By: Elizabeth Letchworth | Posted: May 24, 2010 12:25 AM

During this upcoming week in Congress, both the House and Senate are expected to consider bills that will cause the current debt limit to swell like Jiffy Pop popcorn on a hot burner.

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By: Kenric Ward | Posted: May 21, 2010 12:33 AM

Florida Right to Life calls it "the most significant piece of pro-life legislation ever passed in Florida's history."

The American Civil Liberties Union says, "Here we go again. This legislation puts lawmakers in the exam room, during the most fragile point in any woman’s life, and takes the medical decision away from her and her doctor."

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By: Michael Peltier News Service of Florida | Posted: May 20, 2010 12:32 AM
Constitutional changes to class size restrictions and political boundaries passed their final hurdle Wednesday as they were given numbers for the Nov. 2 ballot.

On Wednesday, state election officials added the two proposals to the slate of amendments to greet voters. A proposal to modify the way lawmakers redraw political boundaries became Amendment 7. A proposal to relax class size restrictions that were passed by voters in 2002 will become Amendment 8.

Amendment 7 is the Legislature’s response to a pair of amendments by
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By: Kenric Ward | Posted: May 18, 2010 11:37 AM

In slapping down life sentences for teenage offenders in non-homicide cases, the U.S. Supreme Court ended life terms for 77 Florida inmates.

Saying Monday's ruling "will have a significant impact on our state's juvenile justice and corrections systems," Attorney General Bill McCollum said his office, along with the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Corrections, has a lot of work to do.

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By: The News Service of Florida | Posted: May 17, 2010 12:02 AM

If Gov. Charlie Crist wants to be nice to the Legislature – though really, there’s no indication he does – he may this week officially call the special session he’s already said he’ll likely pursue. Crist has said he wants lawmakers to return at the end of May, most probably the week of May 24, for the special session on banning oil drilling and alternative energy policy.

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By: David Royse News Service of Florida | Posted: May 12, 2010 6:05 AM

The time limit on filing charges in cases of sex abuse of children under 16 years old is eliminated by a bill signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, one of more than 30 pieces of legislation he signed without comment late Tuesday night.

The bill eliminating the sex crimes time limit (HB 525) removes the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil liability. The bill as pushed by Lawyer Michael Dolce and Lauren Book, the daughter of lobbyist Ron Book, who were victimized as children and could not go after their abusers when they finally could deal with the abuse.

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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 11, 2010 4:56 PM

Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul issued a ringing statement Tuesday, accusing Gov. Charlie Crist of unnecessarily wasting taxpayers' money, playing political games and distracting state leaders from solving the state's real problems right now.

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By: Michael Peltier News Service of Florida | Posted: May 11, 2010 12:10 AM

Florida had spent more than $16 billion from the federal stimulus dollars by the end of March and is on track to spend at least $1 billion more by the end of the year, the state’s recovery point man said Monday.

Don Winstead, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to oversee the collection and distribution of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds, said nearly $20 billion in federal stimulus dollars has been awarded or expected as the state continues to reap the benefits of federal tax dollars aimed at jump-starting the national economy.

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By: Keith Laing The News Service of Florida | Posted: May 8, 2010 12:47 AM
Some might have thought the slick talk in Florida would have ended when lawmakers wrapped up the 2010 session, but official Tallahassee could not talk enough about oil this week.
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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 8, 2010 12:27 AM

The Republican Party of Florida released credit card records Friday containing more than $7 million in charges racked up by 31 Republicans -- not all of them household names, not all of them even party leaders.

Nevertheless, the release of such records would have been virtually unnecessary had Gov. Charlie Crist not vetoed a bill that would have allowed more transparency in fundraising and expenditures. The bill would have created so-called party affiliation committees through which expenditure reports by both Republicans and Democrats would have been more detailed.

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By: Michael Peltier News Service of Florida | Posted: May 7, 2010 12:03 AM
Faced with the potential loss of millions of dollars and Florida’s “sand-between your toes “reputation, Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday he’d consider calling lawmakers back to put an offshore drilling ban into the Florida Constitution.

Several Democratic lawmakers and Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink called for the ban, saying the timing may be right to pass what even a few weeks ago was unthinkable, a ban on offshore drilling etched in constitutional stone.
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By: By Kathleen Haughney The News Service of Florida | Posted: May 5, 2010 12:26 AM
An explosion on a BP oil rig last month that has resulted in the biggest oil spill in recent history has spurred at least eight lawsuits in federal court from Panhandle residents whose livelihoods could be upended by the spill.

Commercial fishermen, real estate executives, beach front property owners and restaurateurs have all filed suit against BP, in addition to rig owner TransOcean and contractor Haliburton Energy Services.
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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 4, 2010 12:53 AM

On Monday, as Floridians wondered what impact the massive oil spill in the Gulf would have on Florida, former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox called on all gubernatorial and cabinet office candidates in Florida to sign a pledge opposing any offshore oil drilling in state waters.

Maddox, the leading Democratic candidate running for commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, held a media event to unveil his pledge and reiterate his opposition to any offshore drilling.

“I urge each candidate to sign this pledge,” said Maddox.

