Florida Politics

ball of hemp twine
Emilian Robert Vicol

Across the country, advocates are hailing industrial hemp as a miracle crop. Some Floridians even think the plant could surpass oranges as an agricultural powerhouse. But lawmakers in the capitol are urging caution.

Michael via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/lostinangeles/

A contentious plan to let grocery stores sell liquor is still alive in the Florida statehouse. But some are dismissing the issue as insider baseball, and not a real public priority.

Florida Memory / https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/254907

The Florida House has passed a six year lobbying ban on former lawmakers. Under current state law, legislators and elected officials can’t lobby their former colleagues for two years. The new plan would extend the waiting period, and block officials from lobbying any state agency.

The Florida Supreme Court.
Nick Evans / WFSU News

A bill aimed at clearing up confusion around redistricting court cases is ready for a vote on the Senate floor. But there are still concerns the plan challenges the independence of the judiciary.

Bike Tallahassee / http://biketallahassee.com/img/cascades-trail.jpg

Florida lawmakers are considering shutting down community redevelopment agencies, citing reports of misuse of public money. Supporters are hoping to strike a compromise, before the Legislature kills CRAs outright.

The Florida Capitol Building from Adams Street
Steven Martin via Flikr / WFSU News

The 2017 Legislative Session is off to a tense start, with politicians already butting heads over the all-important budget. The fight could spell disaster for freshmen lawmakers hoping to earn their keep in the statehouse.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran via twitter / https://twitter.com/richardcorcoran

One of the big debates taking shape this legislative session is about state involvement in economic development. The capitol’s powerbrokers are picking sides in the battle, which is threatening to derail session before it even begins.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

The Trump Administration is rolling back a federal rule that protects small waterways like wetlands and creeks. One expert says the move could leave more Florida farmers and conservationists stuck in court battles.

Jason Tereska / WFSU News

Earlier this month, a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed lawyer ruled against Florida in its decades-long water war with Georgia. As the court prepares to make its final decision, lawmakers are going back to the legislative drawing board. WFSU News went to the coast to see what the ruling means for the struggling Apalachicola Bay and its world famous oysters.

Historic Capitol
Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

State lawmakers want to make it harder for Floridians to amend the constitution. The plan would up the percentage of voter approval needed to pass a measure from 60 percent to more than 66 percent.

The Oz Blog / http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/myths-lies-and-hysterectomy

If state lawmakers get their way, patients could soon be able to sue their abortion doctors over emotional distress. But physicians say the plan will worsen Florida’s doctor shortage. For many Florida doctors, medical malpractice complaints are part of the territory. After years of discouraging frivolous lawsuits, legislators are now trying to expose abortion doctors to more litigation.

Buzzle.com

Florida is a prime breeding ground for invasive species that can threaten the state’s ecology and economy. For every lionfish or Burmese python that’s captured, thousands remain. And the sheer scope of the problem is pushing some lawmakers to ask how much of a difference state funding actually makes.

iStockphoto

A South Florida lawmaker wants patients to be able to donate their healthcare data in the same way they donate their organs. Republican Senator Jeff Brandes of St Petersburg is passionate about innovation, and champions self-driving cars and drone technology. Now he’s turning his sights on electronic health records.

The Florida Senate
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Redistricting/MapStats

A Republican lawmaker is trying to speed up legal challenges against the state’s redistricting process. The measure comes after a marathon of contentious court cases.

Trulieve / http://trulieve.com/

In the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers will debate how to implement the state’s new medical marijuana regulations. 71% of voters approved a measure to allow more patients to access the drug. One of the top fundraisers behind the effort wants to see more competition in the industry.

B. C. Lorio via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ackniculous/

The Trump administration is driving thousands of Floridians into protest marches and lawmakers’ offices, some for the first time. But will that anger and energy translate into a real impact?

Matt gaetz via twitter / https://twitter.com/mattgaetz/media

Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is reportedly drafting a bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.

wikipedia / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Braynon

Republican leaders hope a strong conservative ideology will be a driving force in the upcoming legislative session. But Democrats say they’re trying to temper the philosophy with reality.

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

An effort to allow liquor sales in grocery stores cleared its first committee Thursday. Lawmakers are one step closer to tearing down the wall that separates liquor stores from other retailers. For many Florida shops, that’s a literal wall, because of a Prohibition-era law that prevents grocers from selling liquor alongside beer and wine.

Kate Payne

Lawmakers are once again trying to combat Florida’s escalating opioid crisis. Across the country, patients with chronic pain are turning to heroin, or deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. A scarcity of prescription drugs, after lawmakers cracked down and pill mills, combined with cheap street drugs, is a proving deadly combination.

subdivision development
Carlton Ward Jr. via National Geographic / http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/11/2015-expedition-launches-in-everglades-headwaters/

In 2011, Florida made sweeping changes to the laws regulating new development. Now legislators are re-examining how the state is juggling the needs of a growing population. At the time, lawmakers characterized state oversight of development as bad for business, and said rolling back the regulations would boost job creation. Cutting growth management was also a campaign push for then candidate Rick Scott.

Civil rights protections for the LGBT community will have to wait until at least next year.
Ted Eytan via Flickr

An openly gay lawmaker is once again trying to put an end to conversion therapy in Florida. For years, Representative David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, has been trying to pass a ban on conversion therapy. That’s the practice of attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

David Richardson / http://www.davidforflorida.com

An openly gay Florida lawmaker is advocating for a new strategy to pass legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the state. Under Florida law, LGBTQ people can legally be denied employment, housing and public accommodations. For years Miami Beach Democratic Representative David Richardson has been trying to pass a comprehensive bill to change that, but he believes lawmakers should take a new approach.

Destin
Phil Horton via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/plh9026/

A philosophical debate is taking shape in the Florida Capitol about what role the government should play in the economy. How lawmakers come down on economic development programs could have real consequences for Governor Rick Scott’s top priorities.

Jaro Larnos via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlarnos/

On paper, Florida’s economy has recovered since the great recession. But that progress isn’t obvious looking at the state’s public assistance enrollment.

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