Governor RIck Scott

A total of 11 correctional employees who work at Union Correctional Institution have now been suspended. That’s after a further probe into an ongoing investigation over the possible use of excessive force on several inmates, including one who died at the facility.

Just days ago, the Florida Department of Corrections suspended five of its correctional officers working at Union Correctional Institution, including the Assistant Warden Nan Jeffcoat.

A national search for Florida’s next Education Commissioner continues after the state board extended the deadline for applicants. But the state may not have to look too far for a suitable candidate. As Lynn Hatter reports, the apparent front-runner for the post is the person who’s temporarily filling in on the job. And she’s earning rave reviews from both sides of the political aisle.


Governor Rick Scott has been making the rounds to schools across the state on an education listening tour. Scott says he wants to gather ideas on education and is talking with parents and teachers, but some of his critics say they aren’t convinced that Scott’s outreach efforts are genuine.

Scott, a supporter of charter schools and school choice,  says one thing he’s heard from parents is that they want more options for how and where their children are educated.

Lobbyists from all over the state are gathering in Jacksonville over the next few days for the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists 8th annual conference. The three-day seminar will include several firsts, including a workshop held by a top official at the Governor’s Office.

Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists CEO Mark Landreth says for the first time in the history of the conference, a Governor’s chief of Staff is weighing in:

School districts and administrators have long complained about reporting requirements and mandates from the state that they don’t get funding to carry out. And now Gov. Rick Scott has announced he’ll convene a panel of five superintendents to find ways to reduce their paperwork. Scott says he wants teachers to spend more time teaching instead of trying to figure out how to comply with state rules and regulations.

“So, what you hear is there is a lot of paperwork, there’s unfunded mandates.  So I want to go through them,” he said.

Eleven Florida counties are getting a combined $850,000 worth of grants from the state. The counties were selected for the money based on whether they are home to military communities. The state says the funding is meant to help communities dependent on federal defense spending diversify their economies.

Several panhandle counties along with Miami, Duval and others, received grants worth between $40,000 and $125,000. Governor Rick Scott says the counties had to apply for the funds, and that the the money is designed to help them attract new business.

Governor Rick Scott says he wants state lawmakers to hold education funding steady, and he’s open to revisiting issues like teacher merit pay.

Scott continues his education listening tour in the Panhandle this week. Today he’s set to meet with parents and teachers in Fort Walton Beach and Crestview. On Friday he stopped at Tallahassee’s Governor’s Charter Academy, where he spoke with a largely-friendly crowd of parents.

Florida’s jobless figure may look like it’s improving. But, looks can be deceiving, because the state’s top economist says about 90-percent of the decline in the state’s unemployment rate is really due to people giving up the job search.

Governor Rick Scott says his job creation efforts have led to the steady drop in the state’s unemployment rate.  When Scott took office, the rate was at 11.1 percent. Now that number is down to 8.8 for July. While Scott says it’s unfortunate about 800,000 people are still out of a job, he says things are looking up:

Sascha Cordner

Governor Rick Scott joined several law enforcement officers and parents of missing kids during Florida Missing Children’s Day on Monday. Officials are using the event as an opportunity to recognize the state’s efforts to protect Florida’s most vulnerable and educate Floridians on child safety and abduction prevention.

“Let’s give a round of applause to our two special heroes," exclaimed Donna Uzzell, the director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Criminal Justice Information Services.

Jupiter Police Department

Governor Rick Scott is remembering a law enforcement officer, who lost his life while helping to escort President Barack Obama over the weekend. Scott says his heart goes out to Officer Bruce St. Laurent and his family.

“Our family [thoughts] goes out to that family and the entire law enforcement community in that area, and you just can’t imagine the devastation in these families,” said Scott.

Governor Rick Scott could be showing the early warning signs of skin cancer, after he recently underwent treatment for some precancerous cells.

While talking to reporters Monday, Governor Rick Scott confirmed he had some precancerous cells on his head. Scott says that’s why he had two small bandages.

