Posts Tagged ‘headlines’

Florida prison chief: State losing corrections staff to ‘Wal-Mart,’ creating insecurity in system

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
More than three-quarters of Florida’s corrections officers have less than two years’ experience. In some state prisons, a single CO will be left alone to supervise 150-200 inmates in a jail block.
Contraband has become so bad, one random search of (just half) a Dade facility turned up $15,000 in street value of cocaine, seven knives, 46 cellphones and an array of other drugs and illicit materials, said Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones Thursday.
The state’s prisons chief was in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, having to explain just how bad the situation was, even though the state’s inmate population

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Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone involved in hit-and-run

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone says a car he was riding in this week in Florida was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Stone described the incident as “suspicious,” coming as he is under scrutiny for his communication with the Russian-linked hacker Guccifer 2.0.
Stone tweeted that he was uninjured in the crash except for blurry vision in his right eye.
Stone says the car he was riding in was “T-boned” by a large, gray four-door car with a tinted windshield.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the driver the vehicle did not stop or make any attempt

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Constitution Revision Commission to hold first meeting

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
The Constitution Revision Commission has launched a website and announced an organizational meeting next Monday.
The meeting will be 2-4 p.m. in the Capitol’s Senate chamber, with a brief agenda of “Welcoming Remarks, Oath of Office, Rules of the Commission, Ethics Briefing.”
The panel, which convenes every 20 years, will review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document after holding public meetings across the state.
Its newest hire is Meredith Beatrice, who was spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and is now the CRC’s “external affairs” director.
The 37-member board is chaired by Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder and unsuccessful Republican candidate for U.S.

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Florida Supreme Court rules sex is sex, no matter who’s doing it

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A law that requires someone with HIV to notify a potential sex partner beforehand applies to same-sex relationships as well as between a man and a woman, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday.
The defendant, Gary Debaun, has been trying to have a charge dismissed under a 1986 state law designed to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus.
Debaun is HIV-positive, according to records.
The case, argued last February, involved the definition of “sexual intercourse.” In 2011, Debaun, a man, lied to a male sex partner that he was HIV-negative, “forg(ing) his doctor’s signature on the lab report,” the opinion said. It did not state

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School recess, in disarray statewide, to become uniform under Senate bill

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
In the decades before tablets and standardized testing wormed their way into primary and secondary schools, school playgrounds were a familiar place for children and adolescents.
Up to an hour a day was spent running around, throwing balls to, or at, one another.
But with all the technology and pressure to make the academic cut, with extracurriculars lumped in, recess somehow got lost in the mix.
However, one Florida state senator is looking to change that, even if only by setting a minimum standard for schools to follow.
Sen. Anitere Flores, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, moved her proposal, SB 78,

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Winners and losers in Donald Trump’s first budget plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Military spending would get the biggest boost in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Environmental programs, medical research, Amtrak and an array of international and cultural programs — from Africa to Appalachia — would take big hits, among the many parts of the government he’d put on a crash diet.
The budget proposal out Thursday is a White House wish list; it’ll be up to Congress to decide where money goes. If Trump gets his way, there will be more losers than winners among government departments and programs.
Some programs would tread water: WIC grants — money to states for health care

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Florida House Democrats demand Rick Scott speak up on CBO’s scoring of GOP health care plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Since the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican health care plan would raise the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott has been silent.
Florida House Democrats are now calling him out for his sudden reluctance to weigh in on a subject he’s never been shy about talking about before.
The governor has been a major critic of the Affordable Care Act and traveled to Washington last week to meet with President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the American Health Care Act.
Scott told reporters later he was “encouraged” about the Act,

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Online poll finds majority of Floridians want ACA expansion, oppose GOP proposal

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A majority of Floridians would like to expand the Affordable Care Act, or keep the law as is.
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed in a new statewide poll released Thursday are concerned that people would lose health insurance if the law is repealed, according to the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative.
FAU asked 500 Floridians over the course of four days in the past week, including Monday, when the Congressional Budget Office reported that under the proposed “American Health Care Act,” the ranks of the uninsured could increase by 14 million people next year and over 24 million over

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House committee advances lobbying ban; impeachment power for attorneys, public defenders

