Tallahassee

Schools
8:05 am
Wed April 17, 2013

WLRN Town Hall: How Can We Increase Parent Participation In Schools?

The WLRN-Miami Herald Town Hall meeting in February yielded hundreds of questions from listeners on a range of topics, including education.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

Education was a hot topic at the WLRN-Miami Herald Town Hall meeting in February.

Only a small portion of the questions that came in were asked during the panel discussion. But we're working to get as many answered as possible.

Deborah Nix from Delray Beach wanted to know:

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Education
11:50 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Lawmaker Warns Parent Trigger Bill Confuses Empowerment With Involvement

Sen. Bill Montford wants to see more parents involved in their children's schools. He says the parent trigger bill isn't needed because they are already empowered.
Credit billmontford.com

Sen. Bill Montford, a Democrat from North Florida, doesn't like the Parent Empowerment in Education bill. It's much better known as the parent trigger bill.

“We know overall that the majority of students that are successful have parents that are involved,” Montford said. “It's critical to have parent support and involvement in the schools.”

Montford is CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

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Politics
6:00 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Hey, Everybody! Florida Is Looking At A Budget Surplus Next Year

Tax revenues are up, enabling Florida lawmakers to spend $4 billion more than last year.
Credit athrasher/flickr

Florida lawmakers are doing something they haven't done in years: adding money to state programs.

The recession sent the state into multi-billion-dollar budget shortfalls that led to big cuts in education and state government payrolls.

But this year, lawmakers have money to play with. Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a budget of more than $74 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July. That's about a $4-billion increase in spending over the current year.

So where did the extra money come from?

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Politics
2:00 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Springtime Makes Grand Entrance In Tallahassee

Springtime Belles and Gents -- These high school students perform community service and are trained in poise and etiquette.
Gina Jordan/WLRN

Saturday morning temperatures in the low 40's gave way to an afternoon in the low 80's as 100,000 people packed downtown Tallahassee for the Springtime Tallahassee parade and festival.

 

The annual event celebrates the city's history and culture.

 

The parade features antebellum floats, belles and gents, horse drawn carriages and the obligatory high school marching bands.

 

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Politics
9:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Chewing Gum, Sweat-Free Suits, And More: 5 Observations From The Capitol

The Florida Senate meets in an organizational session. This same group was recently caught doing the Harlem Shake in Senate Chambers.
Credit flsenate.gov

We're nearly halfway through the legislative session, and your roving Capitol bureau reporters are ready for a nap.

We'll need one, since the busiest days are still weeks away.

It was quiet at the Capitol in the days before Easter. So this seemed like a good time to share some observations made while covering the Florida Legislature.

Everybody chews gum. Lawmakers and lobbyists in particular can, in fact, walk and chew gum at the same time.

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Politics
10:00 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Senior Arcades Targeted In Internet Cafe Ban

Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, was one of just six members of the House to vote against the ban on Internet cafes. Senior arcades would be affected, too.
Credit Meredith Geddings/myfloridahouse.gov

The Florida House last week voted to ban Internet cafes and similar businesses. The Senate is expected to do the same.

This is happening very quickly after Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s resignation. A client of her former public relations firm is facing criminal charges relating to Internet cafes.

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Politics
11:00 am
Wed March 27, 2013

How To Create A Specialty License Plate In Florida

Florida has more than 100 active specialty license plates, including the "Trees Are Cool" plate.
Credit www.flhsmv.gov/dmv

Have an idea for a specialty license plate in Florida?

You can create one by jumping through a few hoops, forking out some cash, and convincing the Legislature to approve it.

Just as lawmakers pass bills that Gov. Rick Scott signs into law, both the House and Senate have to vote for proposed specialty plates.

Take the proposed Sun, Sea, and Smiles specialty plate. For an additional $25 above the cost of a standard plate, drivers may soon be able to get a specialty plate that raises money for a half-dozen Caribbean-related charities.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Gov. Scott Takes Left Turn As Approval Ratings Flounder

Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale two days before they were elected.
Credit Gov. Rick Scott/flickr

Gov. Rick Scott seems to be trying to appeal to a broader base. He’s done some things lately that suggest he’s willing to turn left a little bit.

