Florida Senate

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The Florida Senate is mired in controversy after a top democratic member admitted to an affair with a lobbyist and resigned.  Budget chief and gubernatorial hopeful Jack Latvala is interested in ethics reform—but says legislating morality is a dead end.

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The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill approving the remaining payment of $3.75 million to the surviving victim in a child abuse case. 

Shrinking government remains a constant theme in the Republican-led Florida Legislature, but lawmakers are on a record-breaking streak when it comes to filing legislation.

The Senate chambers' stained glass pendant.
Nick Evans

Workers have spent months renovating the Florida Senate chambers. Nick Evans was on hand Monday for the unveiling.

The Senate chambers mid-demolition
Nick Evans

Florida’s Senate chambers is a shell of its former self.  Crews are working on the first full renovation since the late 1970s.

Florida’s budget is set for this year. Governor Rick Scott signed the state budget Thursday, totaling $82 billion. 

The Florida Channel

A bill that would give juveniles more leniency passed its second Senate committee Wednesday. But law enforcement officials don’t want it to pass.

Project leader points his construction crew to fix concrete levels on the side of the road.
Caitie Switalski / WFSU News

Legislation is heading to the House floor that would give Florida utilities a break from construction costs. Critics claim it could end up costing taxpayers more.

Historic Capitol
Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

Florida is halfway through its legislative session. But the House and Senate have a lot to do before they leave the Capitol.

MGN Online

Update:  The House passed both open carry and campus carry. But both bills face slim chances in the Senate.

Nick Evans / WFSU News

The Florida Senate will have district maps largely based on recommendations from a coalition of voting rights groups. Leon Circuit Judge George Reynolds has rejected a redrawn plan submitted by state lawmakers as part of a long-running redistricting case.

The current seal for Florida's Senate.
Florida Senate

Florida’s senators want to drop the confederate flag from the chamber’s seal.  The proposed rule change passed committee Thursday unanimously.

Florida Secretary of State

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner sailed through the beginning of his Senate confirmation hearings Monday, but not before navigating a few crosswinds. As Jim Ash reports, Governor Rick Scott’s choice for the state’s top elections officer was never really in jeopardy.

Rene Garcia
Florida Senate / FLSenate.gov

More children could soon be allowed to sign up for the low-income health insurance program, KidCare.

SB 282 will eliminate a five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children to get healthcare.  It will allow nearly 30,000 low-income, legally residing children to participate in the KidCare insurance program.  Bill sponsor, Sen. Rene Garcia of Miami, says the proposal is long overdue and will not cost the state much money.

Florida Oath Gives Choice To Swear Or Affirm

Nov 20, 2014
Image taken from the 1955 movie "Illegal"

When public servants and lawmakers officially start their new terms in office they take an oath. It’s been the same since Florida became a state in 1845. But some people are still confused about the first few words.

This year, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labara officiated the swearing in ceremony at the Florida Senate. As a circuit judge he's also administered the oath to people testifying in court.

It always starts in pretty much the same way--with the words "I  solemnly swear or affirm."

A younger John Thrasher pictured in the Senate's farewell video.  Here, Thrasher is a state representative.
Florida Channel

The Florida Senate met Tuesday in what’s called an organizational session to set rules and fill leadership positions for the upcoming legislative session.  As lawmakers welcomed one another back to Tallahassee, they also bid farewell to a long-time Republican powerbroker.

On Monday, the Florida Senate easily elected Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) as its new Democratic leader.

She says her goals for the 2015 legislative session include working across the aisle with Republican leadership on water, education and prison reform. Still, she says there will be some partisan issues.

“It’s to be expected because we’re the loyal minority, and we’re going to fight for our people,” said Joyner. “I mean, it’s only natural that ideologically wise we’re on different points on some of the issues.”

StepUpForStudents.org

Update: 9:40 p.m: The Florida House and Senate have approved an expansion of the state's corporate tax scholarship "voucher" program and are sending the bill to Governor Rick Scott. The Senate approved its version of the bill early Friday sending it to the House--where lawmakers delayed in passing the bill over concerns it takes away the special diploma option for disabled students.

Supermarket Liquor Bill Fizzles Out

Apr 10, 2014
Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Thursday the Senate Regulated Industries Committee heard a bill that would allow supermarkets and big box stores to sell liquor. 

“Part of the bill are two components the first eliminates a state mandate on the separate location and entry for the sale of one class of alcoholic beverage,” says Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton). 

He says supermarkets shouldn’t need a separate establishment to shelve liquor.

Florida would be the 18th state to allow distilled spirits to be sold in grocery stores. At least one industry group views the proposal as a step forward.

Pair Of Florida Republicans File Bill To Help Homeless

Feb 20, 2014
Blaise Gainey

Homelessness eradication efforts would get more money under terms of a bill spearheaded by a pair of legislative Republicans. Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and Rep. Kathleen Peters’ (R-South Pasadena) bills would offer annual challenge grants to agencies. Latvala says the measure reestablishes funding the agencies once had access to.

“We start set about developing a bill to try to put more resources in the homeless arena, and were doing that by attempting to increase the challenge grants which used to be funded in the budget.” Latvala says.

Florida Senate

A bill aimed at overhauling Florida’s assisted living homes is back for the third year in a row. The proposal, aimed at cracking down on unlicensed facilities, has previously been okayed by the Senate but failed in the House.

Senators Honor Service Members, Remember One Of Their Own

Mar 19, 2013
Broward.org / Broward Legislative Delegation

Tuesday the Florida Senate met to vote for the third time on proposed bills. But the Senators spent most of their time in the Chamber not debating the bills but remembering and honoring the men and women who served the state.

Update 7:10 pm:   In a 7-4 party line vote, the Senate Select Committee on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shut the door permanently on an expansion of Medicaid. But committee Chairman Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) is putting forth an alternative plan to cover roughly the same group of people who would have otherwise been covered under the Medicaid expansion. Negron wants to allow uninsured adults and families into the Healthy Kids program.

StAugustine.com

The Florida Senate has passed its first bill of the legislative session. It’s a measure to ensure lawmakers follow ethical rules. But to get it passed so quickly they did have to bend the rules just a little bit and fast-track the proposal, skipping the first and second readings on the chamber floor.

Game Plan To Save Apalachicola Bay? First, Find A Quarterback

Jan 16, 2013
Wikipedia

Apalachicola Bay is thirsty and the Florida Legislature is looking into ways to help save what is being called a national treasure on the verge of environmental collapse.

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