Florida Legislative Session 2013

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Florida Politics
11:00 am
Thu February 14, 2013

As National Proxy, Florida's A State To Watch

WATCHING FLORIDA: Why? Because our personalities, trends and demographics so closely follow the country's.

Florida has always been a state to watch, if only as a guilty pleasure or perhaps in self-defense. But some major political stars are aligning and the pundits are beginning to agree, Florida will really be a State To Watch from now at least through the 2016 election.

The personalities-of-the moment are here. The game-changing demographics are here. And the Florida stage is set for epic -- and deeply symbolic -- political confrontations.

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Measuring Success
7:00 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott's 'Jobs, Jobs, Jobs' Agenda Coming Under Fire

Last week, watchdog group Integrity Florida released a report that concluded questionable bonuses, conflicts of interest and a 'pay to play' mentality was hampering the efforts of Enterprise Florida, Florida's public-private job development agency. The increased scrutiny of what the state pays to lure companies to Florida come as lawmakers start to lay the foundation for the coming year's budget, against a backdrop of the governor's request for more spending on economic development.
Credit Integrity Florida

  Gov. Rick Scott's aggressive economic development effort got more legislative pushback Tuesday as budget committees in both chambers questioned the direction, expense and oversight of the governor's "jobs, jobs, jobs" agenda.

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Politics
12:00 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

State Proposes Changes To Keep Children With 'Highly Complex Medical Needs' At Home

After heavy scrutiny, the state plans to change the way it determines the home-based services that will be provided to children with highly complex medical needs. The proposed changes, which would affect about 1,600 children a year, are expected to take effect within three months.
Credit Sura Nualpradid / freedigitalphotos.net

Trying to prevent what one official described as "white-knuckle moments" for families, the state plans to change the way it determines the home-based services that will be provided to children with highly complex medical needs.

The proposed changes, which will be published Monday, include assigning care coordinators for all children who receive private-duty nursing services through the Medicaid program. The state Agency for Health Care Administration says the move is designed to make sure children have full access to services at home and in their communities.

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Florida Forever Coalition
10:00 am
Sat February 9, 2013

What Gov. Rick Scott's $74.2 Billion Budget Would Mean For South Florida Environmental Projects

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing big boosts for environmental projects in his 2013-2014 budget.
Credit Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

 If Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $74.2 billion budget passes the Legislature intact, it would include $75 million for conservation land projects spearheaded by the Florida Forever Coalition. The 2013-2014 budget also includes $60 million for Everglades restoration and $6.5 million for restoring springs.  

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Session 2013
9:00 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Death Penalty Bill Dead For The Session

OPPONENTS: State Reps. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Matt Gaetz. Gaetz' committee killed her anti-capital punishment bill.

State lawmakers will not  decide whether to abolish the death penalty this year. Rejecting cost, fairness and morality arguments, a House criminal justice subcommittee on Thursday voted down a bill to abolish capital punishment in Florida.

The vote was largely along party lines, with the majority Republicans voting in favor of preserving the death penalty.

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Town Hall on Session 2013
10:25 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Ask Us Anything: Archive Of Our Online Chat With Citizens Property Insurance

Despite the absence of any major hurricane for the past several years, property insurance rates have risen in Florida.
Credit cayobo

The price of property insurance in Florida keeps going up --  such that some homeowners are getting second mortgages or dropping coverage all together.  The state created Citizens Property Insurance to be the insurer of last resort for Florida homeowners. But plans to shrink Citizens by loaning money to private insurance companies and allegations of corporate misconduct have sparked outcries by some state officials and the public alike. 

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Session 2013
9:00 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Two Years Later, State Voting Law Fixes Take Root Where The Problem Was Caused

In Tallahassee, a series of proposals to repair the state election system is finding broad support in the Legislature that many say broke the voting process two years ago.

A Senate bill instituting one of the reforms proposed by Secretary of State  Ken Detzner has already been filed and there are clear signals from a House elections subcommittee that it will prepare a bill to launch the rest of them.

