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When the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami was shut down in January of this year,  Venezuelan nationals in the region were left stranded, with no chance to participate in the democratic process.

Then came the reality of the logistical nightmare- 19,542 citizens registered in Miami (which are Venezuelans living in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) would have to mobilize and vote in New Orleans for the upcoming October elections.

A network of Florida facilities that supports people with disabilities will lose nearly $1.6 million this year – just as the social services provided by the network are needed most.

KRT/Newscom

The murder of Trayvon Martin turned a spotlight on Florida's law that authorizes the use of deadly force in self-defense. The law has been widely cited as the reason why shooter George Zimmerman has not been arrested.

Marion Hammer helped craft the law. She’s the powerful lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Florida. She’s also a grandmother who stands all of 4-feet-11-inches tall.

Last year, Florida legislators passed a bill privatizing the state’s Medicaid program, moving recipients into managed care plans – a model patterned on a pilot program that’s been running in five counties since 2006.

The statewide change still needs federal approval – and for one family already living in a pilot county, it’s a troubling prospect.

Photo courtesy of senatorchrissmith.com

This story originally appeared in The Miami Herald on March 19, 2012.

The first time Florida Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, ran for office, he was just three years out of law school - a 28-year-old who still believed in the power of his lucky navy blue suit. As Smith puts it, he was a "nobody" from Broward County.

And yet, "these people would just show up" as he campaigned around the district. They were lobbyists. "[They'd] pat me on the back and say, 'Hey, I want to support you, ' and then give me a bunch of checks and say: 'Now remember me.' "

facebook.com

“Thank you very much and I apologize that this has happened,” Governor Rick Scott told William Dillon as he signed a bill giving Dillon more than a million dollars.

Dillon spent 27 years in prison for a murder in Brevard County. He was set free in 2008 after DNA testing showed he wasn’t the killer.

It took more than three and a half years for the Legislature to pass a bill compensating Dillon.

How Bad Things Happen To Good Bills

Feb 26, 2012
Rick Stone

TALLAHASSEE-- At the midpoint of the legislative session,  an organization of domestic violence opponents  drove hopefully to the state capital  from Miami for the first committee hearing on a bill they were supporting.  The legislation would allow domestic violence victims who are being stalked at work to quit their jobs and still qualify for unemployment.

Rick Stone

MONTICELLO, Fl. -- Late in the 1980s, crime was rising, prisons were filling up and Florida needed new places to build prisons. But a grim penitentiary full of criminals was a gift that few counties wanted back then.  

Jefferson County, just east of Tallahassee, was different. Then, as now, under populated and desperately poor, it saw an opportunity and it did something unusual. 

Republican Dissenters Kill Prison Privatization

Jan 31, 2012
mstephens7 on flickr

State senators decided by two votes last night to kill a massive privatization program designed to reduce state prison costs by seven percent a year.  Nine Republicans joined the Democratic minority to kill the bill, which had divided the Senate and called into question the leadership of Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

The privatization scheme called for turning 28 southern Florida institutions over to private contractors, eliminating thousands of jobs and reducing the state prison budget by an estimated seven percent.

IowaPolitics.com

Florida’s no-fault insurance requirement is set to undergo major changes this legislative session.

Right now, Florida drivers are required to have $10,000 worth of personal injury protection, or PIP, for payout in a crash regardless of who is at fault.

But fraudsters have taken advantage of this system, and auto insurance rates are skyrocketing.

Florida is one of the most expensive states for car insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A fender bender can cost an insurance company tens of thousands of dollars.

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