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Central Florida Political Pulse - Orlando Sentinel

The best source for Central Florida and statewide political news, insider happenings and more.

Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:59:36 -0400

Copyright: ©2018 Orlando Sentinel

Facing NRA heat, Corcoran slams assault weapons ban

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 06:55:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Two days after being slammed by the National Rifle Association for pushing through a new law with gun control measures, House Speaker Richard Corcoran sent a letter to a state panel looking to rewrite the state constitution expressing concern over an assault weapons ban proposal.


Gun owners sue Florida over 'bump stock' ban

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:45:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Gun owners have filed a second lawsuit against the state over gun-related provisions in a new school-safety law, this time alleging that a ban on “bump stocks” is an unconstitutional taking of property.

The case, filed last week in Leon County Circuit Court, asks a judge to order...


Nursing-home rights amendment is withdrawn

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:25:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Saying he didn’t want to make changes necessary to get it passed, Florida Constitution Revision Commission member Brecht Heuchan on Tuesday withdrew a proposal that would have guaranteed certain rights to nursing-home residents and allowed them to sue facilities if those rights were...


Kidd withdraws from Apopka council runoff, rips mayor-elect Nelson's vision of 'austerity and retrenchment'

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:50:00 PDT

Suzanne Kidd unexpectedly withdrew from next month’s runoff race for a seat on the Apopka City Council, lambasting the weak turnout for last week’s election and Mayor-elect Bryan Nelson.

Kidd, a retired teacher and supporter of ousted Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, said in a statement Tuesday if Kilsheimer...


Florida tourism: 116.5M visitors set record despite Hurricane Irma

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:10:00 PDT

Despite Hurricane Irma — a force that pushed thousands to evacuate their homes and briefly shut down Orlando’s theme parks — Florida set a record for tourists with an estimated 116.5 million in 2017, Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday.

His announcement broke the record set for 2016 by more than 3 percent...


Ocoee's first black commissioner sees election as redemption for race-riot victims

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:05:00 PDT

George Oliver III, the first African-American elected to serve on the Ocoee City Commission, talked on the campaign trail about the west Orange city’s future. But its racist past was never far behind.

“If I won, I thought, what kind of statement would that be,” Oliver recalled thinking during his...


Florida to replace Confederate statue in US Capitol with civil-rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:50:00 PDT

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed 30 bills into law, including a measure that could make more permanent a controversial pregnancy “support services” program and a bill that calls for placing a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the U.S. Capitol.

The list of bills signed...


Voters could get say on government ethics

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 16:40:00 PDT

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Monday advanced a sweeping ethics package, which includes a proposed six-year lobbying ban for former state lawmakers, agency heads and local government officials.

The 28-5 vote on the measure (Proposal 39) marked the beginning of the process of sorting...


Orlando law firm files first suit against FIU bridge builders

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:30:00 PDT

Orlando law firm Morgan & Morgan filed Monday the first lawsuit against the companies that built the pedestrian bridge that collapsed near Florida International University in Miami last week, killing six people.

The suit was filed on behalf of Marquise Rashaad Hepburn of Miami, who was riding his...


Miller, Sturgill pick up endorsements in GOP congressional primary

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 09:30:00 PDT

Two Republicans looking to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November both received prominent endorsements as they face off in their party’s primary.

State Rep. Mike Miller, R-Winter Park, was backed Monday by fellow state Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, also Florida chair of Donald...


Gov. Rick Scott signs opioid legislation

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 09:25:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Saying it is critical to “stop the addiction in the beginning,” Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed a high-profile bill designed to prevent patients from getting hooked on powerful opioids.

Flanked by House leaders and law-enforcement officers at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office,...


Police union endorses Panepinto for Orange County mayor

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 08:10:00 PDT

A major law enforcement union is endorsing the Republican businessman and not the Democratic sheriff in the Orange County mayor’s race.

The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association endorsed Rob Panepinto Monday in the nonpartisan race to succeed outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

The union represents...


