Florida Legislature


Florida teachers and education groups sued over a change in state law that enables districts to tie evaluations to student performance. A federal judge says the state’s way of evaluating teachers is constitutional.

The law was passed in 2011. It allows some teachers to be evaluated based on test scores of students who aren’t in their class.  They can also be judged based on test results in subject areas they don't even teach.

Starting next year, their pay will be impacted.


05/05/14 - Monday’s Topical Currents looks at the 2014 Florida Legislative Session with Watchdog Report Publisher, Dan Ricker.  What was accomplished and what wasn’t? And more, a new WLRN original television documentary pays tribute to Florida Jews who served in military campaigns from the Seminole Wars through Afghanistan.  We’ll discuss “A Call to Serve: Florida Jews and the U.S.


The Florida Legislature will pass a flurry of bills this week. But the only thing they’re constitutionally required to do is pass a state budget.

Lawmakers settled on a budget worth slightly more than $77 billion – the largest in state history. They’ll vote on the spending plan Friday night to close out the legislative session.

In spite of Florida’s laws regarding open government, much of the budget negotiations have taken place in private.

Gina Jordan/WLRN

Ft. Walton Beach Republican Representative Matt Gaetz is helping carry on the family name in politics.

One week shy of 32 years old, he’s one of the state’s youngest lawmakers. He’s now running for the state Senate. His dad is Senate President Don Gaetz, also a Panhandle Republican.

But Matt Gaetz is an attorney who is not just sitting in his dad’s shadow.

Confederate Flags On Display At Florida's Capitol

Apr 29, 2014
hculligan / flickr

Last week, Florida's Capitol hosted confederate flags in its rotunda. 

The Sons of Confederate Veterans group got clearance to display the flags in commemoration of their ancestors, who died during the Civil War. April 26 was Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday since 1895.

Kelly Crocker is one of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who put up the display. 

Jack Cory / WLRN

Tallahassee is full of lobbyists, and they’re in high gear at the Capitol for the final week of the legislative session.

A lobbyist is someone who is hired by a company or organization to convince lawmakers to pass legislation benefiting their clients.

Long-time lobbyist Jack Cory doesn’t stop moving much during the session. His firm’s two-dozen clients include the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Florida Citrus Sports, and the Florida and National Greyhound Associations.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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?

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.

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: