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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: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 19:44:08 -0500

Copyright: ©2018 Orlando Sentinel

Bethune statue to replace Confederate general in U.S. Capitol

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:25:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott plans to sign a bill that would lead to a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune replacing the likeness of a Confederate general as a representative of Florida in the U.S. Capitol.

The Florida House voted 111-1 on Tuesday to support placing...


Report: Confederate statue vandalized; 'South will not rise again,' graffiti says

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:30:00 PST

A Confederate statue at a park in Ocala was vandalized with spray-painted graffiti, according to a report by

The painted message said, “South will not rise again.”

According to the report, the statue at the Ocala-Marion County Veteran’s Memorial Park was also marked with the word “racist,”...


Parkland students watch as House quashes assault weapons bill

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 09:25:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — About 50 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School met with lawmakers Tuesday, telling their stories of last week’s shooting that left 17 dead in the hope legislators will pass new gun control laws.

But part of that hope was dashed hours later, when the Republican-controlled...


Good, bad, ugly efforts to rewrite Florida’s Constitution

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:00:00 PST

Every 20 years, Florida messes around with its constitution, putting new things in and taking other things out.

It’s probably a bit much.

Then again, the Florida Constitution isn’t exactly a sacred document that has stood for centuries. The current version was crafted in 1968 … making it younger...


Sunday vigil planned at Winter Park church for high school shooting victims

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 12:40:00 PST

A vigil is planned Sunday in Winter Park to remember the 17 people killed days ago in a mass shooting at a South Florida high school.

The vigil, dubbed “Remembering the Lives Lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," begins 6:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 225 S. Interlachen Ave....


Women candidates and voters at the forefront for Democrats in 2018

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 04:00:00 PST

Prescilla Vazquez has never been a voter.

But the 29-year-old owner of La Placita Latina bodega in Kissimmee was impressed with what she heard from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, who spent Wednesday working behind the counter on one of her campaign “workdays.”

“I haven’t voted,”...


After thoughts, prayers and inaction, maybe it's time to give kids flak jackets

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:05:00 PST

Seventeen people were gunned down in a high school Wednesday.

That’s twice as many students and teachers killed in a single day as law-enforcement officers killed in all of last year in Florida.

Obviously, we must do something. I propose bulletproof windows and doors in every school.

And maybe...


OPD Chief John Mina launches campaign for Orange sheriff

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 10:30:00 PST

Orlando police Chief John Mina announced his run for Orange County sheriff on Thursday, a day after officially filing his candidacy for the position.

“My goal has always been to serve, starting when I enlisted in the United States Army at 18,” he said during an afternoon press conference in front...


Gov. Scott: Mental health, school safety conversation needed after school massacre

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:55:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE – The mass shooting at a Parkland high school Wednesday that left 17 dead is prompting top Republicans in charge of the Legislature to push for more money for mental-health and school-safety programs, but they’re stopping short of supporting gun-control measures pushed by Democrats.


Trump cancels trip to Orlando, Eatonville event

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:25:00 PST

President Donald Trump canceled a planned visit to Orlando on Friday, the White House announced, amid newly announced plans to visit the site of a school shooting Wednesday that killed at least 17.

He was scheduled to travel to Central Florida “to highlight the importance of returning the decision-making...


House passes bill allowing bed taxes to be used for roads

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:05:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House on Wednesday passed a bill allowing hotel taxes to be spent on roads, sewers and other infrastructure projects, as long as they are related to attracting more tourists.

The bill is a significant shift in how the taxes, known as tourism development taxes or bed taxes,...


Murphy: Staffers with temporary security clearance shouldn't see top secret info

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:35:00 PST

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy introduced a bill Wednesday to prevent officials with only a temporary security clearance, such as former staff secretary Rob Porter, from accessing top secret information.

Murphy, D-Winter Park, said her “Protect America’s Secrets Act” would put into law what she called...


House wants major expansion of scholarship program, angering Democrats

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:50:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Republican House leaders want to expand a program that gives low-income public school students scholarships to attend private schools, funding it at more than $1 billion in 2019 and using sales taxes to fund it for the first time.

