Jim Turner

Jim Turner is a reporter for the News Service of Florida.

News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — A Tampa Republican lawmaker on Friday called for an audit of the state’s overwhelmed unemployment-compensation system, as work was underway to finalize a paper version of the benefits application.

Florida Lawmakers Agree On $92 Billion Budget, Will Vote Next Week

Mar 15, 2020

Legislative leaders completed a roughly $92 billion budget on Saturday afternoon, settling numerous education and health care issues as they fine-tuned the state spending plan in anticipation of an economic hit from the novel coronavirus.

News Service of Florida

Readying for negotiations with the Senate, the Florida House approved a tax package Friday that some Democrats decried as being too focused on giving breaks to special interests.

The House voted 97-16 to pass the package (HB 7097), which would cut revenue by an estimated $115 million next fiscal year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concerns Monday about legislative proposals that would further prevent local governments from regulating short-term vacation rentals.

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Local governments would be barred from licensing food truck vendors in their communities, as part of broader deregulation proposals that cleared final House and Senate committees Thursday.

The Senate Appropriations Committee and House Commerce Committee approved similar bills (SB 474 and HB 1193) that meet part of a call by Gov. Ron DeSantis to scale back occupational regulations.

Travelers might again get a free cup of Florida’s homegrown beverage when they cross the state line, through funding tucked in the Senate’s proposed budget.

Strip clubs, casinos, breweries and cigarette makers could be benched from a proposal that would let Florida college athletes market themselves off the field.

Florida Senate Rolls Out $92.8 Billion Budget Proposal

Jan 31, 2020
Tom Hudson / WLRN

The Florida Senate released an initial $92.83 billion budget proposal Thursday that would provide across-the-board pay raises for state employees, increase money for teacher salaries and help fund water-quality projects.

The Senate proposal for the fiscal year that starts July 1 would be about a 2 percent increase over the current year’s budget. Also, it exceeds a $91.4 billion budget proposal that Gov. Ron DeSantis released in November.

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Athletes at Florida universities and colleges would get a “bill of rights” guaranteeing financial aid and health coverage as part of a House draft proposal intended to allow athletes to cash in on their names and images.

The proposal, released Thursday by the House Commerce Committee, outlines potential compensation for “name, image, likeness or persona” but maintains that pay for on-field performance would remain prohibited.

“It’s really a bill of rights, and it’s focused on their time while in school,” Commerce Chairman Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, said.

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House Speaker Jose Oliva appeared firm in his stance against Visit Florida as tourism officials, with the backing of Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano, tried to showcase the importance of the industry on Wednesday.

Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, maintained his opposition to funding Visit Florida as “Florida Tourism Day” events took place in Tallahassee. Oliva has pushed to eliminate the agency, arguing that state money isn’t needed for tourism marketing.

The Florida Senate is moving quickly to prevent towns like Key West from banning the sale of sunscreens that contain potentially coral reef harming chemicals.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of the state Cabinet on Monday named a Coral Gables securities lawyer to become Florida’s third top financial regulator in less than two years.

Hurricane Irma continues to challenge Florida’s citrus industry.

Two growing seasons separated from the September 2017 storm that flooded groves and uprooted citrus trees across the state, the industry has seen production rebound quicker than some anticipated.

Florida lawmakers Monday dug into issues involving climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, phrases mostly kept under wraps by state Republican leaders before last year’s elections.

Calling the process “an administrative nightmare,” a federal judge on Tuesday urged the Florida Legislature to revamp a state law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.