowd to help him defeat Scott, who has said he will spend $100 million to win a second term....
Gov. Rick Scott summoned reporters to his office late Tuesday afternoon to say it's "extremely disappointing" for students that the Senate Appropriations Committee blocked in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Florida. It's a Scott priority viewed as critical to his re-election and the Republican Party's effort to mend fences with Hispanics, but is strongly opposed by some conservatives....
Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist, speaking Tuesday to a packed house at the Capital Tiger Bay Club, called Gov. Rick Scott "a disaster" who's "essentially pleading the fifth" every time he dodges a question.
In a lunchtime talk to a predominantly Democratic crowd at the Tallahassee Civic Center, Crist blistered every aspect of Scott's record. But he spoke mostly about the record fine for fraud paid by Columbia/HCA, the hospital chain Scott used to run. As Crist spoke the dollar amount of the fine slowly for maximum emphasis -- "one point seven billion" -- the microphone popped as he said the letter B....
Justice delayed is justice denied in Tallahassee.
Dozens of victims of gross negligence by the state, cities and counties will have to wait for justice at least one more year because the 2014 session will end without the Legislature doing its job.
When someone is abused, maimed or killed at the hands of government, he or she can't collect more than $200,000 in damages, even when a jury awards more money or when the government admits wrongdoing. The doctrine of sovereign immunity is designed to protect governments — and taxpayers — from damage awards that could bankrupt them....
Gov. Rick Scott was in Jacksonville Monday to meet with Duval County students, and used the event to call on senators to pass legislation that would grant in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants.
The bill has passed the House, 81-33, with strong bipartisan support, but it is stalled in the Senate, where two of its most powerful members -- Senate President Don Gaetz and Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron -- remain opposed. A third influential senator, Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who's also Scott's campaign chairman, supports the bill....
The House on Monday took up a high-priority Senate ethics bill for the first time and advanced its own weaker version -- a sure sign of horse-trading between the two chambers in the session's crucial final days.
As the eighth week of the nine-week session began, the House State Affairs Committee passed a version of the ethics bill after removing the Senate's stricter language and substituting its own on SB 846, which is sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. The 33-page strike-all amendment, which some Housel members had not read, was offered by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Fort Myers, chair of the House ethics subcommittee, which did little of consequence this session. The original Senate bill was deliberated in the session's first week, an indication that the House may not share the Senate's enthusiasm for stronger ethics laws....
WEST PALM BEACH — Sam Oser is 88, and he wants to live long enough to see a Democrat get elected governor of Florida again — even one who used to be a Republican.
So Oser is ready to embrace Charlie Crist, a career politician of changing stripes who's a Democratic newcomer. No matter, says the West Palm Beach retiree: Democrats are doomed to irrelevance until they reclaim the Governor's Mansion after a 16-year absence....
As the Democratic Women's Club of Broward gathered for its monthly meeting Wednesday, a table was filled with leaflets promoting Nan Rich's candidacy for governor, but not a piece of Charlie Crist literature could be seen.
Long-time club member Joanne Sterner greeted guests as she stood in front of a sign that read "Stand with Nan." Sterner says she's scared by the talk that Crist, a former Republican governor, is the heavy favorite to be the Democratic nominee for governor....
04/14/14 State Roundup
A white Florida politician shows support for a black leader and click! Cameras capture the moment with grave consequences for the white politician.
Partisan politics? Racism? Both?
The white politician is Charlie Crist, whose 2009 hug of President Barack Obama in Fort Myers cost him dearly with Republicans. "It killed me," he says.
But the hug that was so troublesome for Crist a few years ago as a Republican is now a badge of honor, a calling card to prove to fellow Democrats his unwavering support for a president with his own popularity issues....
It figures to be a very quiet week in Tallahassee because of the Passover and Easter holidays. Here are five things to watch this week:
- The hills around the capital will be alive Monday with the sound of ... motorcycles. Even though legislators won't be around, motorcyclists by the score will descend on the Capitol Courtyard for their 18th annual Freedom Rights Rally. The event is promoted on ABATE of Florida's website, abateflorida.com.
- Lawmakers are out of town, but their full-time professional staff members will be at work all week long in the Capitol. Staff members from the House and Senate appropriations committees will develop documents that compare the two chambers' budgets. The so-called side-by-sides are of invaluable assistance to lawmakers in the session's last two weeks, when all key budget decisions are made.
- Speaking of the budget, United Faculty of Florida chapter at Florida State University will hold a rally and press conference at noon Wednesday on the front steps of the historic Old Capitol to call attention to the fees that graduate assistants must pay each year at Florida universities.
- Rep. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, will hold a workshop for residents of Santa Rosa County in an effort to prevent the spread of citrus canker. A horticulturist from the University of Florida will attend the workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Tiger Point Community Center, 1370 Tiger Park Lane, Gulf Breeze.
- Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist will open his first regional headquarters in Broward County on Saturday. The office is at 320 S. University Dr., Plantation.
04/11/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — When the last cocktail had been poured and the last guests had floated away from the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators' annual Scholarship Gala last month, thousands of dollars had flowed into the nonprofit foundation, courtesy of five-figure checks from a variety of special interests with stakes in pending legislation.
How much was raised at the March 21 gala, VIP reception for donors and Scholarship Golf Tournament that weekend? Lawmakers won't say. They don't have to....