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Lawyers Sue FDOE for Taxing Teacher Bonuses

July 17, 2019 - 9:00am

Lawyers representing teachers are accusing the Florida Department of Education of improperly allowing school districts to deduct employer taxes from teacher bonuses, cutting into the financial awards of tens of thousands of high-performing educators.

The lawsuit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that Florida education officials wrongly directed school districts to pay teachers less than the award amount provided in state law, under the controversial “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program.

Weekly Roundup: Former Florida Prosecutor out of President's Inner Circle

July 13, 2019 - 9:45am
Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta, the former South Florida prosecutor who more than a decade ago crafted what many consider a lenient plea deal for accused child sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, is out as U.S. labor secretary.

Acosta’s resignation Friday came two days after he publicly defended his actions as the U.S. attorney for Florida’s southern district in 2008, when his office gave Epstein the plea deal now under intense scrutiny.

Still Struggling Prison System Prepares for Storm Season

July 12, 2019 - 6:30am
Hurricane Michael in 2018

Nine months ago, Rodrick Fagiole was inside Gulf Correctional Institution when Hurricane Michael blew the roof off of the Panhandle prison.

Through a gaping cavity above him, Fagiole said he watched as the eye of the storm passed overhead, following a moment of calm.

“Looking at the hole in the ceiling, I was thinking, where can I be safe?” Fagiole, who was released in December after two years behind bars, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview. “I really thought I was going to die.”

How Much Did It Cost Taxpayers for Cabinet's Trip to Israel? We Wait

July 3, 2019 - 11:15am
The Florida Cabinet met in Israel May 29

Updated at 1:15 p.m. with comment in bold from Moody's office about general counsel's role in the trip.

When Florida Cabinet members jetted off to Israel in late May, some state employees who traveled at taxpayer expense stayed in a more than $400-a-night luxury hotel in Jerusalem, where a Cabinet meeting was held.

More than a month after the trade mission ended, the full cost of the trip, proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is not clear.

Supreme Court Blocks Census Citizenship Question

June 28, 2019 - 6:30am
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked --- at least for now --- a citizenship question from being asked in the 2020 census, saying the Trump administration offered a “contrived” explanation as to why it was needed.

The opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, eased Florida Democrats’ concerns that a citizenship question in Florida, which is a magnet for immigrants, would lead to an undercount of the state’s population. 

Arriving Democratic Candidates Out to Woo Floridians Ahead of the Debates

June 25, 2019 - 12:45pm
Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke and Jay Inslee

Twenty Democratic presidential hopefuls are about to square off in Miami during two nights of nationally televised debates, as they get an early chance to stand out in the crowded primary.

But some candidates also are visiting political hotspots in Florida, a swing state that will be crucial for any of them to win the White House.

So far, the Homestead migrant detention shelter, the Everglades and Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood have been among the places picked for visits by candidates such as former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Court Fight Looms over New Vouchers Program

June 25, 2019 - 8:45am

Thirteen years after Tallahassee attorney Ron Meyer successfully challenged the state’s major school-vouchers program, he is preparing to sue the state again, this time over its newest taxpayer-funded scholarships.

A number of organizations want Meyer to represent them in a case to try to strike down the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month.

Rain Doesn't Dampen Supporters' Enthusiasm for a Trump Second Term

June 19, 2019 - 7:15am
resident Trump Tuesday night at Amway Center in Orlando

Thousands of adoring fans, taking shelter in an Orlando arena from torrential rain, welcomed President Donald Trump on Tuesday night and gave him the backdrop he craved as he officially launched his 2020 “Keep America Great” campaign.

“As long as you keep the steam in place, we have a tremendous way to go. Our future has never looked brighter or sharper,” Trump said. “The American Dream is bigger, stronger than ever before.”

Cabinet Meeting in Israel a 'Go' in Spite of The Sunshine Law

May 29, 2019 - 6:30am
Ron DeSantis in Israel

A Tallahassee judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet by open-government advocates, who made a last-ditch effort to stop a Cabinet meeting in Israel because they argue it will violate the state’s open-meeting laws.

The lawsuit, filed by the First Amendment Foundation and four major news organizations, accused the governor and Cabinet members of “willfully violating the law” for trying to hold a Cabinet meeting Wednesday at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, about 6,000 miles from the state Capitol.

Weekly Roundup: Washington (County) and the Russians

May 18, 2019 - 8:45am
Ron DeSantis drops a bombshell

When Gov. Ron DeSantis held a quickly called news conference Tuesday, he dropped a bombshell: Two Florida counties were hacked by Russians before the 2016 elections.

DeSantis said he received the information during a briefing with the FBI, confirming longstanding speculation and reports about Russians trying to get into Florida voting systems.

But the governor emphasized that the hacking did not involve “manipulation” of voting results.

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