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Florida Legislature
8:00 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Youth Is No Barrier To Power In Tallahassee

MR. CHAIRMAN: Very young guys run very powerful committees in the Florida House. How did that happen?

Number crunching by a Florida university professor has led to an odd conspiracy theory about the Florida House of Representatives.

Not that Prof. Mark Soskin actually subscribes to the theory himself. As you hear on TV a lot, he's just sayin'.

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Session 2013
9:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Scott's $74.2 Billion Budget Sets The Record

RECORD BREAKER: Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget would put more than a billion new dollars into education.
Credit St. Petersblog

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a record-breaking $74.2 billion budget Thursday, pouring hundreds of millions of additional dollars into public schools, colleges and universities in a proposal that Democrats knocked as a public-relations gimmick.

Scott's plan would boost spending by almost $4 billion in the coming budget year, which begins July 1, with much of the increase heading to education. He said the bump reflected more incoming tax revenue brought on by an economic recovery after the fallout from the Great Recession clouded the budgets of his first two years.

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Public Insight Network
10:00 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Do You Know Who Your State Legislators Are?

Redistricting last year may have had a role in making it more difficult for PIN members to name their state legislators. Above, a map showing pre-redistricting Senate district boundaries (in red) and current Senate district boundaries (in black).

The state Legislature, perhaps more than Congress, passes laws that have a direct impact on the day-to-day life of a Floridian: how much you pay in sales tax, how much time you have to vote, how you obtain a gun.

Tallahassee is in our lives every day. It's only 480 miles away. And yet, for many in South Florida, it might as well be on another continent. 

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Public Insight Network
11:00 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Texting While Driving And Other Sins Of Florida's Drivers

39 states - including libertarian-leaning New Hampshire - ban texting while driving. Florida isn't one of them.
Credit taestell

Florida is one of only 11 states that does not prohibit texting while driving.  Though state legislators have already introduced 3 texting ban bills for the upcoming session, similar bills have failed in the past several years. 

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Session 2013
12:01 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Hager's Bill Could Ban Smoking At The Beach

NOT AT THE BEACH: State. Rep. Bill Hager of Boca Raton wants to let cities and counties ban smoking at beaches and parks.
Credit billhager.com

A determined Palm Beach County teenager is gaining ground on a big goal -- stopping people from smoking at Florida's beaches and public parks.

Caitlyn Johnston's campaign caught the eye of State. Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, who filed a bill (HB 439) giving cities and counties the power to ban smoking on their own public lands.

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The Art Of Politics
11:00 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Limericks Inspired By Florida's Muddy Politics

Can you explain a state policy in a limerick?
Credit Public Domain Pictures

Politics can be quite the poetic muse - especially statehouse politics, it turns out.

We recently challenged members of the Public Insight Network to write about politics in the Sunshine State - in a limerick.* 

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Higher Education Costs
3:58 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Eleven More Colleges Sign On To Gov. Scott's $10K Degree Challenge

Governor Rick Scott first challenged Florida colleges to create $10K degree programs in November.
Credit 401(K) 2013/Flickr

Governor Rick Scott was at Miami-Dade College's North campus today to announce that eleven more state colleges have accepted his challenge to create bachelor’s degree programs costing $10,000 or less.

That means all 23 Florida state colleges offering four-year degrees have signed on. 

Broward College is developing a bachelor's degree program in teacher education and business. President David Armstrong told the News Service of Florida that the goal is to open doors for more students.

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Session 2013
9:30 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Florida Mental Illness Programs Leave Most Patients Untreated, House Panel Hears

DEEPENING CRISIS: Florida lawmakers are hearing that too little money is appropriated for mental illness programs and too much of that is misspent.
Credit healthyplace.com

Florida's system for the mentally ill is an underfunded shambles that leaves most people untreated and settles for locking up many of the rest.

Officials and experts told a House committee in Tallahassee on Thursday that system funding levels, in real terms, are below what they were in the 1980s and that the crisis is "deepening."

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