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Slashing Taxes, Fighting Vouchers, Expanding Medicaid (or Not): What’s Ahead in 2015

| January 4, 2015

With Gov. Rick Scott set to be sworn in for his second term and legislative committee meetings beginning this week, the topics that will dominate discussion in the Capitol in the coming year are shaping up. Here’s a rundown.

In a Reversal, Florida Court Clerks’ Lawyers Say Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Must Be Issued

| January 2, 2015

The reversal from the association’s lawyers should remove the last roadblock to gay marriage starting in Florida, though some clerks say they’ll refuse to perform ceremonies.

Lawsuit Opposing School Voucher Expansion Is Thrown Out Again, Likely Ending Challenge

| December 31, 2014

A judge rebuffed claims by a teacher and two parents who joined the new lawsuit that the expansion of the Tax Credit Scholarship Program hurt them because it could lead to reduced funding for their schools.

As Lawyers Duel, Meet the Interracial Gay Cowboys at Heart of Florida’s Gay-Marriage Quest

| December 30, 2014

Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ are a typical couple in many ways. They finish each other’s sentences, and reminisce over a photo album of their commitment ceremony nearly 15 years ago.

Marco Rubio’s Cuban Embargo Delusion And a Half Century of Spectacular Insanity

| December 29, 2014

What Rubio needs now to consider and accept is that Florida, situated where it is, has more to gain from trade with Cuba than any other state.

Medicare Penalties Hit 31 Florida Hospitals Over High Infection Rates; FHF Spared

| December 29, 2014

In its toughest crackdown yet on medical errors, the federal government is cutting payments to 721 hospitals – including 31 in Florida — for having high rates of infections and other patient injuries.

2014 In Review: For Florida, A Year of Same-Olds More Than Change

| December 27, 2014

State government from the governor on down is virtually unchanged, with all major figures and almost all incumbent senators winning reelection, but gay marriage and some legalized marijuana suggest some change for the state.

Woman In “Catholic Warrior” Shirt Vandalizes Satanic Temple Display at Florida Capitol

| December 24, 2014

Susan Hemeryck, 54, of Tallahassee, entered the Capitol at 11:23 a.m. and told an on-duty police officer that “she was sorry and had to take the Satanic display,” according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement charging affidavit.

Flagler Court Clerk Gail Wadsworth on Gay Marriage: “People Should Have Freedom to Be.”

| December 22, 2014

Flagler County Clerk of Court Gail Wadsworth, whose office will be responsible for issuing same-sex marriage licenses starting Jan. 6, assuming legalities are worked out, speaks of her support for the sweeping change and hopes that it does not apply in one part of Florida but not others.

Florida Legislature Tells Supreme Court That Fair District Amendment Is “Unenforceable”

| December 21, 2014

Lawyers for the Legislature told the Florida Supreme Court in a brief filed late Friday that part of a state ban on political gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution.

Gay Marriage Begins in Florida Jan. 6 as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Bondi’s Plea For Stay

| December 20, 2014

It’s no longer a maybe, an if or a pending: clerks of court in Florida must begin issuing gay-marriage licenses on Jan. 6 as the U.S. Supreme Court Friday evening denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request that a stay on the matter be extended.

Common Sore:
Jeb Bush’s Education Problem

| December 18, 2014

The Republican Party’s tea bag wing is unforgiving – so far – over his embrace of the Common Core standards even though the federal government has had almost nothing to do with them.

Florida Republicans Go Cuba Libre On Obama’s Decision to End Hostilities With Havana

| December 18, 2014

The future of America’s dealings with the island nation 90 miles away remains a sensitive issue in the state as even Democrats greeted Obama’s opening with caution.

Florida Clerks Told To Deny Licenses Even When Federal Court Order Granting Gay Marriage Kicks in

| December 17, 2014

Lawyers for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers have advised county officials statewide not to issue marriage licenses “until a binding order is issued by a court of proper jurisdiction” and warned the clerks that they could be subject to criminal prosecution if they allow gay couples to wed.

In Boon for Florida, Obama Will Normalize Full Diplomatic Relations With Cuba After 53 Years of Cold War

| December 17, 2014

The two nations will open embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C., 53 years and 10 presidents after Dwight Eisenhower, citing “self-respect,” closed the American Embassy in the Cuban capital on Jan. 3, 1961.

