politics

#FLSession2015
12:05 am
Mon March 2, 2015

The Sunshine Edition: The 2015 Florida Legislature

The Florida Historic Capitol.
Credit Michael Rivera (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] / Wikimedia Commons

The gavel falls Tuesday in Tallahassee, when Florida lawmakers officially begin the 2015 legislative session. The one item they have to do is pass a state budget -- and this year they have a $1 billion surplus, a growing state economy and a governor fresh off a re-election win.

Each spring for 60 days the Florida Legislature tackles a year's worth of state business. On the agenda this law-writing session are reforms to public-education testing, hundreds of millions of dollars of mandated spending on the environment and billions of dollars in federal money for health care.

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Politics
6:39 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Lawmakers Wade into Amendment 1 Details

Money to keep polluted runoff out of Lake Okeechobee is at stake in the discussions over money from Amendment 1

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 11:47 am

New rules for Florida waters will be one of the first bills the House takes up when the legislative session gets underway.

But don't expect that all aspects of a voter-approved initiative to conserve water and land will sail smoothly through the 60-day session that begins March 3.

As House members and senators hammer out new rules and new funding levels required by the initiative, known as Amendment 1, a wide array of suggestions has poured in from Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, environmentalists and business lobbyists.

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News
11:56 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Miami Beach Child Pornography Arrest Used To Advocate "Revenge Porn" Legislation

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says this wasn't just child pornography. She says it was also "revenge porn."
Credit Jessica Meszaros / WLRN

Miami Beach police arrested Antonio Giansante Thursday for possessing and promoting child pornography. 

Giansante started having consensual sexual relations with a girl -- now in her late twenties -- back in Puerto Rico when she was 16. He was her high school soccer coach. The couple moved to Miami Beach together when she was an adult.

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Politics
11:34 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Florida Roundup: Police Relations With South Florida's Minority Communities

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief addresses the press on Tuesday regarding a police officer who was caught on camera slapping and pushing a homeless man.
Credit Miami Herald

The U.S. Justice Department this week announced it will not charge George Zimmerman with civil rights violations in the case of the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Martin's death preceded several recent killings of young, unarmed black men that have sent protesters to the streets, renewing the conversation about police relations with minority communities.

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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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News
1:33 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Why Some South Florida Lawmakers Remain Opposed To Normalized Relations With Cuba

Movement toward ending the trade embargo with Cuba is continuing since the release of Alan Gross in December.
Credit Jeff Flake

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently brought a handful of Democrats with her to Cuba – a trip she calls a sign of “friendship” between the U.S. and the island nation that remains under a congressionally mandated embargo.

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Politics
4:18 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Governor Rick Scott's Conundrum

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs HB 7095, the pill mill bill, in Orlando, Florida, Friday, June 3, 2011. Looking on, from left: Joyce Dawley, FDLE; Phil Williams, Orlando MBI; Gerald Bailey, FDLE; Seminole sheriff Don Eslinger; Winter Park police chief Brett Railey, Rep. Scott Plakon.
Credit Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel

On the brink of this year's legislative session, Governor Rick Scott is dealing with a big thorn. Scott replaced former head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Gerald Bailey, saying Bailey left voluntarily.

Bailey says that's a lie. 

When Governor Scott's lawyer told Bailey to retire, Bailey did pack up his stuff and leave. A few days later, Scott said Bailey resigned. Bailey said that wasn't true and called the governor a liar in the public square. Things rapidly went down from there.

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Rights Restoration
6:10 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Voting Rights Groups Want Constitutional Amendment To Make Voting Easier For Felons

It's estimated that more than 1.5 million Floridians can't vote because of their criminal pasts.
Credit Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

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Immigration
3:53 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Study, Activists: Stop U.S. Deportations To Haiti

At a press conference Thursday, University of Miami Law Clinic and Haitian activists talk about a study that asks the U.S. to stop deportations to Haiti. Left to right: Geoffrey Loudin, UM law student, Edwidge Danticat, author, Marleine Bastien, activist.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

After the deadly 2010 Haiti earthquake, the United States halted all deportations to the island nation.

One year later, deportations resumed to Haiti amid a deadly cholera outbreak.

Wildrick Guerrier was one of 27 men deported to Haiti from the U.S. on Jan 20, 2011, according to a recently released study by human rights groups that documents the impact of returning deportees to a post-earthquake Haiti.

Guerrier developed cholera-like symptoms after being jailed in Haiti, a customary practice when deportees return. One week after his arrival, he died.

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Politics
7:43 am
Wed February 18, 2015

U.S. And Cuba Will Hold Second Round Of Normalization Talks In Washington

A Cuban and U.S. flag wave from the balcony of the Hotel Saratoga where a U.S. Congressional delegation is staying in Havana, Cuba, on Monday.
Ramon Espinosa AP

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 2:56 am

The United States and Cuba will hold a second round of talks aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations in Washington, next week.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki made the announcement during her daily press conference on Tuesday.

Reuters reports:

"The sides held historic negotiations in Havana last month and the next round is seen by U.S. officials as critical to fleshing out details on re-establishing ties.

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Politics
7:42 am
Wed February 18, 2015

PolitiFact Florida on Jeb and Hispanics; Alcee Hastings and Bears

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 1:51 am

Jeb Bush is being touted in some quarters as the answer to the Republican Party's looming demographic problems. As their base in the white community shrinks in proportion to other ethnic groups, Bush's secret weapon could be his own  household: he has a Mexican wife and a son who identifies himself as Hispanic. Plus, Jeb speaks Spanish - fluently.

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Politics
7:39 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Reaction To Circuit Court Block On Obama Immigration Action

South Florida immigration groups gathered in Little Havana to protest against the Texas judge's decision to block President Obama's Executive Action.
Credit Lisann Ramos

A Texas Circuit Court Judge ruled against President Obama's executive action on immigration Monday night. This puts on hold immigration programs DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents) and the expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

South Florida immigration groups aren't taking this decision lying down.

On Tuesday, several groups gathered to protest the judge's decision. DAPA and the DACA expansion have been put on hold,  but some undocumented Floridians are still optimistic. 

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Politics
5:08 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Jeb Bush Email Release Includes Addresses And Social Security Numbers

Jeb Bush released thousands of email records from his days as Florida governor as he plans a run for president.
Credit NADA/flickr

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is considering a run for the White House. So he released 250,000 emails this week from his time as governor.

But Bush’s desire to be transparent may cause trouble for some of his former constituents.

Social security numbers have turned up in some of the newly released documents. Bush told reporters in Tallahassee the state was supposed to cover up such personal information.

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PolitiFact
10:41 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Fact-Checking Marco Rubio's Immigration Stance

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 7:37 am

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is still pondering a run for the White house.

And Democrats are already taking shots at Rubio -- especially on his big issue, immigration.

Some are claiming he has back tracked on favoring immigration reform that that includes a pathway to citizenship for people in this country illegally now.

One of those Democrats is the Democratic National Committee Chair -- Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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Budget
11:11 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Obama's Budget Sparks Debate Among Florida Lawmakers

An undated photo of President Obama. Florida lawmakers in the House and Senate have some issues with the president's latest budget.
Credit Matt Ortega /Flickr

Budgets are said to embody values, and President Barack Obama’s budget surely shows his legislative values. The $3.9 trillion budget would levy new taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for things to help low and middle income families, like free community college.

That’s not sitting well with Republicans in the region. South Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo says it’s a political document.

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