legislature 2012

A Florida lawmaker says he is no longer seeking re-election, after his name was linked to a prostitution ring in Orlando. While Republican Representative Mike Horner removed himself from consideration, the State Attorney’s office in Orlando says the lawmaker is not under investigation.

In a statement Monday, Representative Horner says he “deeply regrets decisions he made that are causing his family unjustifiable pain and embarrassment.” He says he's dropping out of the House District 42 race, and he hopes to earn back the trust and respect of his family.

The Florida Association of Counties has officially announced it will soon challenge a new Medicaid law that is expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. As Sascha Cordner reports, while supporters of the law say the counties are just trying to avoid paying what they owe, the counties say they shouldn’t be forced to pay $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills due to mistakes in the state’s billing system.

A bill that would help create the state’s 12th public university is now in the hands of Governor Rick Scott. As Sascha Cordner reports, the bill’s most influential backer made a trip to Tallahassee to petition the Governor to approve his bill.

Senate Budget chief JD Alexander says he feels good about the discussion he had with Governor Rick Scott Thursday regarding his bill, Senate Bill 1994.

Alexander has been a huge advocate of splitting University of South Florida from its Polytechnic Campus, thus creating the state’s next public university.

Two of the state’s top public universities lobbied the Governor for two hours Thursday to sign a bill that would allow them to raise tuition beyond what is normally allowed. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, Governor Rick Scott, who’s opposed to tuition increases, says he’s still not sure where he stands.

A new law signed by Governor Rick Scott requires Florida’s 67 counties to pay more than $300 million in disputed Medicaid bills. Now Lynn Hatter reports, the counties are considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the legislature’s attempt to recoup that money.

Florida counties have to pay a portion of long-term hospital stays and nursing home care.  Up until about four years ago, they had been paying the majority of their bills. But in 2008 the state switched its billing system. And counties say the new one is full of billing errors.

A Democratic lawmaker is firing back against arguments recently raised by Tea Party activists regarding a bi-partisan energy bill now on the Governor’s desk. Sascha Cordner has more.

During a recent news conference, a group of Tea Party activists talked about their efforts in urging Governor Rick Scott to veto a comprehensive energy bill, that they claim picks “winners and losers.” But, Democratic Representative Jeff Clemens says their arguments don’t make sense:

Lawmakers are now scrambling to raise money for their re-election campaigns. As Sascha Cordner reports, one incumbent lawmaker is catching up with new candidates, who got an earlier start.

Republican Representative Scott Plakon says in just 12 days, he managed to raise 53-thousand dollars for his own campaign, thanks to 200 contributors.

An anti-abortion group is asking Floridians to approve amendment six when they see it on the ballot this year. Regan McCarthy reports the proposed amendment would prohibit tax payer dollars from being used to fund abortions except in certain cases like rape. It would also pave the way for lawmakers to pass legislation that requires parents to give their consent before their minor child undergoes an abortion.

Thousands of Tea Party activists are calling on Governor Rick Scott to veto an energy bill that received bipartisan approval from the Florida Legislature and has the backing of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. As Sascha Cordner reports, the groups say the legislation will have a negative impact on Florida’s future energy policy.

“Government, get out of our lives!”

The Florida Democratic Party and the Fair Districts Coalition are joining the fight against the Senate’s voting district maps. Regan McCarthy reports the maps are headed to the state Supreme Court for a second review after the justices found the chamber’s first maps unconstitutional.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith says he doesn’t think the Senate’s second set of voting district maps follow the guidelines in the constitution any more closely than the first.

Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday signed a four bills he’s calling a jobs package.  James Call reports the measures include a host of tax cuts for businesses and renames the state’s unemployment compensation system a reemployment assistance program.

Leaders of Florida business community surrounded the governor for the ceremonial bill signing.

The Republican-dominated Florida House approved a Senate redistricting map drawn to fix errors identified by the Supreme Court.  However, James Call reports, Democrats are calling on the justices to again strike down what they call an incumbent-protection scheme.

The next stage in the once-a-decade process of dividing Florida into legislative districts is a return engagement at the Florida Supreme Court. House Redistricting Chairman, Wesley Chapel Republican Will Weatherford appears unconcerned that Democrats are calling on the court to reject the plan.

The board that oversees Florida’s public schools and colleges held its first meeting since the conclusion of the legislative session. Lynn Hatter reports the group applauded the inclusion of extra money for public schools and say they’ll try again next year on agenda items that came up short.

The redistricting debate now moves to the House. The Republican-dominated Florida Senate passed a revised map of senate districts designed to fix constitutional flaws identified by the Florida Supreme Court. However, James Call reports there are Democrats who say the plan still violates new anti-gerrymandering standards.

The Florida Senate Reapportionment Committee was scheduled to vote a new redistricting plan Tuesday but got bogged down on procedural issues. James Call reports, the panel agreed to delay final action until Wednesday.

How did State workers fare this session? From the voting down of the prison privatization bill to the passage of a drug-testing bill, the general consensus seems to be better than last session, but not by much. Sascha Cordner has more.

“All state workers, in my opinion, fear whenever the Legislature comes in town.”

Unlike past years the education agenda took a backseat to more pressing issues—mainly the once-a-decade redistricting process. But at times, the annual fight over funding, vouchers, prayers and charter schools rose to the forefront. Lynn Hatter takes a look at what passed, what didn’t and what’s sure to come again next year.

The Republican- controlled Florida Legislature is working on a new map for state senate districts. The Florida Supreme Court invalidated a previous proposal, saying it did not follow new rules approved by voters. James Call reports a plan has been posted to the Senate Reapportionment Committee website and will be discussed at a Tuesday meeting with a Senate floor vote scheduled for the end of next week.

Environmental activists say this isn’t the worst legislative session the state’s ecosystem has seen but it’s certainly not the best either. Regan McCarthy reports environmentalists are raising concerns about a number of measures headed for the governor’s desk.

So how did the environment fair this legislative session?

Florida Governor Rick Scott may have arrived in Tallahassee as an outsider but if his influence on the Florida Legislature is any indication, he has become a Capitol insider.  James Call reports, Scott pretty much got everything he wanted from the just concluded legislative session, his second as governor.

Governor Rick Scott got the legislation he wanted to reform Florida’s mandatory motor vehicle law. James Call reports supporters of the measure say it cracks down on fraud in personal injury protection cases and will lead to lower premiums for consumers.

The Florida Senate has rejected a proposal that would have given parents a greater say in the fate of failing public schools. The bill had been stalled all week as opponents worked to gather enough votes to kill it and as Lynn Hatter reports, after more than an hour and a half of questions and debate, the Senate made its decision.

After passing on a party-line vote in the House last week, a bi-partisan coalition of Senators found the 20 votes necessary to kill the so-called parent-trigger bill:

The Florida Supreme Court says the Senate’s new voting district maps are unconstitutional. Regan McCarthy reports today marks the last constitutionally required day of Florida’s 60-day regular legislative session, but the Supreme court’s ruling means lawmakers will have to come back to Tallahassee for a special session to sort out the maps.

It’s now up to the Governor to decide if state employees should be required to “pee in a cup.” As Sascha Cordner reports, a bill allowing state agencies to randomly drug-test their employees passed in the Florida Senate on the last day of session, but not without heated debate.

When Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order last year mandating the drug testing of all state workers, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida immediately filed a lawsuit and the order is still tied up in litigation.

For the past few lawmaking sessions, a true artist has been laboring in the fourth floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports there’s a reason Sculptor Michael Jernigan is creating his latest project in one of the Capitol’s busiest places…