State Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Fort Myers, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, is working on legislation that would change the timetable for city elections across Florida so that they are held only in November.
He said the pathetically low voter turnouts for city elections may be a result of the fact that they are held at various times of the year from city to city....
10/02/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — One is the governor and one wants to be.
That's about the extent of the common ground between Gov. Rick Scott and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the odd couple in Florida politics.
As one of three elected Cabinet members, Putnam works with Scott to shape policy and supervise state agencies. While Scott fervently sticks to his message of more jobs, Putnam insists the state's greatest long-term need is more water....
A cranky Florida Legislature returns to Tallahassee next week for a full schedule of committee meetings, including a closer look at budget requests by the state agencies under Gov. Rick Scott's control.
What better time for the jobs governor to hit the road?
Scott announced Thursday that he will travel to New York City on Oct. 6-8 to meet with prospective employers, including hedge funds and financial institutions, and give a luncheon speech on Florida's resurgent economy to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research on Oct. 7....
Republican Sen. Alan Hays of Umatilla, a candidate for the presidency of his hometown state college, also is said to have his eye on the high-paying job of Lake County supervisor of elections. Contacted Wednesday, Hays didn't deny it.
"I'm keeping my options open. I'm not ruling out anything. That's all I need to say," Hays told the Times/Herald....
09/30/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Orville "Lee" Wollard fired a single warning shot in self-defense that hurt no one but sent him to prison for 20 years, and on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott rejected his plea to get out early.
At a clemency board hearing, Scott quickly denied Wollard's request that he be set free after serving about seven years in prison, even though Scott last year signed a law expanding Florida's "stand your ground" protections that was inspired in part by Wollard's case....
Supporters have spent years trying to free Orville (Lee) Wollard, but Gov. Rick Scott quickly rejected his commutation of sentence plea Wednesday, ensuring that he'll remain behind bars in a highly-publicized "warning shot" case.
Scott denied the petition after a forceful argument from State Attorney Jerry Hill, who said Wollard had "a history of making bad decisions" and should remain in prison. Hill did not mention that his office offered Wollard a plea deal of five years probation, which Wollard rejected....
09/29/15 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — To some, it's beyond evil, the remnants of a Florida reform school where boys were raped, tortured and killed decades ago.
The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna also is valuable state property — one with a horrific history that state officials say must never be forgotten.
"This story is not going to be swept under a rug," said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater at a Florida Cabinet meeting Tuesday. "Is the state taking ownership of telling this story?"...
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott was handed a rare setback Tuesday as Cabinet members overruled him and voted to preserve one of the last surviving ranches in central Florida.
Scott said the lowest appraised value of the property was too high. But his three fellow Republicans on the Cabinet disagreed, including Scott's strongest ally, Attorney General Pam Bondi, who switched her vote after an explanation of the arcane appraisal system and a forceful plea from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam....
A rare sight in Tallahassee: All three Cabinet members outvoted Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday and voted to spend $4 million for a permanent conservation easement on one of the oldest ranches in Central Florida.
The surprise came after Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam outmaneuvered the governor and Attorney General Pam Bondi switched her vote.
The original 12,000-acre Kilbee Ranch in Seminole County, founded by E.H. Kilbee of tiny Geneva, Fla., dates to the 1880s. Today it's surrounded on all sides by intense residential and commercial development, but Kilbee's survivors, including great-granddaughter Diane Gaff, wanted to honor his dying wish to protect the remaining 1,300 acres....
Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members on Tuesday discussed giving Secretary of State Ken Detzner the challenging and complicated job of managing the grounds of the former state-run Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna sometime next year.
The planned state takeover will not occur until USF forensic anthropology researchers, led by Dr. Erin Kimmerle, complete their work of analyzing human remains recovered from the brutal reformatory that permanently closed in 2011. ...
09/28/15 State Roundup
Michael Malanga is an impressive young man.
He's an accounting major at USF, where he's student body vice president. He's politically aware and registered to vote, unlike many of his Tampa classmates.
People at USF get that.
Not so easy.
That's why Malanga stood alongside Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, at recent events to spur more college students to register to vote in Florida, the state that will again be a pivotal battleground in the 2016 race for the White House....
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, has rejected a request by Senate Democrats for outside lawyers to represent the minority party in the upcoming remapping of Senate districts that will require Supreme Court approval. Disappointed by what they call Gardiner's "deeply problematic" decision, Democrats are urging him to change his mind before the upcoming three-week special session set to begin Oct. 19....
Circuit Judge Kim Shepard in Kissimmee, a former state legislator, faces formal charges by Florida's Judicial Qualifications Commission for her "deceptive" use of a 20-year-old editorial endorsement from The Orlando Sentinel in her successful campaign for a judgeship last year....
Long-time Tallahassee state prosecutor Willie Meggs is throwing his support behind a tougher anti-corruption law being championed by Gannett newspapers in Florida.
The media group is trying to revive a proposal that was unceremonially killed in the Senate Rules Committee in the 2011 session on an 8 to 3 vote. Among those voting to defeat the proposal were Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who's currently Senate president; Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the leading candidate to be the next Senate president; and former Rules chairman John Thrasher, now president of Florida State University. The roll call vote can be viewed here....
Every state agency under Gov. Rick Scott's direction is asking for more money next year, including the Department of State, which oversees statewide elections. Secretary of State Ken Detzner's legislative budget request includes doubling to $4 million the money Florida spends for voter education in a presidential election year.
Detzner's budget proposal refers to "critically needed funds" to counties for increased voter education and other education administration activities for the 2016 primary and general elections." The money would be used for printing and mailing sample ballots, voter ID cards and ads explaining voting procedures, voting rights or voting technology, poll worker training; voter guides; online or web-based absentee ballot requestsand other issues. Oh, yes: In what every election supervisor will enjoy hearing, the extra money is also for "recount processes."...