Disenfranchised No More, Ex-Felons Celebrate While Legislature Debates Voting Details

Mar 13, 2019
Emily Mahoney / Tampa Bay Times via Miami Herald

Hundreds of former felons celebrated on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday, more than four months after Florida voters passed Amendment 4, a ballot measure that is estimated to restore voting rights to more than 1.2 million residents.

Yet inside the Capitol, lawmakers may soon spark another fight over who gets to vote — this time over the definition of “murder.”

Plastic surgery has become more and more common. But some don’t end up going as planned. Sometimes it can result in death. Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) presented a bill she believes will save lives.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., who represents Hialeah and is chairman of the Senate Education committee, says South Florida charter schools shouldn’t be excluded from money generated by voter-approved property tax hikes.

“Those referendum that say they’re going to be used for public school teachers should go to all public school teachers, not only union school teachers,” Diaz told WLRN Thursday.

Scott Keeler / Associated Press

Speaking to a packed Florida House chamber filled with lawmakers on the opening day of the Legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis made his final pitch to legislators Tuesday for the bills he hopes will cross his desk.

Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Senate President Bill Galvano on Tuesday entered his first legislative session at the helm of the Senate like a coach encouraging his team before taking the field.

Deviating from loosely prepared comments, Galvano stressed the importance of time management and didn’t bring up his priorities, which include extending the Suncoast Parkway and Florida Turnpike toll roads and building a new highway between Polk and Collier counties to handle future growth and provide an economic spark for rural areas.

Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva on Tuesday made his case during an address on the opening day of the legislative session, urging the House to pursue a fiscally conservative agenda by tackling rising health-care costs and “great excesses” in the state university system.

Oliva said a budget proposal the Florida House will craft for the upcoming fiscal year will be aligned to priorities, including reform in health care and higher education.

Read Gov. DeSantis State Of The State Address In Full

Mar 5, 2019
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Following is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ State of the State address, as prepared, on the first day of the 2019 legislative session:

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, members of the House and Senate, Cabinet members and Supreme Court Justices:

Mindful of the economic opportunities that lie before us, understanding the environmental challenges that require our attention, and conscious of our obligations to education and public safety, I consider myself blessed to stand before you, at this particular moment in our history, as Florida’s 46th governor.

Florida Senate Republicans are pushing a new scholarship program that expands school choice. The proposed Family Empowerment Scholarship would pay for low income families to enroll in private schools.

How far should Florida go to protect its LGBTQ community?  Two bills moving through the legislature have different answers.

Senate Marijuana Smoking Bill Rolls Along

Feb 21, 2019

A Senate proposal that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana is ready to go to the full Senate after the Rules Committee unanimously signed off on the measure Wednesday. 


Sex trafficking survivors and their advocates are divided on a measure aimed at identifying victims. The proposal submitted to the legislature requires hotel staff and law enforcement officers undergo training to recognize trafficking and for hotel workers to report potential cases.

Democratic Senator Lauren Book sponsored but later pulled a similar measure last year that would have allowed human trafficking victims to sue hotels. She pulled it after it came under fire from the hotel industry.

Savannah Parvu says Book’s bill would be a life saver.

Florida lawmakers have stripped language out of a sanctuary city bill that would have penalized local officials who favor such policies. But the measure’s sponsor,  Republican Senator and state GOP Chairman Joe Gruters, says its goal is still the same.

Senators Support Coverage For Preexisting Conditions

Feb 20, 2019

With continued legal and political battles about the federal Affordable Care Act, a Florida Senate committee Tuesday approved a bill that seeks to ensure patients with preexisting conditions would have access to health coverage. 


A House Democrat filed on Monday a proposal that calls for apologizing to people who were targeted in the 1950s and 1960s by a legislative committee that went after civil-rights activists and homosexuals.

Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, filed a resolution (HCR 893) that proposes offering a “formal and heartfelt apology to those whose lives, well-being, and livelihoods were damaged or destroyed by the activities and public pronouncements of those who served on the committee.”

Lawmaker Looks To Tie Vaping, Smoking Tobacco

Feb 19, 2019

State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, wants to define vaping products with tobacco products, a move that would allow electronic cigarettes to be lumped into anti-smoking marketing efforts.