Florida Legislative Session 2013

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Education
9:44 am
Mon April 1, 2013

New State Budget Would Boost Spending on Education, Teacher Pay

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 1:36 pm

The Florida House has released its proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Speaker Will Weatherford says education was prioritized over everything else.

“The big winner is education,” Weatherford said. “We invested over a billion dollars into our K-12 education system from last year.”

He said that amounts to a 6.2 percent increase in overall education funding.

Weatherford said they created “a silo of funds” to be funneled down to the districts, including up to $676 million available for teacher pay.

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Feral Cats in Florida
8:01 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Feral Cats Bill Pits Animal Welfare Advocates Against Conservationalists

Feral cats are a contentious topic in Florida.
Credit Austin Evan / Flickr Creative Commons

Animal welfare advocates are at odds with wildlife conservationalists as the Florida Senate prepares this week to look at a controversial feral cat bill. 

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News
3:46 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Media Frenzy Erupts After FAU Student Told To ‘Stomp On Jesus’

Gov. Rick Scott is calling for a detailed report from Florida Atlantic University after one of its students claims he was disciplined for refusing to step on the name of Jesus.
Credit StateImpact

Sometimes people stand up for their beliefs by refusing to stand on them.

Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University and devout Mormon, claims he was thrown out of class by his instructor after refusing to step on the name of Jesus as part of a classroom exercise.

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The Florida Roundup
12:00 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

What You Should Know From This Week's South Florida News: Dueling Governors And Dolphins Stadium

The day before President Obama speaks at PortMiami about the economy, Governor Scott says the federal government hasn't given the state enough money to support the ports.
Credit interbeat / Flickr, Creative Commons

On The Florida Roundup, here are some of the items on our rundown:

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Transportation
5:11 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Why Hasn't Florida Banned Texting And Driving?

39 states ban texting while driving. An additional 5 states make it illegal for novice drivers to text and drive.
Credit Jason Weaver/Flickr

Steve Augello lives in Spring Hill Florida, just outside of Tampa. Like a lot of dads, he always made his 17-year-old daughter, Alessandra, check-in with him when she was out. Augello also had a rule.

“You weren’t allowed to have that cell phone out while you’re driving,” Augello remembers telling Alessandra. “I even tested her a few times I called her when she was driving and it always went right through to the recorder.”

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Transportation
4:00 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Gov. Scott Wants Florida Reimbursed For Port Improvements

PortMiami is undergoing a massive expansion project, which includes deepening the channel for larger cargo ships, building a tunnel for tractor trucks and connecting the port to the Florida East Coast railway tracks.
Credit Ed Webster/Flickr

President Barack Obama will be visiting PortMiami Friday to talk about the economy.  Gov. Rick Scott, meanwhile, is asking the federal government to repay Florida for the money it has spent on port improvements.

Although Scott often criticizes the federal government for spending too much, he says this is different.

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News
6:20 am
Thu March 28, 2013

South Florida Seniors To Lawmakers: Hands Off Our Arcades

Above: 75-year-old Emma Illel plays one of the games at Cleopatra Arcade in Boynton Beach. Below: Outside Cleopatra, a message for Florida lawmakers
Credit Christine DiMattei

Playing cards -- even though you hate it.

Going shopping -- although you already have a closetful of clothes.

Staying home and watching television? Yawn.

Golf?  Not on your life.

Many of the senior citizens who gathered Tuesday in solidarity at Boynton Beach’s Cleopatra Arcade paint a grim picture of a future without their beloved senior arcades.

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Community Contributor
2:00 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

With Majority Of Floridians In Favor, Lawmakers Debate Medicinal Marijuana

Goldstein's daughter would benefit if medicinal marijuana is approved in Florida.
Credit Photo provided

My dedication to legalizing medical marijuana results from personal experience. My daughter has epilepsy, and although she was always compliant with her medication, she continued to have occasional seizures. When she moved to California for her job, and had yet another seizure, she met with a neurologist, who recommended that she join a medical marijuana dispensary. That was in 2000. She has not had another seizure since.

But she cannot come home to visit us in Florida. Because of our marijuana laws, she cannot legally maintain her doctor-recommended medical regimen.

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Questions From Town Hall
10:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Bookseller Wonders, Why Doesn't Florida Get Sales Tax For Stuff You Buy On The Internet?

FIVE YEARS, FIVE TRIES: State. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda says no-new-tax sentiment has blocked her attempts to pass an Internet sales tax bill.
Credit Rick Stone

Florida's sales tax is a huge competitive downside for local retailers who sell the same products as their Internet competitors.

Because online sellers rarely collect the sales tax, it leaves the brick-and-mortar shops at a roughly 7-percent price disadvantage. And that's why business and retail lobbies have been demanding sales tax collection for online sales for years.

The issue arose during the WLRN-Miami Herald Session 2013 Town Hall last month, where we heard from Fort Lauderdale bookseller Donna Mergenhagen.

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Education
7:01 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Referendum Would Give Miami Dade College A Half-Cent Tax

Miami Dade College would benefit from a proposed half-cent tax.
Credit Photo from Miami Dade College's Facebook page

Lonnie Robinson fell on hard times in the early 80s with drugs and alcohol. Addiction kept him out of college for decades, and he found himself living under a bridge. During the day, Robinson found solace at a Miami Dade College library in Liberty City, where a reading program changed the future course of his life. He graduated from the college in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

"No other college would accept me," said Robinson, who’s 59. Today, Robinson visits the same library daily, where he hopes to mentor and inspire younger students.

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Community Contributor
2:02 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Floridians Would Get Right To Speak Before Public Boards Under Proposed Legislation

Floridians would have the right to speak at public meetings under proposed laws.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Citizens do not have the right to speak before a public board or commission takes official action, according to Florida’s Constitution. Though Florida citizens have a right to access public records and meetings, they do not have a right to be heard before governmental bodies take official action any given proposal.  This means that city council members, county commissioners and other officials could vote on issues without letting citizens have their say.  

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Medicaid Expansion
1:00 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Florida Republican Leaders Under Fire For Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Plan

After rejecting Gov. Rick Scott's plan to expand Medicaid in both the Florida House and Senate this month, Republican legislative leaders were hit with criticism from their Democratic counterparts.
Credit Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

When they voted on Medicaid expansion in Florida this month, Florida legislative leaders mostly organized along party lines. Now, the Republicans are getting heat from their Democratic counterparts in the House.

According to the News Service of Florida,

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Session 2013
10:00 am
Mon March 18, 2013

The Best App To Keep Tabs On Your State Legislators

It would be nice to know more about state politics.  But who can keep track of all those committees and subcommittees, you say.  And all the House and Senate bills with long names and random numbers – and who is my legislator anyway?

You could go to the official state websites to find your legislators and proposed laws

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The Florida Roundup
12:00 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

A New Pope And Allied Veterans: What You Should Know From This Week's News

Jennifer Carroll resigned from her post as lieutenant governor after an investigation uncovered that a charity she had worked for had defrauded the public and government agencies.
Credit Gage Skidmore

On the week's The Florida Roundup:

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Jennifer Carroll
10:00 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Internet Cafe Gambling Scandal Overshadow Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll's Resignation

Jennifer Carroll has stepped down from her role as Lieutenant Governor in Florida.
Credit www.flgov.com/meet-the-lt-governor/

Jennifer Carroll's days as lieutenant governor and presumed running mate for Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign may already have been numbered when she resigned this week because of her connection to an Internet gambling scandal.

Meanwhile, the investigation of  a purported charity called Allied Veterans of the World promises to overshadow the political shakeup in Tallahassee and lead to a big change in Florida's gambling landscape.

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