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Fl. Supreme Court Schedules Death Penalty Arguments

Jan 18, 2016

The Florida Supreme Court has refused to grant a stay in an execution scheduled for next month but ordered oral arguments to hear about the potential impact of a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision this week striking down the state's death penalty sentencing structure.

In a sign of increased harmony in the Florida Legislature, top priorities for the leaders of each house - a water bill pushed by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and a package on education aid for the disabled pushed by Senate President Andy Gardiner - received quick final passage in the House Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Florida’s practice of deciding if someone gets the death penalty is unconstitutional. What does this mean for the almost 400 people on Florida’s death row? Will the legislature try to change the process?

The first flight of Cuban migrants stuck in Costa Rica landed in El Salvador this week … as they hope to come to the U.S. In Washington, Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio filed legislation to change the benefits Cuban immigrants get when they make it to the U.S.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Florida State Rep. Carlos Trujillo is in the middle of some pressing and controversial issues this legislative session.

The South Florida Republican sponsored one bill that would close a health insurance gap and another that would make it illegal for people who have been deported to come back into Florida.

And before session even started, he took heat from the gun lobby for his position on a Stand Your Ground bill.

Trujillo sat down in his Tallahassee office on the first day of session to talk about his expectations this year and what that means for Floridians:

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the 2016 legislative session by touting his familiar goals for growing jobs, the economy and education funding. But he also made one over-arching claim: he has "completely turned our economy around." To check on that, WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Katie Sanders of the PolitiFact Florida team.

Steve Cannon / AP

To the surprise and delight of lawmakers who have long backed the proposal, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Tuesday called for eliminating a five-year waiting period for children of legal immigrants to be eligible for the state's KidCare health-insurance program.

"I got goose bumps," said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami Republican who has backed the proposal throughout his House tenure. "This has been a long time coming."

Sammy Mack / WLRN

On the first day of session, the Florida statehouse smells like a flower shop. Bouquets of lilies and roses and orchids crowd the desks of the representatives and senators.

It’s just one tradition on a day full of first-day-back traditions.

You can hear a dispatch from the Capitol on this day full of pomp:

And here are some highlights from opening ceremonies:

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the 2016 Florida legislative session Tuesday morning with his annual State of the State address. This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 17 7:30 a.m.), we will bring you highlights of Scott’s address, along with part of the Democratic response.

Gov. Rick Scott gave a State of the State speech on Tuesday that was focused almost entirely on creating jobs and cutting taxes, boasting that Florida has added more than a million jobs since he took office.

Florida Dept. of Corrections

In a decision a former state Supreme Court justice called "monumental," the U.S. Supreme Courton Tuesday struck down Florida's capital-punishment sentencing system, saying that juries --- not judges--- should be responsible for imposing the death penalty.

The 8-1 decision coincided with the opening day of the 2016 legislative session, sending Republican lawmakers scrambling to address what could have far-reaching implications on death penalty cases throughout the state.

Florida Roundup: Florida Politics In 2016

Jan 8, 2016
flguardian2 / Flickr Creative Commons

An election year like this year means Florida’s politics will be on the national stage -- from our pivotal role in choosing the next president, to the balance of power in the United States Congress, to policy fights in the state Legislature.

All this political intrigue leads back to Florida voters.

Springs Backers Seek Water Policy Changes

Jan 4, 2016
dep.state.fl.us

An advocacy group for Florida's natural springs has outlined concerns with a major water-policy bill that is expected to be quickly approved during the upcoming 2016 legislative session.

The Florida Springs Council, a consortium of 35 organizations, is telling lawmakers what changes are needed to get its support for the proposal (SB 552 and HB 7005). But the group isn't hopeful that its requests --- or similar requests from other environmental groups --- will result in changes to the proposal.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

“The year 2015 has seen more firsts than in 50 years,” says Tom Hudson, WLRN’s Florida Roundup host.

 

He spoke with WLRN’s Tim Padgett and Fusion’s Latin America editor Tim Rogers to discuss the pathway to normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, the migrant crisis in Central America and Venezuela’s crumbling economy.

The Florida Roundup: Politics In 2015

Dec 30, 2015
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Before ringing in the New Year, we take a look back at 2015 national politics and politics in the Sunshine State.

 

It was a critical year for Democrats and Republicans running in the presidential race. From spring through summer, more than 20 major party candidates started campaigning as presidential hopefuls. Four of them have personal connections to Florida: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson.

 

Eliza Brown/ Flickr

A state Senate redistricting plan favored by voting-rights organizations was approved Wednesday by a Leon County judge in a move that could shake the Republican Party's grip on power in the Capitol.

In choosing the new map, Circuit Judge George Reynolds also rejected a plan put forward by Senate Republican leaders as the best configuration of the chamber's 40 seats. The proposal chosen by Reynolds would lead to a roughly even number of districts favoring each party.

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