Governor RIck Scott

A new law signed by Governor Rick Scott requires Florida’s 67 counties to pay more than $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills. Now Lynn Hatter reports, the counties are considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the legislature’s attempt to recoup that money.

Florida counties have to pay a portion of long-term hospital stays and nursing home care.  Up until about four years ago, they had been paying the majority of their bills. But in 2008 the state switched its billing system. And counties say the new one is full of billing errors.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has vetoed a measure that would have let the state lease its land to facilities, like zoos, to breed exotic animals. Regan McCarthy reports the governor says the state already has that option without passing a law.

A bill that would have let non-violent felons who complete drug rehab get their sentences reduced has fallen under the Governor’s veto pen. As Sascha Cordner reports, the bill’s sponsor says he’s saddened by Governor Rick Scott’s rejection of what he calls “smart justice prison reform.”

Democratic Representative Ari Porth says his bill would have allowed a judge to re-sentence inmates who completed a drug rehab program.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is traveling the state to promote a number of bills he’s signed that are part of his jobs and economic growth package, but Regan McCarthy reports some experts question whether the governor’s policies will help Floridians get back to work.

About a sixth of Florida’s state employees could see another retirement plan change. As Sascha Cordner reports, a bill is now on the Governor’s desk that would allow employers to contribute less into their employees’ retirement accounts.

Currently, there are about 650,000 people enrolled within the Florida Retirement System. That includes state employees, teachers, law enforcement officers, and city and county government workers.

Sascha Cordner

Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi ran about two-miles with law enforcement officers Tuesday to raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics. As Sascha Cordner reports, they were also joined by two special Olympic athletes, who ran the whole way with them for the cause.

Nineteen-year-old Keith Cline is shaking Governor Rick Scott’s hand, as they’re both gearing up for a 1.7 mile run.

Keith is a veteran Special Olympics Torch Run Athlete, having run 1.4 miles last year with the Governor in a Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Monday Florida Governor Rick Scott  held ceremonial bill signings for a jobs package he promoted during this year’s legislative session. James Call reports, the governor’s staff arranged ceremonies at north Florida business locations to promote what the governor says are the benefits the legislation will deliver to small businesses.

The lawyer for Rachel Hoffman’s parents says the family can move on with their lives, now that Governor Rick Scott signed a claims bill compensating them for the loss of their child. As Sascha Cordner reports, they’ve spent the last four years fighting for their daughter, who was killed in an undercover drug sting gone wrong.

Lance Block is the attorney for Rachel Hoffman’s parents, Irving Hoffman and Marjorie Weiss. He says they’re grateful the Governor and the Legislature allowed them to have the $2.4 million dollars for the loss of their daughter.

Governor Rick Scott is criticizing a decision by the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees to allow its hazing task force to meet in private. The Board approved a request by the task force to be designated as a “fact-finding” commission, which allows it to avoid Florida’s Sunshine Laws. Lynn Hatter reports.

When FAMU’s board of trustees approved the plan to allow the task force to meet in private, only two members voiced opposition to the move.

The head of Florida’s child protection agency is getting a new job in addition to his current one. As Sascha Cordner reports, Governor Rick Scott has appointed David Wilkins as the state’s first Chief Operating Officer for Government Operations.

Scott’s Spokesman Lane Wright says Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins is now in charge of finding ways to trim costs in state Government. Wright says the new role comes because of his good track record at his own agency.

Florida counties will have to pay more than $300 million dollars in disputed Medicaid claims under a bill signed Thursday by Governor Rick Scott. Lynn Hatter has more.

The counties claim the state’s Medicaid billing system is filled with errors and that they’re being charged for claims they don’t actually owe. The law requires the counties to pay 85-percent of their bills, or 100-percent of the bill with the right to sue. Republican State Representative Matt Hudson says the new law also sets up what he calls “a payment plan.”

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday signed a four bills he’s calling a jobs package.  James Call reports the measures include a host of tax cuts for businesses and renames the state’s unemployment compensation system a reemployment assistance program.

Leaders of Florida business community surrounded the governor for the ceremonial bill signing.

With permission from their school boards, a bill passed this session would give students the option of asking to lead prayer or deliver an inspirational message during school events. But, Regan McCarthy reports the proposal  is expected to face legal challenges.

