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More than $100 million will likely be spent during the next seven months as two of Florida’s top elected officials go head-to-head in the mid-term contest for a spot in the U.S. Senate.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam made his pitch for governor before a group of civic leaders in Tampa Friday morning.

Putnam laid out his vision for education reform before taking questions from the audience at Cafe Con Tampa. He called for increased funding for technical colleges and vocational training in Florida's middle and high schools.

Wikimedia Commons

Pressure is growing from Florida and other states as the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to determine how to move forward with a disaster-relief package President Donald Trump signed in early February.

The growing momentum for tighter gun control after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is highlighting the National Rifle Association's history of aggressively confronting challenges to what it regards as Second Amendment rights.

Federal limits on both research into gun violence and the release of data about guns used in crimes are powerful reminders of the lobbying group's advantages over gun control activists. For decades, the NRA pushed legislation that stifled the study and spread of information about the causes of gun violence.

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Is Florida really going through its sixth straight year of record education funding, as Gov. Rick Scott claims? And we also look into how an attack ad is crafted, with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

As gubernatorial candidates start ramping up their primary campaigns, Democrat Philip Levine made a stop in St. Petersburg to gauge students' priorities.

Levine sat in a circle with about a dozen students at St. Petersburg College on Thursday, fielding questions about gun control, environmental protection and student debt.  He calls these intimate events "campus conversations."

Levine touted his record as the former mayor of Miami Beach, telling students he has acted on the issues that matter most to young people.

Elected officials from 10 Florida cities are suing state officials over a law that prohibits local governments from enacting their own gun regulations.

Polk County Supervisor of Elections

Voters in a number of cities throughout Polk County will go to the polls Tuesday for a variety of municipal elections.

“There are eight city elections including Bartow, Davenport, Eagle Lake, Frostproof, Haines City, Lake Alfred, Mulberry and Polk City. In some of those cities, we have city commission races and in others. we have referendums that the city residents will be voting on.” said Lori Edwards, Supervisor of Elections for Polk County.

ProCon.org

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Florida to devise a new way to decide when and how former prisoners can get their voting rights restored, saying Gov. Rick Scott and state officials can no longer rely on "whims, passing emotions, or perceptions" in that process.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also blocked the state's current system of forcing most ex-felons to wait at least five years before they can ask to have their voting rights restored.

The system was put in place back in 2011 at the urging of Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Madison Vogel had never organized a protest before.

But following the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, the Osceola High School senior got together with 35 other Pinellas County students and created a companion event to a national march against gun violence.

AP Photo/PolitiFact Florida

Do just one percent of licensed gun dealers supply more than half the guns recovered in crimes? And is Florida one of the only states that prohibits a gun registry? WUSF's Steve Newborn gets the answers from PolitiFact Florida's Allison Graves.

Florida will start sharing voter information to make sure people aren't registered in other states.

Scott Signs Budget, Takes It Easy On Vetoes

Mar 17, 2018
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

With a light touch of his veto pen, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed a new $88.7 billion state budget, eliminating only $64 million in spending and projects, the lowest total of his seven-plus years as governor.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed a pair of veterans-focused bills. He held the signing ceremony Tuesday at Jacksonville’s National Guard armory.

The measures are meant to make it easier for vets and active duty service members to get an education and a job.

Mary Shedden / WUSF Public Media

The final public hearing of Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday included a new push to let voters decide if Florida should ban assault-style weapons.

PolitiFact Florida

When Florida lawmakers began their annual 60-day session, two priorities were protecting students from bullies and government workers from sexual harassment.

The negotiation and passage of Senate Bill 7026 — a 100-page gun control and school safety measure that is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature —  prompted some Democratic lawmakers to question whether LGBT and black victims of gun violence matter less to Republican leaders than white, affluent ones.

Latvala Formally Exits Governor’s Race

Mar 10, 2018
Courtesy Latvala for Governor campaign

Former state Sen. Jack Latvala, who resigned his seat after a sexual-harassment investigation, formally withdrew from the gubernatorial campaign Friday.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

The National Rifle Association has filed a federal lawsuit over gun control legislation Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed, saying it violates the Second Amendment by raising the age to buy guns from 18 to 21.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state. Among other things, the legislation raises the legal age for gun purchases to 21, institutes a waiting period of three days, and allows for the arming of school personnel who are not full-time teachers.

In a statement, Scott's office highlights mental health provisions in the bill:

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran says the state’s pending school marshal program is the “first-of-its kind” in the nation.

And the Congressman representing Parkland said mass shootings went up 200 percent in the decade after the national assault weapons ban expired.

WUSF's Steve Newborn gets to the bottom of these claims with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.

www.colorbox.com

Florida is a step closer to living up to its nickname as "The Sunshine State."

Donna Shalala, the former University of Miami president and Health and Human Services secretary, is officially running as a Democrat to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, according to Federal Election Commission paperwork filed Monday.

Shalala, 77, has never run for elected office, but her presence shakes up a crowded Democratic primary in a district that includes most of Miami Beach, downtown Miami and coastal Miami-Dade County. The district favors Democrats, as Hillary Clinton defeated President Donald Trump by 19.7 percentage points there in 2016.

The white Republican leaders of the Florida Legislature believe giving guns to school staff members will help protect students.

But black members in both houses warn it could endanger them — particularly children of color, who are often disciplined more harshly than their white peers in school.

Momentum has stalled for a bill that would have allowed human trafficking victims to sue hotels that do not take action and train employees to prevent such atrocities. The measure’s sponsor isn’t saying why she pulled the plan.

First responders being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have extended benefits under a bill passed Monday by the Florida Legislature. 

Monday was supposed to be the day that DACA ended.

But court rulings have blocked President Trump from phasing out the program, at least for now, and negotiations have stalled out in Congress. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protects undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation.

Gina Jodan/WLRN

The Florida Senate has agreed to advance a bill that would increase school safety and restrict gun purchases following a rare weekend session in the wake of last month's shooting at a high school that killed 17 people.

Florida Senate Tees Up Gun Safety Legislation For Monday Vote

Mar 5, 2018

The Florida Senate held a rare Saturday session, discussing legislation aimed at making schools safer, following the February 14th mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 14 students and three faculty members dead.

Lawmakers Approve Post-Hurricane KidCare Aid

Mar 5, 2018

Despite an earlier assertion from a top Medicaid official that the state could be giving a “freebie,” lawmakers have agreed to fund Florida KidCare health-insurance premiums for more than 6,000 children living in 48 counties that were impacted by Hurricane Irma.

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