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Florida lawmakers advanced two key pieces of legislation through the House Thursday, including one to lengthen the period before elected officials could begin lobbying after their time in office.
The other bill would make state attorneys and public defenders in each judicial district eligible for impeachment under the governor’s power.
In an overwhelming vote, the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee passed PCB PIE 17-01 and HJR 999, though there was thorough debate by both the public and committee members on each measure.
PCB PIE 17-01, which has yet to be given a bill number and was introduced by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, vice chair of the

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Rick Scott launches TV ad taking aim at ‘politicians in Tallahassee’ over tourism, jobs

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
The fight between Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House is continues to heat up, with the governor taking to the airwaves to bash “the politicians in Tallahassee.”
The Naples Republican released a 30-second advertisement Thursday. The ad — paid for by Let’s Get to Work, his political committee — is expected to air across the state beginning next week, according to Gary Fineout with The Associated Press.
The advertisement comes one week after the Florida House voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill to eliminate Enterprise Florida. The House also voted to approve a measure to slash Visit Florida funding.
“The politicians

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Report: Brian Mast linked to Florida company under investigation by federal regulators

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Rep. Brian Mast has been linked to a Florida marketing company under investigation by federal regulators, according to POLITICO.
World Patent Marketing and its owner has been accused by the Federal Trade Commission of defrauding clients of millions of dollars. On Thursday, POLITICO reported Mast, a Treasure Coast Republican, was appointed to the company’s advisory board in February 2016, before the   company’s owner, Scott J. Cooper, donated more than $5,000 to his campaign.
Mast told POLITICO he never received compensation from the company, and became aware he became a member of the board through a press release someone else sent him.
According

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House GOP health bill facing fresh House committee test

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
The White House and Republican leaders are talking to rank-and-file lawmakers about revising the GOP health care overhaul, hoping to keep a rebellion by conservatives and moderates from snowballing and imperiling the party’s showpiece legislation.
Four days after a congressional report projected the bill would pry coverage from millions of voters, signs of fraying GOP support for the legislation were showing. The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers and is opposed uniformly by Democrats.
In a fresh test of Republicans’ willingness to embrace the

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Two formerly troubled teens now represent Florida agency as model adults

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Two young adults were honored by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Wednesday for the lives they left behind, and were named the agency’s 2017 Youth Ambassadors, according to a statement.
Secretary Christina K. Daly, head of the DJJ, and the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation, along with members of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association and partners, honored the two new ambassadors at a reception at Florida’s Historic Capitol Building in Tallahassee, the statement said.
Jesus Mendoza and Alyssa Beck have unique backgrounds.
Mendoza was court-referred to the Empowered Youth program after committing a felony at the age of 15. He completed the

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Kathy Castor one of six Democrats calling on EPA IG to probe potential conflicts of interest with Scott Pruitt

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Tampa Representative Kathy Castor is one of six Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who reached out to the EPA inspector general earlier this week, calling on him to investigate the agency’s conflict of interest policies and procedures in the wake of reports of a close relationship between industry groups and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
The letter to Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr comes in response to Pruitt’s rejection of scientific evidence that human activity is a significant contributor to global warming, as well as reports that he coordinated closely with the oil and gas industry while serving as attorney general

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Citizens Insurance buying back $300 million in catastrophic coverage

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. can buy back some $300 million in reinsurance against a catastrophic storm because the risk of that happening is now projected to have fallen.
The company’s board of governors voted unanimously to approve the move during a conference call Wednesday.
Citizens, Florida’s property insurer of last resort, bought the coverage from Everglades Re II Ltd. in 2015.
The company will repurchase catastrophic coverage at prices keyed to the new estimates of the threat, spokesman Michael Peltier said.
“It allows us to go into the market with more flexibility,” he said. “It no longer makes sense for us to insure

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Florida adds nearly 17K private sector jobs in February

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Florida added 16,800 private sector jobs in February, says national payroll firm ADP, which raises the state’s workforce to 7.34 million people.
Despite the gain last month, the numbers show a 20 percent from the 20,902 jobs created in February 2016.
As for the sector breakdown, ADP says the sunshine state added 2,000 goods-producing and 14,800 service-providing jobs. Professional and Business Services gained the most jobs (3,700), followed by Natural Resources/Mining and Construction (2,500); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (1,400) and Manufacturing (a decrease of 500 jobs).
In contrast, Florida added 30 percent more jobs in January than the same month a year

