Session 2014

Politics
1:54 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Concern For Public-Records Access As Florida Legislative Session Nears End

NOT-SO-PUBLIC RECORDS: Watchdogs say this year's Legislature could raise the total number of public records exemptions to nearly 1,100.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net

With two weeks to go in the lawmaking session, open government and ethics measures favored by watchdog groups are stalled in the Florida Legislature. There is a two-part concern about citizen access to public records.

The first worry is about the number of public-record exemptions that are pending this year. Barbara Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation says it's a dozen.

"It will be a record number of new exemptions and push the total number of exemptions to both the public records law and the open meetings law close to 1,100," Petersen said.

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Innocents Lost Town Hall
3:18 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Former DCF Admin: System Suffers From Overload And Underfunding

A Miami Herald investigation found that 477 children had died in the past six years due to abuse or neglect, despite warnings to DCF about their situation.
Credit MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Join the Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News for a town hall on how to fix the child welfare system at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 17 at the Doral headquarters of the Herald. Learn more at MiamiHerald.com.

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Session 2014
10:26 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Surprise Amendment Could Change Jackson Contract Negotiations

A new bill could change the way union contracts are negotiated at Jackson.
Credit Salvatore Vuono / freedigitalphotos.net

TALLAHASSEE -- A high-profile healthcare bill moving through the Florida House could strip the Miami-Dade County Commission of its authority to make the final decision on labor union contracts at the county’s public hospital system.

The bill originally sought to create new rules for trauma centers, allow skilled nurses to practice independent of physicians, and pave the way for hospitals to use virtual healthcare services.

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Politics
12:10 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Plastic Bags Survive Another Year In Florida

This plastic bag washed ashore tangled in seaweed.
Credit Susan Ford Collins/flickr

"Paper or plastic?" is a question you’ll hear at grocery stores for at least another year because a South Florida lawmaker was unsuccessful in his attempt to help cities cut down on plastic bags.

A bill would prevent places like Publix and Walmart from using plastic carryout bags if local governments wanted to ban them. It would also require stores to provide customers with reusable bags.

Some members of the Senate Environmental Preservation committee didn’t like a provision that would force customers to pay 10 cents to put their groceries in a paper bag.

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The Florida Roundup
11:09 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Winners And Losers Halfway Through Session

Credit StevenM_61 / Flickr

Florida lawmakers are more than half finished with the legislative session. Will they deliver on Governor Scott’s goal of $500 million in tax cuts?  

Support has been building for allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. And how are lawmakers responding to the deaths of hundreds of kids involved in the state child welfare system?

No one will mistake law writing for poetry, but April is National Poetry Month.  WLRN listeners celebrate our slice of the Sunshine State in verse for our This Is Where poetry contest.

 

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Session 2014
12:03 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Miami Legislators Will Eat On A Minimum-Wage Food Budget

A MINIMUM WAGE SHOPPING TRIP: State Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-Miami) says a minimum wage budget doesn't buy much healthy food. She'll be living on the state's lowest legal wage for a week.
Credit Rick Stone / WLRN

In Tallahassee, legislative Democrats are facing a time of store brands and junk food -- or so they say -- as they begin a week of subsisting on the state's $7.93 minimum wage. It's all in support of an effort to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. But the bill that would do that is stalled in the Legislature and it's very unlikely to pass this year.

Click below to hear the story.

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Business
5:07 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Senate Film Industry Incentives Include Charges To Local Governments

TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: A movie shoot in Miami Beach. A state Senate committee thinks there should be more incentives available to lure movie producers to Florida.
Credit Ray from LA/flickr

Dramatic increases in state incentives to lure film and entertainment production to Florida may be on the way. But this time, local governments would have to pay to play. A bill approved in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee would charge counties where the productions take place 10 percent of the face amount of the producers' tax incentives.

Click below to hear the full story.

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Politics
11:10 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Florida Legislature Wants To Avoid Controversy In This Election Year

Florida House of Representatives
Credit Steve/flickr

The legislative session is slightly more than halfway over.

So what have lawmakers been doing in the first five weeks and what’s next?

We checked with Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas.

Q: Would you explain the process that happens in the first half of the session? For people who don’t understand what goes on at the Capitol this time of year, what should they know?

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Charities
2:47 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Want To Know How That Charity Is Spending Your Money?

A state bill follows a Tampa Bay Times investigation into the country’s worst charities. The report focused on non-profits that spend a lot of money on solicitors.
Credit markemark4 / Flickr/Creative Commons

A sweeping charities reform package is breezing through the Florida Legislature despite earlier concerns that legitimate philanthropies might be harmed by new rules.

The House bill received unanimous support in three committees and is now ready for a vote on the floor. The Senate bill has one more committee, and members who had been worried about reputable charities now say their issues have been addressed.

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StateImpact Florida
9:26 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Checking In On Education Bills As Florida Legislature Reaches Halfway Point

The 2014 Florida legislative session has reached the halfway point.
Credit STEVENM_61 / Flickr.com

The 2014 Florida legislative session reached the halfway point last week, so we thought we’d check in on some of the big education bills.

THE BUDGET

The House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott mostly agree on education spending based on their proposed budgets.

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Greyhound Racing
6:03 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Florida Senate Committee Aims To End Greyhound Racing

GREYHOUND HEY-DAY: Visible in this undated photo from Hollywood Kennel Club is something you don't see anymore: crowds coming out to watch dog racing.
Credit Hollywood Kennel Club/Flickr

The Florida Senate's Select Committee on Gaming makes its last stand in Tallahassee this week with a couple of bills that could end greyhound racing in the Sunshine State. It's the only gambling issue that still remains within the committee's grasp.

Click below to hear the radio story:

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Session 2014
10:29 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

How Governor Scott Could De-Liberalize State Supreme Court On His Last Day

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: A Senate bill could give Gov. Scott the power to remake the court on his last day in office.
Credit Fammy on flickr

On the day his successor takes power, a defeated or departing Florida governor would be allowed to appoint replacements for state Supreme Court justices whose terms expire on the same day.  That's in a controversial bill the state Senate passed on Thursday. And that governor could be Rick Scott four years from now, when the court's liberal majority face mandatory retirement all at once.

Click to hear Rick Stone's radio story.

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Politics
10:01 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Lawmakers Want To Change The Way MDX Does Business

MDX is under scrutiny by state lawmakers after a toll change on the Dolphin Expressway.
Credit Jorge Elias/flickr

An effort to increase the state’s oversight of MDX - the Miami Dade Expressway Authority - barely passed the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday. 

The bill was weakened significantly.  

A plan to cut the number of board members from 13 to 9 was thrown out. So was a provision that would have required the county commission to approve toll increases.

Even after those changes, a string of speakers stood up against the bill. Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin came to Tallahassee to support MDX.

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Addiction Recovery
6:27 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Legislature Wants To Tighten Scrutiny Over South Florida's Multitude Of 'Sober Houses'

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

Rules to govern the so-called "sober houses" that proliferate in Palm Beach and Broward counties have survived one gauntlet of committees in the Legislature and they're ready for a full House vote.

The bill aims to protect the sober houses' complaining neighbors as well as the recovering addicts themselves. Listen to the full story below.

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