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ADVANCES: WEEK OF APRIL 23, 2017
STAFF |
Florida lawmakers enter the final two weeks of the regular legislative session with most major issues unresolved... Read the Advances

SENATOR RESIGNS AMID UPROAR OVER TIRADE
DARA KAM |
Calling his presence a "distraction" days after apologizing for a public tirade that included racially charged and vulgar expletives, Miami Republican Frank Artiles announced Friday he was resigning from the Senate, effective immediately... Story

CONTROVERSIAL PENSION CHANGE SURFACES IN SENATE
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
With two weeks remaining in the legislative session, a Senate committee will take up a new bill that could move more public workers into a 401(k)-type retirement plan rather than the traditional pension program... Story

ETHICS PANEL PUSHES BACK AGAINST LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT
JIM TURNER |
Florida's ethics arbiters claimed their "independence" Friday in response to a legislative directive that put more restrictions on their operations, from out-of-state travel spending to the hiring and firing of staff... Story

PERSONNEL FILE --- PEOPLE ON THE MOVE, APRIL 21, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
CONNIE SMITH has been appointed by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart as chair of the Florida Education Foundation... Read the Personnel File

BREAKING NEWS: ARTILES RESIGNS FROM SENATE
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
State Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, resigned Friday amid a firestorm about vulgar and racially charged comments he made Monday night about other members of the Senate. Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will be the next Senate president, confirmed that Artiles had submitted the resignation... Story

WEEKLY ROUNDUP: SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD
BRANDON LARRABEE |
Sometimes, apologies take a long time in public life... Read the Roundup


CORRECTIONS AGENCY SCRAPS PRISON HEALTH CONTRACT
DARA KAM |
Citing shortcomings in mental-health services at a South Florida prison, state corrections officials are terminating a contract with a private health-care provider months before the deal was set to expire... Story

LAWMAKERS TARGET LOCAL REQUIREMENTS ON CONTRACTORS
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Cities and counties would not be able to require contractors to provide certain benefits and wages to workers on state-funded public works projects under a bill approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee... Story

BACKROOM BRIEFING: 'SHOW US THE MONEY'
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER AND JIM TURNER |
Legendary Senate Rules Chairman Dempsey Barron is credited with the immemorial admonition when following the Florida Legislature to "assume nothing.".. Read the Briefing

HOUSE SESSION, THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The House convened at 1 p. m. , Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, reporting... Read the Session Summary

LAWMAKERS MOVE CLOSER ON SOLAR TAX BREAK
JIM TURNER |
The House and Senate are set to take up proposals that would carry out a voter-approved expansion of a renewable-energy tax break, as bill language appears to have become more agreeable to solar proponents... Story

JUSTICES APPROVE FELON RIGHTS, GAMBLING INITIATIVES
JIM SAUNDERS |
In a pair of high-profile issues that could go on the ballot next year, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved proposed constitutional amendments that would restore felons' voting rights and restrict the expansion of gambling in the state... Story


HOUSE SESSION, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The House convened at 1 p. m. , Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, presiding... Read the Session Summary

TESTING BILL SHAPES UP AS EDUCATION TRAIN
BRANDON LARRABEE |
A bill aimed at scaling back the number of standardized tests administered in Florida passed its final Senate committee on Wednesday after picking up amendments dealing with recess and other education issues... Story

ARTILES APOLOGIZES BUT REMAINS UNDER FIRE
DARA KAM |
A firestorm continued to swell Wednesday over racially tinged and expletive-laced remarks Sen. Frank Artiles hurled this week, as demands for the Miami Republican's ouster grew and Senate leaders appointed a special master to investigate whether he should be sanctioned... Story

HOUSE TARGETS WORKERS' COMP RATES
JIM SAUNDERS |
Nearly a year after a Florida Supreme Court ruling rocked the state's workers' compensation insurance system, the House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill aimed at holding down insurance rates for businesses... Story

STATE SAYS WILDFIRES LIKELY TO GET WORSE
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
With the state battling 106 wildfires covering 124,000 acres as of Wednesday, Florida's top forestry official warned the fire season has yet to reach its peak... Story

