Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

Reporter

Jim Turner is a reporter for The News Service of Florida.

I-95 traffic backup
News4Jax

Travel in and out of Florida is getting tougher on both sides of the Florida/Georgia border.

"Sorry We're Closed" sign
Michel Euler / Associated Press

Jobless claims are spiking in Florida as many vital tourism and entertainment-related businesses have closed or limited services as the state struggles to combat the novel coronavirus.

The Florida Legislature
The News Service of Florida


As Florida’s 2020 legislative session comes to a close, lawmakers can celebrate the bills they passed. But hundreds of other proposals died along the way, including a bill that would have established a state-wide office of resiliency.

Florida's Capitol buildings
The News Service of Florida

Scattered throughout a $93.2 billion budget set to go before the House and Senate on Thursday are more than 750 line items --- collectively exceeding $400 million --- tied to proposals lawmakers filed months ago to bring money to regions they represent.

Flickr Commons

Florida lawmakers will vote Thursday on a proposed state budget that includes spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries.

The Florida House is pictured in session on Feb. 20, 2020.
Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Readying for negotiations with the Senate, the Florida House approved a tax package Friday that some Democrats decried as being too focused on giving breaks to special interests.

Florida cities and counties would get letter grades for economic and non-economic factors, under a bill that drew mostly bipartisan support Tuesday from the House Appropriations Committee.

After starting a school-voucher program last year, Florida lawmakers appear ready to speed up its expansion.

Senators pressed forward Tuesday with a proposal that would provide $100 million a year for Florida Forever, as the House and Senate go into budget talks far apart on the land-buying program.

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee backed a proposal (SB 332) by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, that would funnel $100 million annually to Florida Forever. The money could come from a trust fund that receives real-estate tax dollars under a 2014 constitutional amendment aimed at land and water conservation.

Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concerns Monday about legislative proposals that would further prevent local governments from regulating short-term vacation rentals.

Local governments would be barred from licensing food truck vendors in their communities, as part of broader deregulation proposals that cleared final House and Senate committees Thursday.

The Florida House of Representatives is pictured in this Sept. 17, 2019 file photo.
Bobby Caina Calvan / Associated Press

As Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried holds out for “cooler heads” in the Senate, House Speaker José Oliva is hopeful he will gain support for his chamber’s effort to move the Office of Energy from under her watch.

Florida oranges
PepsiCo via AP Images

Travelers might again get a free cup of Florida’s homegrown beverage when they cross the state line, through funding tucked in the Senate’s proposed budget.

Rep. Holly Raschein
News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis would get more than the $625 million he requested for environmental projects, Florida Forever would see a funding cut and Visit Florida would be shuttered, under parts of a House budget proposal released Tuesday.

TIAA Bank Field
Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

A proposal is once again in play to eliminate an untouched pool of state money set aside in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums, including Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field.

“Enforcement time” has come for motorists caught texting and driving by Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

Senate President Bill Galvano defended the need for Florida to market its tourism industry against negative images of hurricanes and polluted waters, as a battle is again shaping up with House leaders over the future of Visit Florida.

Florida wildlife officials Wednesday backed a 10-year plan to manage the state’s growing black bear population, with the plan maintaining hunting as an option.

News Service of Florida

Move over Puppy Bowl, the 2020 Super Bowl has a new sideshow.

Wrapping up a long-awaited probe of the botched upgrade of the SunPass toll-collection system, the governor’s chief inspector general said more oversight is needed of state transportation contracts.

Florida will get $380.7 million from the federal government to help parts of the timber industry and farms ravaged more than a year ago by Hurricane Michael.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who captained his university’s baseball team, backed California-style legislation Thursday that would allow Florida college athletes to cash in on their names and images.

News Service of Florida

A Soviet-born South Florida businessman arrested last week on federal campaign-finance charges seemed just “like any other donor,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

Sen. Tom Lee (in blue, wearing glasses) and the Committee on Infrastructure and Security.
Senator Tom Lee / Facebook

Florida lawmakers Monday dug into issues involving climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, phrases mostly kept under wraps by state Republican leaders before last year’s elections.

Lion Electric Co.

New public-transit and school buses that run on electricity and alternative fuels would get much of Florida’s share of a federal payout from a Volkswagen emissions scandal, under a plan rolled out Tuesday by the state.  

SAM CARR

A document discussed Monday by the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force should be viewed, members said, as a broad roadmap for lawmakers with the 2020 legislative session less than 100 days away.

Asian Elephant
amerune / Wikimedia Commons via Flickr

A state panel has approved new rules for elephant rides in Florida, including adding fencing requirements after rides have been offered within makeshift barriers such as hay bales and portable toilets.

Lawmakers are already seeking about $120 million for projects and programs in their local communities, while the latest state revenue estimates have spurred the House budget leader to urge “restraint” as the 2020 legislative session nears.

Measures to protect police dogs and horses and crack down on hazing and child-like sex dolls are among new laws ready to take effect this week.

Via Jacksonville Daily Record

Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to have found his convenience store.

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