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Local Term Limits Measure Advances in House

January 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Two decades after voters said "eight is enough" for state lawmakers, a House proposal could lead to term limits for sheriffs, tax collectors and other county officials in many parts of the state.

The House Community & Military Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday narrowly approved a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 785) that would make clear voters in 20 counties can slap term limits on local officials.

The 8-7 subcommittee vote reflected deep divisions that remain about term limits, which were approved for the Legislature in 1992.

Weatherford Bringing in the Bucks for Fall Campaign

January 12, 2012 - 6:00pm

Speaker-in-waiting Will Weatherford continues to overshadow all other House candidates in raising cash for this fall's elections, collecting $130,400 during the final three months of 2011, new reports show.

In all, the Wesley Chapel Republican, who is set to become House speaker in November, has amassed a total of $397,150 to help fuel his re-election bid in District 61. Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, has the next-highest amount, with $248,324.

Health Care Under the Knife as Session Gets Under Way

January 5, 2012 - 6:00pm

By now, it's a familiar scene: As Florida lawmakers deal with a budget shortfall, hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers scramble to fend off -- or brace for -- funding cuts.

Already, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed deep cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals, as he tries to free up money to boost spending on public schools. And while it's too early to know whether lawmakers will go along with Scott's proposal, they are almost certain to make cuts in health and human services programs.

Panel Wrestles with Federal Rules for Health Funding

January 4, 2012 - 6:00pm

When federal officials extended Florida's controversial Medicaid pilot program last month, they required the state to funnel an additional $50 million to improving care for low-income patients.

That much was clear.

But a state panel grappled for hours Thursday with how to carry out the requirements -- an issue that, ultimately, will land in the laps of Florida lawmakers.

Advocacy Group to Appeal 'Scam' Energy Rate Increases

December 29, 2011 - 6:00pm

An advocacy group will ask the state Supreme Court to reject a regulatory decision that would allow Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida to collect about $282 million from customers next year for nuclear-power projects.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has notified the state Public Service Commission that it's taking the unusual step of appealing an order that allows the utilities to collect money for work on future or existing nuclear plants.

EPA Puts Out New Air Pollution Standards

December 20, 2011 - 6:00pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released controversial new air-pollution standards that have been long sought by environmental and health advocates but could force expensive upgrades at some Florida power plants.

The standards will require hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country to make improvements to curb emissions of mercury and other pollutants such as arsenic and nickel.

Weekly Roundup: Medicaid Reform, FAMU, Jobs

December 15, 2011 - 6:00pm

The first step is done. Now, Florida officials will try to convince the federal government that they should be able to remake the Medicaid system statewide.

The Obama administration this week gave long-awaited approval to Florida's extension of a pilot program that requires most Medicaid beneficiaries in five counties to enroll in managed-care plans. The decision was a victory for Republican leaders who ultimately want to put beneficiaries statewide into HMOs and other types of managed care.

Medicaid Pilot Program Gets OK to Run Through 2014

December 14, 2011 - 6:00pm

Ending more than a year of talks, federal officials Thursday approved Florida's proposal to extend a controversial Medicaid managed-care pilot program through June 2014.

The announcement renews a requirement that most Medicaid beneficiaries in five counties enroll in HMOs or other managed-care plans. Also, it means that hospitals and other health providers will continue to tap into a $1-billion-a-year program that bolsters care for low-income and uninsured patients.

Two School Districts Suing over Charter-School Law

December 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

Arguing that a new charter-school law could violate their constitutional rights, two Central Florida school districts are trying to temporarily block the state Board of Education from ruling in a pair of disputes about proposed charter schools.

The Polk and Seminole County school boards filed lawsuits last week against the state board and Renaissance Charter School, Inc., which unsuccessfully sought approval from the districts this year to open charter schools.

Bill to Encourage Inland Oil Drilling Clears House Panel

December 5, 2011 - 6:00pm

Trying to encourage more oil production in Florida, a House panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would offer a tax incentive for tapping old wells in Southwest Florida and the Panhandle.

Sponsor Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said HB 87 seeks to "rejuvenate" oil fields that were discovered decades ago but have been abandoned. At least in some cases, he said, active wells are operating near the abandoned sites.

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