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Joe Gruters says he’s a long shot for CFO position, but appreciates the mention

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Sarasota Republican Party Chairman and House District 73 Representative Joe Gruters said on Wednesday that he’d be a “long-shot” to be selected by Governor Rick Scott to succeed Jeff Atwater as Florida Chief Financial Officer once Atwater leaves the office in May.
Gruters appeared on Tampa Bay area radio station News Talk 820 WWBA on Wednesday afternoon with guest host David Jolly. The former CD 13 Representative said that Gruters had shown his loyalty to Scott and President Trump when he backed both candidates when both were considered outliers within the GOP, and that Scott would reward such loyalty by picking Gruters to succeed Atwater later this year.
“Well Congressman, that’s

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Bill to revamp community college system sparks mission debate

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A Florida Senate bill aimed at making what all involved said was a great community college system even better opened a debate Wednesday about how much of the colleges’ missions should be about granting four-year degrees.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education unanimously approved Senate Bill 374 creates a new governing system for the state’s 28 community colleges and sets new rules on how they operate.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, the Port Orange Republican, expressly re-affirms the colleges missions as providing two-year degrees that students can use either as is, or as automatic bridges into one of the

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Ophthalmologists ‘disheartened’ by House advancing bill for optometrists to practice surgery

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Cary Pigman, the Avon Park Republican and emergency care physician who chairs the Health Quality Subcommittee.
Optometrists enjoyed a narrow victory Wednesday in Florida’s renewed Eyeball Wars when a House committee advanced a bill to allow optometrists to perform certain types of eye surgery.
After a two-hour hearing, the House Health Quality Subcommittee approved HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz and opposed by both the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the American College of Surgeons.
Diaz, a Republican from Hialeah, argued the bill gives patients in rural areas better access to eye surgery, as well as helping lower-income patients since ophthalmologists

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Mexico Consul, ACLU, Civil Rights groups blast immigrant crime bill

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
The Consul of the Mexican Consulate in Orlando and several groups blasted a Florida senate bill Wednesday that would make one set of criminal codes for undocumented immigrants and another for everyone else.
Mexico Consul Juan Sabines Guerrero called Senate Bill 120 “condemnable by society as a whole” as he and representatives of the ACLU and several Civil Rights organizations called, at the Mexican Consulate in Orlando, for the Florida Legislature to stop the bill.
SB 120, sponsored by Republican Travis Hutson of Palm Coast, would require that any criminal charges against undocumented immigrants be upgraded. A first-degree misdemeanor charge brought against

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Brian Mast, Carlos Curbelo call for ‘American innovation’ on climate change

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A group of Republican members of Congress including U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Carlos Curbelo have introduced a climate change resolution calling for ‘American innovation’ efforts to address it.
Curbelo and Mast, along with Elise Stefanik of New York, sponsored the resolution declaring that climate change is a real and growing problem, but espousing conservative principles to work on economically viable solutions.
“If we’re going to make progress to protect our environment, it’s critical that people on both sides of the aisle speak out about the serious impact that climate change will have on our environment and our economy,” Mast stated in

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Sean Shaw and Darryl Rouson attempt to deal with Florida’s ban on voting rights for ex-felons on the front end

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Under current Florida law, those who are convicted of any felony lose the right to vote, the right to sit on a jury, the right to hold public office, and the right to possess a firearm, unless they are granted the restoration of their civil rights by the state Office of Executive Clemency.
Legislation being sponsored by Tampa Bay area Democrats Darryl Rouson and Sean Shaw would end the automatic suspension of civil rights for those convicted of a non-violent felony.
“Even if the sentence has been served, a felony conviction in the State of Florida is a lifelong punishment,” says House District 59 Representative Sean Shaw

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Report: Gwen Graham transfers $250K to state political committee

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Former Rep. Gwen Graham appears to be laying the framework for a 2018 gubernatorial bid.
POLITICO Florida reported Tuesday that Graham moved $250,000 from her congressional account, Graham for Congress, to Our Florida, a state political committee created on Feb. 2. State records show the money was given to Our Florida on Feb. 3.
Records show the committee’s chairwoman is Stephanie Toothaker, an attorney with Tripp Scott. According to POLITICO Florida, she served as special counsel for former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, the former congresswoman’s father.
The Tallahassee Democrat announced she would not run for re-election after one-term in Congress after

