Politics

Political news

You may have been received a call lately asking you to "tell your state Senator" to oppose the parent trigger bill.

If you have, you probably live in the district of a handful of mostly moderate Republicans who are still undecided about the bill.

It's a top priority of former Governor Jeb Bush and conservative leaders in the Legislature. It's become enemy number one to unions.

The bill would allow parents in failing schools to be able to vote for change - such as turning the facility into a charter school.

Last week, WUSF quizzed former Senator George LeMieux about his "Two-and-a-Half Macks" ad.

It went after rival Rep. Connie Mack IV for several run-ins with the law and financial difficulties.

Now, PolitiFact Florida is weighing in on one specific claim: that Connie Mack IV's "only real job in the world" was "events coordinator at Hooters."

"Hello, I'm with the Florida Department of Financial Restitution, and I'm working with Attorney General Pam Bondi's office to help Floridians recover unclaimed property..."  

For a $600 fee?

You guessed it -- it's a scam.  Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says there is no such department, and he wants Floridians to be on alert.

"These scam artists are trying to defraud consumers out of their hard-earned dollars by using deceitful practices and peddling a service that my department offers free of charge,” says Atwater.

House photo by Mark Foley

The Chairman of the Florida House Justice Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Rich Glorioso, says Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander personally removed funding for the Hillsborough Correctional Institution.

That’s the women’s faith-and-character based prison both the house and senate had previously agreed to fund.

The Plant City Republican who is finishing his final term in the house talked with WUSF’s Bobbie O’Brien about HCI.

Today's ruling by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford throws a huge wrench into the state budget process that was supposed to be decided this week.

If you're a state worker, it could mean a refund of the three percent most of you saw taken from your salary on July 1.

But don't start spending your refund checks yet -- the state is bound to appeal, and this whole thing will end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

When USF President Judy Genshaft calls the budget deal "very, very, very good," you know it must be for the university.

Leaders in the Florida House and Senate have agreed on a budget that largely spares the University of South Florida from the disproportionate budget cuts proposed by the state Senate.

The price: agreeing to grant independence to USF Polytechnic, which will become Florida Polytechnic, the state's 12th university.

For a brief time last week, it appeared Hillsborough Correctional Institution (HCI), the women’s faith-and-character based prison set for closure, would receive a reprieve. But reports surfaced over the weekend, HCI is back on the chopping block.

Inmates, staff and volunteers at HCI successfully kept the Department of Corrections from closing down the 35-year-old facility last year. And, it appeared they would do it again this budget year when both the House and Senate set aside $2 million for needed repairs.

It may have been a slow session at the Florida Legislature this year, but that hasn’t stopped drama from breaking out in the state Senate.

An attempted coup over who would be the future state Senate president. The failure of prison privatization. And a continuing fight over the parent trigger bill.

It reveals the split between moderates and conservatives in the state Senate, according to Peter Schorsch. He’s a political consultant and the man behind award-winning SaintPetersBlog.com.

Florida Independent

It was a working weekend for state lawmakers, and they'll likely be even busier this week.  The House and Senate are still trying to hammer together a single balanced budget before the legislative session ends Friday.

Among the issues still unresolved -- funding cuts to state universities and the creation of the state's 12th university, Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland.

Lawmakers must agree on the budget numbers by Tuesday evening to allow for a constitutionally-required three-day cooling off period before a final vote.  The session is scheduled to end this Friday

It looks like Senate budget chairman JD Alexander of Lake Wales might win his battle for an independent Florida Polytechnic in Polk County.

Now, Martin Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times has a story that implies Alexander might be getting another big project for his home county: funding for a new expressway.

It's $35 million, and although faithful readers of the Polk County papers might have known it was in the budget,  this story came as a surprise to many folks.

Tampa City Council is to decide today on spending around $4 million to equip police with additional safety equipment aimed at controlling crowds at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

In an interview with WUSF, former Sen. George LeMieux is standing behind his decision to attack Rep. Connie Mack as the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics.

The Republican Senate primary campaign in Florida has heated up fast, after information about Connie Mack IV's legal troubles -- including fistfights and financial woes -- was published in the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

Now, LeMieux's campiagn is using that information in "Two and a Half Macks" -- an animated ad on the internet.

NPR has a great story about politicians getting in trouble with musicians for using their music without permission. Anyone remember President Reagan using Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."?

Turns out, whether politicians can use the music depends on when and where they play it. Big convention center with a blanket policy, you're probably OK. Moose Lodge in Sheboygan, probably not.

And then, there was Gov. Charlie Crist, whose campaign used David Byrne's "Road to Nowhere" on a commercial attacking now-Senator Marco Rubio.

That didn't end well:

We've known for a while that the Florida House was willing to spend money to save Hillsborough Correctional Institution (HCI). And now, the Senate has put up money for HCI as well.

Still unanswered is whether Gov. Rick Scott will keep the popular women's prison open.

Have you ever wondered how a seemingly popular bill dies anyway? That's what WLRN's Rick Stone explores in this story about a group of domestic violence victims and their quest in Tallahassee.

It's February 7, 2012 -- the midpoint of the legislative session -- and the Sisterhood of Survivors has come to the Florida capital for the first committee hearing on their bill.

It would allow domestic abuse victims who are being stalked at work to quit their jobs and still qualify for unemployment compensation.

Bay News 9

A federal grand jury in Tampa is investigating Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, according to a story today in the New York Times.

The Times cites several unnamed sources in revealing the grand jury inquiry.

It’s part of an FBI  and IRS investigation into whether Buchanan took part in a scheme to reimburse people who contributed to his campaign.

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