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Weekly Roundup: Drill, Baby, Drill

August 17, 2019 - 8:15am

As classes throughout the state kicked off again this week, the topic of safety was a heated one.

A state school-safety panel grew frustrated with charter schools that don’t have a long-term plan for having armed guards on site at all times, as required by Florida law.

The issue grabbed most of the spotlight during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s two-day meeting in Sunrise.

But “drilling fatigue” was also a big concern for the commission, and for local officials.

The question that emerged: How much safety prep is too much?

School Safety Panel Blasts Broward Schools Chief

August 16, 2019 - 6:00am
Robert Runcie

Amid a growing backlash against charter schools without a long-term plan to have armed guards onsite, a state commission on Thursday pressured Broward County Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie to shut down charters that have failed to meet the state mandate.

But Runcie pushed back, telling members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission that he has to take policies and procedures into consideration prior to shuttering schools.

Joe Gruters Calls Off GOP's Too 'Charged' Immigration 'Listening Tour'

August 12, 2019 - 2:45pm
Joe Gruters

After a mass shooting in Texas intensified a partisan divide about immigration, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida has decided to postpone a statewide “listening tour” focused on the controversial topic.

“The rhetoric is so charged across the political spectrum that in order to have a truly productive listening tour we’ve decided to delay to a later date,” state Sen. Joe Gruters, who also serves as chairman of the state GOP, told The News Service of Florida in a text message Monday.

Weekly Roundup: Putting Hate under the Microscope

August 10, 2019 - 7:00am
Bill Galvano

The tragedy of two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, over the weekend has reignited a national debate on gun control and the solutions to ending gun violence.

In Florida, where two deadly mass shootings happened at a high school in Parkland and a nightclub in Orlando, state lawmakers are once again exploring the issue.

Republicans Set to Propose Immigration Policy, Getting a Jump on 2020

July 23, 2019 - 6:00am
David Simmons and Joe Gruters

Two prominent state senators intend to release proposals for the 2020 legislative session that would set up the Republican platform on immigration, a key issue going into next year’s election cycle.

Sen. Joe Gruters, who doubles as the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and Senate Judiciary Chairman David Simmons plan to file measures that illustrate different approaches to the thorny topic of immigration, the source of some of the Legislature's most heated controversies in recent years.

Lawyers Sue FDOE for Taxing Teacher Bonuses

July 17, 2019 - 9:00am

Lawyers representing teachers are accusing the Florida Department of Education of improperly allowing school districts to deduct employer taxes from teacher bonuses, cutting into the financial awards of tens of thousands of high-performing educators.

The lawsuit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that Florida education officials wrongly directed school districts to pay teachers less than the award amount provided in state law, under the controversial “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program.

Weekly Roundup: Former Florida Prosecutor out of President's Inner Circle

July 13, 2019 - 9:45am
Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta, the former South Florida prosecutor who more than a decade ago crafted what many consider a lenient plea deal for accused child sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, is out as U.S. labor secretary.

Acosta’s resignation Friday came two days after he publicly defended his actions as the U.S. attorney for Florida’s southern district in 2008, when his office gave Epstein the plea deal now under intense scrutiny.

Still Struggling Prison System Prepares for Storm Season

July 12, 2019 - 6:30am
Hurricane Michael in 2018

Nine months ago, Rodrick Fagiole was inside Gulf Correctional Institution when Hurricane Michael blew the roof off of the Panhandle prison.

Through a gaping cavity above him, Fagiole said he watched as the eye of the storm passed overhead, following a moment of calm.

“Looking at the hole in the ceiling, I was thinking, where can I be safe?” Fagiole, who was released in December after two years behind bars, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview. “I really thought I was going to die.”

How Much Did It Cost Taxpayers for Cabinet's Trip to Israel? We Wait

July 3, 2019 - 11:15am
The Florida Cabinet met in Israel May 29

Updated at 1:15 p.m. with comment in bold from Moody's office about general counsel's role in the trip.

When Florida Cabinet members jetted off to Israel in late May, some state employees who traveled at taxpayer expense stayed in a more than $400-a-night luxury hotel in Jerusalem, where a Cabinet meeting was held.

More than a month after the trade mission ended, the full cost of the trip, proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is not clear.

Supreme Court Blocks Census Citizenship Question

June 28, 2019 - 6:30am
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked --- at least for now --- a citizenship question from being asked in the 2020 census, saying the Trump administration offered a “contrived” explanation as to why it was needed.

The opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, eased Florida Democrats’ concerns that a citizenship question in Florida, which is a magnet for immigrants, would lead to an undercount of the state’s population. 

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