St. Petersburg Times
Florida Legislature Session 2001
Dec. 19
Lawmakers propose bonds to buy Everglades land
TALLAHASSEE -- Saying Florida needs to buy land to protect the Everglades now before the price goes up, a group of state lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a new plan to borrow money to get the job done.

Lawmaker urges penalizing deadbeat doctors
Florida does not have a law that addresses doctors who default on their student loans. The tab stands at $46-million.

Dec. 18
Criticism pelts McKay tax reform plan
The Senate president wants to end many tax exemptions and lower the sales tax by constitutional amendment.

GOP, black lawmakers may reunite on maps
TALLAHASSEE -- Look for a renewed alliance between black legislators and Republicans this year as lawmakers begin redrawing the lines for legislative and congressional districts in Florida, says Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee.

Dec. 13
Budget cuts pass the buck to local schools
Local districts are pawing through programs, looking for nickels and dimes as they trim for leaner days.

Dec. 8
Session tackled other issues
Lawmakers focused on terrorism, a building code and their own pay cut as well as the budget.

Turkeys survive budget crunch
Many member projects are able to keep their funding while education and health care programs take cuts to plug the deficit.

Dec. 6
Bush's tax cut wins delay despite several GOP nays
TALLAHASSEE -- Lawmakers handed Gov. Jeb Bush the delay he sought in a controversial tax cut Wednesday, but it came without the support of some of the House's most conservative members.

Capitol recycling buried in inaction
State officials toss their trash, marking a retreat from a program lawmakers mandated in 1988.

Dec. 1
2 sides near deal on budget
The House and Senate tentatively agree to slightly more than $1-billion in cuts for the rest of the fiscal year.

Nov. 28
Panel expands Bonanno inquiry
A House committee considering his impeachment will review allegations going back years.

Records bills clear a Senate panel
The controversial bills, offered in the fight against terrorism, propose exemptions to the Public Records Law.

Lawmakers agree to restore probation cuts
The agreement, cheered by probation officers, reflects a cooperative spirit between the House and Senate.

Nov. 15
McKay sharpens bold tax vision
But those critical of the Senate president's bold plan to alter the sales tax also sharpen their attacks.

Nov. 3
Bush stays home to tend the budget
The governor skips a trade mission to Spain as legislative leaders negotiate cuts.

Nov. 1
Senators head home; budget's future unclear
The governor has not decided whether to sign the budget cuts passed in the special session.

Oct. 24
Florida Senate to vote on meeting in secret
If approved, the proposal, designed for meetings on terrorism prevention, would allow closed sessions for the first time in over 30 years.

Budget cuts threaten anti-tobacco program
Advocates say smoking among youths has gone down, but they add that further cuts could damage the campaign.

House committee looks at impeachment for judges
Several lawmakers question whether the Legislature should involve itself in the judges' fates.

House okays pledge bill for students
The bill, approved 115-1, would require children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning.

Lawmakers start cutting process
A nickel here, a dime there and a lot of boasting about what was spared in the face of a money crisis.

Oct. 17
Lawmakers might place limits on public records
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's long established public records law could be in trouble in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Oct. 3
Governor puts a soft spin on $1-billion budget cuts
Bush terms it slowing budget growth, but critics say it's going to hurt no matter what it's called.

Florida lawmakers lobbied on farm bill
WASHINGTON -- In years past, Florida lawmakers cast votes on the farm bill knowing that their decisions would yield the state little but cost it less. This year, however, they are paying attention to one vote in particular that could bring their farmers an additional $500-million in conservation benefits -- but at a possible political consequence.

Sept. 7
Ex-House speaker fined for violation of lobbying rules
TALLAHASSEE -- As luncheons go, it was pretty pricey.

Sept. 6
Lobbying tab for last session hits $3-million
TALLAHASSEE -- Pharmaceutical companies battled over generic drugs, phone companies over access rates and lawyers over nursing home lawsuits.

May 14
Senate president pushes tax reform
ORLANDO -- Senate President John McKay wants to revamp what he calls Florida's antiquated tax structure, an appealing move to most Floridians.

May 13
Lawmakers have notable year
Good or bad, the county's legislators made an impression in Tallahassee.
• Times editorial: Power and patronage
Republican legislative leaders did all the dirty work, but the effect of their actions was to concentrate unprecedented power in Gov. Jeb Bush's office.

