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Districts Appeal to State Supreme Court over Funding of Charter Schools

October 21, 2019 - 7:00am
Florida Supreme Court

Attorneys representing nine county school district boards made last-pitch arguments last week to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to hear their challenge of a 2017 state law that, among other actions, required districts to share revenues, including property taxes, with charter schools.

In a 13-page brief, the districts maintain that their School Board of Alachua County Florida v. Department of Education lawsuit is about ensuring “local control over local schools by local representatives answerable to local voters.”

DeSantis, Mast Return Cash from Arrested Donors Embroiled in Giuliani-Ukraine Affair

October 16, 2019 - 6:00am
Nov. 6, 2018: Gov.-elect DeSantis, center, in a crowd of supporters including Parnas, left, and next to him Furman

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast joined Gov. Ron DeSantis in announcing he had received, but will return, campaign contributions from two Soviet-born South Florida businessmen arrested last week on federal campaign finance charges.

According to their indictments, Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born resident of Boca Raton, and Igor Fruman, a naturalized citizen from Belarus and Sunny Isles Beach resident, used wire transfers from shell corporations to illegally funnel $325,000 in foreign “straw donations” to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action committee in 2018.

New School Choice Program Caps 18,000 Enrollment Six Weeks into the School Year

October 12, 2019 - 7:00am
Ron DeSantis in Miami Gardens last May, at the voucher bill signing

A new voucher program approved during the 2019 legislative session that dramatically expanded Florida’s school choice program but is being challenged in court has reached its first-year enrollment cap of 18,000 students, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday.

The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, adopted as Senate Bill 7070 in party-line votes, is the state’s fifth school-choice voucher program but the first to use public money to pay for private school tuition and to be directly administered by the state’s Department of Education (DOE).

Mounting Pre-Filed Gun Bills Are More 2020 Campaign Statements than Actionable Legislation

October 10, 2019 - 8:00am

Florida could become the 16th state to adopt “constitutional carry,” meaning no permit would be required to publicly carry a firearm, or lawmakers could impose more restrictions on concealed and open carry.

It could go either way during Florida’s 2020 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14. More likely, however, it goes neither way and everything stays the same.

Judge: Felons Having to Pay Up Before They Can Vote Doesn't Sit Well with Amendment 4 Voters

October 9, 2019 - 6:00am

A federal judge Monday said “it’s a no brainer” that the Florida Legislature’s requirement that ex-felons pay all financial obligations to be eligible to vote “harms the franchise” voters thought they’d restored when they approved Amendment 4 by more than 64 percent in November 2018.

Moody Files Fourth Challenge of Citizen Petition Seeking 2020 Ballot

October 5, 2019 - 7:00am
Ashley Moody

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has filed her fourth legal challenge of a citizen initiative vying for the November 2020 ballot.

Moody this week -- joined by the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Democratic Party -- filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to block a prospective “open” primary proposal from being presented to voters.

Look for 'Climate Change' to Be Referenced in Blue-Green Algae Report

September 28, 2019 - 6:00am
Blue-green algae on the Treasure Coast in 2018

The Blue-Green Algae Task Force appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January to study ways to prevent or reduce algae blooms spawned by Lake Okeechobee runoff into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers is nearing completion of its first draft of recommendations to lawmakers.

And it’s apparently going to include data referencing “climate change” and “global warming,” words former Gov. Rick Scott forbid from being mentioned in previous state-funded efforts to address blue-green algae and red tide.

‘Assault weapon’ Ban, Marijuana Legalization Go Before Florida Supreme Court Feb. 4

September 30, 2019 - 9:00am
Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court will conduct its mandated review of proposed ballot language in prospective constitutional amendments seeking to impose an “assault weapons” ban and to legalize recreational marijuana on Feb. 4.

Both measures are seeking to qualify for the November 2020 ballot and are among three initiatives being challenged by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

A Year Later, 18,000 Hurricane Michael Insurance Claims Still Unresolved

September 20, 2019 - 6:00am
Michael's damage to a Lynn Haven home

About 12 percent of claims, or 18,211, filed in the wake of Category 5 Hurricane Michael, which hammered the Panhandle last October causing more than $6.5 billion in insured losses, remain open, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee earlier this week.

That’s the bad news. The good news, he said, is the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) has not received many complaints from policyholders, an indication most are “satisfied” with attempts by insurers to resolve outstanding claims.

Florida Congressional Delegation Rallies to Keep Liaison Offices in VA Hospitals

September 18, 2019 - 6:00am
Robert Wilkie and Brian Mast

Florida’s congressional delegation is pushing to quickly adopt legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to allow them to staff liaison offices in Veterans Administration (VA) facilities, especially hospitals.

The urgency in passing the "Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act of 2019" was underscored on Aug. 30 when, days after the bill was heard by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, six Florida lawmakers who share offices in two Florida VA hospitals were informed they were being evicted at year’s end.

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