The Associated Press

The federal government shutdown that has already led to furloughed employees, closed national parks and commissaries could soon start to ripple through Florida's schools and state government.

The administration of Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday ordered all agencies to refrain from using any state money to cover expenses that are supposed to be picked up by the federal government.

The state has a $74 billion budget, but more than 35 percent of the money comes from federal funds.

Tropical Storm Karen continued losing strength Saturday as it headed toward the central Gulf Coast, but forecasters were still expecting it to bring significant rain and potential flooding to low-lying areas.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 2 a.m. Saturday that Karen's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 40 mph, making it a weak tropical storm. The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 mph to 15 mph.

Forecasters expect the center of Karen to be near the southeast Louisiana coast on Saturday night, when they say there is a slight chance of strengthening.

The Associated Press/NOAA

Tropical Storm Karen is poised to become the first named storm to hit the U.S. during what had been a relatively quiet hurricane season.

Karen is forecast to lash the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend as a weak hurricane or tropical storm. A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle, La., to west of Destin, Fla. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Louisiana coast from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River, including the New Orleans area.

After three years of bashing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republican governors were surprisingly mute on the first day consumers could shop for insurance policies through online marketplaces.

But in the 36 mostly Republican states that left the operation of their exchanges to the federal government, consumer interest Tuesday was high, while Democrats and advocacy groups took the lead in promoting the latest provision of the law.

Florida charged ahead Tuesday with a lawsuit against the state of Georgia that accuses its northern neighbor of consuming too much fresh water from a river system that serves three Southeastern states.

The legal action filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court is an escalation in a legal dispute lasting more than two decades.

The lawsuit is not a surprise since Gov. Rick Scott announced in August that the state was preparing one.

A bipartisan proposal to delay federal flood insurance rate hikes that take effect today is being stymied by a bitter congressional dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law, Sen. Bill Nelson said.

Nelson, D-Fla., along with U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; David Vitter, R-La.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, sponsored legislation last week to delay implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act until next year.

Gov. Rick Scott says the state will pull out of a national test for school children to see if they are reaching standards in certain subjects.

Scott on Monday called for Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and other state officials to take steps related to the ongoing controversy surrounding the new Common Core State Standards.

Those include holding public hearings and possibly altering the standards.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday tapped a former public school teacher to take a spot on the panel that oversees the state's public schools.

Scott appointed Rebecca Fishman Lipsey to a four-year term on the State Board of Education.

Florida's attempt to pull out of the depths of the Great Recession continues to be uneven and bumpy.

The state released new unemployment rates on Friday that show that Florida's unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent in August. It had been stalled at 7.1 percent for the previous three months.

Gov. Rick Scott touted the news at a morning press conference he held in Melbourne, but a closer look at the numbers shows that one reason the rate dropped was that the state's overall labor force shrank.

A 7-year-old boy may have uncovered a piece of history while scuba diving with his grandfather at Owen Lake near Ocala.

Koen Ergle saw a piece of wood in about 8 feet of water a couple of weeks ago and pointed it out to his grandfather, former Marion County Sheriff Ken Ergle.

His grandfather wanted to keep moving, but Koen was persistent.

Associated Press photo

It looks like former Gov. Charlie Crist will make a run to get his old job back and he hopes that a hug that hurt him becomes the hug that now heals him.

Democratic President Barack Obama embraced Crist, then Florida’s Republican governor, at a 2009 rally. Republican Marco Rubio used the image to successfully chase Crist from the GOP and defeat Crist, running as an independent, in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Now Gov. Rick Scott also is using the hug to attack Crist.

The difference is Crist is now a Democrat and embracing the hug.

John Raoux / AP Photo

Nearly two years after a drum major's hazing death silenced the music at Florida A&M football games, the famed Marching 100 band returned to the field Sunday with its familiar booms, drum rattles and other tones for the school's season-opener.

Enforcement of the state's environmental laws has plummeted under Gov. Rick Scott and the private company attorney he picked to lead the Department of Environmental Protection, according to a report to be released Thursday by a group that represents government workers who work in environmental regulation.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that the state will spend $90 million to further hydrate the Everglades and help lessen water woes plaguing southwest Florida.

During a stop in Fort Myers, Scott discussed a plan to construct a 2.6-mile bridge on Tamiami Trail in Miami-Dade County. A similar 1-mile bridge opened in March on that stretch.

Gov. Rick Scott is appointing maverick legislator Mike Fasano to the position of Pasco County tax collector.

More than a quarter of Floridians speak a language other than English in their homes.

New U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday show that 27 percent of Floridians speak a language other than English. That's higher than the national average of 20 percent. Only six other states have higher rates: California, Texas, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Nevada.

Florida utility regulators are letting Duke Energy Florida, the nation's largest utility, raise rates to pay for a shuttered nuclear power plant in Crystal River.

The parents of Trayvon Martin said today that they are taking no stance on a proposed boycott of Florida following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of their son.

A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.

Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.

Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.

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