STATE PUTS POSSIBLE BEAR HUNT ON HOLD
JIM TURNER |
State game commissioners agreed Wednesday not to hold a bear hunt for at least two years, over the objections of hunters who decried the delay as giving in to "bleeding hearts.".. Story

SENATE SESSION, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017
STAFF |
CONVENED: The Senate convened at 10 a. m. , President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, presiding... Read the Session Summary

BREAKING NEWS: ARTILES APOLOGIZES FOR COMMENTS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
Amid calls for his resignation, Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, apologized Wednesday on the Senate floor for a tirade at a club that included making derogatory comments about a fellow senator and using a racial slur. He specifically apologized to Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. "I stand up before all of you, every one of you, and with great humility, I ask for your forgiveness," Artiles said. Shortly before the floor session, Negron stripped Artiles of his chairmanship of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Negron appointed Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, to lead the committee. The News Service will have a full story later Wednesday. --END-- 4/19/2017 © 2017 The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved. Posting or forwarding this material without permission is prohibited. You can view the Terms of Use on our website. Independent and Indispensable http://www.newsserviceflorida.com


ARTILES TO APOLOGIZE FOR 'OFFENSIVE' REMARKS
JIM SAUNDERS |
Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, is expected to publicly apologize Wednesday morning for a tirade at a club that included making derogatory comments about a fellow senator and using a racial slur, Senate President Joe Negron said late Tuesday... Story

SENATOR PITCHES COUNTEROFFER ON 'SCHOOLS OF HOPE'
BRANDON LARRABEE |
A Senate counteroffer on the House's controversial "Schools of Hope" proposal emerged Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was attached to another piece of education legislation overwhelmingly approved by a budget subcommittee... Story

SENATE SCUTTLES HOUSE ETHICS CHANGES
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
A major ethics package backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran is dead for the session after the Senate refused to consider the legislation, House leaders said Tuesday... Story


...Read More in the Monthly Digest


SCOTT NAMES THREE TO CIVIL RIGHTS HALL OF FAME

A former state lawmaker, an NAACP leader and a prominent civil-rights activist were named Friday by Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame...

SUPREME COURT SETS ARGUMENTS IN BLOOD-ALCOHOL CASE

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Aug. 30 in an appeal by a Palm Beach County millionaire in a high-profile case related to testing drivers' blood-alcohol levels after traffic accidents...

SECOND REPUBLICAN SEEKS GOODSON HOUSE SEAT

With state Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Rockledge, facing term limits next year, a second candidate has emerged to try to succeed him in Brevard County's House District 51...

FLORIDA UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AT 4.8 PERCENT IN MARCH

With Gov. Rick Scott using the new numbers to push his legislative priorities, Florida had a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in March, down from 5 percent in February, according to a report released Friday...

SCOTT GOING TO ARGENTINA ON TRADE TRIP

Gov. Rick Scott is departing Saturday for Argentina as part of an Enterprise Florida trade mission next week in Buenos Aires...

EARNINGS INCREASE FOR FPL, PARENT FIRM

Florida Power & Light and its parent company, NextEra Energy, saw net income jump during the first three months of 2017, according to financial results released Friday...


ARTILES' ATTORNEY SEEKS RECUSALS

An attorney for Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, requested the recusals Thursday of Senate President Joe Negron and a Senate special master amid an inquiry into vulgar and racially charged comments Artiles made about other senators...

HOUSE SEEKS TO CRACK DOWN ON DEADLY FENTANYL

With bill sponsor Jim Boyd pointing to an opioid "crisis" in Florida, the House on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would increase criminal penalties related to the deadly synthetic drug fentanyl...

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS DEMOCRATS' BRIEF IN AYALA CASE

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved a request by five Democratic lawmakers to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala in a legal battle with Gov. Rick Scott about death-penalty cases...

PUBLIC RECORDS COMPROMISE GOES TO SCOTT

The Florida House on Thursday gave final approval to an attempted compromise in a debate about attorney fees in public-records lawsuits...

JUVENILE RECORDS BILL READY FOR HOUSE FLOOR

Legislation approved Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee would help juveniles expunge their arrest records after they complete diversion programs for misdemeanor offenses...

