Tallahassee

Mark Foley/myfloridahouse.gov

With just a few days left of the legislative session, we're working to get as many answers as possible to questions posed during our last WLRN-Miami Herald Town Hall meeting in February.

This question comes from Steve Moyer of Cooper City:

"I have a disabled child that attends public school and feel the education provided to most ESE (Exceptional Student Education) students in Broward County as well as other districts is inadequate.

Are You A Dirty Politican? Play Our Ethics Game

Apr 26, 2013
Martin Tews / Creative Commons/Flickr

Everyone loves to complain about political corruption.  But would you do any better?  Play our interactive game, Tallanasty, and find out if you would be a cleaner Florida politician.

Jordan Michael/WLRN

Around this time of year, a lot of people walk to achieve the highly coveted yellow-polka-dot-bikini body.

Lauren Book walks to help mend lives.

Book ended her fourth annual trek on Tuesday, walking 1,500 miles from Key West to Tallahassee.

She was joined on the last mile of the trip by an army of supporters in blue shirts adorned with footprints and the words “Walk In My Shoes 2013.”

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:

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.

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?

Springtime Makes Grand Entrance In Tallahassee

Apr 8, 2013
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.

 

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.

Senior Arcades Targeted In Internet Cafe Ban

Mar 28, 2013
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.

How To Create A Specialty License Plate In Florida

Mar 27, 2013
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.

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.

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.

Ethics Reform In Florida Called 'A Mixed Bag'

Mar 19, 2013
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.

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.

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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