Senator Bill Galvano

Cars on a road during Sunset
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Governor Ron DeSantis has approved a measure that could pave the way for the state’s first major highway expansion in decades. The effort has been led by state Senate President Bill Galvano who pushed the roads as a way to aid in evacuations, promote growth in rural parts of the state and help transport an ever growing population. But environmentalists argue the idea could be a disaster for fragile ecosystems. 

florida criminal justice
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The Florida House passed a comprehensive criminal justice reform package Monday. But major differences still exist between the Senate and House versions.

Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center
Veterans Affairs Administration

The Senate is moving forward with certificate of need repeal. But some call the move a dramatic shift that reneges on weeks of work. The plan to scrap hospital regulations points to a bigger picture about the legislative process.

Capitol building at night
Erich Martin

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is the driving force behind a new transportation plan coming up for another committee discussion in the Senate Tuesday. But the measure could face a bumpy road in the House.

Steve Cannon / AP Photo

Senate President Bill Galvano’s transportation bill passed its first committee today but not without debate from those who are opposed to the proposal. And they’re not the only ones who don’t see eye to eye with Galvano, Governor Ron DeSantis is also opposed to a plan that would more toll roads to be built in Florida.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida’s House and Senate leaders ushered in the 2019 Legislative Session Tuesday with their opening remarks – but their respective speeches differed in tone.

This antique store in Blountstown was severely damaged by Hurricane Michael. (October 2018)
Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Hurricane Michael has caused an estimated $25 billion in damages, according to the federal government. Efforts to get dollars into North Florida are slow and causing frustration.

Health care florida
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As health care continues to take up a growing slice of the state’s budget, House Speaker Jose Oliva has set his eyes on market reform. 

AP / Brynn Anderson

Gov. Ron DeSantis has rolled out his budget proposal for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. It follows through on key campaign promises like environmental protection, education and infrastructure.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Leaders in state government gathered Wednesday as they do every year for the Associated Press’ Legislative Planning Session. Each came to voice priorities for the coming session and field questions from the Capital press corps. From education to medical marijuana to infrastructure, WFSU was on hand to catch it all. The following is an overview of what speakers, including the entire Florida Cabinet, brought to the table:

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida’s new Governor Ron DeSantis hosted state lawmakers for a luncheon shortly after his inauguration Tuesday. The leaders of both legislative chambers say they want to help DeSantis realize his agenda.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis held a “Thought Leaders Luncheon” Monday ahead of his inauguration, inviting a panel of Republican politicians to share their vision for the state going forward.

Bill Galvano
Sen. Bill Galvano

Florida Senate Pres. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) finalized committee assignments for the 2018 to 2020 legislative sessions. 

Florida Legislature

The Florida Legislature convened in Tallahassee before the Thanksgiving holiday for an organizational session. New lawmakers were sworn in, and new leaders were installed.

Chief Justice Charles Canady administered the oath of office to senators in groups of five. Then,  Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) was nominated unopposed to be the 88th Florida Senate President. Galvano was elected to the chamber in 2012 and previously served in the Florida House. 

Florida Senate

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano stands by his decision to keep funds in the so-called Guardian program.

This comes after Governor Rick Scott asked the Legislature to move the remaining funds to school districts so they can hire more officers.

Leon Evans, a former inmate, counts himself as a success of Transition House, a reentry program to help inmates have an easier time to transition back into society.
Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Some blame the state legislature for not fully funding Florida’s corrections budget. Prison officials say that led to them making some hard choices. Among those choices: cutting funding to programs helpful to inmates trying to transition back into society—as we hear in the last installment of Sascha Cordner’s two-part series.

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones meets with inmates at the Wakulla Correctional Institution, March 8, 2016.
Florida Department of Corrections facebook

The state budget officially went into effect earlier this month. That includes Florida’s prison budget, which led to prison officials cutting funding to programs helpful to inmates trying to transition back into society. While some blame the Florida legislature, others want to stop playing the blame game and move forward. In the first installment of her series, WFSU's Sascha Cordner digs into what led up to this point.

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The Florida House has now teed up gun safety legislation for a vote, in response to last month’s mass shooting at a South Florida high school. They agreed Tuesday to take up the Senate version of the bill that narrowly passed Monday. While language was stripped from that bill to exclude most classroom teachers, opponents argue the “compromise” could still arm school staff, like coaches.

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The Florida Senate has passed a school safety bill putting new restrictions on rifle sales and allowing some teachers to carry guns. It's dubbed the "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act."

Florida Senate Tees Up Gun Safety Legislation For Monday Vote

Mar 3, 2018
Sen. Bill Galvano's twitter

The Florida Senate held a rare Saturday session, discussing legislation aimed at making schools safer, following the February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 14 students and three faculty members dead.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Some gun safety proposals passed their first Florida Senate committee without an assault weapons ban. While top GOP lawmakers are calling the effort bipartisan, some Democrats pushing for more gun reforms disagree.

Gov. Rick Scott, Broward Superintendent Rob Runcie and Broward Sheriff Scott Israel discuss Parkland school shooting.
PBS NewsHour screenshot

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting that left 17 people dead, politicians on the state and national level are weighing in on what can be done legislatively.

Lawmakers Debate University Performance Funding

Feb 13, 2018
Florida A&M University's Lee Hall
famunews.com

An education bill is sparking debate about how universities receive performance funding and lawmakers are facing an important decision about the future of the program.

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The full Florida Senate is preparing to take up a modified version of the House’s tax cut proposal.  But a property tax measure may be more important to House leaders.

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Spending offers are flying back and forth between House and Senate leaders.  But Nick Evans reports time is running short on this year’s legislative session.

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