HOUSE BACKS DISCOUNTS ON BOAT REGISTRATIONS

The House on Thursday approved expansion of a registration-fee discount that several hundred recreational boaters in Florida have used...

EMPLOYEE INSURANCE CHANGES GET SENATE HEARING

With the issue a longtime priority of House Republican leaders, a Senate committee Monday is slated to consider a plan that would revamp the health-insurance program for state employees...

DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SEEK TO FORMALLY BACK AYALA

Five Democratic lawmakers asked the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday for permission to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala in a legal battle with Gov. Rick Scott about death-penalty cases...

SECOND DEMOCRAT PLANS RUN FOR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER

West Palm Beach Democrat Daniel Sohn opened a campaign account this week to run for agriculture commissioner in 2018, becoming the second Democrat taking steps to seek the Cabinet post...


HOUSE APPROVES 'CERTIFICATE OF NEED' REPEAL

The Florida House on Wednesday easily passed a bill that would eliminate a controversial regulatory process for the approval of new hospitals...

SCOTT PITCHES DIKE REPAIRS TO TRUMP

Gov. Rick Scott said he spoke with President Donald Trump on Wednesday about the importance of completing repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee...

HOUSE APPROVES 'PIP' REPEAL

The Florida House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a proposal that would repeal the state's longstanding "no fault" auto insurance system...

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS PROSECUTORS' BRIEF IN AYALA CASE

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday approved a request from a statewide group of prosecutors to file a brief supporting Gov. Rick Scott in a legal battle about removing Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala from nearly two-dozen death penalty cases...

SENATE BACKS BILL ON BEER SPONSORSHIP AT THEME PARKS

Beer companies would be allowed to sponsor events and participate in other "cooperative" advertising with major Florida theme parks under a bill approved by the Senate on Wednesday...

PROSECUTORS GROUP BACKS SCOTT IN AYALA CASE

A statewide group of prosecutors is seeking to file a brief supporting Gov. Rick Scott in a legal battle about removing Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala from nearly two-dozen death penalty cases...

SENATE SIGNS OFF ON BODY CAMERA BILL

The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a proposal aimed at allowing law-enforcement officers to review footage from their body cameras before filling out reports...

RIDESHARING BILL HEADED TO SCOTT

After years of debate about the issue, the Florida Senate on Wednesday quickly passed a bill that would create statewide regulations for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft...


HOUSE READY TO APPROVE 'CERTIFICATE OF NEED' REPEAL

The House could vote as early as Wednesday to repeal the "certificate of need" regulatory process for building hospitals, an issue backed by House Republican leaders and Gov. Rick Scott...

SENATE CRACKS DOWN ON SHARK 'FINNING'

The Florida Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill aimed at preventing illegal possession of shark fins, considered a delicacy in parts of Asia...

HOUSE READY TO PASS WORKERS' COMP PLAN

After rejecting a series of amendments proposed by Democrats, the Republican-dominated Florida House is ready to approve changes to the state's workers' compensation insurance system...

PROPOSED PINELLAS TRAUMA CENTER DRAWS CHALLENGE

Amid a legislative debate about the state's trauma-care system, a proposal by a St. Petersburg hospital to open a trauma center has drawn a legal challenge...

SCOTT UPS ANTE ON TOURISM FUNDING

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday increased his request for tourism-marketing funding to $100 million, while continuing criticism of House leaders for a proposal to slash Visit Florida's budget...

SENATE BACKS COMPENSATION IN BARAHONA CASE

With the sponsor pointing to neglect by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would lead to paying $3.75 million in the high-profile death of a 10-year-old girl and injuries suffered by her twin brother...

SENATE APPROVES POLLUTION NOTIFICATION PLAN

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill aimed at increasing notification of the public about potentially dangerous pollution spills...

CONSTITUTION PANEL SETS PANHANDLE HEARING

The Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday released details of a planned public hearing in Northwest Florida, as the panel continues taking input from across the state...


SCOTT INSPECTOR GENERAL STEPS DOWN

Melinda Miguel, who has served as Gov. Rick Scott's chief inspector general for the past six years, has resigned from the post, Scott's office announced Monday...

