Session 2011

Florida Capitol building

The 2011 legislative session in Tallahassee will be historic: Republican Governor Rick Scott was elected on a mandate of significant change, and voters ushered in a veto-proof Republican legislature. Scot already has put forward budget cuts, pension changes, education reforms, and medical overhauls that could fundamentally change the lives of people across Florida.

In an attempt to better serve our audience, WUSF Public Media and WLRN in Miami will expand their coverage of the upcoming Florida Legislative Session. The WUSF-WLRN collaboration will tap into the rich reporting resources of its own staff reporters, freelance audio producers, and the Miami Herald-St. Petersburg Times bureau.

Recent News Updates

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting a rush of teachers applying for retirement in Hillsborough County. About 370 teachers have asked to leave the classroom, which is already 76 more than asked to retire last school year.

The Florida League of Women Voters says it will halt one of its primary missions - registering voters – due to recent legislation. It could become the first state chapter in the nation to do so.

Would a Florida immigration bill have prevented the 9-11 attacks? And do voters in Africa walk up to 300 miles to get to the polls?

Several major proposals remain up in the air as the Florida Legislature’s regular session ends Friday, including bills on immigration, abortion, growth management and the environment.

Artist's rendering

Many special projects throughout the state didn't see a dime as state lawmakers struggled to close a $4 billion budget deficit. But a new college campus in Lakeland made the cut.

Egmont Key Lighthouse

A historic state park at the mouth of Tampa Bay has survived a proposal to shut it down - at least for now. State officials proposed closing Egmont Key State Park and turning it over to the federal government.

Politifact

Today's Politifact discussion takes us to some politician's stands on early voting - and if Florida's favorite mouse was registered to vote.

Among the many areas where Florida lawmakers see potential savings is Medicaid, the federally funded health care program for low income and disabled people. The idea is to send patients into private, managed care providers.

It’s something being done now in a pilot program.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, left, and House Speaker Dean Cannon, right.

There’s just over a week to go in this year's annual 60-day legislative session. The House and Senate have resumed budget talks – after being off-track for a few days - and leaders appear to be feeling pretty good about an on-time finish.

Welcome to Florida

The governor's office wants to take over the public-private partnership that tries to attract visitors to Florida. Critics of the change say the tourism agency would lose its autonomy and be swallowed into the bureaucracy.

Recent Episode Updates

legislators

The GOP used its big majorities to pass sweeping changes to Florida law in education, health care, pensions, and growth management. It failed on only a few issues, such as immigration. And it cut more than $4 billion from the state budget.

Now that these changes have passed, how will they affect our daily lives. Florida Matters speaks with an environmental and elections activist, a tea party leader, a school board member, and a veteran reporter about what this all means.

sinkhole

Hurricanes, sinkholes, and flooding are just some of the expensive problems we face as homeowners here in Florida, and property insurance is an ongoing challenge. Lawmakers are wrestling with the issue now, and their actions could reverberate throughout the fragile housing industry.

Governor Scott and GOP leaders in the Legislature are trying to kick start Florida’s economy – especially the construction industry. They want to roll back growth management laws they say discourage builders from creating jobs. But if builders don’t pay for the schools and roads, who will?

capitol

Long time observers of Florida's legislature call this year's session unprecedented.
Republicans have super-majorities in both the House and Senate. A moderate has been replaced by a staunch conservative in the governor's mansion.
What are some of the big changes we can expect to come out of Tallahassee this year?

Merit pay and an end to teacher tenure are coming to Florida. What does that mean for teachers, students and the rest of us? Lawmakers, educators and experts debate the merits of this education overhaul on this Florida Matters.

prescription drugs

Lawmakers, law enforcement officials and other have pushed for a database to monitor prescription painkillers. Supporters tout it as a way to fight rampant abuse of the drugs; Gov. Scott says the database is intrusive and expensive, and wants to get rid of it. We look at both sides, plus hear from some of those affected by painkiller abuse and trafficking.

money puzzle

Gov. Rick Scott has unveiled his budget – and the extent of the spending cuts has sent shock waves through many government-funded groups. Education and health care in Florida could face especially lean times ahead. On Florida Matters, we’ll discuss the ways that this budget could affect our lives.

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