Florida Legislature

StateImpact Florida
5:42 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Fewer And Better: How Lawmakers Want To Change State Testing

Most students will take the Florida Standards Assessments online.
Credit Extra Ketchup

When lawmakers return to Tallahassee in March for the annual legislative session, they have a lot of questions they need to answer about public school testing.

Senators laid out their concerns about the state testing system last week at a series of meetings.

They don’t know how many tests the state requires or how long it takes to complete those exams.

They don’t know how much the state and school districts spend on testing.

And they’re not convinced they can depend on all the results of those exams.

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Environment
1:46 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Florida Lawmakers Seek Public Input On Conservation Amendment

Weeki Wachee Springs, FL
Credit George/flickr

Florida voters passed the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in November. It requires one third of documentary stamp revenue – a tax on real estate transactions - to go toward environmental initiatives.

The Florida Legislature must spend a portion of the documentary stamp money on environmental programs, like buying land and preserving springs.

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Education
11:37 am
Fri January 9, 2015

New Teachers Would Earn $50K Under Proposal In Tallahassee

Starting teacher salaries would automatically adjust for inflation each year under a bill proposed in Tallahassee.
Credit Dondu.Small/flickr

Beginning teachers would earn a minimum $50,000 salary starting next school year under a bill proposed this week in Tallahassee.

Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) filed the bill, which cites a need for the state to attract and retain teachers. It seeks to increase their pay without affecting other personnel and programs.

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Florida Legislature
5:46 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Florida Senators Raise Testing Questions At Budget Hearing

Lawmakers seem ready to reconsider the amount and scope of required testing.

State Senator Bill Montford, leader of the Florida's school superintendents association, said he's not sure schools will have the technology in place for new online exams this spring.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told the Senate Education Appropriations committee that Florida's new statewide tests, the Florida Standards Assessments, are on track for use beginning in March. The tests are tied to new Common Core-based math, reading and writing standards.

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Education
3:57 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Report Says Small Schools Trump Small Classes In Academic Outcomes

Maureen Yoder addresses students at the School of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee.
Credit Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) in Tallahassee has just over 300 students, and the waiting list to get in is much longer.

Maureen Yoder is one of the founders of the 15-year-old K-8 charter school.

“We started this school with the intent of keeping it small because we want to create a school family,” Yoder says. “We believe that the relationship between the teacher and the students is the primary reason students succeed – besides a good home base.”

This is sixth grader Mary Stafford’s first year.

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Politics
11:52 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Competing Greyhound-Racing Bills Filed In Tallahassee

Florida is among a handful of states that still allow greyhound racing.
Credit B Breland Photograhy/flickr

The first bill expected to pass quickly when the Legislature opens in March would force dog tracks to report greyhound injuries within seven days.

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Politics
7:18 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Proposed Law Would Further Limit Drone Surveillance

Lawmakers are preparing legislation to address the potential abuse of surveillance technology. Sen. Dorothy Hukill says the technology for drones and tracking devices is becoming more affordable and easy for anyone to obtain.
Credit David Rodriguez Martin/flickr

The Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2013 that limits the government’s ability to use drones for unwarranted surveillance. Now, a new proposal would give people greater privacy rights on their own property.

The proposed legislation would take surveillance restrictions on drones a step further than last year’s law.

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News
1:44 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Miami Beach Lawmaker Wants Tax Break On Artwork

A sculpture shown at this year's Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Credit Alicia Zuckerman

A lawmaker from the city that hosts Art Basel Miami Beach says a tax break on art work would help stimulate the economy statewide. 

State representative David Richardson of Miami Beach just filed a bill that would exempt works of art from the state's sales tax. 

To qualify, the artwork would have to be original, as well as signed and sold by the artists. It would have to cost at least $1,000.

Richardson says said the measure is important because artwork in Florida is under a double-taxation:

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Politics
12:32 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Business Coalition Seeks Anti-Discrimination Policy For LGBT Community

Key Largo Rep. Holly Raschein debates during a Florida House session last April.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

A bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation is back in Tallahassee.

