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House Looks for Ways to Boost Teacher Pay

October 18, 2019 - 6:00am
Chris Latvala

A House education panel on Thursday began delving into the issue of raising teacher pay, with a key lawmaker saying that while "everything is on the table," the panel still needs to figure out where the money would come from.

Rep. Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who chairs the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, said his panel has been asked by House leaders to find about $500 million in potential cuts as part of a broader budget exercise. But that exercise also could help determine if a teacher-pay package would be viable.

Florida Prisons Chief: Status Quo 'Unsustainable'

October 17, 2019 - 8:00am

House and Senate criminal justice panels on Wednesday once again received an education about the ongoing problems plaguing Florida’s prison system.

Ahead of the 2020 legislative session, lawmakers on the committees heard alarming statistics showing a skyrocketing rate of violence, contraband being smuggled into state prisons, and high turnover rates among correctional officers.

And the legislators were also reminded that it will take millions of dollars to fix the problems.

FDP Focuses on Voter Registration as Key to Victory in 2020

October 14, 2019 - 6:00am
Bernie Sanders supporters pose at weekend FDP conference

If Florida Democrats could sum up the state party’s early 2020 strategy in three words, they would be registration, registration, registration.

During the party’s convention this weekend in Orlando, leaders stressed they have fixed past errors in their voter-registration strategy and are busy building a more Democratic-friendly electorate more than a year from Election Day.

“I think we are going to win by putting our head down and doing the work,” said Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. 

Prison Overdoses Not Tracked amid Contraband Problems

October 11, 2019 - 6:00am
K2 aftermath

Florida’s prison system, the third largest in the nation, has long faced issues with contraband drugs, yet the state agency that grapples with the problems does not track the number of inmates treated for overdoses.

Department of Corrections officials say they deem the health and well-being of prisoners a priority and that the system has protocols to provide inmates with "proper medical treatment" when they overdose.

DeSantis to Join Trump at The Villages Event

October 3, 2019 - 7:00am
Donald Trump during his last trip to The Villages

Gov. Ron DeSantis will be on hand when President Donald Trump visits friendly turf Thursday in The Villages, but two of the president’s other closest Florida allies won’t accompany him.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters and Congressman Matt Gaetz have prior commitments and will not be able to attend the president’s event, which is happening in the midst of a U.S. House impeachment inquiry into the president.

FDLE Wants More Money to Stop 'Homegrown Violent Extremists'

October 2, 2019 - 6:00am
Rick Swearingen

A project designed to detect “homegrown violent extremists and lone actors” before they attack is estimated to cost the Florida Department of Law Enforcement millions of dollars --- and agency officials want lawmakers to start paying for parts of it next year.

The agency is asking the Legislature for $3.6 million to support multiple parts of its “behavioral threat assessment” tool, which has been extolled by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

Weekly Roundup: Florida GOP Hearts Trump

September 28, 2019 - 6:00am
The Florida Capitol

Impeachment. Impeachment. Impeachment.

That was the drama that dominated Washington, D.C. this week as Democrats backed impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

But in the nation’s largest swing state, Florida Republicans’ support of the president remained unwavering, with some GOP officials using the unfolding events to raise money.

Teachers in 11 Districts Have Volunteered to Be Trained and Armed

September 17, 2019 - 6:00am
Lori Berman and Manny Diaz, Jr.

School districts in 11 Florida counties are open to training teachers to carry guns in schools as a defense tactic in case of shooting situations, according to an official with the state Department of Education.

Damien Kelly, director of the state Office of Safe Schools, told the Senate Education Committee on Monday that of the 36 school districts participating in a controversial school “guardian” program, 11 have indicated an interest in arming classroom teachers.

Panhandle Schools Struggle with Michael's Aftermath

September 15, 2019 - 7:00am
Panhandle still suffers

When classes resumed in August, a number of school districts in the Florida Panhandle found that many of their students never came back.

In Bay County, the school district lost more than 3,200 students.

In rural Jackson County, 114 fewer students showed up than in the previous year.

And, in Calhoun and Gulf counties, school officials reported 83 and 32 fewer students enrolled, respectively.

Weekly Roundup: So Long, Justices, We Hardly Knew Ye

September 14, 2019 - 7:00am
Tropical depression threatens the Bahamas

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian wrecked the Bahamas, a potential tropical cyclone is looming over the island chain.

Weather experts on Friday predicted “Potential Tropical Cyclone 9” could develop into Tropical Storm Humberto by the weekend, prompting Gov. Ron DeSantis to once again shift his focus to Florida’s Caribbean neighbors.

“As we monitor this depression, our prayers are with the Bahamas as they are impacted by another tropical system,” the Republican governor tweeted Friday morning.




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