Florida Legislature

News
8:09 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

New Film Shines Light On Florida’s Prison Houdini

Documentary director Gabriel London has spent 13 years working on Mark DeFriest’s story.
Credit DOC NYC/flickr

In the early 1980s, a series of escapes earned Mark DeFriest the nickname Prison Houdini.

In 1979, DeFriest was a 19-year-old mechanic living in a rural area outside of Tallahassee. Then he was arrested for stealing his own tools -- the tools were inherited from his father, but DeFriest took them before his father’s will had gone through probate. His stepmother called the police, and DeFriest fled. That began his decades-long odyssey behind bars.

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Session 2015
11:58 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Broward Voters Want To "Awake The State"

One of the protesters for "Awake The State" stands outside the Fort Lauderdale Federal Courthouse encouraging drivers to honk in support.
Credit Lisann Ramos

Horns were blaring on Broward Boulevard Tuesday evening, but not due to heavy traffic. Protesters stood in front of the Fort Lauderdale Federal Courthouse during rush hour with signs encouraging drivers to "Honk for Justice."

The rally coincided with the beginning of the 2015 Florida Legislative Session. That was the intent of a movement called "Awake The State."

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Health Care
11:04 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Child Dies, FL Admits Fault, Millions Owed

Matthew and Mark Robinson

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 2:46 pm

Matthew Robinson loved to have eggs for dinner.
 
But they were out the evening of November 4, 2010. So the 10-year-old and his brother Mark walked out of their Kissimmee apartment and headed across the street to the Kangaroo convenience store.
 

While crossing the street to come home, a city bus made a left turn into the crosswalk and hit the two boys.

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Newscast
7:03 am
Wed March 4, 2015

March 4, 2015: Legislative Session Gets Underway, Some Districts Suspend Testing

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard...

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Politics
5:17 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Florida Lawmakers Try Again To End Permanent Alimony

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed an alimony reform bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2013. Lawmakers chose not to pursue the issue in 2014 - an election year where fiscal concerns like tax cuts took center stage.
Credit WMNF Community Radio/flickr

The rules surrounding alimony are back before the Florida Legislature. It’s been almost two years since Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have stopped permanent spousal support and reopened divorce cases.

"What I was concerned about on that was the retroactive part of it, that we could go back and review prior agreements,” Scott told reporters after vetoing the bill passed by the Legislature in 2013.

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Newscast
7:09 am
Tue February 24, 2015

February 24, 2015: Broward Reps Highlight County Issues Ahead Of Legislative Session

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard...

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Newscast
6:20 am
Fri February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015: Senate Committee Backs New Regulations For Greyhound Racing

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard...

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Education
5:59 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Proposed Testing-Time Limit Might Not Reduce Testing Time

Florida lawmakers want to limit the amount of time students spend testing.
Credit StephenMitchell / Flickr

A proposal to limit students to 45 hours of testing a year is unlikely to reduce the amount of time spent on exams, according to a survey of Florida's largest school districts.

Districts say they don't currently track the time individual students spend on testing.

Calculating the number is complicated. The amount of testing varies by a student's grade, the classes he or she is taking and other factors, such as whether the student is learning English or receives extra time to accommodate a disability.

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Education
5:08 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Bill Could Give Out-Of-State Charter Schools A Florida Foothold

A Rocketship Education advertisement, posted on Twitter, for a Washington, D.C. school choice event.
Credit Rocketship Education

Florida charter schools that consistently earn good grades on the state’s public school report card get special privileges.

Soon, out-of-state charter schools could, too.

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Politics
3:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Pam Bondi Blames Gov. Scott's Staff in FDLE Case

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to the press during a pre-legislative news conference on Jan. 28 in Tallahassee

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 1:16 pm

Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday she believes Gov. Rick Scott's staff acted without his knowledge in the way former Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey was pushed out last month.

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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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