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ADVANCES: WEEK OF MARCH 26, 2017
STAFF |
Florida lawmakers will take up numerous high-profile issues during the coming week, including term limits for appellate judges, elimination of a Depression-era law known as the "liquor wall" and statewide regulations for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft... Read the Advances

WEEKLY ROUNDUP: A THIRD OF THE WAY THERE (MAYBE)
BRANDON LARRABEE |
One-third of the way through this year's legislative session --- assuming that it wraps up on time --- some of the debates that will define the next six weeks are beginning to take shape... Read the Roundup

UNIVERSITIES SHORT ON MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Eight of the 12 state universities fall below minimum staffing levels for mental-health counselors as the need for counseling services grows on campuses, a new report shows... Story

STATE LAWMAKER PIGMAN CHARGED WITH DUI
JIM TURNER |
With a blood-alcohol level nearly double the legal limit, state Rep. Cary Pigman was charged with drunken driving after a traffic stop on Florida's Turnpike several hours after a House session Thursday, according to a police report... Story


HOUSE SESSION, THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The House convened at 1:30 p. m. , Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, presiding... Read the Session Summary

STATE UNIVERSITIES SEEING MORE ONLINE LEARNING
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
One of the benefits of an expansion of online classes in Florida universities is that it gives students more flexibility in balancing their academic loads with extracurricular activities like jobs, student government or clubs... Story

RELIGIOUS 'FREEDOM' BILLS MOVE FORWARD
BRANDON LARRABEE |
A bill aimed at protecting displays of religious faith in public schools passed the Senate on nearly party-line vote Thursday, while a more-limited version moved toward the House floor... Story

DEATH CERTIFICATES ORDERED IN GAY MARRIAGES
DARA KAM |
Florida widows and widowers whose spouses died before the U. S. Supreme Court declared state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional can have the death certificates of their loved ones changed without having to go to court, a federal judge ruled Thursday... Story

BACKROOM BRIEFING: BLACK LAWMAKERS BACK PROSECUTOR
DARA KAM AND JIM TURNER |
The controversy over Gov. Rick Scott's decision to yank Orange-Osceola prosecutor Aramis Ayala from the high-profile case of accused cop-killer Markeith Loyd continued to escalate Thursday when black lawmakers demanded that the governor rescind his order... Read the Briefing

DIVIDED SENATE BACKS ENDING 'LIQUOR WALL'
JIM TURNER |
A heavily lobbied proposal to knock down a Depression-era ban on liquor being sold alongside groceries narrowly survived the Senate on Thursday, after a passionate debate that included some opponents warning the change could make alcohol more accessible to --- or even "kill" --- children... Story

SENATE SESSION, THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The Senate convened at 10:01 a. m. , President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, presiding... Read the Session Summary


SENATE LOOKS TO PUT TOGETHER MARIJUANA PLAN
DARA KAM |
More growers, access to treatment for snowbirds and greater flexibility in the relationship between patients and doctors are among the items likely to be included in a Senate proposal to carry out a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November to broadly legalize medical marijuana... Story

SENATE MOVES FORWARD WITH APOLOGY TO `GROVELAND FOUR'
BRANDON LARRABEE |
Before it was a land of retirees and tourism, Florida was a Southern state... Story

HOUSE SESSION, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The House convened at 1:30 p. m. , Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, presiding... Read the Session Summary

'LIQUOR WALL' CLOSER TO GETTING TORN DOWN
JIM TURNER |
A decades-old prohibition on liquor being sold alongside groceries and other retail goods moved closer to repeal Wednesday as a massive lobbying battle continued... Story

HOUSE SOLAR BILL DRAWING HEAT
JIM TURNER |
Some backers of a renewable-energy tax break that voters approved in August contend a House proposal to carry out the constitutional amendment could slow the growth of solar energy in Florida... Story

PLAN WOULD LET GOVERNOR PICK ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGES
DARA KAM |
One case involved a tiny horse track where an employee waved a red rag to start a "race" between two aging nags... Story


