Margie Menzel - News Service of Florida

Margie Menzel is a reporter for The News Service Of Florida.

Associated Press


Will Florida Follow Suit? Federal Court Considers Abortion Law Similar To The One Struck Down by Supreme Court


Florida abortion providers are hopeful following Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which struck down a Texas law that would have greatly limited access to legal abortion.

By a 5-3 vote, the justices found the law posed an undue burden to women seeking abortions.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday approved a sweeping measure that will tighten restrictions on Florida abortion clinics to the point that some say they will be forced to close.

Spokeswomen for Planned Parenthood, which will lose funding under the bill (HB 1411), called the measure "dangerous" and "cruel."

But supporters, including Pam Olsen of the International House of Prayer, hailed the new law.

"It's good news on Good Friday," said Olsen, who is frequently involved in issues at the Capitol.

Thousands of children of legal immigrants will be closer to obtaining subsidized health insurance this summer, after the Legislature passed a long-debated expansion of the state's KidCare program.

Until this year, children of legal immigrants were technically eligible for KidCare --- the low-cost federal-state health insurance program --- but had to wait five years to actually start receiving services.

That changed on Thursday, when Gov. Rick Scott signed the state budget into law. Contained in an accompanying bill (HB 5101) was language eliminating the five-year wait.

Caitlin Granfield / WLRN

The Senate sponsor of a controversial bill about the regulation of "fracking" in Florida withdrew it from consideration Tuesday, saying he didn't have the votes to get through a key committee.

Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee that the opposition of environmentalists played a key role in thwarting the measure (SB 318).

"Emotions tend to magnify the controversy," he said.

Steve Cannon / AP

To the surprise and delight of lawmakers who have long backed the proposal, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Tuesday called for eliminating a five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to be eligible for the state's KidCare health-insurance program.

"I got goose bumps," said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who has backed the proposal throughout his House tenure. "This has been a long time coming."

Florida Supreme Court via Miami Herald

Former Chief Justice Leander Shaw, who died last week at age 85, lay in state Monday in the rotunda of the Florida Supreme Court as family, friends and colleagues paid their respects.

A Florida Highway Patrol honor guard carried his coffin in from rain-soaked Duval Street, with former Chief Justice Major Harding leading the way.

Shaw, the state's first black chief justice, served two decades on the court, figuring in high-profile cases and beating back an effort to unseat him.

He also triumphed over Florida's Jim Crow-era legal system.

The Florida Sheriffs Association is pushing back against criticism targeting Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for remarks he made last week opposing controversial legislation that would allow people with concealed-weapon licenses to openly carry guns.

The association is expected to release a statement Monday saying Gualtieri was quoted out of context and did not issue threats that critics have associated with his remarks.

Bar Jack / Flickr

Acknowledging "momentum" behind a proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry guns, the Florida Police Chiefs Association said Thursday its board of directors had voted to back the controversial measure --- as long as changes designed to protect law-enforcement officers are included.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the police chiefs' group had contacted the sponsors of the proposal (SB 300/HB 163), Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who both say they're on board with the changes.

Eric Gay / AP via NPR

After a shooting spree at a clinic in Colorado, a conservative Florida group has postponed a rally that had been scheduled next week to protest government funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, sponsor of the "Florida Taxpayer Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood," said the Dec. 7 event at the Florida Capitol will take place in the spring instead.


A bill that would create a new regulatory structure in Florida for oil and gas drilling, including the controversial practice known as "fracking," easily passed a House panel Tuesday despite roughly 50 environmentalists on hand to oppose the measure.

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee approved the bill (HB 191), filed by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, and Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, on a straight party-line vote of 9-4.

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Outrage over the fatal shooting of a Boynton Beach man by a Palm Beach Gardens police officer reached the state Capitol on Wednesday, as members of the black legislative caucus called for an independent review of the man's death.

They also called for legislation that would put safeguards in place for future incidents, including body cameras for law-enforcement officers, dashboard cameras for police vehicles and automatic reviews of all police-related shootings.

Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Wednesday they hope to pass a series of bills early in the 2016 legislative session that would expand educational and economic options for Floridians with disabilities.


In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage, some Florida clergy members and lawmakers are mobilizing to ensure legal exemptions for religious organizations.

On July 1st, Chris Walker, a pastor at the Cathedral of Power International Church in Clermont, launched a petition on calling for Governor Rick Scott to sign a "Pastor Protection Act" into law. The petition has garnered over 22,000 signatures.