News stories that impact the state of Florida.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Florida Gov. Rick Scott celebrated job creation Monday on a statewide “Million, Billion Jobs Victory Tour,” despite the Legislature’s denying Scott’s request for $250 million dollars for recruiting companies.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Director Cissy Proctor says she’s thinking outside the box to incentivize businesses.

Florida Everglades plants and water
Keo the Younger via Flickr

Conservation supporters are warily watching a budget Florida lawmakers are set to vote on Friday, which they say would violate Amendment 1 of the state Constitution.

Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a controversial measure called the “Pastor Protection Act” Thursday. It was one of 26 bills that got the governor’s approval at the same time.

Planned Parenthood clinic in Jacksonville
Google Maps

Updated: 4:15 p.m. Friday, March 11:

In the latest round in Florida's abortion battles, lawmakers Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would increase clinic regulations and bar public funding for organizations associated with abortion clinics.

Capitol exterior
Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

 Florida House and Senate leaders announced a deal on the state budget during a late-night meeting Monday, pumping more than $120 million in last-minute projects into the spending plan and setting the Legislature on course to end its annual session Friday, as scheduled.

A utility-backed measure intended to put existing solar-energy regulations into the state Constitution drew indications of skepticism and support Monday from Florida Supreme Court justices

Corrections officers
Florida Department of Corrections

A deal on the state's public-safety budget that lawmakers reached late Friday would not give the Department of Corrections the 734 additional positions the agency says are necessary to make Florida's prisons more secure.

The new jobs were part of an effort by the department to have corrections officers work eight-hour shifts instead of 12-hour shifts. The department has been reeling from a series of reports about issues such as contraband smuggling and abuse of inmates.

Gov. Rick Scott

Surrounded by a group of police chiefs, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure dubbed the "backyard range" bill, intended to restrict the recreational discharge of a firearm in certain residential areas.

The proposal was one of nine that Scott signed into law Wednesday.

beach chairs

Florida surpassed Gov. Rick Scott's goal of attracting 100 million visitors last year. And Scott is setting a higher target for tourism officials in 2016.
The governor and Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing arm, announced last week that an estimated 105 million tourists made their way to the Sunshine State in 2015, topping the 98.5 million reported the previous year.

Sherry Spearman / WJCT

Florida lawmakers are not budgeting enough money for land conservation, as required under a constitutional amendment voters approved two years ago.

Former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham campaigned for Amendment 1 and says he’s disappointed at legislative proposals for the second year in a row.

Baker County Health Department
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  In a 5-4 vote, a Senate panel on Tuesday approved the confirmation of Surgeon General John Armstrong as secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

Members of the Senate Health Policy Committee spent an hour peppering Armstrong with questions, nearly all dealing with Floridians' access to health care, before signing off on his nomination.

Questions centered on cuts to county health departments, the state's high rate of new HIV infections and a drop in enrollment in the Children's Medical Services program, which serves youngsters with "chronic and serious" conditions.

Law enforcement officers would need "reasonable suspicion" to stop and inspect boats sporting state safety stickers, under a measure that sailed through its final House committee last week.
The Economic Affairs Committee voted 12-3 to approve the proposal (HB 703), which would revise a state law about reckless and careless operations of vessels.

From muck removal to paying for a dolphin pool or beef advertising, the House and Senate have a lot to hash out as they negotiate a roughly $80 billion spending plan for next year.

The Senate last week approved a package (SB 2500) that stands at $80.97 billion, while the House's spending plan (HB 5001) comes in at $79.98 billion.

ZaldyImg via Flickr

The daughter of one murder victim and the mother of another pleaded with Florida lawmakers last week not to require unanimous jury recommendations before death sentences can be imposed, pointing to their family members' cases as proof that unanimity is a bad idea.

Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Legislature is calling on Congress to limit the terms its members can serve. In memoranda passed by both Florida chambers Thursday, Florida lawmakers lamented the prevalence of so-called “career politicians.”

Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) says he’s confident the measure will get the support of the 33 other states required to change the country’s constitution.