April 24, 2017

House's testing bill set to expand, setting up negotiations with Senate

SP_409499_KEEL_2_FLGOV@ByKristenMClark

Lawmakers in the Florida House plan to take a priority proposal aimed at reforming the standardized testing schedule in K-12 public schools and transform it into a broader education policy bill — a move intended to set up negotiations with the Senate with less than two weeks left in the 2017 session.

Members of the House Education Committee will vote Monday afternoon to expand HB 773 through a 76-page amendment — filed late Sunday by bill sponsor Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah. The amendment would replace the bill so it incorporates language not only from Diaz’s original measure but also from at least five other education bills lawmakers have considered to varying degrees.

Such a strategic move is typical at this point in session but often draws criticism over a lack of transparency. Individual policy bills that stalled in committee can find new life through omnibus bills lawmakers create by attaching those smaller proposals on to a single, expanded bill that’s still on track to reach the floor.

Senators last week similarly expanded their testing proposal (SB 926), although the tangential education policies being added to each chamber’s testing bill don’t yet align.

More here.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

April 21, 2017

Politicians react to Frank Artiles' resignation over racist, profane remarks

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@ByKristenMClark

Since embattled Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles resigned earlier today, Florida politicians have begun to react on social media.

Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens 

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes

Broward County Rep. Shevrin Jones of West Park

Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando

Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor

Photo credit: Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

April 20, 2017

Artiles' remarks were "reprehensible," fellow Miami senator says

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@ByKristenMClark

Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores -- the No. 2 senator behind President Joe Negron, R-Stuart -- is among those appalled by the crude, racist and sexist words her fellow Miami Republican colleague, Sen. Frank Artiles, used earlier this week when speaking to two black lawmakers.

"I think everything he said is reprehensible -- and not language that should be used by a professional and not language that should be used with regards to colleagues," Flores told the Herald/Times.

MORE: "Legislative complaint seeks to expel Miami lawmaker from Senate over ‘racist rant’ "

A member of the Rules Committee -- which will eventually decide on a formal complaint calling for Artiles' expulsion from the Senate -- Flores was deliberative in responding to a question of whether Artiles should resign.

"At this point, we have a process, and this process is being done," she said. "There are investigations being done by the Senate ... so I want to see what are the recommendations that come back from the special master. My understanding this is very much like a legal and judicial proceeding, so we have to be respectful of that -- but as far as what he said, I think that the words that he used were wrong."

Flores added: "Now we are in a formal process, where I as a member of the Rules Committee will have to serve as one of the decision-makers. I think that procedurally those of us on the Rules Committee are probably being cautioned to not comment too much because of that."

A couple other senators on the committee -- Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens, and committee vice-chairman Sen. Perry Thurston, of Fort Lauderdale -- have been more vocal about what outcome they believe should befall Artiles: Expulsion from the Senate.

Thurston was present at the Governors Club in Tallahassee on Monday night, when Artiles used profanity and a racist slur while speaking to -- and insulting -- Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville.

On Wednesday, Artiles formally apologized on the Senate floor, but it did little to quell growing public outrage. Later that day, Thurston and Braynon led a press conference of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, which voted to initiate the formal complaint against Artiles.

Later Wednesday -- after Rules Committee chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, found the complaint had "probable cause" -- the chamber's general counsel Dawn Roberts was appointed to serve as a special master tasked with investigating the complaint and reporting back with a recommendation to Rules by April 25.

The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to end May 5.

Photo credit: AP

Lawmakers, politicians sound off on social media about Frank Artiles

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@ByKristenMClark

Several state lawmakers and other politicians in the state have taken to social media to express their anger since the news broke Tuesday evening that Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles had used curse words and a racial slur to insult a black female lawmaker and describe other senators.

Artiles apologized privately by Tuesday evening and formally apologized publicly Wednesday morning on the Senate floor, but calls are mounting for him to resign.

