February 27, 2012

Daily Digest for Monday, 2/27

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The Senate will take up a bill that would allow unregulated surplus-lines insurers to take their policies out of Citizens Property Insurance. The proposal, which has already passed the House, is controversial because out-of-state insurers could raise their rates to any amount after taking over the Citizens’ policy. Sen. Mike Fasano, a vocal critic of Citizens, is planning to speak out against what he is calling the "vulture" bill.

* The Senate will also consider a proposal in session today to let the state sell the 
naming rights to greenways and trails.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Monday, 2/27" »

February 24, 2012

Daily Digest for Friday, 2/24

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * Today shapes to be a fairly quiet day in the Capitol and, for the state Senate, it couldn't have come at a better time. As the week ends, the Senate has resolved--for now--its massive internal power struggle that has shifted power to Sens. Andy Gardiner of Winter Park and Jack Latvala of Clearwater. Both men are currently positioned to become Senate president in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

* The "Drug-Free Workplace Act" that allows for random drug testing of state employees will be heard by the House State Affairs Committee. Gov. Rick Scott ordered state employee drug screenings last year, but he suspended the order amid a legal challenge from the ACLU of Florida. A hearing in that challenge was held in Miami this week.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Friday, 2/24" »

February 23, 2012

Daily Digest for Thursday, 2/23

Sorry for the hiccup, folks. No podcast today.


Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The Senate takes up the budget today, and it's already shaping up to be a fight. Tampa Sen. Jim Norman has filed three amendments to the budget that would restore about $55 million to the cut proposed for the University of South Florida. USF supporters have loudly protested what they see as unfair treatment in light of Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander's push to make USF's Lakeland branch campus into the state's 12th university. That push is the subject of another bill slipped into the budget, one that would split USF Polytechnic off immediately, rather than allowing it to continue down a path for independence laid out by the Florida Board of Governors.

* The budget is among dozens of other bills on the Senate's session lineup, including one that reduces some license fees for concealed carry permit holders (HB 5061).

* A proposed committee bill by the House would offer reforms to assisted-living facilities. It will be considered in the Health and Human Services Committee.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Thursday, 2/23" »

February 22, 2012

Daily Digest for Wednesday, 2/22

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The foreclosure process could be sped up by HB 213, under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. Critics of the "Florida Fair Foreclosure Act" say it may force residents out of their homes without due process and lead to more fraud.

* Should automobile racing be Florida's official state sport? HB 745, sponsored by Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, and SB 266, sponsored by Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, would make it so. The question is up for discussion in House State Affairs and Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability committees today.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Wednesday, 2/22" »

February 21, 2012

Daily Digest for Tuesday, 2/21

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Here's what we're watching on this Mardi Gras Day, day 43 of the legislative session. And just like last weekend in New Orleans, today's going to be busy.


Five Stories To Think About Today

 * A ban on texting while driving will get its fourth Senate hearing in the Budget Committee. The measure, SB 416, sponsored by Venice Republican Sen. Nancy Detert, has moved through the Senate with just two no votes. Its House companion, though, has languished without attention despite recent pleas from some legislators, physicians and other community advocates. The texting proposal is just one of about 40 proposals crammed into a two-hour meeting.

* Rather than wait through a bid process with competitors, private companies that explore for oil on state land would get first dibs on a lease to drill oil they found under SB 1158, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker. The measure could affect some Panhandle parks and Blackwater River State Forest.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Tuesday, 2/21" »

February 20, 2012

Daily Digest for Monday, 2/20

Daily Digest for 2/20 [Listen or Download]

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to discuss a proposal that would prevent counties and cities from enacting ordinances that prevent wage theft by employers. It’s a hot issue for Miami-Dade County, as negotiations over a wage protection ordinance have broken down. Worker activists and the business lobby began negotiating an agreement last month, but those talks have failed. The sponsor of SB 862 is Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

* The same panel will consider a measure that changes the way the student member of the Florida Board of Governors is selected. That slot is currently reserved for the president of the Florida Student Association, an advocacy group that in the past has charged dues. But SB 1508, a proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, would allow the governor to appoint a student to the position for a one-year term. In an effort to keep the position student-elected, Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, filed an amendment that would remove the FSA requirement and instead allow student body presidents to choose among themselves.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Monday, 2/20" »

February 17, 2012

Daily Digest for Friday, 2/17

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * For the first time, the House Civil Justice Committee will consider a slate of more than a dozen claims bills, which could allow people harmed by the state to collect damages. Those include priorities of Senate President Mike Haridopolos — the cases of Eric Brody, who was paralyzed after being hit by a Broward County sheriff’s cruiser, and William Dillon, who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years and exonerated by DNA.

* A trial for inmates and volunteers from a Hillsborough Correctional Institution suing the state to block a proposed closure of the Riverview prison will continue Friday morning. Both the House and Senate already have agreed to spare one prison slated for closure, Jefferson Correctional Institution in Monticello.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Friday, 2/17" »

February 16, 2012

Daily Digest for Thursday, 2/16

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * The Parent Empowerment Act makes its final committee stop in the House Thursday. The bill would enable parents to demand sweeping changes at chronically low-performing schools. In some cases, parents could petition to have a charter-school operator take over.

* A bill that would change the standard for the amount of drugs someone must have to get a prison sentence makes its way to the Senate’s judiciary committee. It already passed handily in the criminal justice committee.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Thursday, 2/16" »

February 15, 2012

Daily Digest for Wednesday, 2/15

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Five Stories To Think About Today

* The Senate, lagging behind the House, finally takes up a $70 billion budget on Wednesday. Soon the annual dance will begin when the two chambers try to match their recommendations before submitting them to Gov. Rick Scott.

* University of South Florida students will be arriving by the busload to protest the Senate’s recommendations to cut the school’s funding more than any other state university. Budget chairman Sen. JD Alexander stirred up serious controversy with the cut recommendations. They were revealed days after a bill was slipped into the budget to kick-start Alexander’s pet project to create the 12th university out of the USF Polytechnic branch campus in Lakeland.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Wednesday, 2/15" »

February 14, 2012

Daily Digest for Tuesday, 2/14

Daily Digest for 2/14 [Listen or Download]

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Five Stories To Think About Today

 * Happy Valentine’s Day! What’s more romantic than prison privatization? The Senate is scheduled to take a dramatic up or down vote on a controversial plan to privatize south Florida prisons and work camps. The vote is too close to call and Senate President Mike Haridopolos declined to predict the outcome Monday.

* The House is in session too, with a bill to create 2012’s sales tax holiday listed as its first order of business. For three days in August, clothing, wallets, and bags less than $75 and school supplies less than $15 will be tax-exempt.

Continue reading "Daily Digest for Tuesday, 2/14" »