May 10
Late addition requires helmets for scooter riders
The mammoth transportation bill being sent to Gov. Jeb Bush also would ban the motorized toys from sidewalks and streets.

Be proud of election law, Bush says
Gov. Jeb Bush praises changes made to Florida's elections system in a ceremonial signing in South Florida.

May 8
Late change helps lobbyist's son
Amendment to a health care bill has one sure-fire beneficiary: Joseph Spinelli, who needed help to attend medical school in Florida.

Did pension reform tiff spill over into bill?
A lawmaker says job retention changes for an official weren't vindictive. The official disagrees.

Deadline on portables extended
The Legislature gives school districts another year to either bring their portable classrooms up to code or eliminate them.

Governor to sift through details of new bills
TALLAHASSEE -- On the Monday after the state Legislature went home, Gov. Jeb Bush was among those trying to sort out exactly what the lawmakers did and whom they did it to.

Bush says he'll sign education overhaul
The state Board of Regents would be abolished under the bill.

May 6
Session a winner for Bush, GOP
Republicans' legislative clout changes the look of government and gives the governor more power.

Lucy Morgan
Late-night flurry ends in confusion
It was shortly after midnight.

Year's push to curb growth falls short
Lawmakers instead open loopholes for airports, tank farms and the St. Joe Co.

Session pays off for the consumer
From safety to financial issues, pro-consumer bills fly. Business groups, however, see few victories.

Drug bill makes more generics accessible
Proponents say it will save money. Other bills that passed muster affect nursing home staffing and Medicaid.

Winners & Losers
What passed

May 5
Punch card ballots to be gone by 2002
TALLAHASSEE -- Amid handshakes and congratulations, Florida legislators moved Friday to leave behind the infamous 2000 election with a bill that calls for better voting machines and new rules designed to lessen voters' confusion and ensure their ballots will be counted.

Tax holiday, car seats among other provisions
TALLAHASSEE -- Stumbling toward the finish, the Florida Legislature on Friday night approved popular tax cuts and a $48-billion state budget that features modest spending increases for education and one-time bonuses for teachers.

Lawmakers lower the grading scale, expand vouchers
TALLAHASSEE -- For the first time since a statewide grading system was created 14 years ago, Florida's high school students may have an easier time making an A.

Regents close to extinction
An overhaul of the state's university system, replacing the regents with separate boards of trustees, awaits the House's okay.

SPJC gets special status
As part of a statewide university overhaul, SPJC will get to offer four-year degrees. Also, boards of trustees will replace the regents.

Nursing home bill raises staffing, limits lawsuits
The Legislature passed the bill late Friday, sending the plan to the governor.

May 4, 2001
Car seat boosters face no easy ride
A bill requiring older kids to be strapped into the seats may not reach the governor desk.

Program pays to relocate mobile homes
TALLAHASSEE -- It has become a familiar story in Florida: An old mobile home park is sold to make way for new development. Evicted residents face the expensive prospect of relocating.

Bill puts train on design track
The Legislature sends the governor a bill creating an authority that will design intrastate rail transit.

Adviser's job sparks talk of conflict of interest
Some say Edward Vogler II shouldn't be advising the Senate president on growth laws when he represents a company asking for amendments to those same laws.

Bill brings back $55-million toll bridge plan
Fort Walton Beach voters in 1993 overwhelmingly rejected the toll bridge proposal.

Legislator faces brain surgery
TALLAHASSEE -- In the first week of the legislative session, freshman Rep. Sara Romeo of Lutz experienced headaches and went to the hospital.

Lawmaker chided for sending dung
The House speaker finds fault with the conduct of state Rep. Nancy Argenziano.

Endless water charge turned off
Today is the final day of the 60-day session.

May 3, 2001
New legislative blood finds revolution in vain
Term limits pave the way for 63 new House members. But party leaders keep them in line with their agendas.

Budget plan offers bonus for teachers
The proposal includes an $850 "retention bonus" for most teachers, but the move has union officials fuming.

A visit, a gift, a great big mess
Say it with flowers? Nope. This lawmaker's sentiment for a lobbyist is a box -- filled with 25 pounds of cow manure.

