Representative Matt Gaetz

Steven Depolo Via Flikr

When officials calculate a family’s income to determine whether they qualify for cash assistance programs, one lawmaker says current rules give families with an undocumented immigrant earner an unfair advantage.

MGN Online

Four Northwest Florida school districts received more than $6 million total in the recently signed state budget. It’s for areas serving military-related students.

vasabii / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Governor Rick Scott’s recent approval of three public records exemptions is drawing both criticism and praise from critics and proponents alike.

iStockphoto

The House’s prison reform package is now on its way back to the Senate for approval, before it can head to the Governor’s desk for the final OK.

Michael Miley / Flickr Creative Commons

Florida is home to many world-famous flight schools, but the taxes on aviation fuel can further elevate the already sky-high education costs. Florida lawmakers see those taxes as unnecessary ballast.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange)
The Florida Channel

Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut over half a billion dollars in taxes in the coming fiscal year—much of that coming from a reduction in taxes on cell phone and cable bills.  The plan is moving forward in the Senate.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Two Florida lawmakers are hoping to revive a bill that failed during the past legislative session repealing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But, some say the law should remain intact and see it as a waste of time.

It was in late 2013 when Rep. Alan Williams’ (R-Tallahassee) got a five hour hearing for his bill to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Florida is one of seven states with greyhound racing. Many tracks are struggling to meet costs, but continue because a law requires them to hold races in order to keep their card races. But, a group of lawmakers is pushing for “decoupling” the tracks and the cardrooms, some are not too happy about the idea.

“Florida is the leading state for Greyhound racing. We have more tracks, more races than any other state remaining in the country,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs).

http://dontmissthesigns.org

At least one lawmaker has followed through on an abuse survivor’s vow to make sure legislation was filed to allow young victims to use private recordings in sex abuse cases. It follows a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that will now allow a man convicted of abusing his stepdaughter to get a new trial, after she taped an incriminating conversation without his consent.

The Case

Bloximages

Bringing stability and consistency to the troubled Florida Department of Corrections is at the forefront of several lawmakers’ and prison reform stakeholders’ minds as the 2015 legislative session draws near. And, the discussion may start at the top.

That’s especially after Governor Rick Scott still has to name a permanent head to lead the troubled agency—after Scott’s third Florida Department of Corrections’ Secretary recently resigned.

Scott Beale via Flickr

  Next year, patients across Florida suffering from extreme seizures and a handful of other symptoms should be able to get their hands on low-THC marijuana, but exactly when next year is unclear.  An administrative court scrapped much of the proposed distribution framework last week.  That leaves stakeholders with hope for a better system, and certainty of a longer wait.

MGN Online

The losses Democrats took during the 2014 midterm election are causing rifts within the party ranks. Still the general consensus is for the party to unite and move forward. But, some political scientists say that can only happen once what’s called the “blame game” phase is over.

Losing Florida’s gubernatorial race was a big blow to Democrats in this election. They also lost a number of races across the state and the nation.

Among the losses were several seats in the Florida House—which created a GOP supermajority.

wiki commons

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has cancelled plans to get business proposals from potential vendors for Camp Helen State Park in Panama City Beach. It’s the latest panhandle state park to have those type of plans withdrawn, after area residents voiced concerns.

beachguide.com

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is no longer seeking applicants to provide vendor services at one of their state parks in Walton County.

Last month, DEP officials put out a request asking for business proposals to help enhance visitor services at Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach. That includes food and beverage services, recreational equipment rentals, and event management services.

But, those plans were later quashed after Senate President Don Gaetz, and his son, State Representative Matt Gaetz stepped in.

'Pro-American' Bills On The Verge Of Passage

Apr 30, 2014

Conservative lawmakers in Florida are in the final stages of passing two bills that detractors say amount to nothing more than thinly veiled racism and xenophobia. But both proposals have undergone extensive reimagining before finally making it to the House floor.

Deckerhoff testimony
The Florida Channel

A passionately, tearfully debated bill legalizing non-smoked medical marijuana is headed to the Florida House floor after passing its final committee today. But some who voted for the measure warned they could not continue supporting it in its current form.

During Monday’s debate, several legislators acknowledged they’re part of a national sea change on the issue of medical marijuana.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood) brought up today’s “Diane Rehm Show” discussion of America’s attitude shift toward marijuana.

MGN Online

A measure seeking to revamp the state’s juvenile life sentencing laws passed the full House Tuesday.

For several years, Florida lawmakers have struggled with how to bring state law into compliance with a couple U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Those rulings say it’s unconstitutional to give a juvenile a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“This bill has been something that the Legislature has failed to pass for at least the past four years, and it has taken someone like Representative Grant to bring us to this point,” said Representative Matt Gaetz.

WJCT

While the "warning shot" bill got teed up for a vote in the Senate, a couple of gun-related measures have already passed the full House as of Thursday. But after a dust-up between lawmakers, a revived attempt to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law failed again.

NRA's Busy Week

MGN Online

A series of gun-related measures are now heading for floor votes, including a House bill aimed at revising Florida schools’ zero tolerance policies. Both chambers are also expected to take up a measure that seeks to protect gun owners from insurance discrimination.

"Pop Tart" Gun Bill

MGN Online

Over the next few weeks, Florida lawmakers are slated to take up a series of gun-related measures, from fixes to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law to enhancing penalties for insurers who discriminate against gun-owners. But, while some bills appear to be moving quickly through the Legislature, others appear to be stalled in the legislative process.

"Right To Be A Kid" Bill

MGN Online

A bill seeking to legalize the sale of all fireworks in Florida may not be an issue during this year’s Legislative Session.

Currently, sparklers are legal in Florida. But any resident wanting to buy more explosive fireworks in the state must sign a waiver swearing they’ll use them for agricultural purposes. Those found in violation could face a first degree misdemeanor charge, and Fort Walton Beach Republican Representative Matt Gaetz says he finds that unfair.

MGN Online

Bills aimed at enhancing the penalties if an insurer discriminates against a gun owner are moving through both chambers of the Florida Legislature. But, some are raising concerns about the reasoning behind the measure, saying there’s not enough evidence to support it.

Lawmakers Pass Package Of Sex Offender Reforms

Feb 12, 2014

Members of the House Appropriations Committee passed five different measures that do everything from requiring more information from sex offender registrants to requiring that victims and local law enforcement be notified when an offender is released from the Department of Children and Families’ care.

Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette

Some are urging caution about a new effort to legalize Charlotte’s Web, a small strain of marijuana aimed at helping a rare form of epilepsy that children have called Dravet Syndrome. Jorge Viera is a biomedical engineering professor at Florida International University.

“Even though there could be a very positive effect with the type of cannabinoid, this is something that requires personalized medicine. So, it needs to be discussed for each individual, and on the basis of a medical doctor.” 

Pages