6:07 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Ten Big Issues Remain as Regular Session Ends

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 9:09 am

Ordinarily, the last week of the annual legislative session is a blur of deal-making, with bills bouncing back and forth across the Capitol's fourth floor. But with the House adjourning Tuesday amid a battle with the Senate about budget and health-care issues, the 2015 session will be remembered for its messy end --- and the piles of bills that died in the crossfire. Lawmakers will come back sometime in May or June for a special session to negotiate and pass a budget. But with the 60-day regular session formally ending Friday, here is where 10 major issues stand:

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4:16 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Seminole Tribe Of Florida Pleas For Renewal Of Card Game Agreement

The Seminole Tribe of Florida wants the state to extend a portion of its gambling compact that expires this summer. It allows banked card games like baccarat exclusively at five Seminole casinos and generates more than a $100 million a year for the state.
Credit Mr Spil/flickr

The Seminole Tribe of Florida wants to keep its exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games, but the Legislature's abrupt adjournment this year might have dealt the tribe a bad hand. 

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9:43 am
Sat May 2, 2015

Florida Supreme Court Sides With House In Session Departure

April 28, 2015 - House Speaker Steve Crisafulli strikes the gavel, abruptly adjourning the House's legislative session three days early.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

The Florida Supreme Court has sided with the House of Representatives in a lawsuit filed by Florida Senate Democrats. The House left Tallahassee three days before the scheduled end of session because no agreement could be reached on a budget. 

Democrats in the Senate wanted the court to force House members back to Tallahassee for more session work, but the court denied the motion.

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3:14 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Children's Advocates Mourn Dead Bills

Credit John Liu / Flickr CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

  Children's issues had a rocky legislative session, thanks in part to its abrupt ending.

One proposal that would have boosted health and safety standards for early-education programs (SB 7006 and HB 7017) died for the second straight year. Supporters said the proposal's failure means leaving some kids in risky situations.

"It was a major disappointment," said Ted Granger, executive director of the United Way of Florida. "The failure to pass these bills ensures that those children are going to be staying in unsafe places for another year."

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2:23 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

#FLHouseMovieTitles Mock Legislature's Early Adjournment

In response to the Florida House abruptly adjourning its 2015 session three days early, the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times invited their audiences to modify movie titles and tweet them with the hashtag #FLHouseMovieTitles.

Here are some of the ones that stood out to us:

Panelists discussed the legislative session on the Florida Roundup Friday, May 1.

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2:43 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Legislature Passes Revenge Porn Illegal Bill

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 9:00 am

It will be illegal to post sexually explicit photos and videos of exes on websites without their consent under a bill going to Gov. Rick Scott.

The Senate passed a bill Wednesday on a 38-2 vote to outlaw revenge porn. The Senate accepted a weaker version of the bill they originally passed because the House changed it and then ended their session three days early. The original bill would have applied to any electronic dissemination, such as email.

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8:48 am
Thu April 30, 2015

What The Budget Standoff In Tallahassee Means For Florida

January 28, 2015 - House Speaker Steve Crisafulli looks on as Senate President Andy Gardiner tells reporters in Tallahassee about their plans for the legislation session.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli surprised lawmakers Tuesday when he abruptly adjourned the chamber three days before the legislative session was scheduled to end. He did so because the House and Senate are far apart on a budget plan.

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1:55 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

House Adjourns 3 Days Early Over Healthcare Fight; Major Policy Bills Are Dead

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 9:51 pm

The Florida House has adjourned for the 2015 lawmaking session. The move comes as the legislature was gridlock over whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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5:02 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Florida Legislature Approves Rule For Online Music And Movie Vendors

Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez says consumers who do business with websites that don’t provide contact information are at risk of having their identity and credit card information stolen.
Credit cvrcak1/flickr

A bill that targets Internet businesses that sell music or movies is going to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

The "True Origin of Digital Goods Act" is billed as a consumer protection law. It requires website operators that sell music and videos to provide their real names and contact information.

Opponents say the state is trying to regulate the Internet. But Representative Erik Fresen (R-Miami) says the people selling the goods just have to identify themselves.

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8:55 am
Mon April 27, 2015

The Budget Battle In The Sunshine Economy

Florida's regular legislative session is due to end May 1. Lawmakers are not expected to have agreed to a new budget by then. They have until July 1 to come to a compromise.
Credit flguardian2 / Flickr Creative Commons

  Two big financial questions remain unanswered as the state Legislature enters its last days of the 2015 regular session – how will Florida's government spend money on health care and the environment?

Billions of dollars are on the line.

The dual debates over Medicaid and Amendment 1 are not linked except for the disagreement between Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, over how much money to spend on the health of Floridians and Florida's environment.

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12:37 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Former Environmental Secretary Sees Lawmaker 'Hostility' Toward Land Acquisition

Amendment 1 dedicates money for the state to buy protected land, restore Florida’s natural springs and clean up the Everglades.
Credit lolo35352000/flickr

Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 last November. The citizen-led initiative is also known as the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment. It sets aside 33 percent of the revenue from documentary stamps - a real estate transaction fee - for the next 20 years to fund environmental protection.

The fees are worth $750 million next year. But the Florida Legislature is dragging its feet on setting rules to divvy up the funds.

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1:50 am
Thu April 23, 2015

South Florida Lawmakers Try to Block Cuba Terrorism Delisting

South Florida lawmakers are up in arms over President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Credit Don McDougall / flickr Creative Commons

Most South Florida lawmakers cringed when they saw President Obama shake hands with Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas. But the momentary cringe turned into revulsion when the president shared to Congress his intent to remove the island nation from the state sponsor of terrorism list.

South Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks for many in the delegation.

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6:03 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

House Approves Experimental Drug Bill, Senate Ready For Floor Debate

Florida lawmakers are considering legislation that would enable terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs without government approval, even after a clinical trial has ended.
Credit flickr

The Florida House has passed a bill that creates the “Right to Try Act.”  The legislation gives dying patients a chance to try treatments that have undergone clinical trials but haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  

Patients who’ve been diagnosed as having less than a year to live would be eligible for the experimental treatments.

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2:10 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Florida House Passes Dave & Buster's Bill

Florida cracked down on Internet cafes two years ago because of illegal gambling.
Credit Nicholas_Luvaul/flickr

It’s been two years since Florida passed a law shutting down Internet cafes. Now, the Florida House has approved a bill clarifying that family-friendly amusement centers are perfectly legal, and the Senate version is also close to a vote.

The state was in a hurry to get rid of Internet cafes. The storefront shops were multiplying rapidly because many of them were getting away with illegal slot machine gambling.

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Health Care
5:36 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Medicaid Dispute Still Threatens On-Time Legislative Adjournment

An undated photo of the House chamber in the state capitol.
Credit Steven Martin / Flickr/Creative Commons

Unionized medical staff from Jackson Health System taunted Governor Rick Scott in the capitol rotunda over his opposition to expanding Medicaid.

Democratic Senator Oscar Braynon of Broward County joined them to say the governor's intransigence would have consequences.

"In theory we may lose our public hospitals, in theory people may not get health coverage, in theory people will actually die as a result of this," Braynon said.

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