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Illeana Ros-Lehtinen turns thumbs down on GOP health care plan

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
As conservatives mount pressure on Republicans in Congress to support the GOP health care plan, more moderate U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first to announce she is breaking ranks.
Ros-Lehtinen, of Miami, announced late Tuesday that she is concerned about the affects the American Health Care Act would have on the poor and elderly, and cannot support it, and saying, “this plan is not the replacement South Florida needs.”
“I have decided to vote no on the bill as currently written,” she stated. “The bill’s consequences for South Florida are clear: too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there

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Bill to require high-school students to take financial-literacy courses advances in Florida Senate

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A proposal by Port Orange Republican Dorothy Hukill to require high-school students to take a half-credit of instruction in personal financial literacy and money management easily won approval in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K-12 Education on Wednesday. However, several lawmakers expressed reservations about the fact that unless lawmakers extend the hours of the school day or school year, the inclusion of this necessary course will eliminate another course, and potentially expose how Florida students are behind the curve compared to others around the nation and the world.
The quest to get Florida high school students more financially literate began in 2013, when

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South Florida NPR station staves off takeover by school board

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A dispute between South Florida’s NPR-affiliate and the Miami-Dade County Public School Board has raised questions about fiscal mismanagement and the role of the school system in moderating WLRN’s news content.
Normally, a school board wouldn’t have any say in what a local news station produces. But in the case of WLRN, the school board is the licensee for WLRN’s radio and television stations.
The Federal Communications Commission initially issued the WLRN radio license to Dade County schools in 1948. The station is currently managed by South Florida Public Media, which employs the news personnel, and funded by Friends of WLRN.
The Miami-Dade school

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran making good on transparency, accountability promises

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
House Speaker Richard Corcoran began his two-year speakership in November by promising a “transformational leap” in government accountability and transparency.
“The Florida House will set the standard for others to emulate,” he declared.
Such pronouncements are often uttered by politicians, especially those who may aspire to higher office. But one week into Florida’s annual legislative session the hard-charging Republican reformer from Land O’Lakes has a lot to show for his audacious accountability talk.
While the final outcome is far from certain, under Corcoran’s leadership the House voted to kill Enterprise Florida, the state’s chief businesses recruitment organization, and restructure Visit Florida, the

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Rick Scott wants repeal but stays quiet on GOP health plan

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Gov. Rick Scott, who urged President Donald Trump to move quickly on a health care plan, is sidestepping questions on a Republican health care bill that has set off an intense reaction in Washington.
But Scott is also so far refusing to endorse the measure crafted by top GOP legislators in the U.S. House as a replacement to President Barack Obama‘s health care law. Instead he said Tuesday, “I’m encouraged that there’s a real good conservation going on up in D.C.”
“I know there’s a debate about all the numbers, I’m going to continue to work on getting a good bill,”

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Richard Corcoran gets nod for dedication to term limits from U.S. Term Limits

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
House Speaker Richard Corcoran has been honored for his commitment to term limits.
U.S. Term Limits announced this week that it has presented Corcoran with the Champion of Term Limits Award. The Land O’Lakes Republican was honored for his commitment to term limits and citizen government.
“By supporting term limits, Speaker Corcoran has given a voice to Floridians who feel let down by corruption and careerism in government,” said Philip Blumel, the president of U.S. Term Limits. “People are tired of business as usual and term limits is the only way to change the status quo. We applaud Corcoran for his important

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Law enforcement officials say that Anitere Flores bill to mandate civil citations for juveniles still ‘a non-starter’ for them

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
There are a number of bills floating in the Florida Legislature this year that deal with criminal justice reform, but one that has law enforcement completely flummoxed is a bill that would remove their discretion to charge a minor regarding a variety of first-time offenses.
Miami Republican Senator Anitere Flores bill (SB 196) requires a law enforcement officer to issue a civil citation or require the juvenile’s participation in a diversion program when that juvenile admits to committing certain first-time misdemeanor offenses.
Officials with the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association are strongly opposed to bill, however, because it mandates

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