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Capital Report: 03-07-2012

Florida lawmakers say a sluggish economy forced them to slash spending on health care and the state university system. They say a nearly $2 billion shortfall forced them to reassess priorities and eliminate about a thousand state jobs. However, James Call reports, lawmakers were able to find millions of dollars for members’ hometown projects. 

Florida Democrats have sharp words for the Republican Party’s education policy initiatives this year. That includes tuition hikes and university budget cuts, along with the creation of a 12th state university and what they see as not enough money for traditional public schools. But Lynn Hatter reports their outcry may be a little too late.

A contentious bill that paves the way for inspirational messages in public schools is headed for Governor Scott's desk. As Jessica Palombo of member station W-J-C-T reports, opponents of the bill fear it will open up Florida's school districts to costly litigation.

A measure that would let the state’s governor remove a majority of the members of Florida’s judicial nominating commission has passed in the Senate—that’s the commission that helps pick  judges  like the state’s supreme court justices. But Regan McCarthy reports some lawmakers are raising concerns that the proposal could give the governor too much power – letting him ensure the state’s bench is made up of people who “think like him.”

Opponents of a bill that would ban courts from making a decision on certain cases based on foreign law are trying a last ditch effort to get a bill voted down on the Senate Floor. As Sascha Cordner reports, while the bill’s sponsors say they’re trying to make Florida courts pure, others are calling it an attack on religion.