Florida Legislature

Politics
6:01 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Lawmakers Join Forces For Protection Of Florida Springs

Wakulla Springs, about half an hour from Tallahassee, is one of the state's first magnitude springs. It offers public swimming and glass-bottom boat rides. When the water is clear, riders can see 120 feet to the bottom.
Credit dep.state.fl.us

Attorney David Guest is not on the fence about the protection of springs.

“They’re acting as if this renewable resource is something you can simply mine and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Guest, head of the Florida office of Earthjustice. “It’s been there for thousands of years, and only recently have we had this attitude that you just take it and the future generations just don’t get anything anymore.”

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Florida Politics
9:39 am
Wed March 5, 2014

How Gov. Rick Scott's State Of The State Compares To What Floridians Want

A word cloud of Governor Rick Scott's State of the State, which emphasized tax cuts and focused on successes in job creation

A campaigning incumbent always has to be upbeat and, in reporting on how you’ve done, you don’t want to bring down the party. Gov. Rick Scott was no exception.

Every state legislative session begins with an address by the Governor on the state of the state. But what if the people of Florida gave that speech instead?

We joined other Florida public radio stations and asked Floridians what they think the state has done well -- or badly -- and how it manifests in their daily lives. Here's what residents from across the state had to say:

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The Governor
5:50 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Scott: I Inherited A Mess From Charlie Crist. But Look At Me Now.

Credit JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NEWS

Gov. Rick Scott presented his record on job creation and economic growth in his fourth State of the State message to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday, March 4. It was partly a personal speech about his early life in poverty. But it seemed mostly focused on making sure he doesn’t lose a second term to former Governor Charlie Crist.

Here's Rick Stone's radio report.

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Session 2014
7:00 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Session Preview: Tax Cuts And Rosy Budget Outlook In An Election Year

Activists rally outside the Capitol on the eve of Session 2014.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

March 4 marks the start of the 2014 Florida Legislative session at the Capitol. It runs through May 2.

For two months, lawmakers will consider proposed legislation on everything from marijuana to red-light cameras.

All they really have to do is come up with a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in July.  Gov. Rick Scott is recommending half a billion dollars in tax and fee cuts.

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Session 2014
6:50 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

The Legislature's Big Time Suck: Wordy Casino Bills

Credit z4x7.blog.com

The Florida Legislature formally opens its 60-day session on March 14, but it's already clear that the biggest time and energy suck of the session is likely to be the package of bills that could bring multi-billion-dollar resort casinos to South Florida.

The Senate Gaming Committee unveiled the legislation on Monday and, as WLRN-Miami Herald reporter Rick Stone tells us, it was also a chance for gambling opponents to preview their objections.

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Topical Currents
1:00 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

2014 Florida Legislative Session Preview

An empty Senate Chambers awaits all the activity that starts this week.
www.politicalcortadito.com

03/03/14 - Monday’s Topical Currents looks at the 2014 Florida Legislative session.  It begins Tuesday, in Tallahassee.  Which issues most influence South Florida?  We’ll host a panel of journalists who are tuned into the matters.  Will big-time casino resorts be given an OK from the Legislature?  The Republican leadership remains cool to the idea.  The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority will be scrutinized . . . and sweeping ethics bills considered.

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Politics
3:24 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Republicans Split Over Cheaper Tuition For Undocumented Students

Sen. Jack Latvala's tuition bill includes price breaks for families that pay taxes in Florida, whether they're documented or not.
Credit Greenspoon Marder/flickr

Florida's undocumented residents may soon have access to cheaper college tuition. The proposal is part of a sweeping bill aimed at reducing the cost of higher education.

Undocumented students could pay in-state tuition if they meet certain eligibility requirements. They’ve been paying the out-of-state rate, which is three times more expensive.

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The Sunshine Economy
10:30 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Big Sugar's Influence Stretches From South Florida To Washington

Sugar companies get money from taxpayers through the U.S. Farm Bill. In turn, those companies pay a privilege tax to help clean up the environmental damage caused by sugar farming.
Credit africa/freedigitalphotos.net

Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country. 

It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.) 

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News
1:25 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Bill Would Eliminate Health-Care Enrollment Waiting Period For Immigrant Children

The proposed bill would open Florida KidCare to an estimated 26,000 children.
Credit FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Under Florida law, children who are born outside the United States and live here legally must wait five years to qualify for the subsidized health insurance known as Florida Kidcare.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, are proposing a bill to change that during this year's Legislative session.

Before 2009, the waiting period was a federal requirement.

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StateImpact Florida
10:59 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Three Education Questions For Senate President Don Gaetz

Senate President Don Gaetz doesn't want in-state tuition for undocumented students. He does like the idea of university performance funding.
Credit Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

Florida’s move toward Common Core standards in schools is sure to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

Lawmakers will also consider allowing undocumented college students to pay cheaper, in-state tuition. Plus, state universities that improve their graduation rates may be able to boost their funding.

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Parasailing
12:45 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Victims Of Parasailing Accidents Beg Lawmakers For Stronger Regulations

Shannon Kraus cries during a news conference at the Capitol Thursday. Her teenage daughters were in a parasailing accident in 2007 in Pompano Beach. Amber White was killed and Crystal White suffered permanent injuries.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

A series of deaths and injuries may lead to stronger oversight of Florida’s parasailing industry. Victims and their families are lobbying lawmakers in Tallahassee for help.

Crystal White was 17-years-old when she and her younger sister went parasailing in Pompano Beach in 2007. White says she remembers the boat operator talking about bad weather approaching, but he sent them up anyway. Then, the wind picked up.

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Politics
8:28 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Medical Marijuana, Speed Limits And Social Media Privacy On Senator's Agenda

Credit Eric Broder Van Dyke/flickr

  Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, is sponsoring bills to help tackle violations of the Do Not Call list and give employees and job applicants more social media privacy.

Clemens also wants higher speed limits – he admits he’s a speeder – and he still likes red-light cameras, even though he’s been ticketed by one.

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South Florida crimes
7:23 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Domestic Violence Or Human Trafficking? The State Is Just Learning To Tell

Credit Creative Commons via Flickr user d'n'c

Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, says she had never heard of any criminal cases involving human-trafficking victims in Miami.

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News
4:53 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Medical Pot Campaign Reaches Its Petition Signature Goal

Credit Vlado / Flickr CC

Elections officials certified on Friday, Jan. 24, that the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida collected enough qualified signatures to put the proposed amendment on this November's ballot.

Campaign manager Ben Pollara says his organization, United We Care, gathered more than 1 million signatures to come up with the 683,149 needed to win a ballot spot.

He is now starting to fundraise for what he says will be an expensive and difficult campaign.

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News
6:03 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Beer Tastings At The Grocery Store? The Florida Senate Might Make It So

Half-gallon beer growlers are legal in 47 states. Florida isn't one of them. That could change during the legislative session that begins in March.
Credit stuartwainstock/flickr

How about getting a taste of beer as you fill your grocery cart? A bill moving through the Florida Senate would enable stores like Publix and Costco to offer their customers samples of beer.

Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, says it’s only fair.

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