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Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

While thousands of Puerto Ricans protested Tuesday over what they say is a lack of resources dedicated to their island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, a group of islanders in Tampa gushed over Florida's governor as he runs for U.S. Senate.

Gov. Rick Scott pressed the flesh and spoke in Spanish to a group made up mainly of Puerto Ricans who now live in Tampa. He was feted by the territory's congressional representative, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, who introduced him during a campaign stop at La Casona Restaurant in West Tampa.

Caribbean American Civic Movement

A small street festival outside Miami features booths adorned with Puerto Rican flags. A band plays salsa music as vendors offer specialties from the Caribbean island such as rice with pork and chickpeas. There's also a woman working her way through the crowd with a clipboard, her white T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Your vote, your voice, your future."

Ricky Shirah/Facebook; Josie Tomkow/Facebook

Voters in Northeastern Polk County will head to the polls on Tuesday for a special election to replace former state Representative Neil Combee.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

The Hillsborough County Democratic Party's spring fundraiser on Saturday was abuzz with talk of a "blue wave," a "blue tsunami" and a "fall frenzy."

Teachers have staged protests in recent weeks in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona. Some are fighting lawmakers who want to scale back their pensions.

It's no secret that many states have badly underfunded their teacher pension plans for decades and now find themselves drowning in debt. But this pensions fight is also complicated by one little-known fact:

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, fired FBI Director James Comey defended his controversial decisions during the 2016 campaign and asserted that the reputation of his agency — which operates under near daily siege from the president and his allies — "would be worse today had we not picked the least bad alternatives."

"I saw this as a 500-year flood, and so where is the manual? What do I do?" he said.

Florida voters will have a chance to ban vaping in restaurants and other businesses, prohibit oil drilling in state waters, create a list of crime victims' rights and give free state university tuition to the spouses and children of first responders who die on the job.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Rick Scott said President Donald Trump should not dismiss special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn wants to divest the city's employee pension fund from companies that make guns and ammo.

 

A recent staff review found that about $300,000 of the more than $800 million pension portfolio is linked to these kind of companies, according to city spokesperson Ashley Bauman. The decision to divest is ultimately up to the seven-member retirement board that oversees Tampa's employee pension fund.

City of St. Petersburg

In 2011, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law backed by the National Rifle Association that essentially stripped cities of their right to enact gun control regulations.

Seven years and a wave of political activism later, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman joins ten Florida cities suing the state in hopes to overturn the legislation.

Twitter

House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't the only longterm politician who is calling it quits.  Congressman Dennis Ross announced Tuesday he's ready to retire.

Ross has represented Florida's 15 Congressional District since 2013; and the 12th Congressional District before redistricting lines were redrawn. The Lakeland Republican serves an area that sprawls from Temple Terrace and Brandon through northern Polk County to Clermont.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is back on Capitol Hill today to answer questions from Congress.

First Amendment Foundation

Some Florida lawmakers received better grades this year when it came to transparency in government, but erosion of the state's famed "Sunshine Laws" continued with more exemptions passed.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Florida’s newest Senate candidate made his first visit to Tampa today since his announcement to run.

Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

Permission of Brian Solis www.briansolis.com / via Flickr

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to answer questions from Congress in two separate Capitol Hill hearings. 

Facebook

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.

Flickr

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.

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