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Capital Report: 02-27-2012

The Florida Senate and House could begin budget negotiations this week.  Leaders have held informal talks about the differences between the two proposed spending plans.  James Call reports, the Senate’s top budget writer says there are a couple of issues that need to be resolved before a conference committee will be appointed to finalize the state spending plan for next year. 

The Florida House has agreed to start negotiating with the Senate on the proposed creation of a 12th public university in the state of Florida. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the measure had several Democrats asking why a new school is needed:

Florida House and Senate conferees have conferees have begun trying to work out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the new state budget. Nearly all the budget-balancing emphasis has been on spending cuts, but one way to boost state revenue is still alive in the Senate. Tom Flanigan reports a Capital City meeting was the site of a pro-and-con debate on that idea… 

A proposed rewrite of Florida’s high school sports rules has come under fire from a coalition of groups that say the bills are a retaliatory move by a small group of sore losers. Lynn Hatter reports critics of the legislation say it will eliminate barriers to high school recruiting.

The Florida Senate is saying goodbye to some long-time lawmakers. Regan McCarthy reports term limits will keep about a dozen lawmakers from returning to the chamber in the next  regular legislative session.

Occupy Orlando activists have their sights on some bills moving through the Florida Legislature. Over the weekend, they hosted what they called the “All Share Weekend” to draw attention to such issues as foreclosures, homelessness and increasing tuition at state universities. Seán Kinane from member station WMNF reports, while basketball fans were focused on the city’s NBA All-Star Game, Occupy Orlando held their own, less flashy, celebration.