An article in Friday's paper outlines the budget dispute between counties and the state over juvenile justice costs and how the Legislature is being asked to find a solution:
For years, county officials say, they've had to shoulder too much of the cost of dealing with young offenders. In recent years, they say, the state has erroneously billed them $140 million for juvenile justice costs, sparking legal action....
04/17/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — For years, county officials say, they've had to shoulder too much of the cost of dealing with young offenders. In recent years, they say, the state has erroneously billed them $140 million for juvenile justice costs, sparking legal action.
Now, with the annual legislative session drawing to a close, the costs are at the center of the latest budget dispute.
Lawmakers have proposed a new funding formula that counties agree would avoid future billing disputes. But only the House proposal, HB 5305, also reimburses counties for previous overpayments through small annual installments....
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is keeping the Medicaid conversation alive this week, publicizing talks with federal officials about an alternative plan he devised that would use local dollars to pay the state's share. Here is an excerpt of a story in Thursday's paper:
Expanding Medicaid to cover thousands of uninsured Floridians has mostly been ignored by Republicans during this year's legislative session, but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is making a last-ditch effort to get it done....
TALLAHASSEE — Expanding Medicaid to cover thousands of uninsured Floridians has mostly been ignored by Republicans during this year's legislative session, but U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is making a last-ditch effort to get it done.
Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, though most of the expansion called for under the Affordable Care Act would be funded by Washington. Still, Florida Republicans have balked, claiming that in the future, the burden on state funds would be too great....
TALLAHASSEE — With the federal government making clear last week that no new Medicaid money is coming Florida's way, legislators say it's important they re-evaluate a new funding model that safety net hospitals say will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
"Tiering" is set to take effect in July unless the law is changed before session ends May 2. It requires counties that use local dollars to draw down more federal money for hospitals to begin sharing that money statewide....
An excerpt from a story in Sunday's paper about Florida's legislative black caucus and its affiliated caucus foundation:
But records of past years' fundraising and interviews with caucus leaders indicate that less than 10 cents of every dollar raised actually go to college scholarships for the students whose names were projected on large screens at the gala.
Legislators are prohibited from accepting contributions from lobbyists during regular sessions. But they can solicit lobbyists' money for a charity: the black caucus foundation led by former legislators....
From the News Service of Florida:
Randy Avent, associate vice president for research at North Carolina State University, was offered the position of president at Florida Polytechnic University, the state's newest university, on Monday.
Avent must still negotiate with the Lakeland-based school’s board of trustees on a contract that is expected to be between $310,750 and $550,000 a year. He must also be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors....
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....
TALLAHASSEE — The state health care workers' union has a new strategy in its fight to expand Medicaid coverage: reaching out to voters "who've been screwed out of health care coverage by their representative's refusal to act."
This heat map, created by SEIU Florida, shows the number of residents in each Florida House district who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap....
04/11/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Election-year politics and an assertive Republican majority passed two bills in the Florida House on Friday that are certain to score points with a conservative base.
One bill would tighten the state's already restrictive abortion laws. A second would add penalties to anyone convicted of a crime if the act harms a fetus. Similar legislation passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate when abortion-rights advocates argued it was intended to create "personhood" rights for fetuses....
As lawmakers haggle over the budget in the final stretch of the session, they’ll be deciding whether cell phones deserve a tax break or TV producers, gym memberships and low income neighborhoods do.
With about $500 million to offer in tax and fee breaks in next year's $75 billion budget, the House and Senate have already agreed on a major chunk: reducing about $395 million in vehicle registration fees....
The Florida House has bundled a series of health care proposals together into two sweeping bills, an effort to breathe life into ideas as the annual session draws to a close.
What had been a sure-bet bill to protect three HCA-owned trauma centers from ongoing legal challenges now is an omnibus measure that would:
• Require doctors to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Database and add requirements for use by law enforcement....
A House committee approved two health care bills today that now include various member priorities whose sponsors worry don't have the traction to gain passage in the Senate on their own.
For example, HB 7113, initially only focused on grandfathering in three HCA-trauma centers under court challenge. Now it also includes requirements that doctors consult the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, authorization allowing highly trained nurses to practice independently, regulations for virtual doctor visits for certain types of medical providers and a statewide medical tourism marketing plan ...
In hopes of improving the chances of final passage for several House initiatives that have either been languishing or watered down in the Senate, a committee will consider bundling several health care proposals into two omnibus bills Thursday.
The House Health and Human Services Committee will consider two "proposed committee substitutes" during its meeting Thursday morning. Both proposals tack on less popular measures to issues that have widespread support in the Senate: assisted living facilities reforms and allowing three HCA-owned trauma centers to remain open regardless of ongoing legal challenges....
Florida Polytechnic University has two outside candidates in the running to become the school's first president. That selection could happen as early as Monday.
Here is more from the university's press release:
Florida Polytechnic University’s Presidential Search Committee identified two finalists for the position of University President during a public meeting this morning, which took place at the University’s administrative office in downtown Lakeland....