Tallahassee

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.

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.

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. 

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.”

The job of lobbyists is to improve the image of their clients.  But lobbyists themselves could use some PR.

Carl Adams, who was a Tallahassee lobbyist for 35 years and founded the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, thinks that the system - campaign finance laws and the prohibition on private deliberation - is flawed, not the people.   

We asked Adams why his profession is so maligned. 

Gina Jordan/WLRN

The toughest child abuse reporting law in the nation went into effect in Florida last October, and the state has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the legal obligation to report suspected abuse.

The new law was introduced in response to the scandal at Penn State University.  Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting children years after the abuse was discovered by staffers.

If a similar situation happens in Florida, the institution could now be fined a million dollars for each person who failed to report the abuse.

Floridians Get More Money For Mortgage Assistance

Jan 28, 2013
Jordan Michael/WLRN

An additional $60 million in assistance from a national mortgage settlement is now available to Floridians who lost their homes due to unfair foreclosure practices.

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced how the money will be used.

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