Florida Legislature

Politics
12:01 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Florida Lawmakers Ready To Strike Popular Energy Rebate Program From The Books

Homes and businesses using solar panels like these were eligible for rebates under a state program that ended in 2010.
Credit lkarrowhead26/flickr

An energy bill that is nearing passage in the Florida Legislature would strike an old solar rebate program from the books.

The program was more popular than expected, and when it ended in 2010, thousands of rebate holders hadn’t received all of the money they were due.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has recommended that lawmakers clean up state statutes by eliminating the rebate program. Since the program has ended, he says it's no longer needed on the books.

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Politics
7:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Lawmakers Ban Biometric Data Collection In Florida Schools

Kids won't get their eyes scanned or any other other biometric information collected at school under a bill approved by the Florida Legislature.
Credit dash.null/flickr

Schools won’t be able to collect the fingerprints or other biometric information of students under a bill approved by the Florida Legislature.

The new requirement is part of a broad package designed to protect kids’ privacy.

When lawmakers in Tallahassee talk about biometrics, they’re talking about hands and eyes being scanned or fingerprints being collected.

For Senator Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, it’s a slippery slope.

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Gaming
4:02 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Gambling-Industry Speculates Gov. Scott's Seminole Deal

Credit HistoryMiami

In addition to legislation that won't go through, big players like Disney and the Seminole tribe are making sure the odds are against expanding Florida casino gambling.

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Politics
12:10 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Plastic Bags Survive Another Year In Florida

This plastic bag washed ashore tangled in seaweed.
Credit Susan Ford Collins/flickr

"Paper or plastic?" is a question you’ll hear at grocery stores for at least another year because a South Florida lawmaker was unsuccessful in his attempt to help cities cut down on plastic bags.

A bill would prevent places like Publix and Walmart from using plastic carryout bags if local governments wanted to ban them. It would also require stores to provide customers with reusable bags.

Some members of the Senate Environmental Preservation committee didn’t like a provision that would force customers to pay 10 cents to put their groceries in a paper bag.

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Session 2014
12:03 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Miami Legislators Will Eat On A Minimum-Wage Food Budget

A MINIMUM WAGE SHOPPING TRIP: State Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami) says a minimum wage budget doesn't buy much healthy food. She'll be living on the state's lowest legal wage for a week.
Credit Rick Stone / WLRN

In Tallahassee, legislative Democrats are facing a time of store brands and junk food -- or so they say -- as they begin a week of subsisting on the state's $7.93 minimum wage. It's all in support of an effort to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. But the bill that would do that is stalled in the Legislature and it's very unlikely to pass this year.

Click below to hear the story.

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Living
6:42 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Dade Democrats Keep Fighting For A Higher Minimum Wage

Protesters outside of Trujillo's office in Doral.
Credit Lisann Ramos

The fight continues to raise the minimum wage.

About a dozen demonstrators gathered outside of Rep. Carlos Trujillo’s district office Tuesday in Doral to show their support for a higher minimum wage.

Trujillo chairs the House committee in charge of advancing legislation that would raise Florida's current minimum wage of $7.93 to $10.10 an hour. He’s yet to take action on the legislation.

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party, led by its Chair Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, is pushing for action.

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Politics
11:10 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Florida Legislature Wants To Avoid Controversy In This Election Year

Florida House of Representatives
Credit Steve/flickr

The legislative session is slightly more than halfway over.

So what have lawmakers been doing in the first five weeks and what’s next?

We checked with Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas.

Q: Would you explain the process that happens in the first half of the session? For people who don’t understand what goes on at the Capitol this time of year, what should they know?

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Politics
10:01 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Lawmakers Want To Change The Way MDX Does Business

MDX is under scrutiny by state lawmakers after a toll change on the Dolphin Expressway.
Credit Jorge Elias/flickr

An effort to increase the state’s oversight of MDX - the Miami Dade Expressway Authority - barely passed the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday. 

The bill was weakened significantly.  

