Clear67° FULL FORECASTClear67° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Steve Bousquet

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master's in history from Florida State University.

Bousquet was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Phone: (850) 224-7263

Email: sbousquet@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SteveBousquet

link
  1. Florida House and Senate approve budgets at odds with each other and Gov. Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Senate and House on Thursday passed differing versions of a state budget but with the common theme of opposition to Gov. Rick Scott's biggest priorities.

    The Senate declared Scott's goal of $1 billion in tax cuts dead on arrival and "fiscally irresponsible" in the words of its top budget writer, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. Across the hall in the Capitol, the House showed no interest in Scott's other priority of a three-year, $250 million incentive fund to close deals with businesses that want to move to Florida....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott, appearing at a news conference earlier in February at the Hillsborough County Health Department, has been pushing for $1 billion in tax cuts. (ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times)
  2. How not to lobby, courtesy of the Florida Chamber of Commerce

    Blog

    Thursday in Tallahassee offered a particularly instructive lesson in politics. The subject: How Not to Lobby the Legislature.

    Everything was rolling along nicely in a Senate budget subcommittee until a lobbyist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce stepped to the microphone, and in two minutes, one of the state's leading business groups became an outcast -- at least to one senator....

  3. Scott's tax cuts take hit in Senate revamp of school spending

    Blog

    The Senate on Thursday rolled out its proposal for an increase in per-pupil spending for public schools, but at the expense of Gov. Rick Scott's goal of $1 billion in tax cuts next year.

    The strategy reflects the will of senators to shape tax policy around small businesses and homeowners, not corporations that are favored under Scott's tax cut plan. The move puts the Senate squarely at odds with Scott and with the House, which supports Scott's proposal to boost K-12 spending largely by imposing higher property tax payments on homeowners and business owners as their property values rise across the state....

  4. House, Senate start state budget debate with big differences to resolve

    Blog

    As the 2016 session reached the midway point Wednesday, the Senate and House tentatively approved separate budgets in advance of floor votes Thursday and the start of marathon budget negotiations by next week.

    One major difference between the chambers is that the Senate includes Gov. Rick Scott’s priority of a three-year, $250 million incentive fund to attract jobs, and the House does not. Scott has been pushing for the money for months, by soliciting support from local officials and blitzing lawmakers with emails through Enterprise Florida....

  5. Needed fixes to Florida's death penalty law remain elusive

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — After emotional and graphic testimony from families of murder victims, House members held firm Wednesday on a new Florida law that does not require juries to be unanimous in recommending the death penalty.

    The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that changes state law to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court case that invalidated the law because judges — not juries — make the final decisions to warrant the death penalty. The decision, Hurst vs. Florida, was issued on Jan. 12, the day the legislative session began....

    John Couey confers with an assistant public defender during a 2007 hearing before he is sentenced  to death by a 10-2 jury recommendation for the murder of a 9-year-old Homosassa girl, Jessica Lunsford. Prosecutors are urging lawmakers to reject a proposal for a unanimous jury verdict to sentence convicted murderers to death. [MAURICE RIVENBARK | Times] 
  6. House, Senate remain at odds over how to fix death penalty law

    Blog

    After hearing emotional and graphic testimony from families of murder victims, Florida House members stood firm Wednesday on a new death penalty law that does not require juries to be unanimous in recommending death sentences.

    The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill (HB 7101) that makes several changes to the law to bring the state into compliance with last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated the state's sentencing law because judges, not juries, make the final decisions to warrant the death penalty. That narrowly-crafted decision, Hurst vs. Florida, did not address jury unanimity, but the issue is dominating political debate in Tallahassee....

  7. Sen. Hays confirms plans to run for Lake County elections post

    Blog

    Confirming months of speculation, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has notified state elections officials that he plans to run for Lake County supervisor of elections this fall.

    The News Service of Florida reports that Hays, who has served in the Senate since 2010, had raised about $274,000 through January for a Senate re-election bid, but he gave notice Monday of a change in plans.

    "Please change your records to reflect my decision to transfer from being a candidate for Senate District 11 to being a candidate for local office,'' Hays said in a brief letter to the office of Secretary of State Ken Detzner....

  8. Mass mailing of ballots begins in advance of Florida's primary

    Blog

    Across Florida Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of ballots headed to homes of voters in advance of next month's presidential preference primary. Many minds will be made up long before the polls open in Florida on March 15.