HOUSE, SENATE BEGIN TRYING TO REACH GAMBLING DEAL

House and Senate leaders met briefly Monday afternoon to lay the groundwork for negotiations on the two chambers' vastly different approaches to gambling policy...

HOUSE, SENATE BACK MONEY FOR VETERANS' NURSING HOME

Lawmakers appear to have agreed on money needed to get a long-awaited state veterans' nursing home underway...

JUSTICES TURN DOWN CASE OVER RAILROAD WORKER'S DEATH

More than a year after indicating it would take up the case, a divided Florida Supreme Court has said it will not rule in a dispute about CSX Transportation's duty to provide medical assistance to a railroad conductor who died in a remote area...

EX-UTILITY REGULATOR ARRESTED ON DUI CHARGE

Former longtime state utility regulator Lisa Edgar was arrested late Saturday in Leon County on DUI and property-damage charges, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported on its website...


CONSTITUTION PANEL SETS GAINESVILLE, JACKSONVILLE HEARINGS

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has released details of plans to hold hearings later this month in Gainesville and Jacksonville...

RULING OVERTURNED IN TAMPA POLICE SHOOTING

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a ruling that had cleared the city of Tampa and a police officer in the shooting of a man who was suspected of being suicidal...

PUTNAM TAKES AIM AT MAN-MADE WILDFIRES

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Friday that more than 240 of the wildfires that have blazed across Florida this year were caused by arson...

HOUSE READY TO TAKE UP WORKERS' COMP

In an issue closely watched by business, legal and labor groups, the House on Tuesday is scheduled to take up a bill that would revamp workers' compensation insurance laws...

LAWMAKERS BACK CONFIDENTIALITY FOR MURDER WITNESSES

A bill is headed to Gov. Rick Scott that would keep confidential the identities of murder witnesses for two years after they observe the crimes...

LAWMAKERS COULD PUT MORE TEETH IN SHARK FINNING LAW

A measure that would increase fines and suspend licenses for people who violate a state law about the illegal possession of shark fins is poised for approval by the Florida Senate next week...


DUKE CUSTOMERS COULD FACE HIGHER BILLS

Pointing to higher-than-expected fuel costs, Duke Energy Florida filed a proposal Thursday to increase residential customers' monthly bills by about 5 percent in July...

SUPREME COURT SHIELDS MEDICAL REFERRAL INFORMATION

In a case that started with a woman falling in a YMCA parking lot, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday shielded a plaintiff from being forced to disclose whether her attorneys referred her to medical providers...

HOUSE GOP SIGNS OFF ON RETIREMENT CHANGES

The House on Thursday voted 74-41, along party lines, to advance a bill (SB 7022) that would make major changes in Florida's public retirement system...

DETAILS STILL BEING WORKED OUT ON 'LIP' PROGRAM

Saying only the "number is final," Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior said Thursday that details still need to be finalized about how Florida can use $1.5 billion in funding through the Low Income Pool program...

SENATE PANEL BACKS WORKERS' COMP CHANGES

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would revise workers' compensation insurance laws, but key differences remain with the House...

BARAHONA BILL MOVES TOWARD APPROVAL

Florida lawmakers could be on the verge of approving a plan to pay $3.75 million in a case that rocked the state's child-welfare system in 2011...

SENATE PANEL BACKS BETHUNE FOR STATUARY HALL

A state Senate committee Thursday approved a proposal that would place a statue of educator and civil-rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune at the U. S. Capitol, replacing a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith...

JUSTICES WILL NOT RECONSIDER 'OPEN CARRY' RULING

A divided Florida Supreme Court said Thursday it will not reconsider a March ruling that upheld a longstanding state ban on people openly carrying firearms in public...


FLORIDA TO GET $1.5 BILLION IN 'LIP' HEALTH FUNDING

As the House and Senate get ready to start negotiating a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Gov. Rick Scott and federal officials announced Wednesday that the state will have $1.5 billion for a key program that helps hospitals care for low-income and uninsured patients...

 
 
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The Back Room: The News Service of Florida Political Blog

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