Senator Rob Bradley

Let the games continue!

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming) is pushing for a year extension of an agreement between the Seminole Tribe of Florida  and Florida that gives the Tribe exclusive rights for some games.  

The Seminole Tribe  wants to renew an exclusive gambling contract with the state. The Florida Senate is preparing a plan to extend part of the agreement with the Tribe to allow games such as blackjack at six tribe-owned casinos for another year.

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As the Florida Senate began to consider an omnibus bill to reform Florida’s troubled prison system, a Florida House committee has now also started to look into its own comprehensive reform package. But, there’s already one major difference between the two measures.

Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) listening to Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner on her thoughts on his omnibus prison reform bill Wednesday..
Florida Channel

A comprehensive prison reform package cleared another Senate committee Wednesday. But, at the bill’s next stop, the measure may look a little different due to some bipartisan concerns with the omnibus bill.

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A bill making it illegal for local law enforcement agencies to require officers to issue certain number of tickets may have some changes in store, after it passed another Senate panel Wednesday.

Sen. Rob Bradley’s (R-Fleming Island) bill wants to prevent what occurred at the small North Florida town he represents called Waldo. It’s seen as one of the nation’s worst speed traps and eventually had to disband its police force over the issue.

MGN Online

A Senate panel unanimously passed an omnibus package aimed at reforming Florida’s troubled prison system Monday. It includes creating a nine-member oversight board that can do surprise inspections, convene public hearings, and conduct independent investigations of correctional facilities. That part is authored by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island).

Florida Channel

A bill that previously mandated law enforcement wear body cameras, which passed its first Senate panel Monday, has a new change. It’s a measure that now allows law enforcement agencies to decide whether to use the cameras and puts forth standard guidelines.

The newest change to Sen. Chris Smith’s (D-Fort Lauderdale) bill—made Monday—is aimed at addressing residents’ privacy concerns.  

Florida Channel

In the coming weeks, a Senate panel is slated to take up a comprehensive prison reform proposal aimed at fixing Florida’s troubled prison system.

It’s been months since Senate President Andy Gardiner tasked Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker)—the Senate Criminal Justice Committee chairman—with writing a comprehensive prison reform package to help fix a system plagued by inmate deaths and inmate abuse allegations. Gardiner says these are serious issues.  

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. 

MGN Online

A panel of lawmakers have unanimously passed a bill prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from establishing traffic ticket quotas.

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) says his bill stems from the small north Florida town of Waldo known as one of the nation’s worst speed traps. That area’s police force later disbanded.

Florida Department of Corrections

Prison privatization has been a contentious issue in Florida—even costing one Florida Department of Corrections’ Secretary his job. But, after the latest DOC head made some candid remarks on the topic, could she now be backtracking?

Florida Channel

Lawmakers are hoping the newly appointed head of Florida’s prison system can clean up the troubled agency plagued with suspicious deaths and allegations of inmate abuse.

Julie Jones, the fourth permanent Florida Department of Corrections Secretary under Governor Rick Scott, has only been in her post for a couple weeks. But she says she’s ready to make some changes.

MGN Online

During their first week back, Florida lawmakers discussed some ways to reform the state’s prison system—currently plagued by allegations of inmate abuse by prison guards and cover ups.

Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. And, during a recent hearing, he briefed lawmakers on an overview of what’s been going on with the troubled prison system.

Florida Channel

Some Florida lawmakers are questioning whether the state’s prison agency plagued by allegations of inmate abuse can be trusted to accurately report suspicious inmate deaths. That issue arose in a Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing Monday.

MGN Online

During the week after New Year’s, Florida lawmakers are slated to come back into Tallahassee for the start of committee weeks. And, on their first day back, one Senate panel is looking at ways to help Florida’s troubled prison system.

First, Senate Criminal Justice Committee members will hear introductory remarks from the panel’s chair: Republican Senator Greg Evers.

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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.

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.

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

Department of Juvenile Justice

Florida’s counties say the state owes them money. They claim they’ve been overcharged for helping pay the cost of juveniles in detention centers. The two sides appear close to reaching a deal on how to split the costs going forward—but a conflict is brewing over whether the state should have to reimburse the counties for past expenses.

Florida Channel

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.

State Attorney's Office

State Attorneys say they’re against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.  At least one of those prosecutors says he’s also dead set against the so-called bipartisan tweak bill now moving in the Senate.

Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs is railing against an NRA-backed provision in the bill that he insists would “make a bad policy a lot worse.” He says he opposes Stand Your Ground because Florida residents no longer feel they have the duty to retreat in a situation that could call for it.

MGN Online

Based on two separate Supreme Court decisions, state lawmakers are now tasked with reforming Florida’s juvenile sentencing laws. But, the Senate’s latest revamp is drawing mixed reviews.

According to the federal court decisions from 2010 and 2012, juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or some kind of review. That’s regardless of their crime whether they committed a serious felony or convicted of murder. But Florida’s state laws haven’t caught up.

Christopher Neugebauer

Under Orange Park Republican Senator Rob Bradley’s bill, state and local government offices currently flying U.S. flags made in other counties would have to take those down and buy new ones.

“So, if they have any flags in their possession, then they don’t need to be using them if this were to become law and they can take care of those flags in the manner... there’s certain protocols and rules for how to handle American Flags when they’re done being used,” Bradley said.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Procedural changes are in store for Florida’s criminal justice system. State lawmakers must address the escapes of several felons who used forged court documents to secure their release. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also reviewing its crime lab operations, after the recent arrest of a former chemist suspected of tampering with drug evidence in multiple cases.

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers say they’re not giving up on a failed effort to address juvenile sentencing reform. They’re responding to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling juveniles cannot face a life sentence without the possibility of parole, even if they committed a serious felony or murder. But, the legislative effort to do that is contentious as some spar over whether these juveniles deserve a second chance.

Ex-Juvenile Offender Gets Second Chance

When Ellis Curry was 16-years-old, he was convicted of murder and armed robbery.

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