2 hurdles left for nursing home bill
TALLAHASSEE -- The fate of a heavily lobbied bill to end headline-grabbing judgments against nursing homes is headed into the final days of the legislative session.

Bill would mandate 4 generic drugs
TALLAHASSEE -- In what would mean a savings for thousands of Floridians, pharmacists could substitute less expensive generics for four brand-name drugs under a bill sent to the governor Wednesday.

Negotiators agree on election reform package
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's lieutenant governor said the state could be an election model for the country as a result of a reform package approved Wednesday night by House and Senate negotiators.

Lucy Morgan
Don't like the rules? Just change the rules
Once upon a time, the Legislature was run by Democrats. The final week became an orgy of tacking amendments onto important bills, the creation of "trains," a legislative term that describes a chain of often-unrelated issues that get connected in a single bill.

May 2, 2001
Counties may help pay for vote reforms
Key lawmakers agree that the state's biggest counties should pay half the cost of new machines.

Senate okays grandparents rights
The bill, awaiting House approval, gives grandparents rights when grandchildren are endangered.

Law shields gunmakers from suits
Gov. Jeb Bush signs the law preventing cities from suing to recover medical, police costs.

Senators back off move to give felons the vote
Senators offer to drop the provision as lawmakers bargain on election reform. But a law change might be unnecessary.

Fasano's firm eyed state job
The House Republican leader says he knew nothing of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's plans to bid on a state retirement contract.

May 1, 2001
Aquifer injection scuttled
Thousands of residents have called, written or e-mailed lawmakers urging them to reconsider.

Senate okays instant-win bingo
TALLAHASSEE -- Bingo parlors can add an instant-win game card to their repertoire under a bill tentatively approved by the state Senate on Monday.

Grumbling greets $50-billion budget
Lawmakers trumpet tax cuts in a plan that irks some observers.
• Chart: Budget highlights

Bill targets union dues deduction
The state House approves a measure requiring teachers unions to bargain for a paycheck deduction.

Negotiators try to compromise on voting reform
The Senate and House now agree on how to pay for new voting equipment.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 57th day of the 60-day session.

April 30, 2001
Often, a victim's last hope rides on state claims bill
When the state is found negligent, it is protected from having to pay large amounts sometimes awarded by juries. Only the Legislature can override that.

Tuition set to go up again
Under a budget agreement, state university tuition would increase 7.5 percent.

April 29, 2001
Lawmakers back off cut in health aids for poor
Although proposed budget cuts that would affect thousands who need eye, hearing and dental care are dropped, other health care changes survive.

April 28, 2001
Bright futures winners to take advanced tests
TALLAHASSEE -- Legislative leaders have agreed to spend a little more money on public schools and force Bright Futures scholarship winners to take several tests to help them finish college faster -- and potentially save the state millions.

Senate approves nursing home bill
The compromise measure, which increases staffing and limits lawsuits, passes 33-5.

High court ruling buoys opponents of Earnhardt law
Open records advocates say the ruling bodes well for challenges to the recent closure of autopsy photos.

Former welfare recipients may receive help
The idea of supplementing the wages of former welfare recipients is considered unique in the United States.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 54th day of the 60-day session.

April 27, 2001
Lawmakers ready to abolish runoff
As election reform moves forward, both houses of the Florida Legislature act to do away with the second primary, which has helped many a governor.

Teacher programs funding trimmed
The House eliminated $36-million earmarked for training and recruitment.

Elder care bill makes headway in Senate
A nursing home trade group cheers the proposal, but trial attorneys criticize it.

April 26, 2001
House bill may stand alone on school prayer
The bill addresses student-led prayer, but it's not expected to progress without a Senate companion.

Graham warns against university overhaul
TALLAHASSEE -- The proposed overhaul of Florida's university system is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court if state lawmakers approve it, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham warned Wednesday.

House Democrats find a way to slow GOP train
A partisan war erupted Wednesday just as legislators began taking up the most important issues facing Floridians.

Memories of Jamerson warm House chamber
The former lawmaker's colleagues recall his legislative career, the issues he fought for, and his sense of humor.

Vouchers win a round, face another test
An appeals court ruling supporting the use of public money is left intact; the issue of church-state separation heads to trial.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 52nd day of the 60-day session.

Bush plan on arsenic opposed
TALLAHASSEE -- A plan by Gov. Jeb Bush to get the state's wood treatment plant to stop using arsenic as a preservative is running into trouble in the Florida Legislature.

April 25, 2001
House okays demise of chad
The bills would end punch card voting, require uniform ballots and help counties buy voting machines.

Reserve protects undersea treasure
With a Cabinet vote, Florida creates the biggest no-fishing zone in the nation in the Dry Tortugas.

Legislators agree to cut taxes a bit
The compromise also adds money -- not enough, Democrats say -- for social services.

Bill would ease rules on marinas
A Senate committee approves a bill exempting marinas from special state reviews of regional impact.

House committee dilutes nursing home reform bill
The changes leave the sponsor of the proposal unsure whether she will vote for the legislation.

April 21, 2001
Senate plans a break for teachers' math scores
In the face of a teacher shortage, senators find a way to let non-math teachers keep teaching.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 47th day of the 60-day session.

April 20, 2001
Bill would toughen car seat law
Florida Senate approves legislation requiring children 8 or younger to ride in car seats. House considers similar bill.

Miller changing vote on aquifer
Tampa Democratic Sen. Les Miller will say no to the plan to store tainted water in Florida's underground supply.

2002 bill would order school anti-bias rules
TALLAHASSEE -- A confrontation between a legislator and a group of gay and lesbian students has produced a bill that would require Florida schools to take action against those who torment homosexuals.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 46th day of the 60-day session.

April 19, 2001
Crist may get brushoff in education transition
Even some Republicans have questioned whether the education commissioner could handle the job.

Area college changes advance
A plan would make New College a university, among other changes.

Butt out of Capitol, court tells judge
A judge who ordered legislators not to meet stepped over the constitutional line, says the Supreme Court.

Proposal to pay for schools irks Bush
A Senate committee suggests school boards and counties increase taxes without voters' approval.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 45th day of the 60-day session.

April 18, 2001
Bill expands disabled vouchers
The proposal allows any parents to apply if they are dissatisfied with their disabled child's progress.

Bill would create dads' registry
Assured by the measure protecting fathers' rights, Gov. Jeb Bush allows a separate adoption bill to become law.

Bills place Florida Bar in state's cross hairs
Infuriated by court decisions on their laws, legislators begin stripping the Bar of its power.

McKay signals some flexibility on tax cuts
Until now, Senate President John McKay has been opposed to the cuts in a tight year that includes a Medicaid shortfall.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 44th day of the 60-day session.

April 17, 2001
Legislature weighs slashing programs for poor
Proposals would leave no state money for poor people to get eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures, among other cuts.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 43rd day of the 60-day session.

Critics: Aquifer at risk from proposal
While some fear contamination from plans to pump in untreated water, supporters say it will save millions.

Reform of workers' compensation debated
Injured workers rally as a Senate committee looks at ways to improve the system.

House favors prayers led by students
Critics say the bill could force some students to be a captive audience at some events. It awaits final approval.

April 16, 2001
Slot machines gain support
A group working to legalize slot machines at dog and horse tracks is gathering voters' signatures in hopes of putting the issue on the 2002 ballot.

April 13, 2001
Bills tie scholarships, tax breaks
Corporations could get dollar-for-dollar breaks for donations to send poor kids to private schools.

Legislature 2001
Growth management bill revived

Ryces join push for school safety
The parents of a boy murdered after getting off a school bus back a program to enhance student protections.

April 12, 2001
Senate okays aquifer storage bill
The EPA and activists have raised concerns about pumping tainted water into the drinking water supply.

Lawmakers hire former Bush counsel
Legislators facing a contempt action from a judge pick Barry Richard to defend them.

The Legislature in brief
Today is the 38th day of the 60-day session.

April 11, 2001
Rally decries budgets for Everglades
Environmentalists protest the president's and Legislature's proposals.

Bills would make much more private
The Legislature is considering 132 proposals affecting public records and open government, a First Amendment group says.

Panel approves billboard bill
The measure, if okayed by the full Legislature, would force local governments to pay for billboards they wanted to remove.

Bill pushes higher scores to qualify for Bright Futures
Legislators want to control the scholarship program's escalating cost.

Two higher education bills survive
Bills regarding SPJC and USF's St. Petersburg campus still pass key tests.

Father's goal: safer elevators
Before passing a bill requiring inspections of all elevators, a committee hears from a doctor whose son was killed in one.

April 9, 2001
Bush's wishes buffeted
The Legislature shows signs of rejecting or scaling back many of the governor's initiatives.

April 7, 2001
Some say manatee in danger no more
TALLAHASSEE -- State wildlife officials were peppered with the questions during a recent House Natural Resources Committee meeting.

Proposal clarifies taxation of ports
TALLAHASSEE -- As local governments continue to sort through the rubble of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on taxing stadiums and arenas, lawmakers here are working to spare airports and seaports the same confusion.

April 5, 2001
Genshaft learns Capitol customs
Doing a turn in what's an annual rite for state university presidents, USF's Judy Genshaft lobbies lawmakers.

House at odds with governor, U.S. over dam
The House wants Rodman Reservoir saved; Bush and federal officials want its dam torn down.

Senate panel pushes through growth bill
The massive rewrite of growth management rules has several more stops in the Senate.

Time runs out in debate on nursing home damages cap
TALLAHASSEE -- One by one, senators left the dais to huddle with lobbyists in corners and hallways.

Drug labs seed citizen groups
Behind the grass-roots groups lobbying for and against generic drug substitutions are big-name corporate donors.

April 4, 2001
Senate relaxing stand on tax cuts
The House presses hard for cuts as political realities set in before final budget talks.

Racial profiling bill splits legislators
A House committee rejects a plan to form a task force to study traffic stops based on race and instead backs a plan pushed by sheriffs, angering black lawmakers.

Legislators ignore judge's order on labor talks
The House Speaker says, "We are not going to follow a temporary restraining order that violates our constitutional duty."

The Legislature in brief
New mayor chats with Bush

April 3, 2001
Lawmaker sweetens bill with plum for ratepayers
The House majority leader uses an old amendment trick with a new twist in hopes of killing an endless charge on utility bills.

The Legislature in brief
Today is the 29th day of the 60-day session.

April 1, 2001
Leaders push county wants
Commissioners share with county representatives, and others who will listen, their desires for this legislative session.

March 31, 2001
GOP unswayed on House budget
Democratic pleas for funding increases fail in a plan that includes $355-million in tax cuts.

March 30, 2001
Senate okays $47.8-billion budget plan
The package includes millions for pork barrel projects, or turkeys.

Hands off lands funds, Bush says
The Senate wants to take $100-million from the environmental land fund to free up money for other state projects.

Senate approves bill to spare retarded inmates' lives
The House has a similar bill, and Gov. Jeb Bush says he supports the measures.

Gov. Bush signs bill to close autopsy photos
The law inspired by the Earnhardt case is certain to get a court test.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 25th day of the 60-day session.

March 29, 2001
Boaters facing higher fees
To find more money for manatee protection, a state House panel votes to increase the costs of registering boats.

Bill bars meetings about unions
A state Senate committee passes a measure that prohibits such meetings on the Medicaid dime at nursing homes.

Senate panel okays resolution to restore felons' voting rights
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida voters would determine whether felons could regain the right to vote, under a resolution approved Wednesday in a state Senate committee.

March 28, 2001
Lawmakers: We'll pay for vow to teach
A bill would pay tuition and fees if prospective teachers agree to take and keep classroom jobs at least four years.

Senate advances bill to help homeless
For the first time, Florida would have a State Office on Homelessness to fund and unify the state's programs.

Ban sought on arsenic-treated wood in state's playgrounds
A lawmaker says he will offer a bill in the House to keep arsenic-treated wood out of playgrounds.

The Legislature in brief
Today is the 23rd day of the 60-day session.

March 27, 2001
Overhaul plan hinders Fla. universities
Uncertainty about Florida's plan for higher education could make it hard to fill top posts and keep grants.

Butterworth asks for fuel law repeal
Saying the public has been "lost in the shuffle," the attorney general asks legislators to overturn the controversial law.

Bill may protect dam many want destroyed
A House committee has approved a bill that would protect the Rodman Reservoir, halting the dam's destruction.

March 26, 2001
State employees fear reform plans
Proposed changes would make it easier to hire and fire workers. That leaves many state workers worried about their careers.

March 24, 2001
House committee okays budget, a $53.2-billion study in contrasts
Despite a tight budget year, a Florida House committee's $53.2-billion plan includes many local projects.

