Brandon Larrabee - News Service of Florida

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Brandon Larrabee is a reporter for The News Service of Florida.

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The stalemate between the House and Senate over billions of dollars in health-care funding deepened Tuesday, as the federal government suggested that the fate of a pool of money for hospitals and other medical providers was tied to the state's decision on Medicaid expansion.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging bill aimed at rolling back the number of tests given to public school students, capping off a discussion that saw Florida Republicans ease back at least slightly on a longstanding principle of the state's education-reform movement.

Scott's office announced that he had signed the high-profile measure, following up on weeks of legislative wrangling and his own campaign promise to review the level of testing in schools.

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Florida House of Representatives

Republicans easily won a trio of Northeast Florida legislative seats Tuesday during special elections triggered by the resignation last year of former Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, to become president of Florida State University.

Onderwijsgek / Wikimedia Commons

Florida third-graders would not have to pass a key standardized test to be promoted to fourth grade this year under a measure that would temporarily roll back one of the cornerstones of the state's fight against "social promotion."

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

House budget writers unveiled an education spending plan Monday that would provide public schools with almost $47 less per student than Gov. Rick Scott proposed, and a key senator said his chamber was also unlikely to meet the governor's number when a Senate blueprint is released Tuesday.

The two developments cast increasing doubt on one of Scott's chief priorities only two weeks into the 60-day legislative session.

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Tim Lewis / Flickr

  State officials announced Monday they were investigating a cyber-attack against Florida's online-testing program for public schools, while the House Education Committee approved its version of legislation meant to scale back the amount of time students spend on exams.

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court should order a third draft of the state's congressional districts to fully eliminate illegal gerrymandering, attorneys for groups that have challenged the map argued Wednesday.

But lawyers for the Legislature said Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis acted appropriately last year when he upheld lawmakers' second version of the map, drawn after Lewis found that political consultants managed to "taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent" the first time around.

Rick Scott
The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Calling on something he termed "Florida exceptionalism," Gov. Rick Scott used the annual State of the State address Tuesday to try to reinvigorate his legislative agenda after a difficult opening to his second term.

During the 21-minute speech, Scott pushed lawmakers to adopt his proposals to slash taxes, hold down the cost of higher education and boost public education spending to the highest per-student level in state history.

Terry McCombs via Flickr

Students across Florida reportedly had problems Monday logging on to the state's new online-testing platform, raising questions about the testing system as lawmakers consider an overhaul.

Education groups and media reports said students had problems taking the new Florida Standards Assessments in a variety of districts, including populous counties like Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Orange. Some schools or districts had decided to suspend testing.

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Tim Lewis / Flickr

Days before testing was scheduled to begin, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Tuesday suspending the administration of an 11th-grade language arts test that Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has asked the Legislature to eliminate.

The move was expected; Stewart had recommended last week that Scott suspend the exam so that lawmakers can consider legislation to permanently scrap it. Critics of the test say it's redundant because students' graduation requirements in language arts are fulfilled by an assessment given in the 10th grade.

Rick Scott
The Office of Governor Rick Scott

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Media organizations and open-government advocates are upping the pressure on Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet, filing a lawsuit that alleges the handling of the forced resignation of the state's top law-enforcement officer violated the Sunshine Law and calling for an independent investigation.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Not long after Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his nearly $77 billion state spending plan for the budget year that begins in July, lawmakers were already casting doubt on whether he would get all of a major tax cut at the heart of the proposal.

Rick Scott
The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Making good on a campaign promise, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday he will ask lawmakers to provide the highest per-student funding for education in state history during the legislative session that begins in March.

Scott said his "Keep Florida Working" budget would include $7,176 per student, about $50 above the previous high in the 2007-08 budget year. That spending plan was approved before the financial crisis that caused the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Florida Division of Elections

  Lawyers for the Legislature told the Florida Supreme Court in a brief filed late Friday that part of a state ban on political gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution.

The filing is the latest chapter in a long-running battle over whether lawmakers rigged congressional districts during the 2012 redistricting process to benefit Republicans. Voting-rights organizations argue that the maps were influenced by politics, contrary to an amendment to the Florida Constitution approved by voters in 2010.

After tens of millions of dollars worth of television commercials and the slinging of massive amounts of mud, could the Florida gubernatorial election come down to an electric fan?

In the latest strange chapter in the always-fascinating politics of Florida, Gov. Rick Scott skipped the first few minutes of a televised debate Wednesday with his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, because of the presence of an electric fan at Crist's feet.

News4Jax

A Leon County judge upheld a second draft of the state's congressional districts in a decision issued Friday, but shelved the new map until after the November elections.

The decision marked a major victory for legislative Republicans, who approved the new plan this month after Lewis ruled that their first draft violated the Florida Constitution's ban on political gerrymandering. The GOP had also pushed for the earlier version of the districts, approved in 2012, to remain in place through this year's elections.

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