MORE: "Legislative complaint seeks to expel Miami lawmaker from Senate over ‘racist rant’ "

Here's a snapshot of the reactions:

Continue reading "Lawmakers, politicians sound off on social media about Frank Artiles" »

WATCH: Black lawmakers say Artiles is 'a bully,' should be expelled

@ByKristenMClark

A couple hours after Sen. Frank Artiles offered a formal apology Wednesday on the Senate floor, the 28 members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus decided it wasn't good enough.

MORE: "Legislative complaint seeks to expel Miami lawmaker from Senate over ‘racist rant’ "

Calling for his expulsion from the Senate for profane and racist comments he made to black senators, the caucus described Artiles as "a bully" with a history of such behavior that should no longer be condoned.

Watch some of their comments below:

April 19, 2017

WATCH: Senate President Joe Negron addresses Frank Artiles' remarks

@ByKristenMClark

After this morning's Senate session when Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles formally apologized, President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, sat down with reporters to discuss Artiles' offensive remarks toward his Senate colleagues on Monday night.

MORE: "Legislative complaint seeks to expel Miami lawmaker from Senate over ‘racist rant’ "

Negron first laid out in detail -- almost as if presenting a case in a courtroom -- how he was informed of Artiles' comments and how and why he decided to respond. He then answered questions, including whether he thought Artiles should resign and what the next steps for possible discipline might be for the freshman senator.

Watch Negron's explanation and answers below.

Gov. Rick Scott calls Artiles' comments 'disgusting' but declines to say whether he should resign

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via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Rick Scott said this afternoon that Sen. Frank Artiles comments were “disgusting” but declined to say whether the Miami Republican should resign.

“He’ll have to make a decision on what he does,” Scott told reporters after spending the day in Washington.

“It’s disgusting,” Scott said when asked to react to the racist, sexist rant.

“I called Senator (Audrey) Gibson this morning. I have a good working relationship with her," Scott said, nothing they walked in a Martin Luther King Day parade. "Nobody should be called names like that. Nobody should be treated like that. It was disgusting.”

Pressed by Gannett’s Ledyard King, Scott repeated that Artiles would have to make the decision whether to step down.

“I’ll just tell you it was disgusting what he said," Scott said. "It was not right to say to anybody. That’s why I called Senator Gibson this morning. She’ a wonderful person.”

Asked again, Scott said: "What you do everyday in your job has consequences when you run."

Photo credit: AP

Artiles' apology not enough: Democrats, Equality Florida, NAACP call for his removal

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via @mikevansickler

Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles may have said he's not resigning minutes after he apologized Wednesday for earlier using a racial slur and directing profanity at another senator.

But other groups are calling him to quit. Others are criticizing how Artiles apologized.

Here's a mid-afternoon sampling of the fallout:

Continue reading "Artiles' apology not enough: Democrats, Equality Florida, NAACP call for his removal" »

WATCH: Sen. Frank Artiles delivers a formal apology on Senate floor

@ByKristenMClark

At the direction of Senate President Joe Negron, Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles delivered a formal apology on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, two days after he insulted Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, in the presence of Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, and used a racial slur to describe other senators.

Watch the video below, and read more here on Artiles' apology and the continuing fallout of his actions.

Senate will try another route to get daily recess in state law

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@ByKristenMClark

With House Republican leaders holding up a Senate-approved bill to mandate daily recess in public elementary schools, Florida senators will attempt another route to get the proposal enacted this year.

Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, the sponsor of the Senate recess bill (SB 78), filed a sweeping amendment Wednesday morning to her measure aimed at reducing statewide standardized tests, which would drastically broaden the bill to include several other policies — including mandatory daily recess.

The 17-page amendment will be considered this afternoon when the testing bill (SB 926) is up for its final committee hearing in Senate Rules before it would go to the floor.

By attaching the recess policy to the broader bill, it gives the Senate more leverage and could force the House into considering it through negotiations. The House also views testing reforms as a top priority this session. 

Full story here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald