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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, 23 Jan 2018 10:58:00 -0500

Copyright: ©2018 Orlando Sentinel

Floridians will vote on restoring voting rights to former felons

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 07:50:00 PST

A referendum on restoring voting rights to more than a million Floridians with non-violent felony convictions will officially be on the November ballot.

Desmond Meade of Orlando and his group Floridians for Fair Democracy successfully gathered more than 799,000 certified signatures in their years-long...


Women urged to vote, seek office at anniversary Orlando Women's March

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 14:05:00 PST

Beverly Alig’s fight for women’s rights and equality began in high school when she was eager to pursue a career in architecture.

But she said she was never allowed to enroll in mechanical drawing and was redirected to home economics, along with other girls in her school. The feeling stayed with...


Opioid bill advances in House despite doctors' worries

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:15:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — A bill designed to stem the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses was approved Monday by a House committee, despite objections from some doctors that a provision limiting the length of some prescriptions is impractical.

The bill, HB 21, would require more reporting to the state opioid...


Florida Supreme Court rejects 10 Death Row appeals at same time

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:45:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals by 10 Death Row inmates, including a man scheduled to be executed Feb. 22 in the 1993 slaying of a University of West Florida student.

The Supreme Court’s release of 10 nearly identical rulings at the same time was unusual. But...


Orange Dems on government shutdown: 'You had one job, Republicans'

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 17:15:00 PST

As politicians in Washington fought over who was to blame for the federal government shutdown, Orange County Democrats weighed in Saturday, pointing the finger across the aisle.

“The Senate Democrats really tried to compromise with the Republicans — even offering more funding for war and for the...


Women's March to mark 1st anniversary Sunday at Orlando event

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 10:40:00 PST

The first anniversary of the original Women’s March will be commemorated Sunday at Lake Eola in Orlando.

Women’s March Florida will lead a statewide “Day of Action” centered on gathering donations for hurricane-hit areas, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys.



Florida offshore oil drilling may be back on table

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 13:45:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Florida is still under consideration for offshore oil drilling, a top Interior Department official said Friday, contradicting an announcement last week from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that energy exploration off the coast of Florida was “off the table.”

The comments from Walter...


Florida Senate releases revamped sexual harassment rules

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:30:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate has released a revamped sexual harassment policy, after sex scandals rocked the chamber and led to the resignations of two prominent senators.

Senate President Joe Negron gave Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto the responsibility of reviewing the chamber’s...


Democrats worry Alan Grayson will challenge incumbent for Congress

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:00:00 PST

Alan Grayson has been out of office for more than a year, but his fundraising emails keep coming.

Soon, the Florida Democratic Party could find out on which race all that money could be spent. And it may not like the answer.

One expert said a scenario that worries party leaders is a primary battle...


Florida could declare porn a health threat

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:20:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — The state could declare pornography a public health risk that needs education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians, according to a resolution overwhelmingly approved by a House committee Thursday.

The resolution is being sponsored by Republican Rep. Ross Spano, also...


Lawmakers back longer, higher-interest payday loans

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:00:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE – Nearly 17 years after the Legislature passed strict rules governing payday loans, a bipartisan push to loosen some of those regulations has emerged, which would push annualized interest rates up to more than 200 percent.

Critics say the move will plunge poor people who become dependent...


Orange state House candidate among women featured on cover of Time

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:30:00 PST

Anna Eskamani received an unexpected boost Thursday in her campaign for state House District 47 – an appearance on the cover of Time magazine.

Eskamani, 27, of Orlando, is one of 48 women running for office across the country included on the cover, part of “an unprecedented surge of first-time...


Florida Hospital, UCF vying for Sanford Burnham facility

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:05:00 PST

UCF and Florida Hospital are competing to acquire the Lake Nona facility where the Sanford Burnham Prebys research institute has been slowly shutting down over the past two years.

On Tuesday, the two institutions will make their pitches to the Orange County Commission, detailing how their plans...


‘Intellectual freedom' issue added to higher ed revamp

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:50:00 PST

Adding a mandate for an annual survey of “intellectual freedom” on state university campuses, a House panel Wednesday approved a wide-ranging higher education package that would expand Bright Futures merit scholarships.

The bill (HB 423), approved in a 12-1 vote by the Post-Secondary Education...


Plakon tries to bust up unions … but only some unions

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:20:00 PST

Back in 2011, Rep. Scott Plakon introduced a union-busting bill that was so logically flawed and roundly panned, he withdrew it under a barrage of mockery and criticism.

Remarkably, the bill had both union-lovers and union-haters rolling their eyes.

It takes a special kind of awful to accomplish...


Mayor's race pitting incumbent Joe Kilsheimer vs. Bryan Nelson tops Apopka ballot

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 07:50:00 PST

Apopka’s crowded March election ballot is headlined by the mayor’s race in which incumbent Joe Kilsheimer faces a re-election challenge from Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson.

Kilsheimer defeated then-Mayor John Land in 2014, ending the 93-year-old Land’s historic tenure in the mayor’s office...


UCF championship specialty license plate bill filed in Legislature

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 07:35:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Some Florida lawmakers are backing a bill to create a specialty license plate for UCF’s claimed 2017 college football national championship.

The bill, HB 1359, was filed last week and its design was released Wednesday, featuring “National Champions” emblazoned on the bottom.

“I am...


Florida counties, schools face higher state pension contributions

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:10:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Florida counties will have to contribute an additional $66 million to the state pension fund in the new budget year, according to legislation that has started moving in the Senate.

As a result of a decrease in the assumed rate of investment return on the $160 billion pension fund,...


House panel OKs 78 ways to better battle hurricanes

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:20:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — Requiring nursing homes to have adequate backup power, blocking storm-damaged properties from being rebuilt in “high-risk” areas, and looking into changes in highway traffic flow during evacuations are among hurricane proposals that moved forward Tuesday in a Florida House select...


Vacation rental supporters rally at Capitol

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:50:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE – About 50 supporters of a bill that would eliminate local rules on vacation rentals gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to take up the measure.

“Attacks from the hotel industry to stop us from renting our home are in my opinion a transparent attempt to crush the perceived...


Holocaust center eyes move to downtown Orlando

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 13:30:00 PST

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida is planning a move from Maitland to downtown Orlando, along with an expansion that will make it five times the size of its current 7,000-square-foot facility.

The Orlando City Council on Monday will consider a proposal to lease the...


Report: Latvala accuser goes public with harassment allegations

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 03:50:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — The Miami Herald this morning has an interview with the lobbyist whose testimony led to the resignation of Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, over allegations that he sexually harassed women in Tallahassee.

Laura McLeod tells the Herald’s Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas that...


Florida spends $420k to justify its obsession with flawed tests

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:25:00 PST

Two years ago, Seminole County school officials made a sensible suggestion — replace Florida’s unreliable tests with nationally respected tests like the SAT.

Also, cut back on testing in general.

The idea was roundly praised — by parents, teachers and school administrators around the state.



Constitution panel rejects environmental amendment

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 10:40:00 PST

TALLAHASSEE — After drawing widespread opposition from business and agriculture groups, a proposal to redefine legal standing for Floridians on environmental issues won’t go before voters in November.

The Judicial Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Friday unanimously rejected...


Nursing home calls to Scott after Irma might have fostered false hope

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:10:00 PST

FORT LAUDERDALE — As Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida, Gov. Rick Scott gave out his cellphone number during a conference call with administrators of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

He told them to contact him if they ran into problems, and he would try to get help.