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Five Questions for Session's Bulldog, Randy Fine

April 23, 2019 - 8:00am
Randy Fine

This legislative session, state Rep. Randy Fine has become one of the Florida House’s most-fierce and eager debaters.

Whether it be discussions on expanding school choice, holding higher-education officials accountable for misusing state funds or championing legislation to battle anti-Semitism, the Brevard County Republican is no stranger to headlines.

'Sanctuary Cities' Ban Moves Closer to Passing

April 17, 2019 - 9:00am

As the debate over so-called sanctuary cities is back in the national spotlight, two Republican-led proposals that would bar such policies in Florida are close to being ready for final consideration.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the House version of the bill, which would carry fines and penalties for local governments that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“It is important to not put the citizens of our state at a disadvantage to criminal aliens,” said Rep. Cord Byrd, a Neptune Beach Republican sponsoring the bill (HB 527).

Weekly Roundup: Democratic Leader in Hot Water

April 13, 2019 - 7:30am
Audrey Gibson

It’s not every day that the Senate’s top Democrat has to clarify, “I am not anti-Semitic.”  

But that is what happened this week.

It all started Monday, when Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, voted “no” on a bill (SB 1272) that is designed to treat discrimination against Jewish students in public schools and colleges like the way acts of racial discrimination are treated.

Weekly Roundup: Halfway Home

March 30, 2019 - 7:30am

It’s midway through the legislative session and all eyes are on the money now.

The House and Senate this week unveiled competing budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. And at roughly $1 billion apart, money fights are sure to abound, as lawmakers inch toward final budget negotiations.

One of the biggest points of contention so far has to do with funding for the state’s tourism industry, particularly Visit Florida, the tourism-marketing agency whose life is on the line.

Group Works to Sway 'Sanctuary Cities' Bill

March 27, 2019 - 7:15am

A hard-line group that wants to “defeat immigration anarchy” in Florida influenced the drafting of a Senate proposal that would ban so-called sanctuary cities, one of the legislative session’s most politically charged fights.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, would give the attorney general authority to take action against local governments, an approach suggested in January by a lawyer for the group Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, according to emails obtained by The News Service of Florida.

Campus Indoctrination? GOP Lawmakers Want to Find Out

March 14, 2019 - 9:00am
Cord Byrd

A proposal that would require Florida public universities to survey faculty members and students about their personal viewpoints was approved Wednesday by a House panel, with Democrats concerned about what lawmakers would do with the results.

House Higher Education & Career Readiness Chairman Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach, said the survey is necessary because of concerns about indoctrination in the university system.

Attorney General Moody, Sen. Tom Lee Say Bill Is Needed to Prevent 'Chaos'

March 9, 2019 - 7:45am
Tom Lee

Attorney General Ashley Moody is pushing legislation she says is needed to prevent chaos in Florida’s legal system after voters overwhelmingly approved a measure that could reduce existing sentences of thousands of people convicted of crimes.

More than 4 million Floridians in November approved Amendment 11, which got rid of an 1800s-era constitutional "Savings Clause" provision that banned the Legislature from applying criminal-justice and sentencing changes retroactively.

Florida Bar Investigates Matt Gaetz Tweet

February 28, 2019 - 9:00am
Matt Gaetz and Michael Cohen

The Florida Bar on Wednesday opened an investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who sent a tweet accusing Michael Cohen of infidelity as President Donald Trump’s former attorney prepared to testify before Congress.

Gaetz, a Northwest Florida Republican who is an outspoken ally of Trump, said complaints stemming from his tweet Tuesday were “frivolous.” In the tweet, he accused Cohen, who is married, of having multiple “girlfriends.”

Plan Targeting Sanctuary Cites Moves Forward

February 20, 2019 - 9:00am
Joe Gruters

An effort to ensure local governments in Florida fully comply with requests from federal immigration authorities passed a key Senate panel on Tuesday, after lawmakers voted to strip penalties for local officials who favor so-called sanctuary cities.

The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-2 vote, along party lines, showing that the proposal has greater momentum this year than in the past when similar proposals stalled in the committee.

DeSantis Pursues New School Voucher Program

February 16, 2019 - 7:00am

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he wants to create a new “equal opportunity” voucher program to eliminate a waiting list of about 14,000 low-income students seeking to use state-backed scholarships to attend private schools.

The governor is asking lawmakers to create a “supplement” to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the state’s largest voucher-type program, which serves nearly 100,000 students but has about 14,000 others stuck on a waiting list.

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