Sen. Joe Negron

Apalachicola River
USDA

The Florida legislature directed funding toward water projects instead of land conservation this year. But environmental groups complain that the state has still not fully implemented the land conservation constitutional amendment passed in 2014.

The Florida House is promising big cut to higher education funding. And it also has another idea for changes that should be made to the system.  The chamber unveiled its answer to one of Senate President Joe Negron’s top priorities this week.

The Florida College System

The Florida College System could be revamped if the Senate gets its way.  Senate President Joe Negron has railed for years against what he sees as mission creep: community colleges stepping into roles traditionally held by universities. And now there's a bill that would begin to cut down on that expansion.

Environmental groups are praising Governor Rick Scott for signing the so-called “Legacy Florida” bill Thursday.

An alligator hangs out on a rock in Everglades National Park.
Carolyn Sugg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/grace-and-peace/

When conservative Republicans rule the Legislature, environmentalists don’t get to celebrate many victories. But it was a different story Thursday when a House committee voted unanimously to approve “Legacy Florida.” 

Florida Senate

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart,  has prevailed in his bid to be the next Senate President.  The news marks the end of three years of uncertainty in the Senate.

Florida Senate

Lawmakers want to keep state and local government agencies from conducting business with companies  boycotting Israel.  

A Florida Senate panel has rejected several attempts to revive a plan giving the children of undocumented immigrants in-state tuition.

Efforts to revive the proposal failed in the appropriations committee Tuesday as the bill sponsor, Sen. Jack Latvala’s (R-Clearwater) attempts to get the language amended onto other education bills were thwarted by Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher. Thrasher ruled the language didn’t relate closely enough with the other proposals. 

After the votes, Governor Rick Scott talked with reporters and repeated his support for the proposal:

Sascha Cordner / WFSU News

The Florida House and Senate are $400 million apart in their state spending plan proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. The House is pushing a $75.3 billion proposal while the Senate's comes in at $74.9 billion. That’s a lot closer than the chambers have been in recent years, thanks to an influx of cash from a recovering economy. But the proposals take different routes to funding two key areas: water projects and school construction.

Water, Water Everywhere

LHatter / WFSU News

What happens when it rains nearly every day for more than a month during the hot, summer months?

Last July in Central Florida it meant an overflowing Lake Okeechobee and the dumping of millions of gallons of polluted freshwater into the region’s rivers and estuaries. The rain also helped spark toxic algae blooms that have some calling for a $220 million water conservation and clean-up plan Florida lawmakers could take up next session.

What Happens In 'Lake-O' Doesn't Stay In 'Lake-O'

Under the federal health law states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to include more low-income people. A million more Floridians are eligible for Medicaid under the law. The legislature rejected the expansion in favor of state-based solutions. Earlier in the week a Senate panel endorsed two alternative proposals to the expansion and Friday it was the House’s turn.

LHatter / WFSU

Florida lawmakers continue to grapple with how best to serve the state’s uninsured population.  The group is estimated to be nearly four million, and the federal health law would have sent down enough money to cover a million of them by expanding Medicaid. But Florida lawmakers rejected that in favor of a state-based plan. 

Three proposals are on the table which would cover between 60,000 to a million uninsured Floridians, but with time running out, no clear path in sight, some say it’s time for a compromise.

The Florida House has reinforced its decision not to accept any federal funding to extend health insurance coverage to people who would have otherwise qualified to it under the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the House is going with its own scaled back plan which received approval from the chamber’s health committee set up to examine the law.

Florida House of Representatives

Reactions to a house plan expanding health insurance coverage to an additional 115,000 uninsured Floridians is getting the cold shoulder from Governor Rick Scott and healthcare groups. The measure is the House's response to the federal Medicaid expansion, which lawmakers rejected last month.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Representative Richard Corcoran have crafted an alternative to the Federal Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The plan is similar to one in the Senate by Aaron Bean that relies on state funding only to allow more people to purchase private health insurance plans.

A “Plan C” alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law is now moving through the Senate. The proposal by Republican Senator Aaron Bean, cleared its first committee on a party line vote.

The Florida Senate

Florida lawmakers rejected an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act but are coming up with alternatives.

Republicans balked at the expansion, saying federal support can’t be guaranteed. They grumbled at a proposal by Sen. Joe Negron that relies on federal Medicaid money to steer the eligible population into the state’s kidcare program, but another Senator is putting forth an alternative to that alternative which would cover fewer people, and doesn’t rely on federal money.

"Bean-Care" Released As Alternative To Medicaid Expansion

Apr 1, 2013

In a possible alternative to expanding Medicaid, a Senate committee Tuesday is expected to take up a proposal aimed at helping low-income Floridians get health services --- while turning down billions of dollars in federal money.

The proposal, which Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean has helped draw up, would create the "Health Choice Plus Program" and would target adults whose incomes are below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

Senator Joe Negron’s bill, SPB 7038, otherwise known as “Negron-Care” got a unanimous vote by the chamber’s appropriations committee. And Democrats, who wanted the state to expand Medicaid eligibility to more people under the Affordable Care Act, thanked Negron for crafting an alternative route.

“I support...cautiously support today, this first step. I want to thank Sen. Negron for not just shutting the door in saying no, but coming up with something that gets us started down the road toward where we want to be," said Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith.

Florida Senate

Sen. Joe Negron (R-Plant City) has released his proposal to cover an additional million low-income people who would have otherwise been eligible for Medicaid under the federal healthcare law.

The proposal will be heard Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee.