Brandon Larrabee - News Service of Florida

Brandon Larrabee is a reporter for The News Service of Florida.

As he eyes a run for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday unveiled the first piece of his pending election-year budget proposal: a $30 million pay raise for state law-enforcement officers.

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Two months to the day before the presidential election, a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University shows Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton tied among likely Florida voters.

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A state judge is weighing a decision that could shake Florida's education-accountability system following a marathon hearing Monday in Tallahassee.

Florida’s retail industry is gearing up for this year’s back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes, classroom supplies and computer equipment, with the state offering the tax break for five days .
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A federal judge Friday sent back to state court a dispute about Florida's rules on whether third-grade students are allowed to move to fourth grade, setting the stage for a Monday morning hearing in a lawsuit filed by a group of parents.

Florida Board of Governors

The Florida Board of Governors has taken the first steps toward approving a standard search process for university presidents, with a final vote on approving the policy expected at the panel's June meeting.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Members of the State University System's Board of Governors said Thursday they were disappointed that Florida's newest university will miss the original deadline for getting accredited, a designation that can affect students' job prospects and ability to receive financial aid.

A state Senate redistricting plan favored by voting-rights organizations was approved Wednesday by a Leon County judge in a move that could shake the Republican Party's grip on power in the Capitol.

In choosing the new map, Circuit Judge George Reynolds also rejected a plan put forward by Senate Republican leaders as the best configuration of the chamber's 40 seats. The proposal chosen by Reynolds would lead to a roughly even number of districts favoring each party.

Republican Congressman David Jolly, who's running for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat in 2016, thinks businessman Donald Trump should step out of the presidential race. But Jolly also agrees with him on something. It just depends on which Jolly message you focus on.

State senators are scheduled next week to begin considering whether to keep the Confederate flag on the Senate's official seal, another sign of a growing national tide against icons of the South's rebellion in the 1860s.

The Senate Rules Committee will meet Oct. 8 to begin re-examining the current emblem of the chamber. Under Senate rules, the seal includes "a fan of the five flags which have flown over Florida" --- those of the United States, Confederate States of America, France, Great Britain and Spain.

As congressional mapmakers defended their versions of districts in a hearing before a Tallahassee judge, the House and Senate announced Friday that they had reached agreement on how to move forward with a process to draw new lines for the state Senate in a special session starting next month.

Lawyers for the Florida House are asking the state Supreme Court to allow them to dig deeper into the origins of proposed congressional districts submitted by organizations and voters who successfully sued to overturn a map drawn by the Legislature in 2012.

In a brief filed Thursday, the House's attorneys argued they need more evidence about how the plaintiffs' proposed districts came about, given that a coalition of voting-rights organizations and a group of voters worked with Democratic political operatives to draw maps submitted this week in Leon County circuit court.

As football season finally has arrived, politicians, special interests and others are setting up plays in Florida's sports-crazed capital city and the hilltop establishment that calls it home.

The Legislature and critics who challenged congressional districts drawn by lawmakers during the 2012 redistricting process prepared this week for what many hope will be the final drive of the lengthy lawsuit over the state's U.S. House delegation. Taxi companies, meanwhile, tried to go on offense to fight the mileage being picked up by ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

All of the parties involved in a legal fight over the shape of the state's congressional districts have until Monday to submit maps they believe should be used in the looming 2016 elections, a Leon County judge ruled Friday.

An order approved by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis lays out the timeline for the latest stage of the courtroom battle, now in its fourth year. The Legislature's version of the congressional map was thrown out in July by the Florida Supreme Court, which said the plan violated the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" standards approved by voters in 2010.

The House headed to court Monday as the next step in a heated battle with the Senate over how to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts.

In the ongoing case of the Florida Legislature v. the Florida Supreme Court, the final verdict might have to wait.

Since returning to Tallahassee on Monday to start redrawing congressional districts thrown out by the Supreme Court, lawmakers have hammered away at a 5-2 court majority that found the current map violated the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" requirements adopted by voters in 2010.

For the most part, lawmakers don't reject the court's authority to rule the maps unconstitutional, regardless of whether they agree with the decision.

The first draft of a new set of Florida congressional districts came under fire on several fronts Tuesday, with two members of Congress blasting the plan and some state lawmakers suggesting they would draw their own maps.

The Florida Senate

Now that the Florida Supreme Court has decided that the state's Congressional districts must be redrawn, the two sides of the long-running legal fight over Florida's political boundaries are girding for another battle in the Leon County Courthouse.

Negotiators from the House and Senate slashed almost $60 million in economic development spending Saturday as the Legislature drew closer to an elusive final deal on a state budget for the year that begins July 1.

Meeting over the weekend to hammer out the final details of a budget expected to weigh in at well more than $76 billion but south of $80 billion, House Appropriations Chairman Richard Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee reached agreement on state spending for transportation and economic development.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Lawmakers agreed on hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental spending during a meeting Sunday night, but disappointed supporters of a land and water conservation amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall.

Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera publicly confirmed Saturday that he is "strongly considering" a U.S. Senate bid in 2016, drawing closer to throwing his hat in a GOP primary ring that already has one congressman and could soon include a handful of other candidates.

Lopez-Cantera's speech announcing that he is mulling entering the campaign drew a standing ovation from the audience at a meeting of the Republican Party of Florida's executive board during the party's quarterly meeting at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

On Dec. 17, almost three months before the annual legislative session began, new Senate President Andy Gardiner met with reporters in the conference room of his Capitol office. He talked with the press for 30 minutes, touching on a wide variety of issues, including a plan by business groups and others that would use Medicaid expansion dollars to help lower-income Floridians purchase private health insurance.

A ban on Florida judicial candidates personally raising campaign funds, which supporters said was a key element in reforming the state's court system after a series of scandals in the 1970s, was upheld Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.