Senate President Joe Negron

 The Army Corp of Engineers releases water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River because of heavy rains.
Credit Dale/flickr / Flickr

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says changes to the Senate’s plan to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee make the proposal better, but he’s refusing to cave on one big issue: whether to borrow money to finance the system.

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami)
Anitere Flores facebook

A decades old subsidy for the insurance industry is shedding light on differing approaches for cutting taxes in the state.  A Senate panel approved a plan to plow the money into reducing a business rent tax.

In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a measure to convert Medicaid insurance into a managed care system. But Republican lawmakers now want to take the program away from “big businesses” and change it into a block grant system. But Medicaid providers said if that happens low income families will lose access to health care.

Environmental groups are raising concerns about the Senate’s dramatically expanded plan to fight massive toxic algae blooms carpeting South Florida waterways.

The crowd waiting for the hearing.
Nick Evans

One of the most controversial spending programs of this year’s session passed its second committee stop Wednesday.  The reservoir project championed by Senate President Joe Negron raises conflicting concerns with supporters and opponents.

The Florida Capitol Building from Adams Street
Steven Martin via Flikr / WFSU News

The 2017 Legislative Session is off to a tense start, with politicians already butting heads over the all-important budget. The fight could spell disaster for freshmen lawmakers hoping to earn their keep in the statehouse.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O Lakes) flanked by top lieutenant Rep. Jose Oliva (R-Miami)
Nick Evans

The Florida legislative session has begun, which means it’s time to get serious about the state’s budget.  But the past few months of prologue have done little to bring the parties together.

Florida Channel

What’s ahead legislatively for Florida prison and juvenile justice systems?

House Speaker Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran via twitter / https://twitter.com/richardcorcoran

One of the big debates taking shape this legislative session is about state involvement in economic development. The capitol’s powerbrokers are picking sides in the battle, which is threatening to derail session before it even begins.

Kaiser Family Foundation / kff.org

Top Florida Republican lawmakers are heading to Washington D.C. soon to discuss potential healthcare changes with their Congressional counterparts. They want President Donald Trump’s administration to blockgrant Medicaid funding. But some Floridians worry the sick and the poor will lose their health insurance.

The issue of hydraulic fracturing has long been highly controversial in Florida, and now it’s opening up a fissure in the Republican-led Senate. There are competing fracking bills, and the chamber's leader is staying mum on where he stands.

Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores
Anitere Flores via Facebook / https://www.facebook.com/anitere/?ref=page_internal

Senator Anitere Flores has spoken out against hydraulic fracturing in Florida, voted against it and written guest editorials. But the Miami Republican is sending her strongest message yet.

Sugar worker unions are adding their voice to opponents of a $2.4 billion reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

DXR via wikimedia commons

Florida’s governor, House speaker and Senate president are circling one another looking for leverage on their own budget priorities.

Sen. Joe Negron speaks to reporters about HB 819. He's urging Gov. Rick Scott not to veto the bill.
LHatter / WFSU News

Florida senate president Joe Negron said he’s not concerned Governor Rick Scott’s budget doesn’t include money for his proposed $2.4 billion reservoir in South Florida.

Florida Channel

If Governor Rick Scott gets his way, Florida’s correctional and probation officers will receive a pay bump.

iStockphoto

A top priority for Senate President Joe Negron aimed at decriminalizing adolescence passed its first committee hearing Monday, but not without some concerns.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
The Florida Channel

Late last year it appeared state officials were staking out a position against financing land purchases with new bonds.  Now that resistance may be softening slightly. 

Senate President Joe Negron’s $2.4 billion plan to protect South Florida waterways from another toxic-algae sliming received a Luke-warm legislative debut. Behind the scenes, the South Florida Water Management District was launching torpedoes.

Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen via Flickr

Everglades Foundation vice-president Thomas Van Lant’s testimony before a Florida Senate committee on Everglades restoration has been pushed back. But the Everglades Foundation CEO said he and Van Lant will keep pushing their plan for the park’s restoration.

The Florida Public Defender Association says making holistic changes to the state’s criminal justice system would make it more fair and save money. But some lawmakers seem to be focused just on juvenile justice reform.

Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee)
Florida Senate / Florida Senate

For the first time in two decades, the Republican-led Florida Senate is getting its first black Democratic criminal justice chair. It's a former state Representative turned Senate freshman.

In the 1980's, a teen-aged Joe Negron was caught planting a Ronald Reagan yard sign at the Jupiter Island home of Dorothy Bush, grandmother of President George W. Bush. Negron avoided arrest by undoing the damage.

Senate President Joe Negron is getting high marks from environmentalists for his campaign to clean up Lake Okeechobee runoff, but the Port St. Lucie Republican isn’t willing, at least yet, to ban hydraulic fracturing in Florida.

Sarah Mueller / WFSU

Groups of protestors swarmed in front of the Florida State Senate chamber Monday, calling for the state’s 29 electors to flip their vote from President-elect Donald Trump. But as expected, electors stayed the course.

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