A tax bill passed by a House panel Wednesday includes...


Richard Corcoran, Andrew Gillum get nasty at immigration debate

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 08:40:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — In a production filled with political theater, a Democratic candidate for governor and a legislative leader who’s toying with a run for the same office took the stage Tuesday night in a debate over immigration and “sanctuary cities.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and House Speaker...


Florida lawmakers keep raiding affordable-housing funds

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 07:25:00 PST

Newspapers around the state have recently highlighted something Tallahassee lawmakers don’t want you to know about — their continual raid on the state’s affordable-housing fund.

(“Will there be another raid on affordable housing funds? House says yes” and “Don’t starve affordable housing, conservation...


One politician’s bribe is another’s 'in-kind contribution'

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:20:00 PST

On Monday, the head of a worldwide hotel chain checked into the Miami-Dade jail in connection with corruption charges.

Prosecutors say the CEO of RIU Hotels and Resorts gave free rooms to a building official in Miami Beach in exchange for help with permit approvals.

Both hotel executives and the...


Vacation rentals preemption bill stalls in Florida House

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:40:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE – A move to preempt local regulations for vacation rentals stalled in the House on Tuesday, weakening its chances of becoming law in the final weeks of the legislative session.

The bill, HB 773, from Rep. Mike LaRosa was postponed ahead of a key vote, an indication it didn’t have the...


Privatize TSA? Talk at Orlando airport seeks to solve a nonexistent problem

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 08:45:00 PST

I am inside the command center of Orlando’s TSA offices.

In a covert location, not far from the airport, men and women are gathered in a room filled with screens that show them everything happening at Orlando International Airport.

The daily briefing begins at 8:30 each morning. But the heads of...


Gov. Scott defends how state restores voting rights of felons

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:20:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott wants a federal court judge to let him and fellow Cabinet members rewrite state rules for restoring voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee ruled Feb. 1 the state’s system for restoring rights to...


Orlando OKs ordinance to allow some home sharing

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:40:00 PST

Orlando commissioners approved a plan Monday to allow bed-and-breakfast-style rentals in most residential areas as long as the homeowner is living there as well.

Under the ordinance, approved 6-1 with Commissioner Tony Ortiz opposing, homeowners can rent out a room, sofa or mother-in-law suite...


Nelson raps Trump's NASA budget, plan to privatize space station

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:30:00 PST

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson came out swinging Monday against President Trump’s proposed NASA budget and plan to turn over the International Space Station to private hands.

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter,’’ said Nelson, D-Orlando, in a statement. “If we’re ever going to get to Mars...


Trump sets visit to Orlando on Friday

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:00:00 PST

President Donald Trump will be making another journey to Orlando this week.

Trump will travel to Central Florida on Friday “to highlight the importance of returning the decision-making process on infrastructure to state and local officials who are closest to the community in identifying their needs...


Gay woman teacher fired from Miami Catholic school after marrying partner

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 07:25:00 PST

MIAMI — A gay schoolteacher has been fired by a Miami Catholic school after marrying her same-sex partner in violation of her contract, church officials said.

Archdiocese of Miami officials said first-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School on Thursday,...


Halfway through session, lawmakers getting little done as campaign trail beckons

Fri, 9 Feb 2018 14:20:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Florida faces no shortage of complex issues — an opioid abuse epidemic, funding for schools, affordable housing and more — but more than halfway through their time at the Capitol, lawmakers have sent Gov. Rick Scott just four substantive bills.

It’s not unprecedented. Lawmakers meet...


Orange mayors blast lawmakers over stripping cities of local control

Fri, 9 Feb 2018 14:05:00 PST

Criticizing the “condescending arrogance” of state lawmakers, the Orange County Council of Mayors denounced a series of bills targeting tree protections, vacation rental codes, election dates and redevelopment as an attack by Tallahassee on home rule by cities.

“Call Speaker of the House Richard...