    In Largo, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark sent more than 204,000 ballots to local voters. Of all ballots Clark's office has mailed so far, including overseas and military ballots, 98,618 went to Republicans, 93,415 went to Democrats and 13,973 went to voters who belong to minor parties or have no party affiliation....

    Pinellas elections workers Matt Parri and Martin Munro move ballots to a delivery truck Tuesday at the county voting center in Largo.
  9. Senate will take dead aim at Gov. Scott's 'property tax increase'

    Blog

    UPDATE: Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, issued a statement to the Times/Herald Tuesday in which he said Gov. Rick Scott's proposed school budget would raise taxes. Here's the full statement from his spokeswoman, Katherine Betta: "President Gardiner agrees that rising home values are a good thing, but the practical impact of rising property values is higher property taxes and the President thinks our state can take steps to mitigate the impact by reducing the RLE (required local effort) and allowing homeowners across the state to keep more of their hard-earned money."...

  10. Senate panel OKs death penalty fix; requires unanimous juries

    Blog

    The Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday passed a rewrite of Florida's death penalty sentencing law and rewrote history, too, in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the law and found that a jury, not a judge, must find each fact necessary to impose a death sentence.

    The Senate bill goes beyond its House counterpart with a groundbreaking requirement that all 12 jurors in future cases must unanimously agree on the death penalty. Florida is one of three states in which a simple majority of seven jurors is sufficient to recommend a death sentence....

  11. Bondi threatens to sue rental car companies over toll charges

    Blog

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says there's a possibility her office will sue rental car companies over their billing practices in Florida. Bondi's Consumer Protection Division has an online form for consumers to send complaints directly to her office. Since November alone, Bondi's office has received more than three dozen complaints from people who rented cars in Florida and were charged as much as $15 a day as a "service charge" in addition to highway tolls that renters couldn't pay because the "cash-less" toll booths are automated....

  12. As consumer outrage grows, state Legislature refuses to cap rental car toll charges

    State Roundup

    UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott's administration provided a statement Monday in response to this article. The following is from the Department of Management Services, which says that the current contract with Enterprise, Alamo and National will save taxpayers $1.9 million over five years.

    "All rental vehicle companies who bid for this contract included fees for this service," DMS said. "We negotiated the best possible rate for the State of Florida. The state encourages its agencies to provide renters with transponders in order to avoid use of the service." ...

    A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge photographed from a reporter's car last year. Tourists have flooded Attorney General Pam Bondi's office with complaints over high rental car fees for covering electronic highway tolls.Yet, state lawmakers have killed a push for capping the fees. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  13. Dozens of death row inmates expected to challenge sentences

    Blog

    TALLAHASSEE - They live on death row, convicted of some of the worst crimes in Florida.

    A Miami man stabbed an elderly woman 58 times in her Little Havana apartment. A Broward teenage gang member randomly executed a man walking down the street in a "body count contest." A Pasco County lawn man raped and murdered a woman who was 94 years old.

    They are among dozens of condemned inmates whose sentences could be reduced to life without parole or who could get new sentencing hearings in the first wave of legal challenges to a Florida death penalty sentencing system struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court....

  14. Dozens of Florida death row inmates expected to challenge sentences

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — They live on death row, convicted of some of the worst crimes in Florida.

    A Miami man stabbed an elderly woman 58 times in her Little Havana apartment. A Broward teenage gang member randomly executed a man walking down the street in a "body count contest." A Pasco County lawn man raped and murdered a woman who was 94 years old.

    They are among dozens of condemned inmates whose sentences could be reduced to life without parole or who could get new sentencing hearings in the first wave of legal challenges to a Florida death penalty sentencing system struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court....

    Khadafy Mullens pleaded guilty to killing a store owner and a customer during a 2008 robbery of a food mart near St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field, a crime captured on the store's video surveillance camera. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times (2013)]
  15. The warning shot that condemned Orville Lee Wollard to prison and changed Florida

    State Roundup

    SNEADS — Lee Wollard's life slowly spirals away, following the trail of the gunshot he fired into a wall.

    He feels as if he already has died, but he's very much alive in a Florida prison, where to many he's a symbol of the injustice in America's justice system.

    Orville Lee Wollard III is serving 20 years for firing a warning shot.

    Eight years ago, in a flash of fear and rage, he grabbed his gun. He says it was not to kill anyone but to scare away his teenage daughter's live-in boyfriend....

    Attorney General Pam Bondi’s comments at the commutation hearing could offer clues to why Lee Wollard was denied.