Florida law prohibits discrimination based on everything from race to religion. But the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community doesn't have that protection.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act would change that, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

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News
3:57 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

New Bill Proposes Regulations To Florida's "Sober Homes"

Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, offers debate during consideration of a measure on the House floor, March 6, 2012.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

Sober homes are transitional housing for people who have gone through rehab. State Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, is reintroducing a bill to regulate them.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein says the homes are intruding on quiet neighborhoods by attracting drug dealers who typically target people recently released from rehab.

Hager tried to pass a bill regulating sober homes during the 2014 legislative session, but it failed after disputes between leaders in the House and Senate. The leadership has since changed.

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The Gorvernor's Race
12:46 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Analysis: What Florida's Republican-Controlled Legislature Might Look Like Under Scott Or Crist

A poll released by Quinnipiac University the day before Election Day gives Charlie Crist a one-point advantage over Rick Scott. Pollsters say that makes the race too close to call.
Credit Dr sanjeevkumar SinghEr/flickr

What will the Florida Legislature look like with Republican Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist as governor? A lot depends on whether Republicans not only retain control of the Legislature, but regain a super majority -- making their policy decisions veto-proof.

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News
9:42 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Municipalities Pass Local Ordinances In Case Voters Approve Medical Marijuana

Key West, Boca Raton, and Plantation are among the municipalities around the state that are discussing or taking preemptive action against medical marijuana - just in case voters approve Amendment 2.
Credit BoQunabo/flickr

Local governments are taking preemptive action in case voters approve Amendment Two, legalizing medical marijuana.

Municipalities around Florida have passed their own regulations before the Legislature can enact statewide rules.

City leaders in Naples voted to ban the sale and growth of medical marijuana. But if Amendment Two passes, the Legislature may overrule that decision.

If that happens, Naples Mayor John Sorey says another ordinance will keep the sale of the drug in a small medical zoning area.

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Education
1:32 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

South Florida State House Candidates Agree There's Too Much Testing

Republican, Democrat and independent candidates were unanimous Tuesday -- Florida schools test too much.
Credit shinealight / Flickr

The candidates running for three South Dade state House seats -- Republican, Democrat, independent -- all agree that Florida students and schools spend too much time testing.

Candidates running for the Florida House of Representatives in the 112th, 114th and 115th districts gathered for an education forum Tuesday night at Palmetto Middle School.

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Common Core
3:36 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Palm Beach School Board Member Says Lawmakers Set "Unrealistic Expectations"

Jennifer Prior Brown is stepping down from the Palm Beach County school board, but she says teachers won't have enough time to prepare students for the state's new math standards.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net

An outgoing Palm Beach County school board member says the state’s new math standards are too tough, and that schools don’t have enough time to get kids up to speed.

Palm Beach County school board member Jennifer Prior Brown brought a fourth grade homework problem to Thursday’s board meeting.

Wayne and Cheryl have 72 marbles between them, the problem asked. Cheryl has two more than four times as many as Wayne. How many marbles does Cheryl have?

“So I quickly came up with an algebraic equation, right?" Prior Brown asked, before meticulously walking through the steps.

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School Supplies
1:25 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Miami-Dade Teachers Still Waiting On School Supply Debit Cards

Miami-Dade teachers are still waiting to use $281 state-funded debit cards for school supplies. The school district said they wanted to wait until they knew which teachers would last through the school year.
Credit vamapaull / Flickr

Miami-Dade teachers are still waiting to cash in their $281 debit cards for supplies -- six weeks into the school year.

Gov. Rick Scott pushed the state-funded cards last year. Lawmakers said they intended the cards to be used prior to the school year.

"Basically it’s an issue of making sure that the teachers who spend the money will be the teachers who spend the year in the classrooms," said Miami Herald education reporter Christina Veiga.

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