A plan to cut the number of board members from 13 to 9 was thrown out. So was a provision that would have required the county commission to approve toll increases.

Even after those changes, a string of speakers stood up against the bill. Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin came to Tallahassee to support MDX.

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Politics
7:25 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Online Medical Checkups And Other Telemedicine Services Moving Through Legislature

Senate staffers say the University of Miami instituted the first telemedicine services in 1973.
Credit Intel Free Press/flickr

Your next check up may be done in the comfort of your living room.

A bill to enable more doctors to offer their services via the Internet or other technology passed a Senate committee Tuesday.

In addition to doctors, the bill now includes as those who can practice telemedicine physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.

Even doctors who aren’t licensed to practice in Florida can provide remote services. They just have to be affiliated with a Florida hospital or health care plan.

Listen to the story:

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Addiction Recovery
6:27 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Legislature Wants To Tighten Scrutiny Over South Florida's Multitude Of 'Sober Houses'

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

Rules to govern the so-called "sober houses" that proliferate in Palm Beach and Broward counties have survived one gauntlet of committees in the Legislature and they're ready for a full House vote.

The bill aims to protect the sober houses' complaining neighbors as well as the recovering addicts themselves. Listen to the full story below.

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Health Care
3:15 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Miami Nurses In Tallahassee Find Legislation Has No Desire To Extend Medicaid

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

The campaign to expand Medicaid for Florida's uninsured poor continued in Tallahassee last week with a mass lobby conducted by doctors and nurses from Miami's Jackson Hospital. They went from office to office in the Capitol seeking legislative support, but got basically nowhere.

Hear the full story:

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Politics
4:08 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Red-Light Camera Ban Creeps To A Halt In The Florida Legislature

Dozens of municipalities around Florida have red light camera programs. An effort to repeal them doesn't appear likely to pass the Florida Legislature this year.
Credit Traffic Safety Ink/flickr

Red-light cameras appear to be safe for another year in Florida. A bid to get rid of them crept to a halt this week in the Florida Legislature.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, knew his bill was in trouble, so he suggested changes. He proposed an amendment that would prevent cameras from ticketing drivers who make right turns on red “if the vehicle is traveling less than 15 miles per hour, is not involved in a crash, and no pedestrians are in the crosswalk.”

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Politics
5:18 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Florida Senate Approves Private Flood-Insurance Market

The National Guard evacuates a Melbourne neighborhood flooded after Hurricane Fay. Home buyers in high risk areas can't get mortgages without flood insurance.
Credit DVIDSHUB/flickr

More than a third of the policies in the National Flood Insurance Program are held by Floridians. But Florida accounts for just a small percentage of the claims that are paid.

Now the national program is billions of dollars in debt because it hasn’t been charging premiums that match the risk.

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News
6:38 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Why Florida's Immigrant Children Must Wait Five Years For Health Care

Severiana Novas-Francois and two of her daughters. Under Florida law, Novas-Francois has to wait until her children have lived here for five years to qualify for the subsidized health insurance known as Florida Kidcare.
Credit Courtesy of Severiana Novas-Francois

In Florida, children who were born outside the United States -- and live here lawfully -- have to wait five years to qualify for the subsidized health care program known as Florida KidCare.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, are sponsoring legislation to drop the five-year waiting period.

The law made its third trip to the legislature this year, and will get its first hearing in the Senate committee Tuesday.

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DCF
6:32 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Miami Herald Series Prompts Changes To Florida Child-Welfare Legislation

Changes to the Florida Department of Children and Families are on the way. Lawmakers are considering legislation after a Miami Herald investigation chronicled the deaths of hundreds of children under the state's watch.
Credit Seandel Edwards/flickr

The Miami Herald series “Innocents Lost” may lead to more changes at DCF – Florida’s Department of Children and Families.

The Herald investigation chronicles the deaths of hundreds of children under DCF’s watch.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, is one of the state leaders charged with overseeing DCF as chair of the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

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