Drawing Mixed Response, Jeb Bush Says He Will “Actively Explore” Running For President in 2016

| December 16, 2014

Bush, 61, made the announcement a day after giving a commencement address at the University of South Carolina — a state that plays a major role in Republican primaries. If he ultimately decides to run, Bush would seek to follow his father and brother into the White House.

With 22 Days To Go Before Gay Wedding Bells, Pam Bondi Asks Court To Object

| December 15, 2014

Bondi’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court comes less than two weeks after a federal appeals court rejected her effort to at least temporarily extend the gay-marriage prohibition in Florida.

With 800,000 Floridians in Health Insurance Limbo, Hopes Return for Medicaid Expansion

| December 15, 2014

A coalition of businesses groups, local officials and healthcare industry representatives has rolled out a plan to insure nearly one million low-income Floridians who fall in the so-called Medicaid coverage gap.

Special Election for House: Renner Hauls In $76,500. His Three Opponents Combined: $355

| December 14, 2014

Renner’s $76,500 dwarfed amounts not exceeding $180 raised by three other candidates in the District 24 race — Republicans Sheamus McNeeley and Ron Sanchez and Democrat Adam Morley. Republican Danielle Anderson filed a waiver, as she had not posted a report on the state Division of Elections website by week’s end.

Craft Beer Growlers’ Day Finally Approaching in Florida, But Small Brewers Are Leery

| December 13, 2014

Proposals to end the state’s prohibition on 64-ounce containers known as “growlers” have been blocked in recent years by large beer distributors claiming a need to protect the state’s Depression-era three-tier regulation system.

Ferguson Events and FSU Shooting Trigger Florida’s Third-Busiest Gun Shopping Day Ever

| December 11, 2014

The Nov. 28 purchases trailed only the sales for two days in December 2012, which came after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Florida’s Minimum Wage Going Up to $8.05 as Obama’s Push For $10.10 Remains Elusive

| December 10, 2014

A Democratic bill in the Florida Legislature would seek the $10,10 threshold, but its chances of passing are slim to none. Business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce have argued against such proposals.

Taxpayers’ Bill for Rick Scott’s Losing Battle to Drug-Test Welfare Recipients: $307,000 and Rising

| December 8, 2014

ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon, who blamed the governor and the Legislature for the cost to taxpayers, blasted Scott for refusing to back down as the governor mulls appealing the latest decision calling his ploy unconstitutional.

How to Easily Navigate Big Changes in Fine Print of Obamacare Plans Before Deadline

| December 8, 2014

Even if you’re getting the same plan — of the nearly 2,800 health plans offered in 2014, about 1,700 of them will exist in the same form next year — their benefits may not stay the same. Here’s an easy way to figure it all out.

Judge Rules Parents Can Join Lawsuit Over Florida’s School-Voucher Program

| December 7, 2014

Parents and their lawyers said they should be allowed the full-party status because their children would lose access to what is known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program if the court finds it unconstitutional.

Varn Park Will Close Until April 15 For $476,000 Renovations Thanks to Scenic A1A Grant

| December 5, 2014

The federal National Scenic Byways grant was the largest of just three such awards in Florida, and will have a $140,000 match from Flagler County.

Satanic Temple Display Approved for State Capitol, With Festivus Beer Pole and Nativity

| December 5, 2014

The Florida Department of Management Services this week approved the proposed holiday display from the Satanic Temple, which a year ago was rejected because the agency said its proposal was “grossly offensive.”

Cue That Processional: Gay Marriage Could Be Legal in Florida Starting Jan. 6

| December 4, 2014

A federal appeals court Wednesday rejected Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to at least temporarily extend Florida’s ban on gay marriage — possibly setting the stage for same-sex marriages to start in January.

Fifth Court Decision in a Row Calls Rick Scott’s Drug-Testing Scheme Illegal

| December 3, 2014

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Florida law pushed by Gov. Rick Scott requiring welfare applicants to submit to drug tests before they can receive benefits.

Should Brandishing a Gun at Someone Who Cuts You Off in Traffic Be Considered Self-Defense?

| December 2, 2014

The Florida Supreme Court is considering a “stand your ground” case in which a man was charged with aggravated assault after brandishing a gun at a trucker during a confrontation on a state highway.

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