Senator Jack Latvala

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater)
Nick Evans

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) is running for governor.  The outspoken budget chief filed his paperwork Friday.

Florida Channel

State employees will be getting a pay raise this year, under a proposal now heading to the Senate floor. But, it’s tied to a controversial pension reform issue and health insurance reform package backed by the House.

DXR via wikimedia commons

The full Florida Senate is preparing to take up a modified version of the House’s tax cut proposal.  But a property tax measure may be more important to House leaders.

Budget conference beginning.
Nick Evans

Budget talks have begun—or at least the public face of them have started.  Lawmakers are planning an extremely tight timeline.

Getty Images

Amid budget negotiations, the House and Senate may be using the revival of a controversial pension reform package as a means to get on the same page.

MGN Online

A bill building on Florida’s anti-human trafficking efforts is now heading to both the House and Senate floors.

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.

The Florida Senate Rules Committee discussing its proposal for a new joint rule.
Nick Evans

Florida’s legislative session is less than a month away, but House and Senate members might have other concerns on their minds.  The Senate is demanding revisions in the House’s new appropriation rules. 

Florida Channel

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

Governor Rick Scott's twitter

The Florida Senate’s new budget chair is coming out in support of Governor Rick Scott’s plan to provide pay raises for the state’s law enforcement agencies.

MGN Online

Two bills aimed at protecting victims of sex-related crimes are now headed to Governor Rick Scott.

MyFloridaLegal.com

A bill requiring human trafficking awareness signs be posted at certain businesses and other areas of the state is now headed to the Governor, after receiving final Senate approval.

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater)
The Florida Channel

The Senate Commerce and Tourism committee took up the state’s growler ban Monday.  Measures doing away with the state’s restriction continue to march forward in both chambers of the Legislature.

The Brewing Liberty Caucus at Proof Brewing in Railroad Square.
Nick Evans

This week state lawmakers let their hair down at a Tallahassee watering hole to inaugurate the Brewing Liberty Caucus.  The informal coalition is hoping to make lasting changes this session. 

Rep. Steube (R-Sarasota) explaining his bill to the House Business and Professions subcommittee.
The Florida Channel

Liquor sales could move under the same roof as the neighborhood grocery store under a measure making its way through the Florida House.  State lawmakers wrangled over the issue Wednesday.

Florida law requires stores selling liquor to put spirits like whiskey, rum, and vodka behind another storefront.  Rep. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) says the state’s requirement for liquor stores to have their own exterior entrance is outdated.

The Florida Channel

Senators are issuing a stern warning to the state’s beer distributors: check your opposition at the door.  Lawmakers seem determined to settle ongoing disputes between the craft brewing and distribution industries.

What craft brewers need is the ability to serve their beer where they brew it, in what’s known as a tap or tasting rooms.  What they really want is the growler.  The 64 ounce refillable bottle is illegal in Florida, but the state’s craft brewers think it’s the perfect size for their growing industry. 

Florida is one of only two states in the country with a 64 ounce restriction.  The other is Utah.
Kim Salmons via Flickr

Craft-brewing in Florida is big business getting bigger, but many within the community are unhappy about a certain size restriction.  In Florida it's legal to fill large bottles known as growlers—just not in the industry-standard size of 64 ounces.  But the craft brewing community is mobilizing again this year to get rid of the size regulation.

Mike and Bobby Carbonell are brothers and they run a little shop called Growler Country. 

Getty Images

A couple of NRA-backed priorities died in the Florida Senate Thursday. The issues centered around one bill that that would allow people to legally carry a concealed weapon without a permit during a mandatory evacuation and another issue relating to tweaking Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

Emergency Concealed Carry Bill

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

The sponsor of a measure aimed at overhauling the state’s pension system says that effort’s dead, but bill supporters and opponents alike say they won’t declare the win or loss until the 2014 Legislative Session comes to an end.

It’s Day 59 of the 60-day legislative Session. But, with session coming close to close, a procedural move by Clearwater Republican Senator Jack Latvala Wednesday may have blocked this year’s effort to overhaul the state’s pension system.

Getty Images / Getty Images

Overhauling the Florida Retirement System could be up in the air, after a procedural move in the Senate may have blocked that chamber from taking up a similar effort that merges both the state pension overhaul and a non-controversial effort to fix a troubled local pension system.

Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee)—who has the biggest number of public employees in his North Florida district—says he questions the need for an effort to overhaul the state’s pension system, which he says Legislature tries to do almost every year.

Getty Images

The Senate’s pension reform proposal is now heading to the floor, after it passed its last committee Tuesday. But, tension surrounding the pension issue is mounting as those opposed say they’re tired of the legislature’s continual attacks on state workers.

Beverly Ledbetter is a longtime resident of Pasco County. She’s a former teacher who taught for 36 years, and she’s now receiving benefits under the Florida Retirement System’s defined benefit plan known as the traditional pension plan. But, she says it wasn’t always that way.

Gabe Grass
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Florida’s craft beer brewers have been pushing for years to remove a law keeping them from selling containers of a certain size. But a Senate bill that does away with that restriction also adds a different rule brewers say would hurt their booming business.

Following a national trend, the number of craft breweries in Tallahassee is expected to double in the near future. In a warehouse six blocks from the Florida Capitol, Gabe Grass is about to open the third microbrewery within a mile radius.

MGN Online

A Senate proposal to overhaul the Florida Retirement System could have its first official committee hearing later this week. But, The recently scaled-back proposal—already starting to move in the House—could still be in trouble in the Senate.

Last week, the House State Affairs Committee agreed to advance a measure aimed at overhauling the state’s retirement system.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections

A Senate Committee bill introduced Monday would prohibit absentee ballots from being dropped off anywhere other than election supervisors’ offices or polling locations. The bill would also allow voters to register online—but the measure remains controversial and could still change before it gets to the floor.

Pelican Post

As Florida lawmakers look to overhaul the state’s retirement system, there are multiple hurdles ahead for the pension reform proposals now before the Senate. The two chambers haven’t agreed on a plan yet, a special exemption is splitting employee unions, and a study with the necessary numbers is not yet complete—pitting some Republicans against one another.

Trilby Republican Senator Wilton Simpson, who’s leading his chamber’s effort, says he’s particularly proud of the “Deferred Compensation” program.

Pages