State News

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

In a move echoing recent congressional budget showdowns, Florida Governor Rick Scott is asking state agency heads how much money is essential to simply keep running.

The information gathering is for next month, when state lawmakers return to Tallahassee to try again at making a budget.

The first stab at crafting a state budget didn’t work. In an extremely rare move last month, the Florida House of Representatives went home early instead of reaching agreement with the Senate over state funding. A special session in June is planned to finish the job.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Rules for the state's first bear hunt in more than 20 years have been published as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is expected next month to give final approval to the hunt.

The posting of the rules came as the Humane Society has reached out to Gov. Rick Scott to halt the pending hunt because the commission has yet to determine how many bears are in Florida.

"This is very premature," said Kate MacFall, the Humane Society's Florida director. "They haven't even finished the count. They don't even know about the bear population."

UF Health

On Dec. 17, almost three months before the annual legislative session began, new Senate President Andy Gardiner met with reporters in the conference room of his Capitol office. He talked with the press for 30 minutes, touching on a wide variety of issues, including a plan by business groups and others that would use Medicaid expansion dollars to help lower-income Floridians purchase private health insurance.

Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

 Updated 4/29 at 9:40 a.m.: 

The legislative session collapsed Tuesday amid an increasingly bitter budget fight over health-care funding, with the House abruptly adjourning and going home in a move that killed scores of bills and deepened the divide between the House and the Senate.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott filed suit against the federal government to try to stop the Obama administration from linking $2.2 billion in funding for health-care providers to a potential expansion of Medicaid.

A controversial abortion bill is now headed to the Governor, after receiving final passage from the Florida Senate Friday.

The Florida Legislature may be at odds over Medicaid expansion, but at least it agrees on the long-awaited growler.  The House approved the measure Friday.

News4Jax

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida consumers filling up at the gas pump may have had their credit card information stolen.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Thursday that a sweep of roughly 6,100 gas stations in the last few weeks led to the discovery of "skimmers" in 81 locations. The devices enable someone to illegally obtain credit card and debit card information.

The devices were found inside gas station pumps stretching from Miami-Dade County all the way to Florida's Panhandle.

Two reports presented to lawmakers last week criticized the Florida Department of Children and Families for poor oversight of the privatized agencies that deliver child-welfare, substance-abuse and mental-health services statewide.

The reports arrived as the Legislature is considering further changes to all those services.

The Florida Office of the Auditor General published its findings last month and reviewed them Thursday with members of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

Anna Hamilton

This week, Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet approved a conservation easement on more than 200 acres in Putnam County. That land belongs to one family who’s been farming there for decades. 

Mr. Smith go to Tallahassee

It’s Tuesday morning, and Jared Smith waits patiently to address Governor Scott and the Cabinet. Jared is speaking on behalf of his grandparents, Wayne and Patsy Smith, who are selling a conservation easement on 238.45 acres in Hastings.

“It’s just another day in the office of a farmer, I reckon,” Smith said.

dads and daughter
Elvert Barnes / Flickr

The Florida Legislature has thrown out the state’s ban on gay adoption.

Tuesday’s vote in the Florida Senate came after fierce debate over repealing the ban.

Adoption by same-sex couples already happens in the Sunshine State after a court overturned the gay-adoption ban five years ago. Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Destin) is sponsoring the repeal to bring state law in line. Gaetz says it also gives special-needs foster kids the best shot at adoption.

skeeze / Pixabay

Three-year-old Dinah is the latest face joining the entourage pushing for medical marijuana in Florida, arriving on the scene just as the Senate is poised to broaden the state's non-euphoric cannabis law approved last year.

Like others whose loved ones pleaded for the law, Dinah suffers from frequent seizures caused by severe epilepsy. The biggest difference is that Dinah is a dog.

The bulldog-labrador mix's owner, Lisa Miller, has spent nearly three decades walking the halls of the Capitol as a lobbyist and regulator pitching lawmakers on insurance issues.

Uber car
Adam Fagen via Flickr

The Senate and House are on different paths as they consider setting auto-insurance requirements for technology-based rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

As taxi and limo services call for stricter regulations on growing "transportation network companies," the Senate has expanded an insurance measure, S.B. 1298, to include a requirement for around-the-clock coverage on the vehicles of app-connected rideshare drivers.

The requirement would kick in once a driver has been working with a company for at least six months.

Anna Hamilton

This September, St. Augustine will commemorate 450 years as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Anniversary planning has been an arduous process for St. Augustine City officials — and with only six months to go, there is still much to be done.

Signs are already up in historical St. Augustine announcing the 450th commemoration. Crowds pass under them in the trolley plaza next to a big new parking garage. In anticipation of September, the city is dusting off its dancing shoes.

dads and daughter
Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Weeks after the Florida House passed a bill promoting adoption, the chamber Thursday approved a controversial measure that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

The move Thursday came after a conservative backlash about part of the first bill (HB 7013), which primarily involves providing cash incentives to state workers who adopt children in foster care. The backlash focused on a provision that would repeal a decades-old law that banned gay adoption in Florida.

Florida House of Representatives

For hours today, the Florida House of Representatives discussed a measure recognizing adoption agencies’ right to refuse prospective parents based on the agencies' religious beliefs.

Opponents of the controversial measure fear it gives agencies that use state money the license to discriminate against a host of people, including those who are gay, transgender or unmarried.

But bill sponsor, Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), says religious freedom trumps those concerns.

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