Tallahassee

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.

Online Chat On Jan. 22, 4pm: Who Runs Tallahassee?

Jan 17, 2013
Auntie P

To kickstart our Town Hall project, we start with the question: Who runs Tallahassee?  

Our guests are: The Miami Herald's Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas and Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida, an ethics watchdog group, which proposes the unconventional idea we can make the government more accountable if we get rid of limits on state campaign donations

Join us on this site on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 4pm or tweet us at #FL2013.  To read more about the Town Hall project, click here.

The Takeaway: Florida's Role In Gun Control

Jan 17, 2013
Phaitoon / freedigitalphotos.net

Our partners at The Takeaway have been following responses across the country to last year's string of mass shootings.

Their last stop, Texas, focused on the story and activism of Suzanna Gratia Hupp, who said that a mass shooting she witnessed in Texas would have turned out differently had she been allowed to carry a gun.   

Phillip Pessar/flickr

The elections supervisor in the state capital says the Legislature will have to make changes to avoid what happened during the last election.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have filed bills in Tallahassee to increase the number of early voting hours.

Proposals by the Democrats call for a return to 14 days of early voting.

Appeals Court: Union Leader Can Take Gun To Work

Jan 11, 2013
Fear and Loading/flickr

An appeals court says a South Florida union leader can have a gun at work, even without a concealed-weapons permit.

This case revolves around whether a union is considered a “place of business.”

State law allows people to have guns at work even if they don’t have a permit.

But Torrence Little was arrested anyway.

In June of 2011, someone reported a man with a gun in a union hall parking lot in Ft. Lauderdale.

Little had a gun in his waistband under his shirt. Police took him into custody on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

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