SENATORS PONDER DIRECTION ON SCHOOL TESTING
BRANDON LARRABEE |
A Senate Education Committee meeting Tuesday on the state's accountability system turned into a show of strength by people who want to scale back standardized testing, as lawmakers consider the next move... Story

HOUSE GAMBLING BILL GETS OK AS QUESTIONS REMAIN
DARA KAM |
A key House committee Tuesday approved a gambling measure aimed at creating a new agreement with the Seminole Tribe, though a tribe representative recently called the proposal a "non-starter" and major differences remain with the Senate... Story

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TARGET 'SANCTUARY CITIES'
RYAN RAY |
Amid heated debate over illegal immigration and the rights of undocumented immigrants, a House panel approved a measure Tuesday to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities.".. Story

FAMU PROGRAM BLENDS TRADITIONAL, ONLINE LEARNING
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Florida A&M University officials on Tuesday showcased a project aimed at bringing "blended" teaching to K-12 schools where students can learn through traditional classrooms and online resources... Story

SENATE MOVES TO END INSURANCE INDUSTRY TAX BREAK
JIM TURNER |
Insurance-industry officials remained adamant Tuesday that a proposal to eliminate a decades-old tax credit will cost jobs and hike premiums as the measure moved forward in the Senate with a significant change... Story

SENATE SESSION, TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The Senate convened at 11 a. m. , President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, presiding... Read the Session Summary

PERSONNEL FILE - PEOPLE ON THE MOVE, MARCH 21, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
JOHANNA CERVONE has been named deputy communications director and Hispanic press secretary for the Florida Democratic Party... Read the Personnel File


...Read More in the Monthly Digest


'LIQUOR WALL' BILL READY FOR HOUSE DEBATE

After the Senate approved the proposal following a fierce debate, the House is ready to take up a bill to repeal a Prohibition-era law that prevents liquor from being sold alongside groceries and other retail goods...

POWELL, WHITE, GRANT DRAW CHALLENGERS

Three lawmakers seeking re-election have drawn challengers in recent days as 2018 legislative races continue to take shape...

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE STAYS AT 5 PERCENT

Florida's unemployment rate held at 5 percent from January to February and matches the mark for the state a year ago, according to numbers released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity...

CONSTITUTION PANEL RESPONDS TO CORCORAN CRITICISM

After House Speaker Richard Corcoran criticized plans for the Constitution Revision Commission to hold meetings during the legislative session, a spokeswoman for the panel issued a statement Friday pointing to the "short time" for its work...

HOUSE READY TO TAKE UP JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS

Moving forward with a priority of Speaker Richard Corcoran, the House on Wednesday is scheduled to take up a proposed constitutional amendment that would lead to term limits for Florida Supreme Court justices and appeals-court judges...

COURT GRANTS 'STAND YOUR GROUND' IN DOMESTIC CASE

An appeals court Friday ruled that a woman should not face charges in the shooting of her husband because she was acting in self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law...


HOUSE APPROVES EMPLOYEE INSURANCE OVERHAUL

In an issue that split Republicans and Democrats, the House on Thursday approved a bill that would revamp the health-insurance program for state employees...

HOUSE SUPPORTS EXTENDING PROPERTY TAX CAP

The House on Thursday approved a proposed constitutional amendment to make permanent a cap on the assessed values of non-homestead properties...

CORCORAN WEIGHS DOZIER, 'GROVELAND FOUR' CASES

A legislative apology to the "Groveland Four," a quartet of African-American men alleged to have raped a white woman in 1949, could pass the Legislature this year, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday...

SPEAKER SLAMS CONSTITUTION PANEL SCHEDULE

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, chided the chairman of the Constitution Revision Commission on Thursday for scheduling public hearings during the legislative session --- setting up potential conflicts for lawmakers Corcoran named to the panel...

HOUSE APPROVES PULLING PLUG ON RED-LIGHT CAMERAS

The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to eliminate the use of red-light cameras in Florida, sending the issue to the Senate, where a repeal proposal stalled in its first committee...

