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John Quinones Enters Race against Well-Financed Alan Grayson in New District 9

April 2, 2012 - 6:00pm

Republican Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones said Tuesday he'll jump into the race for the new congressional district that centers around Kissimmee-St. Cloud, but he was welcomed to the contest with the news that Democrat Alan Grayson has raised more than $2 million.

Budget Cuts to Force Docket Delays in Local Courts

April 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

There will be delays in the processing of new court cases and new dockets with a smaller amount of money going to the state's clerks of court under the budget passed last month by lawmakers.

Lawmakers are expected to send the proposed new budget, HB 5001, soon to Gov. Rick Scott, including a 7 percent cut in the budget for the clerks, which comes on top of a more than 15 percent hit the clerks took a couple of years ago.

Agreement Grows on Clarity for 'Stand Your Ground'

March 27, 2012 - 6:00pm

While there's no consensus on whether the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law may apply in the Trayvon Martin case, and not everyone agrees on whether it's bad or good law, a consensus is emerging that it may not be as clear as it could be as to what it allows and doesn't.

As the 2005 law has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the Sanford shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Martin in February, veteran lawmakers haven't been able to agree even on what the measure allows --which, the bill's sponsor acknowledges, may point to a need for clarification.

Roundup: Conventional Wisdom Right, Even in Unconventional Session

March 11, 2012 - 7:00pm

Going into the once-a-decade redistricting session, while starting it with a budget deficit, the conventional wisdom was that not much else would get done this year.

With the need to cut spending and the difficulty of redrawing political boundaries always a tough balancing act fraught with more challenge this year because of two new constitutional amendments that said it had to be done without taking party politics into account the opening of the year came with the promise of acrimony, infighting, and some painful lessons about who everyone's friends were.

Legislature Votes to Give Businesses Break on Unemployment Tax Hike

March 8, 2012 - 6:00pm

Businesses would see a much smaller increase in their unemployment compensation tax because the state would take longer to pay back a loan to Washington under legislation passed Thursday by the House and sent to Gov. Rick Scott.

The tax paid by businesses for unemployment benefits was scheduled to go up to about $171 per employee, but if signed into law, the bill, HB 7027, would reduce that to about $121 per worker.

House Passes Bill for Drug Testing State Employees

March 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

The House voted largely along party lines Friday to allow state agencies to set up drug testing programs for their workers over the objection of Democrats who said it wasn't just unconstitutional, but a bully tactic.

Weekly Roundup: For Senate Fights, the Future is Now

February 23, 2012 - 6:00pm

The Senate this week passed a budget for the coming year -- but some of its members were focused on another year in the future, as those who want to be Senate president down the road intensified their maneuvering in the face of an increasingly apparent challenge to the chamber's conservative ruling class.

The Senate has long been a place where the in-charge Republican Party has been fractured, with splits between social moderates and conservatives, fiscally conservative members and those less antagonistic to government services, and populists versus the big business wing.

House Votes $10 Million to Keep Jefferson Prison Open

February 7, 2012 - 6:00pm

The House on Wednesday voted unanimously to move $10 million around in the budget in an effort to keep a Jefferson County prison open, acknowledging the hardship its closure would have on the rural community.

The House voted to approve an amendment that earmarks the money for the prison system with the idea that it will keep open Jefferson Correctional Institute, which would keep 177 jobs in a rural North Florida county where the prison is the largest employer.

Employee Time-Tracking System Put Department of Corrections in Crosshairs

February 5, 2012 - 6:00pm

From time to time some state agency, or some person at an agency, doesn't seem to take seriously what someone in the Legislature, maybe a chairman of a committee, wants the agency to do.

Agency officials blow off the concerns of some committee chairmen at their peril.

Bill to Cut Catastrophe Risk for Citizens Passes House

February 2, 2012 - 6:00pm

Some customers of Citizens Property Insurance might have their homeowners policies taken over by private companies under a bill passed in the House and heading to the Senate.

Passage of the bill Friday came over the objection of many coastal legislators who said allowing private companies known as "surplus line" firms take over some Citizens Property Insurance policies, because they're largely unregulated by the state, could end up raising rates. They also may still not have enough money to pay claims.

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