Florida Legislature

  1. In CD 19 primary, records show Republican Party of Florida money is helping Lizbeth Benacquisto

    National

    The Republican Party of Florida says it does not engage in GOP primaries, but nearly $300,000 of its money has landed in a Super PAC supporting congressional candidate Lizbeth Benacquisto, newly filed campaign finance records show.

  2. Florida lawmakers make one more push to extend health care to immigrant children

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill to extend subsidized health insurance to the state's youngest legal immigrants has stalled in the Florida Legislature, due largely to the initial $27.5 million price tag.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott's negotiations with Seminole Tribe could be blueprint for gaming's future

    Gubernatorial

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott, who made a career out of negotiating hospital mergers, is now applying his negotiating skills to a deal with the Seminole Tribe that could singlehandedly dictate the future of gaming in Florida.

  4. Flurry of education bills dominate debate in Legislature

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — As schoolchildren prepared to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests for the last time, the state Senate put its unanimous support behind a proposal that would simplify the school grading formula for next year.

  5. Democrats call attention to raising Florida's minimum wage, but it's a losing battle

    Business

    TALLAHASSEE

    They held protests and press conferences. Several even spent the week living on $7.93 an hour. But try as they might, Democratic lawmakers could not spark a discussion about increasing the state minimum wage. "It's a debate that's being had everywhere but Florida," said Sen. Dwight Bullard, the …

    Rep. Kionne McGhee of Miami was among a group of Democratic lawmakers who went shopping at a Publix in Tallahassee on a $25 budget to illustrate the difficulty of living on a minimum wage salary.
  1. Flurry of education bills dominate debate in Legislature

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — As schoolchildren prepared to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests for the last time, the state Senate put its unanimous support behind a proposal that would simplify the school grading formula for next year.

  2. Florida lawmakers clash over school choice

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — Democrats and Republicans clashed Wednesday over a proposal that would expand the state's school voucher program and create another voucher-like program for children with special needs.

    House Speaker Will Weatherford says he feels good about the bill's chances.
  3. Plan to divide shared FSU-FAMU engineering program sparks debate

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — A behind-the-scenes effort to divide an engineering program shared by Florida State University and Florida A&M University is igniting a lingering debate about racial inequality and how state resources are allocated in higher education.

  4. Immigrant tuition bill inches closer to passage, but hurdles remain

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill that would allow some undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition rates won the support of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

  5. Public and charter schools compete for shrinking building funds

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — It's become one of the perennial fights in the Florida Legislature.

    Public and charter schools are competing for a shrinking pot of money in a fund for construction and maintenance.
  1. In GOP-dominated Legislature, black lawmakers caucus struggles

    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 …

    As Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, left, looks on, the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, is interviewed at the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators’ 21st annual Scholarship Gala in Tallahassee.
  2. Watchdog report says power companies wield too much influence in Florida Legislature

    Energy

    TALLAHASSEE — To understand the influence of Florida's largest electric companies in Tallahassee, look no further than your monthly bill.

  3. Big money, powerful lobbying groups push Florida voucher proposal

    K12

    TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 200 schoolchildren greeted Senate President Don Gaetz last month when he visited a Catholic school in Pensacola to get a firsthand look at the impact of Florida's controversial school voucher program.

  4. Capitol's dash for cash: Florida lawmakers race against time, picking up checks

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — The race for campaign cash shifted into high gear Monday as dozens of state legislators sought contributions from lobbyists before today's start of the legislative session when such fundraising is banned for two months.

    Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, receives a campaign contribution from veteran lobbyist Paul Jess of the Florida Justice Association, at a fundraiser Monday in Tallahassee, the last day he could raise funds before the 2014 session begins.
  5. Times/Herald special report: Tallahassee's torrent of campaign contributions

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — When Florida legislators open their annual 60-day session on Tuesday, many of the decisions about what issues make it onto the agenda have already been made — thanks in large part to the powerful special interest groups and a torrent of cash flowing into the coffers of legislative political …

  1. House, Senate approve budget plans; now the dealing begins

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — With broad bipartisan support, lawmakers approved rival $75 billion state budgets Thursday that include a $500 million package of tax cuts and fees and the highest overall spending on education in Florida history.

    At center, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, asks for applause to be lowered after leading a budget bill into passage Thursday on the floor of the Senate in Tallahassee.
  2. PolitiFact Florida: As tax collections grow, Scott gives undue credit to his policies

    State Roundup

    Florida is set to collect more tax money next year than ever before, state officials say. And not only is Florida Gov. Rick Scott proud of the accomplishment, but he is taking credit.

  3. Campaign money doesn't always buy happiness for big Florida donors

    Business

    TALLAHASSEE — Health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida gave more money to Florida campaigns than any other single entity in the 2012 election cycle — $4.8 million — and the company is already the largest contributor in the current cycle, a Times/Herald analysis has found.