March 23, 2001
Senators propose to raid a fund that purchases wild Florida lands
Senators, hard-pressed to write their budget, want $100-million from the Preservation 2000 program.

Everglades restoration lags behind schedule
Some of the work is delayed a year. Environmentalists worry that money and support for the plan will vanish.

Senate okays adoption changes
Gov. Bush has not indicated whether he'll sign the complex rewrite of Florida's adoption law.

University job search bill would punish loose lips
A year in prison could await anyone who reveals the name of a university or college presidential hopeful under a new bill.

Autopsy photo bill quickly passed by House
The bill severely limits access to autopsy photos. An identical bill in the Senate is expected to advance rapidly.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 18th day of the 60-day session.

March 22, 2001
Senate ready to vote on faith-based prison plan
Today the Senate votes on a faith-based program for prisons, earmarking $5-million for projects.

Governor calls for action to aid minority students
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday appealed to educators and state lawmakers to help poor, minority schoolchildren who are being shortchanged by Florida schools.

Bill adds crowding to voucher criteria
The House measure would give $3,000 to students so they could get out of schools at 120 percent of capacity.

Bill would help doctors report their errors
But the reports from physicians' offices would be confidential and could not be subpoenaed in a lawsuit.

Around the Legislature
Felons testify for rights restoration

March 21, 2001
Senators see deal to study fast train
With their sights on a $6-million allocation, lawmakers envision an authority that would study details.

Lawmakers outflank legions of phone lobbyists
TALLAHASSEE -- In the opening round of the biggest lobbying fight of the legislative session, state lawmakers managed to split the difference.

Effort brings New College closer to independence
A push by Sen. John McKay is likely to sever ties between the liberal arts college and USF, raising fears about its future.

Senate committee moves to approve 2 insurance bills
TALLAHASSEE -- Shaneen Wahl's health insurance company didn't drop her when she developed breast cancer in 1996.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 16th day of the 60-day session.

March 20, 2001
Bill sets July 1 date to restructure education system
TALLAHASSEE -- A plan to overhaul Florida's education system is now on the fast track in the Legislature, and a political fight is brewing over the future of public schools and universities.

State asks for flexibility with federal money
Relaxed health care regulations could help offset Florida's Medicaid deficit.

March 18, 2001
Phone lobbyists busy
More than 60 are tugging at state lawmakers in a battle over access fees that pits the local carriers against AT&T.

Lawmakers debate 2 new voucher bills
Although the court fight over Florida's original school vouchers law is unresolved, state lawmakers are battling over two new proposals that could put thousands more public school children in private schools.

March 17, 2001
Universities recoil at Senate budget fix
Lawmakers suggest making professors teach extra classes to offset a budget shortfall.

March 16, 2001
Bill restricting autopsy photos sent to House
Dale Earnhardt's widow and the Orlando Sentinel remain at odds over the paper's bid for his pictures.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 11th day of the 60-day session.

Bill would ease rules for heart programs
TALLAHASSEE -- Tom Barb knows the difficulty of launching an open heart surgery program.

March 15, 2001
Bush, McKay at odds over taxes
TALLAHASSEE -- From lowering property taxes to giving tax breaks to investors and back-to-school shoppers, tax cuts have been a hallmark of Gov. Jeb Bush's administration.

Nursing home fight comes to a head
As a Senate panel passes a reform bill, seniors push to protect their right to sue and lawmakers face hard choices.

Lawyers, judges fight bills that dilute control
The president of the Florida Bar argues that dumping the current court system would set the state back 100 years.

Committee pushes to keep 2 state jobs free of politics
A bill aimed at the secretary of state is amended to include the attorney general.

Legislature 2001
Today is the 10th day of the 60-day session.

March 14, 2001
Proposal would make A's easier
Lawmakers would alter the school grading scale so it would match the one used in most of the nation.

New judge selection process favored
A House committee votes for a bill that would strengthen the governor's judicial appointing power.

Florida's finances healthy, Bush says
TALLAHASSEE -- Facing a mounting public relations problem over proposals to cut programs for public schools and poor people, Gov. Jeb Bush and top Republicans moved Tuesday to ease fears about the state's finances.

Sullivan fired after violating senator's media policy
Ginny Brown-Waite says there are reasons she doesn't allow her staff to speak with reporters.