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By: Keith Laing The News Service of Florida | Posted: April 30, 2010 7:19 PM
The party may have been over this week for Gov. Charlie Crist and the Republican Party of Florida, but an unpredictable three-way race for the U.S Senate between Crist, Republican Marco Rubio and likely Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek was just beginning.
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By: David Royse News Service of Florida | Posted: April 30, 2010 12:46 AM
In stark contrast to the way lawmakers tried earlier this year to rein in shadowy electioneering groups in a broad campaign finance bill that was ultimately vetoed, the House quietly passed and sent to Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday a second attempt to put some regulations on “527” organizations.
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Posted: April 28, 2010 12:09 AM
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown intends to run for another term. While there were rumors that she was considering pulling out of the race, she filed paperwork Monday for her tenth term in Congress. Four of the Republican candidates battling it out in the primary to take Brown on engaged in an often acrimonious debate in Clay County on Monday night… U.S. Rep.
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By: The News Service of Florida | Posted: April 28, 2010 12:05 AM
Bottom line on the 2010 budget that hit lawmakers desks Tuesday just before 3 p.m.? $70.4 billion. The House earlier proposed a $67.2 billion spending plan. And the Senate approved a $69.4 billion version. But weeks of negotiations that followed seemed only to fatten the spending plan, a swelling that occurs almost every year once anticipated federal dollars, trust funds and agency "reversions" of money are calculated. A vote on the measure Friday will be one of the last acts of the spring session.

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By: John Kennedy News Service of Florida | Posted: April 27, 2010 12:53 AM
Although for a fifth straight year lawmakers have declined to provide state worker pay-raises, union officials Monday said they were satisfied with lawmakers’ decision to back away from a proposed pay cut.

The House accepted a Senate proposal that will require some 27,000 mid-level managers, lawmakers and other workers pay a modest amount for health coverage for the first time. Public employees across the state who are part of the state’s pension plan would also have to contribute a small portion of their paycheck to stave-off a looming multi-billion dollar deficit.
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By: Kenric Ward | Posted: April 26, 2010 12:55 AM
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Aiming for a piece of $2.5 billion in federal funding, Florida officials are seeking to restore passenger rail service between Miami and Jacksonville.

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By: John Kennedy News Service of Florida | Posted: April 26, 2010 12:01 AM
House and Senate leaders confirmed Sunday what had become increasingly obvious in recent days: The proposed Medicaid overhaul is dead for this year.

“I still believe it is good policy,” said Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, chairman of the House Health Care budget committee, and an architect of the sweeping House proposal that would push the state’s 2.7 million Medicaid recipients into managed care over the next five years.

“We will just have to bring it back next year,” Grimsley said.
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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 24, 2010 12:02 AM

With more than 100 bills on the calendar when it convened Friday morning, the House plowed through a host of measures and amendments. Members passed a few, including a measure to expand placing cameras on stoplights, but they mostly set the stage to tackle more bills next week.

The seven-hour session Friday focused on amending measures that the House will vote on next week. But the House also passed efforts that increased legal penalties for credit and debit card crimes and exempted All-Star games and Pro Bowls from sales taxes. 

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By: David Royse News Service of Florida | Posted: April 23, 2010 12:59 AM
A bill that would create a statewide standard for the use of cameras to catch red light runners is ready for a final vote in the House and the president of the Senate said Thursday he's optimistic about the measure.
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By: Keith Laing The News Service of Florida | Posted: April 20, 2010 12:12 AM
The chief backers of bills to reform the Public Service Commission moved closer to an agreement Monday, but differences remained between the vastly different plans.
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By: John Kennedy News Service of Florida | Posted: April 17, 2010 12:57 AM
Talk of the Legislature heading toward overtime emerged Friday as House and Senate leaders struggled to reach agreement on how much money they have to spend in the 2010-11 budget.

With a mid-afternoon deadline looming for setting the start of negotiations this weekend, the two sides remained snagged over whether to include $880 million in long-anticipated Medicaid cash from the federal government.
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By: By Kathleen Haughney The News Service of Florida | Posted: April 13, 2010 12:24 AM

More than 10,000 phone calls. More than 15,000 e-mails and letters. They mostly tell Gov. Charlie Crist the same thing – veto SB 6.

Since Republican lawmakers first proposed legislation in early March that would link teacher pay to student performance on standardized exams, teachers have gone on the offensive -- writing, calling, showing up at legislative meetings, all telling lawmakers that a test can't measure their effectiveness in the classroom.

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By: By Kathleen Haughney The News Service of Florida | Posted: April 12, 2010 12:40 AM
A once controversial school prayer bill won unanimous support from a House panel after a tweak to the legislation severely blunted its reach.

“This bill is now a protection of school speech,” said Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 9, 2010 2:28 AM

After a marathon debate that dragged into the early hours of Friday -- and increased speculation that Gov. Charlie Crist plans to veto the measure -- the House joined the Senate in passing a bill that creates a performance pay standard for Florida’s teachers.

The bill passed 64-55 at 2:26 a.m. with 11 Republicans joining all 44 Democrats in opposing it.

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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 9, 2010 12:13 AM

More than 400 community college students rallied at the Capitol early Thursday before spending the day lobbying the Legislature on education issues near and dear to the nearly 1.2 million people enrolled in Florida's 2-year colleges.

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By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 9, 2010 12:04 AM

While teacher performance pay dominated the lengthy House session Thursday, lawmakers also passed other measures concerning education, including one that would give voters the chance to loosen class-size restrictions during November's election.

The measure, introduced by Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, passed 77 to 41, almost on a party-line vote.

A class-size amendment was approved by Florida voters in 2002. The measure would remove caps established by the 2002 statute and allow schools to use the average size of each class.


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