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2019 Florida Legislature

High school students from across Florida gathered at USF St Petersburg to learn about careers in government from Florida legislators.
Carrie Pinkard / WUSF Public Media

For some high school students, summer is a time to relax. But for nearly one hundred Florida high school students, it's a time to study civics, thanks to a program from USF St Petersburg and the YMCA. 

The pair partnered to create the Civics Fellows Program, a yearlong fellowship that immerses students in local government and public service.

When Bill Galvano became the leader of the Florida Senate, he made it clear that his top priority was building new roads.

In January, weeks before the start of the legislative session, Galvano called for three new roads. He called them corridors. Lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis agreed with Galvano and now the state’s biggest road project in 50 years is moving forward.

With the expansion comes concerns about the potential environmental impact, along with the additional stress motorists will endure during construction.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Legislative Report Card. The chamber says the report card helps hold state leaders accountable for how they vote on issues relating to Florida’s business climate.

Everglades
National Park Service

It was a mixed bag for environmentalists in the wake of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. Lawmakers allocated more money than Governor Ron DeSantis asked for on Everglades restoration and fighting red tide and blue-green algae.

But there were some drawbacks, including a bill to build three new toll roads and getting a fraction of the money the governor proposed to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Jennifer Rubiello, state director for Environment Florida - starting with the good that happened.

During Florida’s 2019 Legislative session, lawmakers had two months to debate hundreds of bills. In the end, the House and Senate worked a half-day of overtime to approve a $91-billion budget -- with record spending on the environment and even more planned for public schools.

But the session closed with hundreds of measures left undebated and a number of high-profile issues that didn’t pass.

Hillsborough Legislative delegation
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Several members of Hillsborough County's legislative delegation gave their take on the just-ended Tallahassee session Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

This week we learned not one but two Florida counties had their voting databases hacked, but we didn’t learn which two.

FourteenSixty / Flickr

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a controversial measure aimed at expanding and building three toll roads on the western side of the state, with supporters saying the plan will help prepare for future growth and aid in disaster evacuations.

Straws
Flickr

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have restricted the right of local governments - including St. Petersburg - to regulate single-use plastic straws.

DeSantis To Sign Felons’ Voting Measure

May 8, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he will sign a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights are restored. 

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are returning home after two months of hashing out bills - some of which could soon become law. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks with Janelle Irwin, a reporter with Florida Politics, and Steve Bousquet, a columnist with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel.

Doctor treating a baby
iStock

Funding within this year’s budget could help thousands of children get health insurance.

Florida lawmakers finished the 2019 legislative session Saturday by passing a budget for the upcoming year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks with reporters after the 2019 legislative session comes to an end.
News Service of Florida

Crediting himself with “changing the conversation on a number of things” during his first legislative session, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday his agenda contributed to Republican lawmakers passing policies with broad appeal.

Lawmakers Sign Off On Budget As Session Ends

May 4, 2019
Gov. Ron Desantis in state capitol
Governor's Press Office

Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature quickly put the finishing touches on a record $91.1 billion spending plan Saturday, meeting numerous requests from freshman Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida Lawmakers Open Debate On $91.1 Billion Budget

May 4, 2019
Florida legislature
myfloridahouse.gov

Florida lawmakers debated a $91.1 billion state budget Friday with bipartisan support for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but must wait until Saturday to put it to a final vote.

Florida Passes Bill Creating Hurdles To Change Constitution

May 4, 2019
WUFT

Republican lawmakers slipped language into a bill in the final hours of Florida's legislative session Friday that could make it more difficult for citizens to change the constitution through petition drives.

Tax Package Approved After Charter School Fight

May 4, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

After a battle about the issue, a proposal to distribute voter-approved local money to charter schools landed back in a tax package that the House and Senate passed late Friday.

Desmond Meade and Neil Volz, who work for a political committee that propelled the amendment to victory in November, called the measure “disheartening” and “disappointing.”
News Service of Florida

With two men who’ve become the faces of Amendment 4 watching from the gallery, Florida lawmakers passed a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored.

Push For Underground Power Lines Passes In Florida Legislature

May 4, 2019

With memories of massive outages after Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael and other storms, state lawmakers Thursday gave final approval to a bill that could lead to an expansion of underground power lines.

Teeth cleaning in process
By Erik Christensen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8412023

Several counties in Florida have very few dentists who accept Medicaid - and a few have none at all.

But a bill passed by the Florida House and Senate could incentivize new dentists to work in those areas.

With the passage of this Legislative session’s marquee school choice bill, a new private school voucher program is on the verge of being created. Senate Bill 7070 is now on the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s been a vocal supporter of school choice since before taking office. (Photo: Steve Cannon/AP)

Budget Chiefs Finalize State Spending Plan

May 1, 2019
State Capitol
News Service of Florida

House and Senate budget chiefs agreed Tuesday to a roughly $90 billion budget deal, but lawmakers will not end the 2019 legislative session on time. 

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Florida legislators have passed a bill that would pave the way for residents to buy cheaper prescription drugs imported from Canada.

Budget Leads Major Issues In Florida Legislature's Last Week

Apr 28, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

The Florida Legislature careens into its final scheduled week with a host of major issues still to be settled, including a roughly $90 billion state budget that is the only bill lawmakers are required to pass.

A JEA crew works on power restoration in the Egrets Bluee area after Hurricane Irma in Sept. 2017.
JEA

Utilities would have to come up with a 10-year plan to strengthen and bury power lines and be allowed to pass along the cost to customers under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

Gabrielle Monroe gives testimony as to why she is against Senate Bill 540.
The Florida Channel

Survivors of human trafficking are divided on two bills in the legislature.

“I am a survivor of childhood sex trafficking,” said Gabrielle Monroe of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars. She spoke out this week against Senate Bill 540, which is designed to stop human trafficking. “I also was arrested in 2004 on the charges of prostitution.”

A controversial bill that bans local governments from adopting or practicing sanctuary city policies is moving forward, but it comes with some new amendments.

The new law, which increases penalties for killing or seriously injuring police dogs, is in honor of Jacksonville Police K-9 Fang, who was killed by a carjacking suspect last year.
Jacksonville Police

People who kill or seriously injure police dogs in Florida will now face tougher penalties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday making that crime a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It was previously a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

State Leaders Study Late Proposal For A Gambling Compact

Apr 26, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his staff continued Wednesday to scrutinize a proposed gambling agreement, but the odds of closing out what some lawmakers have called a “three-dimensional game of chess” grow dimmer as the clock winds down on the legislative session.

After weeks of negotiations, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe reached a tentative deal on Tuesday. DeSantis and House Speaker José Oliva received an outline of the agreement, known as a “compact,” on Tuesday.

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