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Weekly Roundup: Hoping for a Happy Ending

February 12, 2016 - 6:15pm

Budgets have been approved. Committee meetings are dropping off. And the major differences between the House and the Senate are coming into focus

The halfway point of the legislative session passed this week, and lawmakers were already trying to set the stage to avoid the kind of slow-motion train wreck that accompanied the end of their 2015 gathering. With a more modest gap between spending plans this year --- and no unbridgeable policy divides like last year's fight over health-care spending --- there's hope, at least, that the Legislature can finish its work on time.

Weekly Roundup: Hot Button Issues and Budgets

February 5, 2016 - 9:30pm

Who says lawmakers never address thorny issues in an election year?

Whether any of the proposals that ate up time and energy this week are like

Weekly Roundup: Choosing Sides

January 29, 2016 - 8:00pm

This is the part of the legislative session where the House and the Senate's honeymoon --- especially one as dubious as this year's --- begins to face its first serious test. The opening weeks and the easy compromises have been sent to the governor for his signature. It gets harder from here.

Senate Unveils Boost in Education Spending

January 26, 2016 - 7:30pm

Senate budget writers are considering a larger education spending increase than Gov. Rick Scott sought, though lawmakers are still considering how to offset an increase in local property taxes that helps pay for the historic number.

The initial proposal from the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee would boost funding for the main public-school spending formula by almost $650.6 million in the year beginning July 1, more than the $507.3 million increase that Scott has touted as record-breaking.

Weekly Roundup: Fallout Zone

January 22, 2016 - 11:00pm

When lawmakers return to Tallahassee every year for the legislative session, they are usually more or less proactive, passing legislation and holding committee hearings that shape the news that comes from the Capitol.

Every so often, though, outside events tend to shape what goes on in the Legislature more than the members of the House and Senate do. This week was one of those periods.

Judicial Term Limits Moving Through House

January 21, 2016 - 7:30pm

A key House committee Thursday approved a measure that would limit Florida Supreme Court justices and appellate-court judges to two full terms in office, putting a proposed constitutional amendment one step shy of the House floor.

Backroom Briefing: Seal for Approval

January 14, 2016 - 9:15pm

It looks like the official seal of the Florida Senate will soon be losing a few more flags.

Last year, in the wake of racial unrest and a nationwide rejection of the Confederate battle flag, the Senate dropped the banner from a set of flags that served as the background for the chamber's seal. The move came just a few months after a man with white supremacist views opened fire at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people and sparking a debate about the iconography of the Old South.

Weekly Roundup: Scott Plays Trump Cards

Scott's Budget Plans Could Face Squeeze

January 6, 2016 - 9:00pm
Rick Scott

An election-year budget that includes huge tax cuts, record funding for public schools and a new initiative to bring jobs to Florida might be good politics for lawmakers. The question is whether they can afford it.

When lawmakers start the 2016 legislative session Tuesday, it will have been years since the House and Senate were in the depths of the fallout from the global financial meltdown that forced painful cuts to schools and politically perilous increases in tobacco taxes and motor-vehicle fees.

New Senate Numbers Set off Tampa-Area Scramble

January 5, 2016 - 7:30pm

A random renumbering process Tuesday for the newest version of state Senate districts could force lawmakers across Florida into critical decisions --- including a decision that might create a high-profile match-up between incumbent Republicans in Pasco County.

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