Florida has always been a state to watch, if only as a guilty pleasure or perhaps in self-defense. But some major political stars are aligning and the pundits are beginning to agree, Florida will really be a State To Watch from now at least through the 2016 election.
The personalities-of-the moment are here. The game-changing demographics are here. And the Florida stage is set for epic -- and deeply symbolic -- political confrontations.
Former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink now has what she desperately needed in 2012 when she ran for governor against Rick Scott and lost: name recognition.
And that may be why a handful of the state's top Democrats are waiting to see what Sink will do in 2014 before they decide to become candidates for governor. Sink didn't run an impressive campaign but she didn't lose by much and the thinking is that a little more name recognition might have made the difference.
Last week, watchdog group Integrity Florida released a report that concluded questionable bonuses, conflicts of interest and a 'pay to play' mentality was hampering the efforts of Enterprise Florida, Florida's public-private job development agency. The increased scrutiny of what the state pays to lure companies to Florida come as lawmakers start to lay the foundation for the coming year's budget, against a backdrop of the governor's request for more spending on economic development.
On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will give the first State of the Union address of his second term. Among the many issues that impact South Floridians -- jobs, immigration reform, Medicare -- climate change is one of the hot-button topics expected to make the agenda.
After heavy scrutiny, the state plans to change the way it determines the home-based services that will be provided to children with highly complex medical needs. The proposed changes, which would affect about 1,600 children a year, are expected to take effect within three months.
If Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $74.2 billion budget passes the Legislature intact, it would include $75 million for conservation land projects spearheaded by the Florida Forever Coalition. The 2013-2014 budget also includes $60 million for Everglades restoration and $6.5 million for restoring springs.
How did Florida U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio seize the leadership of the Republican Party from Paul Ryan, the Minnesota congressman who ran for vice-president with Mitt Romney?
By leading the trend to the party's nose-holding surrender on the immigration issue, argues New York Magazine. Writer Jonathan Chait says Rubio has tapped into a new GOP school of thought, which is that Republicans have no other problems except for immigration.
State lawmakers will not decide whether to abolish the death penalty this year. Rejecting cost, fairness and morality arguments, a House criminal justice subcommittee on Thursday voted down a bill to abolish capital punishment in Florida.
The vote was largely along party lines, with the majority Republicans voting in favor of preserving the death penalty.
A Florida Senate committee's smiling approval of the Miami Dolphin's request for stadium renovation money may have set off a flurry of similar campaigns by sports teams and enterprises around the state.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved sales tax breaks that would help the Dolphins finance a $400-million renovation of Sun Life Stadium. The team is still hoping for a penny increase in the hotel bed tax for the rest of the public share of the bill, which it says will be less than half of the total cost.
TALLAHASSEE -- An annual effort to collect taxes on Internet sales began again in the Legislature on Tuesday, with a Senate committee agreeing to offset any new money collected with other tax breaks in a bid to appease anti-tax lawmakers.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee approved a measure (SB 316) by committee chairwoman Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, that would require Internet vendors who sell to Florida residents to pay state sales tax.