Orlando students to volunteer in Puerto Rico over spring break

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 13:10:00 PDT

In the months after Hurricane Maria, Orlando first responders traveled to Puerto Rico to assist the island in its hour of need. Now, Orlando students will follow in their footsteps.

More than 30 middle and high students from Orlando youth programs are heading to Puerto Rico during their spring...


Jerry Demings endorses OPD Chief John Mina for Orange County sheriff

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:52:00 PDT

Sheriff Jerry Demings has endorsed Orlando police Chief John Mina to replace him as Orange County’s top cop.

Demings, who is running for mayor of Orange County, announced his support for Mina during a political forum hosted by the International Drive Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. In a press...


Gov. Scott signs budget, goes light on vetoes

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:05:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed an $88.7 billion election-year budget Friday, but vetoed more than $64 million, the lowest amount he has wiped from a spending plan in his eight years in office.

The budget includes $21.1 billion for K-12 schools, a $485 million increase from the prior year,...


Deaf drivers could help during traffic stops

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 07:10:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers this week sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott that could help provide information to police about whether drivers are deaf before officers approach cars during traffic stops.

Under the bill (HB 135), Florida drivers could voluntarily identify themselves as hearing impaired when...


After double shooting, changes coming to Conway corner

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 13:30:00 PDT

After a January shooting that left two dead outside a Conway smoke shop, neighbors feared crime was gaining a grip on their community.

Some blamed the 407 Smoke Shop, which took over a gas station at Conway and Curry Ford roads in southeast Orlando, and a food truck that parked outside and operated...


Active shooter drills, pie-in-the-face all part of life as school resource officer

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 03:00:00 PDT

Deputy JoAnn Jackson walked the halls of Sabal Point Elementary in Longwood just before the first bell rang on a recent morning.

One little girl, about 6, skipped up to the deputy so giddy her blond ponytail wagged like the tail of an excited puppy.

“You’re going to get a pie in the face!” the...


We're booming again — and so are the growth-related controversies

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 11:20:00 PDT

Twenty years ago, when I first arrived at the Orlando Sentinel, the veteran journalists here explained to me that much of what I’d be writing about involved growth.

Developers would want it, often where it shouldn’t be. And the politicians would pave the way.

They also said I would write one story...


Offshore-drilling ban not rock solid with voters, poll finds

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 08:20:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — It has been almost an article of faith in Florida politics: People do not want oil drilling off the state’s coasts.

But poll results released Thursday suggest that a drilling ban might not have enough voter support to go into the Florida Constitution.

The poll, conducted by the Tallahassee-based...


Orange County voters likely to support tax for children's services, poll shows

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 06:55:00 PDT

A poll of Orange County voters found two-thirds would likely support a tax increase dedicated to funding children’s services, and 82 percent said the issue should “definitely” or “probably” be decided at the ballot box, organizers for the effort reported this week.

“We had the poll done to measure...


Florida school chiefs: State funding won't cut it

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:40:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Florida school superintendents Wednesday asked Gov. Rick Scott to call a special legislative session on education funding, saying a newly approved budget will not cover rising costs of operating schools.

The request from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents came...


UCF, other schools get funding boost for top faculty, graduate programs

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 09:30:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Florida universities will share $151 million next year that will allow them to recruit top-level researchers and improve professional and graduate schools.

The Legislature, in the budget it approved Sunday, increased funding for the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program by $20 million...


Rubio touts year-round daylight saving time amid concerns over bus-stop safety, TV schedules

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:05:00 PDT

Wearing a vest equipped with flashing lights, Bob Eubanks waits in the predawn darkness for a school bus in Leesburg with his 17-year-old adopted son.

“Standing on the side of the road in the dark is dangerous,” said Eubanks, 73, who has tallied statistics from news reports to underscore his worries...


Florida voters want to make it tougher to raise taxes, poll finds

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 06:25:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Backed by Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican leaders, a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder for the Legislature to raise taxes and fees appears to have broad voter support, a new poll shows.

Lawmakers last week approved the amendment that, if passed by voters,...