CORTES SAYS HE WILL NOT RUN FOR CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

After speculation that he would challenge Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy next year, state Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, issued a statement Thursday that said "now is not the time" to run for the U. S. House...

HOUSE SIGNS OFF ON BP SETTLEMENT BILLS

Northwest Florida counties moved closer Thursday to getting money the state received last year from the multibillion-dollar BP settlement tied to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill...

SENATE TAKES UP PUBLIC-RECORDS FEE ISSUE

The Senate next week could approve a bill that seeks to resolve a long-running debate about awarding attorney fees in public-records lawsuits...

SENATE BACKS DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR FOSTER KIDS

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved extending a program that helps foster children get driver's licenses...

LAWMAKERS AIM TO TIGHTEN CITY INCORPORATION RULES

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Wednesday backed changing a state law that allowed a Palm Beach County developer to avoid county growth-management rules by creating a city with five residents...


LAWMAKERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS CALL FOR FRACKING BAN

A group of lawmakers rallied with environmental activists Wednesday at the Capitol to push for a statewide ban on fracking...

CONSTITUTION REVISION PANEL SETS HEARINGS

The state's Constitution Revision Commission has scheduled four public hearings as it starts preparing to propose constitutional amendments for the November 2018 election ballot...

HOUSE PUSHES CHANGES IN EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE

In an issue long backed by Republican leaders, the House on Thursday likely will approve a proposal (HB 7007) that would revamp the health-insurance program for state employees...

INCREASED HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION PITCHED

Florida homeowners would see a significant increase in property-tax exemptions under a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 1774) approved Wednesday by the Senate Community Affairs Committee...

ROCK NAMED INTERIM DMS SECRETARY

Erin Rock, who has been chief of staff at the Florida Department of Management Services for nearly a year, was named interim secretary Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott as a search is underway for the agency's next leader...

HOUSE MOVES FORWARD ON BP SETTLEMENT BILLS

The House is expected to vote Thursday to approve proposals that would set a framework for how counties most impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill can use settlement money...

RED LIGHT CAMERA REPEAL READY FOR HOUSE VOTE

With little discussion Wednesday, a measure that would end the use of red-light cameras for traffic enforcement was put in position for a House vote on Thursday...

SENATORS BACK SUPREME COURT REPORTING REQUIREMENT

Nearly two weeks after the House passed its version of the bill, a Senate panel Wednesday approved a proposal that would require the Florida Supreme Court to provide information about long-pending cases...

PALM BEACH LAWYER IN LINE TO LEAD FLORIDA BAR

West Palm Beach criminal-defense attorney Michelle Suskauer has been elected to start serving as president of The Florida Bar in June 2018, the Bar announced Wednesday...

COURT REJECTS STIFF SENTENCE IN JUVENILE DEATH THREATS

Saying the punishment was "contrary to the notion of juvenile justice," an appeals court Wednesday rejected a maximum sentence for a teen from a troubled family who wrote a note threatening to kill his father, step-mother and step-brother...


HOUSE EYES CHANGES IN JUDICIAL PAY

Low-performing Florida judges could have their pay cut under a performance model reviewed Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee...

LEGISLATIVE BATTLE BREWS OVER BEER GLASSES

A battle over beer glasses is under way in the Florida Legislature...

SENATE POISED TO VOTE ON 'RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES' BILL

The Florida Senate moved forward Tuesday with a bill that supporters say would strengthen protections for expressions of religious faith in public schools...

HOUSE, SENATE MOVING FORWARD ON 'DIRECT PRIMARY CARE'

With backing from physician groups and small businesses, a Senate panel Tuesday approved allowing "direct primary care" agreements between doctors and patients...

SENATORS SUPPORT PAYMENT IN BARAHONA CASE

Six years after the body of Nubia Barahona was found in a garbage bag in the bed of her father's pickup truck, a Senate panel Tuesday approved a plan to pay $3.75 million as part of a settlement in the case...