  4. PolitiFact Florida: Rick Scott says he's cut taxes 24 times

    State Roundup

    How many times did Gov. Rick Scott cut taxes? You better believe the unpopular Republican running for a second term is counting the ways.

    Most of Gov. Rick Scott’s tax breaks involve business, not the average working person.
  5. Pension bill stuns counties, could force tax increases

    Local

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill passed in the waning moments of the 2013 legislative session with little discussion and signed two weeks later by Gov. Rick Scott will cost state and local governments nearly $900 million in additional expenses next year, hitting county governments especially hard as they struggle to emerge …

    Rep. Seth McKeel, 
R-Lakeland, a sponsor of the bill, says he was misunderstood.
  1. Florida lawmakers make one more push to extend health care to immigrant children

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill to extend subsidized health insurance to the state's youngest legal immigrants has stalled in the Florida Legislature, due largely to the initial $27.5 million price tag.

  2. Legislator seeks to go easier on struggling nursing schools

    Medicine

    TALLAHASSEE — A proposal winding its way through the Florida Legislature seeks to raise the bar for nursing education programs.

  3. Legislators target 'renegade' Tampa law firm with bill to limit nursing home lawsuits

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — Jim Wilkes has a target on his back.

  4. Proposal would limit Medicare coverage for some drug testing

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi is fighting a plan that would limit Medicare coverage for some drug testing in Florida and could allow accidental deadly drug combinations.

  5. Top Florida regulator of ALFs gets new job — working for ALF lobby

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — As state lawmakers consider legislation to tighten the rules for assisted living facilities in Florida, the top state official in charge of enforcing the law on elder-care homes announced Thursday that he has found a new job: working for the same industry he regulated.

  1. In paying late claims for jobless, why did Florida wait so long?

    Business

    TALLAHASSEE — It took Florida officials more than three months to decide to pay overdue jobless benefits to about 10,000 unemployed workers, many of whom went without checks since October because of a defective online registration system.

  2. Talk of budget turkeys ruffles some feathers

    Legislature

    For the past three decades, Florida TaxWatch has been a self-appointed fiscal watchdog, blowing the whistle on what it considers wasteful pork-barrel spending by the Legislature.

    Florida TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro brings out his giant stuffed bird for the organization’s post-legislative selection of “turkeys” from the budget passed in Tallahassee in 2007.
  3. Gov. Rick Scott wants $1.2 billion more for schools, bonuses for state workers

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will send the Legislature a $74 billion budget today that he says would boost spending in schools by $1.25 billion, but some of that money will never reach students.

  4. Gun makers, violent film and video creators benefit from tax breaks in Florida

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — What do violent video games, gory movies and high-powered assault weapons have in common? They have all been blamed for tragic mass shootings, including last month's at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — and are all subsidized by Florida taxpayers. With Florida's tax code more …

    Parker, a violent action movie starring Jason Statham, received $424,820 in tax credits for production in South Florida last year.
  5. State wants bad $20M investment in movie company back

    Economic Development

    TALLAHASSEE — Call it another unfortunate plot twist in an already upsetting script.

  6. Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for more early voting days, sites

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — After months of defending the status quo, Florida Gov. Rick Scott drew praise and criticism Thursday as he endorsed early voting changes pushed by county election supervisors.

    Steve Bozsanyi of Spring Hill checks his watch while waiting in line with his wife, Dorothy, left, to vote at a supervisor of elections branch office on Forest Oaks Boulevard in Spring Hill on Oct. 30.
  7. Interest groups, donors spent $306 million on state political campaigns in 2012

    Elections

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's sputtering economy did not stop interest groups and donors from spending $306 million this election cycle on state political campaigns, according to final election year tallies released Friday.

  1. Over sheriffs' objections, House approves bill to allow concealed weapons during emergencies

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Evacuations caused by hurricanes, toxic spills and riots could be grounds for people to conceal guns in public without a permit, according to a bill backed by the National Rifle Association that passed the Florida House 80-36 on Friday.

    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri calls the bill “crazy, it’s absurd.”
  2. Florida House bill would allow carrying guns without a permit during riots

    Public Safety

    TALLAHASSEE — Under a bill backed by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, riots could be the newest safe haven for those carrying firearms without a permit.

  3. Senate advances bill to allow concealed guns during evacuations

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A bill that allows legal gun owners to conceal their weapons without a permit during mandatory evacuations continued to gain support in the Senate Tuesday despite concerns from law enforcement.

  4. 'Warning shot' bill championed by NRA on its way to governor

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The state Senate passed a bill Thursday that grants immunity to people with clean criminal records who fire a warning shot or threaten to use deadly force in self-defense. It also seals court records of those charged with firing a weapon, but later have those charges dropped.

  5. Stand Your Ground, Pop-Tart gun measures clear Florida House

    Crime

    TALLAHASSEE — A pair of high-profile, NRA-supported gun bills won the support of the Florida House on Thursday.

    Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, backs the so-called Pop-Tart bill.