Tallahassee

The Sunshine Edition
1:56 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Why Florida Lawmakers Can Negotiate The State Budget In Private

Florida House of Representatives
Credit Steve/flickr

The Florida Legislature will pass a flurry of bills this week. But the only thing they’re constitutionally required to do is pass a state budget.

Lawmakers settled on a budget worth slightly more than $77 billion – the largest in state history. They’ll vote on the spending plan Friday night to close out the legislative session.

In spite of Florida’s laws regarding open government, much of the budget negotiations have taken place in private.

Read more
The Sunshine Edition
1:48 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

LISTEN: Rep. Gaetz On Marijuana, His Mugshot, And Political Culture In Tallahassee

Rep. Matt Gaetz goes over notes before his next meeting at the Capitol.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

Ft. Walton Beach Republican Representative Matt Gaetz is helping carry on the family name in politics.

One week shy of 32 years old, he’s one of the state’s youngest lawmakers. He’s now running for the state Senate. His dad is Senate President Don Gaetz, also a Panhandle Republican.

But Matt Gaetz is an attorney who is not just sitting in his dad’s shadow.

Read more
Session 2014
4:19 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

A Day In The Life Of A Tallahassee Lobbyist

Jack Cory waits outside the House chambers on the 4th floor of the Capitol. Lawmakers often come out for brief chats with lobbyists during the final days of the session.
Credit Jack Cory / WLRN

Tallahassee is full of lobbyists, and they’re in high gear at the Capitol for the final week of the legislative session.

A lobbyist is someone who is hired by a company or organization to convince lawmakers to pass legislation benefiting their clients.

Long-time lobbyist Jack Cory doesn’t stop moving much during the session. His firm’s two-dozen clients include the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Florida Citrus Sports, and the Florida and National Greyhound Associations.

Read more
The Sunshine Edition
11:36 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

Session 2014: The Sunshine Edition - The Business Of Politics

In a re-election year for Governor Rick Scott, the Republican-controlled legislature has mostly tried to avoid controversial issues.
Credit Meredyth Hope Hall / Courtesy of the Florida Governor's Office

 

 

For two months each year,160 men and women elected by Florida voters gather in Tallahassee to make state policies. Everyday during this final week of the legislative session, WLRN-Miami Herald News will be reporting and examining what Florida lawmakers have accomplished, what’s been ignored, and how it will affect you for our special Session 2014: The Sunshine Edition.

Read more
Politics
12:01 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Florida Lawmakers Ready To Strike Popular Energy Rebate Program From The Books

Homes and businesses using solar panels like these were eligible for rebates under a state program that ended in 2010.
Credit lkarrowhead26/flickr

An energy bill that is nearing passage in the Florida Legislature would strike an old solar rebate program from the books.

The program was more popular than expected, and when it ended in 2010, thousands of rebate holders hadn’t received all of the money they were due.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has recommended that lawmakers clean up state statutes by eliminating the rebate program. Since the program has ended, he says it's no longer needed on the books.

Read more
Politics
6:10 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

What We Learned From Our Innocents Lost Town Hall On The Child Welfare System

Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel and Republican Rep. Erik Fresen spoke at the WLRN and Miami Herald town hall on the child welfare system.
Credit HECTOR GABINO / EL NUEVO HERALD

    

For more than a year, the Miami Herald dug through Department of Children & Families records and police reports to find out how and why nearly 500 children died over the past six years after falling through the Florida Department of Children & Families’ protective net.  

The investigative series, Innocents Lost, uncovered the disturbing stories and found that the agency had embraced a family preservation philosophy without ensuring all the necessary social services were in place to keep children safe in troubled homes.  

Read more
Politics
7:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Lawmakers Ban Biometric Data Collection In Florida Schools

Kids won't get their eyes scanned or any other other biometric information collected at school under a bill approved by the Florida Legislature.
Credit dash.null/flickr

Schools won’t be able to collect the fingerprints or other biometric information of students under a bill approved by the Florida Legislature.

The new requirement is part of a broad package designed to protect kids’ privacy.

When lawmakers in Tallahassee talk about biometrics, they’re talking about hands and eyes being scanned or fingerprints being collected.

For Senator Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, it’s a slippery slope.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

 

Read more
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?

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Politics
7:25 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Online Medical Checkups And Other Telemedicine Services Moving Through Legislature

Senate staffers say the University of Miami instituted the first telemedicine services in 1973.
Credit Intel Free Press/flickr

Your next check up may be done in the comfort of your living room.

A bill to enable more doctors to offer their services via the Internet or other technology passed a Senate committee Tuesday.

In addition to doctors, the bill now includes as those who can practice telemedicine physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.

Even doctors who aren’t licensed to practice in Florida can provide remote services. They just have to be affiliated with a Florida hospital or health care plan.

Listen to the story:

Read more
Politics
7:11 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Report Examines Political Power Of Florida Utility Companies

Florida Power and Light's Turkey Point nuclear power plant on Biscayne Bay
Credit Honey Badger/flickr

A report by government watchdog Integrity Florida examines how the state's four largest utility companies are able to yield considerable political power. 

The findings conclude that the Florida Legislature sets its agenda and policy outcomes based on the needs of large political donors rather than the public interest. In the last five elections, the report says Florida utility companies were among the largest donors to state-level campaigns.

Read more

Pages