Scott thrilled Democrats and irked his fellow Republicans when he suddenly changed his position on the Medicaid expansion in Florida.

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Politics
1:30 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Capitol Visitors Get Up Close With Humvee And Military Chopper

Kid plays with the machine gun mounted on a Vietnam War era helicopter.
Jordan Michael/WLRN

Tuesday was Military Appreciation Day at the Capitol.

National Guard equipment from around the state was parked in the courtyard – the space between the old and new Capitol buildings.

“We have over 12,000 airmen and soldiers in the state of Florida,” said Major Blake Heidelberg, logistics officer with the Florida Army National Guard’s 83rd Troop Command.

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Ethics And Politics
6:05 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Ethics Reform In Florida Called 'A Mixed Bag'

The Senate convenes on the opening day of the legislative session to pass an ethics reform bill. Some say the bill actually weakens ethics rules.
Credit LaCrai Mitchell/WLRN-Miami Herald News

At the WLRN Miami Herald Town Hall meeting last month, Barbara Ricano from Sunrise wanted to know:

“After so many ethics violations and repeated ethical issues involving campaigns and elected officials, why are the consequences so minor? Why is there no real teeth to any of the penalties?”

Members of the ethics commission have complained that while they have the ability to fine office holders who commit violations, they don’t have the authority to collect those fines.

Florida Senate President Don Gaetz wants to change that.

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Politics
2:37 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Rep. Fasano: Medicaid Expansion 'Would Save Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars'

Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, says the Florida Legislature had two years to craft an alternative plan for Medicaid expansion and chose not to.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

Now that legislative committees have voted not to expand Medicaid, House and Senate leaders want to look at alternatives that might still utilize federal funds.

New Port Richey Republican Rep. Mike Fasano is not towing the party line.

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Politics
12:00 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Listen: Youth Activists Go To Tally To Talk Immigration Reform, Voting Rights, Juvenile Justice

Phillip Agnew leads a news conference with the Dream Defenders inside the Capitol. Group members came to Tallahassee from Miami and cities in between.
Credit Barbara Corbellini Duarte/WLRN

College students from Miami and elsewhere around the state are trying to keep the dream alive.

They came by bus to Tallahassee during the opening week of the legislative session. The group is known as the Dream Defenders.

Phillip Agnew, Executive Director of Dream Defenders, led a news conference inside the Capitol then spoke with us about the group’s legislative agenda.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

On Last Day For Fundraising, Lawmakers Wine And Dine In Tallahassee

Andrew's Grill is the place to be for Capitol movers and shakers at lunch time.
Credit LaCrai Mitchell/WLRN

Let the last ditch fundraisers commence.

They’ve been going on for weeks now, but they're in high gear today.

This is the last day lawmakers can raise money before the Florida Legislature convenes for the regular session.

Session typically begins on the first Tuesday in March, and it means a 60-day moratorium on legislative fundraising. 

So the Monday before opening day is rife with wining and dining in downtown Tallahassee. Most of the "receptions" take place within a few blocks of the Capitol.

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Stand Your Ground
9:00 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Stand Your Ground Panel Recommends Keeping Law Mostly As Is

Credit Surachai / freedigitalphotos.net

for News Service of Florida  

The panel charged by Gov. Rick Scott with reviewing the state's 'stand your ground' self-defense law did not recommend any major changes to the statute, although it did make suggestions for tweaks by the Legislature in the upcoming session. The basic premise of the law isn't challenged in the final report released Friday. Scott's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection included lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, representatives of minority communities and law enforcement. 

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Sea Level Rise
6:10 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Tallahassee Lawmakers Hear How Rising Seas Threaten South Florida

South Florida lawmakers gather at the Capitol to hear about the threat of rising seas.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

The rising sea level threat facing South Florida communities is on the radar of the region's lawmakers.

They recently met at the Capitol to hear from a panel of experts.

Monroe County administrator Roman Gastesi says the waters off Key West have gone up 9 inches in the last hundred years, and the rise is accelerating.

“What we’re looking at now is 9 to 24 inches in the next 50 years,” Gastesi says. “Three to seven (inches) in 20 years.”

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