florida legislature

Federal Highway Administration / http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/75957

Every session, Florida lawmakers fight over funding for a river, storm water system or sewage plant in their district. But an environmentalist wants to change that process.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Florida lawmakers are heading back to the state capitol Monday. They’ll discuss some of the issues expected to dominate the 2018 legislative session.

Historic Capitol
Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

A Florida lawmaker is once again trying to reform the state’s community redevelopment agencies. The taxpayer-funded programs would have to meet stricter reporting and ethics requirements.

Historic Capitol
Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

The Florida Legislature is cancelling upcoming committee meetings ahead of Hurricane Irma. Lawmakers’ preparations for the 2018 session will have to wait.

jvoves/ flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jvoves/

If one Florida lawmaker gets his way, legislators will once again be debating sanctuary cities. Republican Representative Larry Metz of Groveland is filing legislation he hopes will ensure local law enforcement are cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The Florida House Chamber
Steven Martin via Flikr / WFSU News

Florida gets a lot of federal funding for refugees, including people entering the state from Cuba and Haiti. But that money could go away if legislation passes pulling the state out of the federal refugee resettlement program.

Baxley Challenges Gun-Free Zones in Proposal

Feb 14, 2017
Associated Press

Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, has filed a bill which would allow more guns in public places. The measure is part of a broader push by Republican legislators to expand gun rights.

Remembering the "Boy Wonder" of Florida Politics

Jan 31, 2017
Florida Memory Blog

Doyle Conner came to be known as “the boy wonder of Florida politics.” In 1950, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives at the age of 20 while a sophomore at the University of Florida and remains the youngest person ever elected to the Florida Legislature.

Constitution Revision Committee Experts Offer Suggestions

Jan 31, 2017
Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

A panel of Constitution Revision Commission experts are offering suggestions for the incoming group charged with amending the constitution later this year. The proposals range from opening the state’s primaries to criminal justice reform.

Hurdles Remain for Millennials Entering State Politics

Jan 20, 2017
Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Pasco, is the youngest member of the Florida legislature. She's 21.
Mariano campaign

  From March 7 to May 5, proposals on a host of issues like college affordability and healthcare access will be debated among Florida lawmakers in the annual legislative session. But who are the lawmakers making the decisions to shape Florida’s future? More specifically, are millennials, or people the U.S. Census defines as born between 1982 and 2000, proportionately represented in the Florida legislature?

The data suggests: Not really.

Florida State University Office of the President / http://president.fsu.edu/

A two year lobbying ban on Florida State University President John Thrasher is up, freeing him to capitalize on his political ties, meaning university priorities could get special attention this legislative session.

Thomas Hawk via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

The 2016 election is still fresh in the minds of voters, but candidates are already gearing up for 2018.

Before and After: The image on the left depicts congressional district 5 before the proposed changes.  The small yellow circles indicate the changes in Marion county.
Select Committee on Redistricting

The Florida Supreme Court has thrown out the state’s congressional districts, saying they’re unconstitutional. The Court’s ruling marks the second time the state’s congressional maps have been invalidated.

The Florida Channel

By long-standing tradition, the start of the yearly Florida Legislative Session includes the Governor’s state of the state address.  This was Governor Rick Scott’s fifth state of the state speech.  He kicked it off somewhat uncharacteristically by poking a bit of fun at himself.

Plasencia/DuBose
VoteRene.com/City of Fort Lauderdale

The midterm election gave Republicans 17 new members in the Florida House, while Democrats are welcoming six to their minority caucus. The GOP now has a veto-proof super-majority in that chamber.

Republicans needed to defeat at least five incumbent Democrats to achieve the super-majority. They ousted six. One of their successful candidates comes from Orlando.

“My name is Rene Plasencia. I also go by Coach P. I’m a high school teacher and track coach at Colonial High School, where I’ve been for the last 15 years,” he says.

Florida TaxWatch

About a fifth of Florida’s inmate population is elderly. A new report warns as the state’s aging prison population continues to rise, officials will soon be dealing with a severe strain on Florida’s budget.

The Florida Department of Corrections characterizes elderly prisoners as those over the age of 50. According to a Florida TaxWatch report, the average health care costs for elderly prisoners is about 11,000 dollars a year—nearly four times what it costs for younger inmates.

councilforeconed.org

Florida is the first state to adopt standards for teaching kids about personal finance based on the National Standards for Financial Literacy. But the move leaves some educators grappling with how to implement the new standards.

Ann Whitney, Director of Standards at the Bureau of Standards and Instructional Support, says educators and state leaders nationwide are pushing for better personal finance education in public schools.

Zoute Drop via Flickr

Although Florida lawmakers filed more than 1,800 bills this year, most measures were not destined to become laws. Some were too controversial in an election year. Some died alone with no companion measure in the other chamber. And some bill sponsors simply lost the race against time.

When lawmakers return from the Passover-Easter break next week, they’ll jump into a fast-paced final two weeks of floor action. But the majority of legislative movement has already happened in committees meetings—meetings that were scheduled to last for an exact time period and not a second longer.

Kaiser Family Foundation / kff.org

Tampa Bay resident Victoria Stout is 57. She’s self-employed, healthy, works odd jobs, and is uninsured. She’s been without health insurance most of her adult life. She’s healthy, and takes measures to ensure she stays that way. And while she doesn’t have health insurance, she does get healthcare: paying for it out-of-pocket.

The League of Women Voters of Florida says they’re hearing complaints by the thousands over Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The organization's President Deirdre Macnab says the Florida Legislature is to blame for all the confusion.

Macnab says her organization has received more than a thousand calls from confused voters, frustrated by the “lengthy summaries and misleading names” of the 11 constitutional amendments on the ballot:

State of Florida

The Florida Attorney General’s office is engaged in a tug-of-war with the state legislature over which group can decide how to spend a $300 million mortgage settlement, but one local  state lawmaker wants to divert part of the settlement to pay raises for state employees.

The $300 million is Florida’s share of a $25 billion dollar settlement with five of the nation’s biggest banks involved in the foreclosure crisis. And Tallahassee state representative Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda wants the legislature to put aside a portion of the money for state employee pay raises.

BoxRec.com (Boxing Records Archive)

Friends and family will honor the life of a former Florida House Lawmaker Tuesday in Tallahassee. Don Hazelton died Friday morning at the age of 83. While Don Hazelton served in the Florida Legislature for several years, he’s also remembered for his work in the Florida boxing industry.

Court Battle Over Fla. Voting Districts Rages On

Sep 7, 2012

As soon as the Republican-led Florida Legislature released its new voting district maps this year, voter rights groups and the Democratic Party filed lawsuits challenging them. This week, the redistricting battle is still raging in court, with a brand new lawsuit and a hearing in a separate, ongoing suit.

A former Florida Senate President has died, and the fiscal watchdog group that he co-founded is remembering Phil Lewis. Between 1970 and 1980, Lewis served in the Florida Senate. During his last two years, he served as Senate President. Lewis worked to create the state’s water management districts, and he’s also one of the founding members of the non-profit group Florida TaxWatch. The group’s President and CEO Dominic Calabro says Lewis was his mentor, his friend, and was widely respected.

Lawyers for the Florida Legislature are asking a judge to exempt lawmakers from being called to testify about drawing legislative districts. The Wednesday circuit court hearing was part of an ongoing legal challenge to Florida’s legislative maps by several voting rights groups and backed by the Florida Democratic Party.

Lawyer for the Republican-led Florida Legislature, George Meros, says, the legislative maps approved this year were drawn according to state law.

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