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Lawmakers Looking at Endgame for 2012 Session

February 26, 2012 - 6:00pm

With different versions of the budget having cleared the House and Senate and two crucial court rulings looming, legislative leaders have begun gaming out the endgame for the 2012 session.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, suggested Monday the end of the session could hinge on three factors:

Gardiner Claims Senate Presidency Won; Thrasher Not Done Campaigning

February 22, 2012 - 6:00pm

Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner declared victory in the tumultuous race for the Senate presidency in 2014, even as one of his main rivals insisted it is far too early to call anything.

"There's been a lot of speculation, and I am confirming that I have secured enough signatures of the sitting members and the returning members for the Senate presidency in '14," said Gardiner, R-Orlando, after a Senate session that stretched late into Thursday evening.

Gardiner, who has long been the front-runner for the position, proclaimed himself "humbled" by the results.

Supreme Court Broadens Redistricting Review

February 20, 2012 - 6:00pm

With about a week to go until oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court over the state's plan for legislative redistricting, justices are already fighting about how far the court can go in reviewing the new maps.

In what could amount to a victory for opponents of the proposal for carving up House and Senate districts, SJR 1176, the court issued an order Tuesday calling for the Florida Democratic Party and a coalition of voting-rights organizations to hand over information they had on lawmakers' residences.

Scott Signs Off on New Congressional Districts

February 15, 2012 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott signed the Legislature's plan on Thursday to redraw the state's congressional districts, likely paving the way for more lawsuits surrounding the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Scott's office quietly announced the move in the afternoon without comment. A letter from Scott to Secretary of State Kurt Browning simply said the bill, SB 1174, had been signed.

The signing was expected; Scott was largely hands-off during the redistricting process and hadn't given any signs he might veto the plan.

Lawsuits Fly over Senate Redistricting Maps

February 8, 2012 - 6:00pm

The war over the state's political boundaries entered its next stage Thursday, as final passage of the Legislature's redistricting plan for the state's congressional delegation was met with a lawsuit backed by the Florida Democratic Party and the threat of more to come.

Within moments of the Senate approving the plan on a bipartisan, 32-5 margin, the Democratic Party announced that several voters working with the party had filed a lawsuit challenging the maps on the grounds that they violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments approved by voters last fall.

Colleges Split from Universities; Wary of Possible Tuition Increases

February 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

Breaking with their counterparts at the state's universities, presidents at a handful of Florida colleges urged lawmakers to be cautious about any moves that could push tuition upward.

The comments came in testimony before the House Education Committee, which is working to hammer out a set of recommendations on how to overhaul the state's higher education system.

Revenue Forecast Steady; House Calls for Timely Budget, Senate Resisting

January 11, 2012 - 6:00pm

State economists left their revenue estimate for the next 18 months all but unchanged Thursday, prompting renewed calls from the House for lawmakers to finish their budget on time despite the Senate leader's hesitance to move quickly.

The new estimate changes the overall projection by $26.1 million -- about 1 percent of the projected $2 billion budget shortfall and an increase of 0.05 percent in projected revenue. It includes an increase of $46 million in the estimate for the current year and a drop of $19.9 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

New Budget Forecast Could Help Determine Length of Session

January 10, 2012 - 6:00pm

State revenue forecasters will meet Thursday to come up with a new estimate that could shape both the size of the budget for the coming fiscal year and the length of the legislative session.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are still divided over whether the length of the session is a closed matter. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has repeatedly and publicly raised questions about whether lawmakers should rely on January prognostications about the economy or wait a while for more information.

Redistricting Maps Pass House Committees

January 8, 2012 - 6:00pm

New maps for the Legislature and the state's congressional delegation passed three House panels on party-line votes Monday as the Senate Democratic leader unveiled her proposal for the once-a-decade redistricting process.

The House subcommittees tasked with drawing lines for the House and Congress each approved three alternatives for those plans, set to be considered by the House Redistricting Committee later this month. The subcommittee set up to address the Senate maps approved the upper chamber's working version of the plan.

Romney, Gingrich Tied in Florida, Poll Finds

December 29, 2011 - 6:00pm

As Florida voters begin to focus on the state's pivotal GOP presidential primary at the end of January, the leading contenders are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, according to a poll by TelOpinion Research.

Romney and Gingrich are essentially in a statistical dead heat, with Romney leading with 27 percent of the vote to Gingrich's 26, according to the telephone survey of 780 Republican voters, conducted from Dec. 15-19.

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