Politics

Pill Mills
4:30 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Pill Mills Migrate North To Georgia

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that three of every four overdose deaths in 2008 involved prescription painkillers.
Credit Mouse, Flickr

Florida's war on so-called "pill mill" pain clinics  appears to be pushing the problem into Georgia.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2010, there were just 10 pain clinics in the state of Georgia. Today, there are more than 125 clinics  and the state's per capita prescriptions of oxycodone has tripled in the last decade.

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Cuba & Venezuela
3:30 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

2012: The Year of What Didn't Happen In Latin America

Credit Guillermo Esteves

2012 may be remembered in Latin American for what didn't happen more than for what actually did, especially in Venezuela and Cuba.

VENEZUELA

The year began ominously for Venezuelan nationals living in South Florida.  The U.S. State Department expelled the country's consul-general, alleging she was involved in a cyber-terrorism plot. In January, Venezuela's Miami consulate was shut down by President Hugo Chavez, who was facing a tough reelection campaign. 

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Politics
8:44 am
Wed December 26, 2012

After Beating Allen West, House Freshman Faces New Fight

Rep.-elect Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., speaks during a news conference introducing 37 of the newly elected House Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Of the eight new seats that Democrats picked up in the House of Representatives in November, four of them come from Florida.

Democrats were aided by a big turnout for President Obama, plus new rules that helped erase a Republican advantage in how districts are drawn in the Sunshine State.

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Capital Punishment
7:40 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Florida's Surging Death Penalties Buck Trend

NEW MISSION: Exonerated after 12 years on Florida's death row, Freddie Lee Pitts became an activist.
Credit deathpenaltyphotos.org

Texas executed 15 convicts in 2012, the most of any state, according to an end-of-year report from the Death Penalty Information Center.

But Florida led the nation with new death sentences for the year: 21, more than twice as many as Texas. California, with 14 death sentences, was the only other state to achieve a double-digit performance.

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Unemployment
6:55 am
Wed December 26, 2012

Judging Rick Scott's Job Creation Record

HARD TIMES: The Florida unemployment rate has been reduced mostly by discouraged workers abandoning the job search.
Credit Sweets and Flowers/Flickr

His big campaign pledge was 700-thousand jobs in seven years.

So, halfway through his term, how is Gov. Rick Scott doing with that?

The answer...it's complicated.

Unemployment has dropped from 11.4 percent in January, 2011, to 8.1 percent in November of this year. But almost half of the improvement is attributed to discouraged workers leaving the workforce.

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Election 2012
6:20 am
Wed December 26, 2012

How S. Floridians Canceled Their Own Votes

UNRECOVERABLE ERROR: A lot of South Floridians canceled their own votes with time, place and signature mistakes.

Floridians will remember how hard it was to vote on election day in November of 2012.

But many will forget what was easy: Losing their vote because of simple mistakes.

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Federal Cat Regulation
12:09 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Feds To Monitor Safety Of Hemingway Cats

GIMME SIX: Friendly kitten is part of the contingent of six-toed cats that live at the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West. They are now under federal protection.

The multitoed cats that have lived for decades in comfort and ease at Key West's Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum may continue to do so, a court has ruled.

But those cats will be protected and regulated by the U. S Department of Agriculture from here on out, just like any animals that are exhibited for a profit.

That's the puzzling upshot of a decision that has the famously independent city in an uproar and wondering if the decision can be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

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Obituary
8:48 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Former Governor Candidate Bill McBride Dies

POWER COUPLE: Bill McBride and his wife, Alex Sink, were both Democratic candidates for governor. McBride died suddenly Saturday.
Credit Family photo

Bill McBride, a lawyer and affable family man who succeeded almost everywhere but politics, died suddenly Saturday during a family Christmas gathering in Mount Airy, N. C.

McBride ran for governor against Republican Jeb Bush in 2002 and lost by 14 points.

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Gun Control
1:30 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Six Questions With 'Gun-Free Zone' Florida Representative

Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Dennis Baxley commenting at a 2012 panel discussion in Tallahassee.
Credit Florida House of Representatives website

Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been all over the news this week. On Monday, responding to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, he said all remedies must be "on the table" legislatively, including allowing teachers and principals to arm themselves on school   grounds. 

On Tuesday, after his comments had been reported widely, Baxley issued a statement that this is a time to respect the victims. "Contrary to media reports, no specific proposals have been advanced or filed by me," he wrote.

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Animal Welfare Policy
12:09 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

A Holiday Wish: 2013, The Year Of The Chimpanzee

Rufus, 46, now lives on an island in a Florida sanctuary run by Save the Chimps. Before his rescue, Rufus lived in a facility Save the Chimps calls "the dungeon."
Courtesy of Save the Chimps

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:50 pm

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2013 will be "The Year of the Snake." I'm hopeful that in the United States it will become "The Year of the Chimpanzee."

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The Florida Roundup
12:00 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Gun Control Debate: Is Florida "The Gunshine State"?

With over a million concealed weapons permits, Florida has more than any other state.
Credit Zweroboi

On the Florida Roundup: The tragedy in Connecticut hits home in what some people call “The Gunshine State,”as Florida has over a million concealed weapons permits, the most in the country.    Do you feel safer?  We hear your reaction to Florida’s milestone.  And will gun control be on the agenda in Tallahassee?

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Guns In Schools
10:49 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Only 'A Good Guy With A Gun' Can Stop School Shootings, NRA Says

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre at this morning's news conference in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 2:08 pm

(We retopped this post at 11:35 a.m. ET.)

Saying that last week's mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., could have been prevented or stopped if there had been armed, trained security personnel on site, officials of the National Rifle Association on Friday called for Congress to appropriate funds to put police officers in every American school.

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Voting Law
2:31 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Miami-Dade Grand Jury Cites 'Gaping Holes' In Florida's Absentee Voting System

VOTING ABSENTEE: On Election Day, voters found it easier to vote absentee in person at the Supervisor of Elections office in Doral.
Credit Rick Stone

"Gaping holes" in Florida's absentee voting process have undermined public faith in election outcomes, according to the Miami-Dade County grand jury in its concluding report. The grand jury also concluded those holes need to be plugged immediately.

At the top of the list of the grand jury's 23 urgent recommendations:

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Public Insight Network
12:18 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Over 1 Million Concealed Weapons Permits in Florida: Do You Feel Safer?

Florida recently issued its millionth active concealed weapon permit, the most of any state.
Credit ksbuehler

The coincidence of two recent events has brought the issue of gun ownership to the forefront in Florida: the state has issued its 1 millionth active concealed weapon permit, the highest of any state, and the shooting of 20 first graders in Newtown, Conn. 

With 1 million active concealed weapons permits,that means about one in 14 eligible Floridians hold a permit, according to the Palm Beach Post.  We asked members of the Public Insight Network whether that news made them feel safer.  Osmany from Hialeah said

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Florida Senate
10:23 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Start The Fight? Then No 'Stand-Your-Ground' Defense For You Under Broward Senator's Bill

CHRIS SMITH: Senate minority leader says gun users should be responsible.
Credit Florida Senate

Picking a fight with the gun lobby and legislative Republicans, State Sen. Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) has introduced a bill that would substantially reduce the protections Florida's stand-your-ground law offers to armed citizens.

The law -- controversial because of its application in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin this year by a neighborhood watch volunteer -- allows the use of deadly force by someone who feels threatened. It also prevents police from arresting stand-your-ground shooters in many cases.

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