March 13, 2001
In tight budget, 'turkeys' still grow
Despite budget cuts, Florida lawmakers propose spending billions on projects in their local districts.

Legislature briefs
Independent gas station owners and distributors rallied Monday at the Capitol to oppose a bill backed by Wal-Mart and Murphy Oil Co.

Requests for Pasco projects decrease
Whether you call them pork, bacon or turkeys, state-funded projects that would benefit Pasco County in next year's budget appear to be leaner than normal.

New health facility tops list
Hernando legislators want $11-million from the state including $5.8-million to upgrade the facility in Spring Hill.

March 11, 2001
Learning the ropes at the Capitol
First-time Rep. Sara Romeo of Tampa has to get used to more than 15-hour workdays. She and an unprecedented number of other newcomers in the Florida House also have to get used to lobbyists as they ponder big-ticket business issues this session.

GOP designs bills to mold the courts
TALLAHASSEE -- Dressed in their long black robes, members of the Florida Supreme Court were greeted by applause from state legislators last week as they walked into the House chamber for Gov. Jeb Bush's State of the State address.

Anger at judges spawns campaign to elect them
A restaurateur, incensed at judges who try to rewrite laws instead of following them, takes his drive to end appointments statewide.

March 10, 2001
Bush wants to fund chastity education
The governor proposes "abstinence-only" grants from family planning funds. Critics fear a loss of services for poor women.

Crowded schools? Say no to growth, Bush says
He wants cities and counties to make sure they have enough classrooms before approving new developments.

March 9, 2001
Legislature 2001
Today is the fourth day of the 60-day session.

House okays safeguards in adoption law
The Senate is expected to pass the bill as well. The goal is to avoid custody fights such as the "Baby Sam" case.

March 8, 2001
Bill would allow dirty water to be pumped into aquifer
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida environmentalists are sounding the alarm over a bill that would relax the state's drinking-water standards to allow utilities to pump slightly polluted water underground into Florida's aquifer.

State faces $1-billion Medicaid shortfall
An "information breakdown" blinded lawmakers to a looming budget crisis that threatens health programs for the needy.

Legislative briefs
Today is the third day of the 60-day session.

Disclosure bill advances
Independent political committees would be required to register and report contributions.

Committee backs sales tax breaks for sports venues
The trio of bills still has a ways to go in a Legislature working with tight finances.

Every day is somebody's day
It may be part of normal life in Palm Beach County, but a noisy, bright blue, 30-foot,Gumbylike windsock with fringe on top is not normally on display in the Capitol rotunda.

March 7, 2001
Let revolution begin with you, Bush urges
In his State of the State address to the Legislature, the governor challenges lawmakers to solve Florida's problems.

Gov. Bush sounds like Candidate Bush
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush delivered the first speech of his re-election campaign Tuesday.

Tax break for aiding pupils is blocked
A state lawmaker wants a bill affecting gifts for private school students to spell out which gifts are covered.

5 brand-name drugs may lose protections
Several brand-name drugs would lose the market protections they now enjoy under a bill a Senate panel approved Tuesday.

Bill not what its backer presumes
A prosthetist says a bill would assure him of a license. But lawmakers say he still faces a test.

March 6, 2001
[AP photo / Mark Foley)]
Gov. Jeb Bush delivers his State of the State message to the opening session of the Legislature Tuesday, March 6, 2001, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Voting changes a 'priority'

The governor says he will support spending on new technology and other changes his task force recommends.

Business lobby draws powerful party crowd
Associated Industries of Florida hosts 5,000, including Jeb Bush and most lawmakers, in a session's eve tradition.

March 4, 2001
Leading the Legislature: John McKay
House speaker Tom Feeney, a conservative "gladiator," is unapologetic for his rhetoric. Senate President John McKay, a onetime Democrat, has overcome many obstacles to reach his position of power. The session begins Tuesday.

Leading the Legislature: Tom Feeney
House speaker Tom Feeney, a conservative "gladiator," is unapologetic for his rhetoric. Senate President John McKay, a onetime Democrat, has overcome many obstacles to reach his position of power. The session begins Tuesday.

Legislature opens to new faces, old woes
In addition to a growing budget crisis, lawmakers have plenty of problems awaiting them Tuesday.

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