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A bill allowing the surviving spouses of first responders to receive proper death benefits is now headed to Governor Rick Scott. This could mark the end of a contentious debate over pension reform this year.

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The Florida House passed a controversial bill making changes to Florida’s Retirement System.

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A bill stemming from the death of a fallen sheriff’s deputy is putting the House and Senate at odds over a pension reform proposal.

Lawmakers Want More SROs In Public Schools

Jan 8, 2016
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Two Democratic lawmakers have plans to expand law enforcement in public schools.

Computer Coding Classes Could Be On The Horizon

Dec 3, 2015
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Senator Jeremy Ring of Margate wants to allow high schools to give foreign language credit for computer coding classes.

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Pension reform is slated to come up during the 2015 legislative session. So, could this be the year local pension reform actually comes to pass? What about overhauling Florida’s Retirement System that opponents say is already sound? We'll take a look at what stakeholders are hoping for in the New Year.

Robert Weissert is the Chief Research Officer for Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog group, which recently released its annual cost savings report. One area Weissert says state government could save some money is by overhauling the Florida Retirement System.

Florida Senate

A bipartisan local pension reform bill has been filed for the third year in a row. The measure died earlier this year after it was tied to a controversial effort to overhaul Florida’s Retirement system.

After the issue died during the 2014 session, should Florida lawmakers revisit a push to make changes to municipal pensions largely affecting police and firefighter unions? A coalition made up of mainly business-backed groups say yes. But, some say while they agree, the recent formation of the coalition pushing for local pension reform is disingenuous.

Bill To Be Filed In 2015

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The Florida House passed a bill Friday that merges two pension reform proposals: one dealing with local pensions and another dealing with the state’s pension system. But, it’s unclear what will happen in the other chamber now that the combined bill is still two separate proposals in the Senate.

Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) is one of the sponsors of the merged House proposal. He contributed the part of the proposal that deals with overhauling the Florida Retirement System.

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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.

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A pension reform proposal is now heading to the House floor, while its Senate companion just cleared its first official committee. While both now scaled-back bills have their differences, they have an equal amount of opposition from public employees and most Democrats stacked against them.

Trilby Republican Senator Wilton Simpson’s bill has gone through several changes, and Thursday, during the Senate Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, it was no different.

Sean Winters

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would ensure the coaches and officials of youth athletic leagues undergo a background check. Some say the proposal is a homerun, while others are crying foul.

Fiscal Impact Of Tech Agency Still Uncertain

Mar 5, 2014
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Florida lawmakers are hoping the creation of a new state information technology agency might save taxpayers money. But, despite a unanimous vote of support, not everyone is certain that it will and some are questioning the bill’s chances of becoming law.

Margate Democratic Senator Jeremy Ring gave the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government a deluge of reasons for consolidating the state’s technology within a single, standalone agency. Ring mentioned how Florida is the only state without a Chief Information Officer.

New IT Agency Haunted By Past Failures

Feb 14, 2014
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The state of Florida is one step closer to creating an agency dedicated to streamlining how the state implements technology. But, this is the Sunshine State’s second crack at an IT Agency – its last ended in disappointment. Now, some wonder if this iteration is doomed to repeat past failures.

A Florida House bill would double the penalty for texting while driving through school zones. One of the bill’s sponsors says, although he’d like to enact a texting ban with more teeth, a small change to last year’s texting ban has a better chance of passing the Legislature.

The state’s texting ban is too weak, according to Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston), because it allows ticketing only after drivers are pulled over for something else. But he says because that watered-down ban barely passed the Legislature, he doesn’t foresee a full-on ban passing just months later.

A Florida lawmaker is hoping to expand newborn screenings to include testing for congenital heart disease. A bill that would do so passed in the Senate Health Policy Committee Wednesday.

All babies born in the U.S. are checked for certain medical conditions after birth. In Florida, newborns are screened for more than 30 conditions. But Democratic Senator Jeremy Ring says there’s an important one that’s not on the list, which is why he filed a bill to include it.

When Florida researchers have a great idea for a new drug or other technology, they can hire private consultants to help bring their brainchild to life in the marketplace. Or they can get business help—for free—from the state-run tech incubator. That organization is saying, it’s been so successful that the Florida Legislature should invest five times as much in it this year. 

Florida State University professor and researcher Jacob VanLandingham has developed a drug he said should reduce the long-term effects of brain injury after a concussion:

Fla. Bill Aims To Fast Track Autism Diagnoses

Dec 20, 2012

Getting an autism diagnosis for children could be quicker and easier, if a bill filed in the Florida Senate becomes law. 

The bill’s sponsor says the autism-diagnosis bill is especially relevant right now, as mass shootings are putting behavioral disorders in the spotlight. Sen. Jeremy Ring, (D- Margate), has tried to pass the measure several times before, but opponents have cited its fiscal impact in the past.