“I had some skin cancer. It was pre-cancerous. So, it started bruising," said Scott. "Hopefully, it will go away. The story is I won the fight, right? Unfortunately, that was not true.”

Governor Rick Scott is visiting several Florida schools this week on an “education listening tour”.  The Governor started his trip Monday at Jacksonville’s Pinedale Elementary school where he held two sessions: One for teachers, and one for Parents.

"My experience in business is that the more you listen to everyone, they would come up with ideas—and even if you have an idea they can improve it, often. So my job is to listen to them and make sure that our children, when you finish high school in our state, you’re either ready for a career or ready for college,”  Scott said.  

Updated 01/18/13:

The Florida Supreme Court on a 4-3 vote agreed with the state to overturn the appellate court's ruling Thursday. The high court upheld the law requiring public employees contribute 3-percent of their pay toward their retirement plans--a big win for the Governor Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature, who say had the 2011 law been struck down, there would have been a big budget gap to fill.

Stay tuned to Friday's Capital Report to hear more on this story and how it applies to potential employee raises.


Florida Department of Corrections

Governor Rick Scott has signed his fifth death warrant.  It’s for a man who is convicted of killing eight people in two separate incidents.

The Republican National Convention wrapped things up with Mitt Romney accepting the Republican nomination as planned. But the convention as a whole went off with more than its fair share of stops, starts, and interruptions.  

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s job approval numbers are on the upswing, according to the latest poll from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling Institute.

Thirty nine percent of Florida voters approve of the job he's doing, and that's up three percentage points from a similar poll a month earlier. Last year, Scott was polling in the 20's.

The head of the state’s prison system is seeking a new job, and he could be leaving as early as October. While Ken Tucker would be the second Florida Department of Corrections chief to leave during Governor Rick Scott’s term so far, he has the Governor’s blessing to do so.

Governor Rick Scott appointed Tucker as the Department of Corrections Secretary at the end of August of last year. Before coming to work at the department, Scott plucked Tucker from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where he worked for close to 30 years.

Over the course of about a year, major changes have taken place in Florida’s Retirement System. Employees are now required to contribute 3-percent to their pensions and a challenge to that is now before the Florida Supreme Court.  State lawmakers also passed a new law that forces thousands of employees in a certain 401K type plan to contribute even more towards their pensions. Supporters of the changes say they are needed to make sure the state can pay its retirees, but others say the change isn’t needed.

Some pundits are questioning whether the controversies swirling around Florida’s Lieutenant Governor could hurt Governor Rick Scott’s re-election chances. And, the Governor gave his opinion following a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

A website set up to make the emails of top officials and staffers in the Governor’s office available to the public is again in the spotlight  after a Times/Miami Herald report revealed the email address used for Governor Rick Scott isn’t his official state account. The “Project Sunburst” portal lets the public view emails for the governor, lieutenant governor and executive staff.

Governor Rick Scott’s higher education panel is in its “brainstorming” phase. Recommendations for making the state’s colleges and universities more efficient are due to the Governor in the next few months.  At meeting in St. Petersburg Thursday, the group discussed the need for the state’s many higher education systems to be more organized and affordable.

Governor Rick Scott says the state is asking an appeals court to reverse a federal judge’s ruling that blocks a law that stops state and county governments from doing business with companies that also do business with Cuba and Syria.

Most of the seats on the board that will oversee the startup phase of the state’s newest university have been filled.

Governor Rick Scott has named four members to the board of trustees at Florida Polytechnic University. His choices include Bright House Cable Network Vice President Kevin Hyman.

Comcar Industries president Mark Bostick is also on the board.

The FCAT. NAEP. PISA. SAT. ACT. PERT. FAIR: These are just some of the many tests given to Florida students throughout the year. Not every student will take every test, but the sheer number of them have some people calling for change. Governor Rick Scott recently expressed concerns over the testing schedule.

LHatter / WFSU

The high court’s decision to uphold the so-called individual mandate caught Florida’s Republican leaders off-guard.