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Dara Kam - News Service of Florida

Dara Kam is the Senior Reporter of The News Service Of Florida.

Metal detectors at schools, better coordination between agencies and keeping guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill were among the solutions three groups of experts handed Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott, as state leaders search for ways to prevent tragedies like last week’s mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Broward County high school.

An increasingly toxic battle over a Senate staffer's allegations of sexual harassment by Sen. Jack Latvala is intensifying, with lawyers on both sides hurling accusations of intimidation, the staffer hiring a security guard to protect her in the Capitol and her attorney asking for a special prosecutor.

The University of Florida is coordinating with local and state law-enforcement officials in anticipation of the potential appearance in Gainesville of a white nationalist leader affiliated with this weekend's deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia.

TALLAHASSEE — Lawyers for convicted felons filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against Florida officials, alleging that the state's process for restoring voting rights to people who have completed their sentences is arbitrary.

Moving closer to getting Florida's death penalty back on track, the Florida Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would require unanimous jury recommendations for death sentences to be imposed.

Lawyers for a Death Row inmate Larry Darnell Perry are blasting Attorney General Pam Bondi's request that the Florida Supreme Court clarify a decision that struck down a new law because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations in death-penalty cases.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a death sentence for an intellectually disabled murderer, following a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case.

As pot shops start to sprout in Florida, cities are struggling with how --- or whether --- to regulate the state's new marijuana industry.

Nearly a year after the expiration of a high-stakes gambling agreement, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and state regulators made pitches last week in a federal lawsuit over the tribe's right to operate "banked" card games, such as blackjack.

Panhandle developer Jay Odom is bankrolling a Northeast Florida operation licensed by health officials to grow, process and distribute non-euphoric marijuana products, a lawyer for Chestnut Hill Tree Farm confirmed Wednesday.

Florida has no plans to stop offering kosher meals to prisoners, but corrections officials don't want a federal judge telling them they have to keep serving up the special diet, which consists largely of sardines and peanut butter.

The Associated Press

Florida taxpayers are on the hook for almost $500,000 in fees to lawyers who successfully challenged the state's prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who initially balked at paying the legal fees, has agreed to pay $280,000 to Jacksonville lawyers William Sheppard, Betsy White and Sam Jacobson, who represented two same-sex couples, according to documents filed in federal court on Wednesday.

A new law that protects five nurseries may have given more ammunition to "ganjapreneurs" seeking an entree into what could be one of the nation's largest medical marijuana markets come this fall.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday heard arguments in a key case that led to an overhaul of the state's death-penalty sentencing system and could have sweeping implications for the 390 inmates awaiting execution in Florida.

Evidence of widespread Republican angst cast a shadow from the nation's capital to the Sunshine State this week.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday rocked the political world with his announcement that he is resigning from his seat late next month.

Succumbing to pressure from conservatives, Boehner's decision to call it a day came at the height of an intraparty GOP Game of Thrones over a possible government shutdown.

The Donald continues to lead his Republican presidential opponents while U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has leapfrogged a onetime mentor, former Gov. Jeb Bush, in a poll of Florida voters released Wednesday by Florida Atlantic University.

In critical swing-state Florida, Hillary Clinton holds a significant edge over her Democratic rivals but struggles in match-ups against most Republican contenders, including Rubio and Florida pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the survey found.

An off-election summer in the capital city usually provides a tempting opportunity for idle hands to pursue thrills in far-flung climes more palatable to the senses than Tallahassee's oppressive heat.

For the fortunate, this sweltering season was one like any other, full of indulgences in travel and esprit. But for others, the Florida Supreme Court put the kibosh on even Thurberish escapes, replacing fantasy with drudgery and casting a lugubrious pall over an already pudding-like ambiance.

Seminole Hard Rock Casino

A stalemate between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida about the tribe's right to offer blackjack and other games at its casinos appears to have thawed, according to a top Senate negotiator.

The renewed talks signal the possibility of a new deal before an October deadline. Without a deal, the state contends the tribe would be forced to shut down banked card games, including blackjack. The Seminoles maintain they have the right to keep the cards going even without an agreement, known as a "compact," with the state.

A looming vote on a nuclear deal with Iran, one of President Barack Obama's top priorities, has Florida Democrats in a bind.

More than a month after Obama announced the agreement, veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is Florida's sole Washington lawmaker openly backing the plan.

Other Democrats --- including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee --- are biding their time. Exceptions are U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings, who condemned the accord.

Seminole Hard Rock Casino

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is refusing to fold on its push to continue hosting blackjack and baccarat at most of its casinos, but Gov. Rick Scott's administration is trying to shut down the lucrative "banked" card games.

Letters swapped Monday between the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the tribe indicate that the two sides may be heading toward a showdown later this year over the card games, part of a 20-year gambling "compact" inked in 2010.

As lawmakers wrestled with a health-care Gordian knot in Tallahassee this week, Gov. Rick Scott held court over a Republican who's who in the land where dreams come true and where Jeb Bush emerged a home-state hero.

And, after the week dragged on with no sign that House and Senate leaders had reached consensus on a $4 billion spending breach centered on health care for poor and low-income Floridians, Tinkerbell and her magic pixie dust finally made the 260-mile trek north.

AP Photo

Gov. Rick Scott set tongues wagging at an economic summit featuring half-a-dozen GOP presidential hopefuls this week at Disney World.

The hubbub wasn't only about Scott's ability to draw more than 400 of the state's corporate honchos, or the gushing admiration expressed by current and former Republican governors like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee.

AP Photo/Steve Cannon

As he approached the side entrance to the Senate chamber a day after delivering a fiery speech condemning Florida's high-stakes testing of schoolchildren, Sen. Tom Lee encountered a throng of women holding posters emblazoned with some of his words.

The women squealed, waved and called out their appreciation before cajoling him into posing for selfies alongside the hand-lettered oversized placards declaring "Sen. Lee is right re: testing. '…The parents aren't buying it anymore!' "

Citing frustration with delays in getting non-euphoric cannabis to patients, a Florida Senate panel Thursday pushed forward a revised attempt to create a regulatory framework for the pot industry but did not include changes sought by black farmers who complain they would be shut out of the industry.

The bill, approved by the Senate Rules Committee and headed to the Senate floor, would quadruple the number of state-approved businesses that could participate from five to 20.

Scott Drops Welfare Drug Testing Challenge

Mar 5, 2015

After spending at least $300,000 of taxpayer money on legal expenses, Gov. Rick Scott is abandoning his fight to force welfare applicants to undergo mandatory drug tests.

A federal appeals court ruled in December that the state’s mandatory, suspicion-less drug testing of applicants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program is an unconstitutional violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

A "child support-esque" formula could determine the amount of alimony divorcing spouses would receive under a radical overhaul of the state's alimony laws now in the works.

In contrast to hotly contested legislation that prompted an outcry from the National Organization for Women and pitted alimony-reform advocates against divorce lawyers two years ago — and ultimately resulted in a veto by Gov. Rick Scott — the new plan floated by House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman so far has the blessing of people on both sides of the issue.