SENATE SIGNS OFF ON REDISTRICTING BILL

With little discussion, the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that wades back into redistricting issues...

'LIQUOR WALL' BILL LINED UP IN SENATE

Senators set the stage Tuesday for a vote on a controversial measure that would allow liquor to be sold in grocery and retail stores...

SENATORS BACK INCREASED POLLUTION NOTICE

After a pair of high-profile incidents last year, the Senate is moving forward with a bill that would require increased public notice when pollution is released...

HOUSE SEEKS 'SHARED SAVINGS' IN HEALTH CARE

House members continued moving forward Tuesday with a plan that would give patients a cut of the savings if they can find health-care services at a lower cost than what insurers would ordinarily pay...

HOUSE LOOKS TO TOUGHEN PUBLIC ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS

A House panel Tuesday approved a bill that would increase penalties for public-assistance recipients who do not meet work requirements --- and also would bar electronic-benefit transfer cards from being used at medical-marijuana businesses, tobacco shops and tattoo establishments...


HUKILL TO MISS REST OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Senate Education Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill has informed the Senate she will not return before the end of the regular legislative session as she undergoes another round of radiation treatment...

LAWMAKERS LOOK TO AID VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

A series of proposed changes in the way the state handles human-trafficking and sexual-exploitation cases involving minors received unanimous approval Monday from the House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee...

LAWMAKERS TARGET SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

A House panel Monday approved expanding the legal definition of sexual intercourse as part of an effort to prevent the intentional transmission of HIV and other diseases...

SUPREME COURT TO GET MORE INPUT IN 'WATER WAR'

Florida's "water war" with Georgia is not over...

NEGRON VISIT DOESN'T SWAY RESERVOIR OPPONENTS

Glades-area leaders remained unconvinced about the need to convert farmland into a reservoir after Senate President Joe Negron appeared Friday at Pahokee High School to discuss his controversial plan to redirect water out of Lake Okeechobee...

TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY DEADLINE EXTENDED

The Florida Transportation Commission has extended a deadline for applicants to become the state's next transportation secretary, saying it wants to complete a "robust" search...


STATE ASKS FOR MORE MEDICAID FLEXIBILITY

Arguing that the changes could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, Gov. Rick Scott's administration Friday asked the federal government for more flexibility in running the Medicaid program...

PUTNAM COMMITTEE TOPS $300,000 IN EARLY MARCH

After a hefty fundraising month in February, a political committee closely tied to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised more than $300,000 during the first 10 days of March, according to the committee's website...

SENATE TO TAKE UP 'LIQUOR WALL' REPEAL

A controversial measure that would allow liquor to be sold in grocery and retail stores is expected to go before the full Senate on Tuesday...

TAMPA GENERAL CLEARED IN MALPRACTICE DISPUTE

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday declined to take up a dispute about whether Tampa General Hospital could be held liable in a medical-malpractice lawsuit...

HOUSE TO TAKE UP RED-LIGHT CAMERA REPEAL

The House on Wednesday is expected to take up a bill that would ban red-light cameras in the state...

SUPREME COURT RULING DEFINES 'SEXUAL INTERCOURSE'

In a case stemming from a law that requires HIV-infected people to inform potential sexual partners about the disease, the Florida Supreme Court this week said a legal definition of "sexual intercourse" goes beyond relations between men and women...


HOUSE PANEL TO TAKE UP HIGHER ED BILL

A House panel on Monday is scheduled to take up its version of Senate President Joe Negron's higher-education initiative (SB 2), which includes the expansion of the Bright Futures merit scholarship program, a mandate for using block tuition at state universities and higher performance standards for state colleges and universities...

POPPELL RESIGNS AS HEAD OF DMS

Department of Management Services Secretary Chad Poppell, whose agency oversees the Capitol complex and other state business operations, is leaving office at the end of the month...

OFFICERS COULD SEE BODY CAMERA FOOTAGE UNDER HOUSE BILL

Law-enforcement officers could review footage taken by their body cameras before writing reports about incidents, under legislation that is ready to go before the full House...

 
 
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