Harold Brockus worked as a Protestant minister in Pinellas County for 32 years and says he’s active in his church still today. He’s also the president of his county’s chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. And he says his group is already considering filing a lawsuit against the measure.

This year, the Florida Legislature passed several claims bills to compensate individuals for injuries or losses suffered due to the negligence of the government. 10 of the bills are on the Governor’s desk, and another has already been signed. As Sascha Cordner reports, with about $40-million dollars in claims to sort through, the Governor says it’s not going to be an easy task.

Drug testing state employees just became an option for state agencies, after Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law late Monday. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, opponents say the state should be prepared to be taken to court.

Maria Kayanan is with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the group currently challenging a 2011 executive order by the Governor to randomly drug test state employees.

Employees of state agencies do not lose their constitutional rights, simply because they are employed by the Government.”

The Florida cabinet has approved the purchase of two lots that are next to an historic property called The Grove.  Regan McCarthy reports officials say the purchase opens up the potential of turning the property into a museum or welcome center.

State officials would pay about 580-thousand dollars for the lots. Right now, The Grove, which is adjacent to the Governor’s mansion, is only accessible by a road that runs by mansion, but Secretary of State Ken Detzner says purchasing the plots would create new avenues for accessing the property.

The regular legislative session ended last week, but Regan McCarthy reports lawmakers left town without confirming a number of the governor’s state appointments.

Florida Governor Rick Scott may have arrived in Tallahassee as an outsider but if his influence on the Florida Legislature is any indication, he has become a Capitol insider.  James Call reports, Scott pretty much got everything he wanted from the just concluded legislative session, his second as governor.

It’s now up to the Governor to decide if state employees should be required to “pee in a cup.” As Sascha Cordner reports, a bill allowing state agencies to randomly drug-test their employees passed in the Florida Senate on the last day of session, but not without heated debate.

When Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order last year mandating the drug testing of all state workers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida immediately filed a lawsuit and the order is still tied up in litigation.

WFSU News

One of the biggest disputes of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session has involved the Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” reform issue.  The House and Senate bills addressing that issue are still far apart.  And as the session winds down, Tom Flanigan reports supporters of the House bill, including Governor Rick Scott, are ramping up the pressure….

With just a single day left in the regular session, Governor Rick Scott called reporters into his office to meet with him, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty:

A Tallahassee judge is expected to rule Tuesday on whether a mandatory state employee pension contribution is unconstitutional. Lynn Hatter reports the legislature approved three-percent pension contributions from state employees last year and a coalition of groups sued.

In a lawsuit challenging the pension contributions, the state’s largest teachers union, the Florida Education Association, said the move violated collective bargaining agreements with state employees.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed off on a measure to compensate a man who wrongfully spent 27 years in a Florida prison.  Regan McCarthy reports the governor signed bill just hours after it passed out of the Senate. 

 William Dillon spent almost three decades in a Florida prison for a murder he didn’t commit before he was exonerated by DNA evidence. Now he’s a singer song writer. He’s just released his first full length CD Black Robes and Lawyers.

Sascha Cordner

The American Red Cross celebrated the kickoff of Red Cross Month at the Capitol Thursday with the support of Governor Rick Scott. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the celebration later met an unexpected interruption from people participating in the “Rick-Makes-Me-Sick-Campaign.”

On a windy day at the Capitol, Dan Samborn declared the start of Red Cross Month:

“Red Cross Month started in 1943 with President Roosevelt first proclaiming March as Red Cross Month, and every sitting President since has honored March as Red Cross Month.”

Florida’s charter schools are looking for some extra money this year, and they’ve set their sights on traditional public schools to get it. Lynn Hatter reports the charter groups held a rally in Tallahassee Wednesday to urge the legislature to pass bills that would give them both enrollment and financial boosts.

Cheri Shannon with the Florida Charter School Alliance has a specific list of demands:

Hundreds of government workers rallied in Tallahassee to protest what they call a war on the middle class.  James Call reports members of the labor union representing state county and city employees roamed the halls of the state Capitol to talk to lawmakers about policies they say favor the wealthy at the expense of working people.

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