Tallahassee

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Now that Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist have released details about their finances, the front runners in what is expected to be a very close governor's race are goading each other to be more transparent.

Governor Rick Scott's net worth is well over $100 million. The businessman and former health care executive does not accept a salary as governor.

News Service of Florida

The Political Almanac of Florida 2014 gives us a detailed look at the state’s House districts -- all 120 of them.

cooldesign/freedigitaldownloads.net

Florida teachers and education groups sued over a change in state law that enables districts to tie evaluations to student performance. A federal judge says the state’s way of evaluating teachers is constitutional.

The law was passed in 2011. It allows some teachers to be evaluated based on test scores of students who aren’t in their class.  They can also be judged based on test results in subject areas they don't even teach.

Starting next year, their pay will be impacted.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.  

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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.

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.

Winners And Losers Halfway Through Session

Apr 11, 2014
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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.

 

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?

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.

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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