Welcome to

Capitol News Service

Florida's Best Political Television Coverage


Visit the Lobby Tools Website


Visit Legislative IQ Website


Recent Posts



RSS Capitol News LIVE

RSS Quote of the Day

  • Leo Rosten
    "Some things are so unexpected that no one is prepared for them."
  • Franz Kafka
    "God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them."
  • Jackie Kennedy
    "I want to live my life, not record it."
  • Robert Baden-Powell
    "The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others."

Governor-Elect Makes First Public Appearance in State Capitol

December 10th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

Fresh off a victory lap to central Florida over the weekend, Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis made his first public appearance in the Capital City this morning.

The event, Wreaths Across America is held to remember and honor veterans, and educate students.

“Today many homes there is an empty chair for one who was serving who has already made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Amvets Chaplain Mikey Kane at the ceremony.

Speaking without notes, DeSantis evoked memories of flying to Washington DC as a congressman and while others watched the White House and other monuments.

“Everyone looking out that left side of the plane,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis was captivated by Arlington Nation Cemetary on the other side.

“That is out best monument, because those people are what helped make America what it is today,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis says his choice of venue indicates his dedication to keep Florida veteran friendly.

“We’re going to look for ways to make it more veteran friendly,” said DeSantis. “I think we got a lot of opportunities.”

While the Governor-elect has spent weeks here in the State Capitol, it’s all been behind closed doors.

The Governor Elect says his days have been filled with interviewing job applicants.

“I mean, we’ve got a lot of spots to fill. I’ll be doing interviews all day like I have been for the last couple weeks,” said DeSantis.

So far, the Governor has chosen just one agency head.

He’s got 24 more to go, as well as dozens, if not hundreds of other jobs to fill.

We also learned The Governor Elect and his wife, and two children will live in the Governor’s mansion.

Rick Scott has maintained his residence in Naples.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Wreaths Across America Ceremony Held at State Capitol

December 10th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

For the 10th year in a row, the courtyard at the state Capitol was the site of one of 1,400 Wreaths Across America celebrations Monday.

The annual event aims to remember, honor, and teach people about the sacrifices made by those who have died serving our country.

Master of Ceremonies Scott McPherson says the 50 state event is designed to make it easier for those who can’t visit a national cemetery.

“The 50 state initiative that Wreaths Across America does was designed to augment what they do at all the national cemeteries and what they do at Arlington National Cemetary,” said McPherson. “There are people who can’t make it to a wrath laying ceremony, but they can come to the state capitol and watch the wreath laying ceremony here. And it helps to reinforce the message that those that we lost must always be remembered.”

The event was sponsored by the Leon County School system.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Jury Selection Begins for Murder Trial of Denise Williams

December 10th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

Jury selection began Monday in a nationally watched trial in the State Capitol.

48-year-old Denise Williams is accused of conspiring to murder her husband, first degree murder, and being an accessory after the fact.

Her husband Mike Williams was murdered 18 years ago this month by his best friend who later married his widow.

100 jurors were called Monday.

Judge James Hankinson told them each would have to be interviewed individually.

“It is a case that I know has garnered some publicity, so I’m sure that some of you have heard about it,” said Hankinson. “What we need to do is talk to each of you individually about what you know, that’s going to take a little time for us to work through that, so I’m going to ask that you be patient with us.”

The victims best friend was offered immunity for admitting to the crime, implicating the ex wife, and telling authorities where to find the body.

The widow’s attorney claims his client is not guilty. The trial is expected to last four to five days.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Lawmakers Seek to extend Statute of Limitations for Sexual Battery

December 10th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The number of reported rapes jumped 3.8% in the first six months of this year.

Currently, rapists can be prosecuted within 8 years of the crime, but new legislation would nearly double the statute of limitations for future cases to 15 years.

Meg Baldwin runs Refuge House, a rape crisis center.

She estimates 20% of the calls she receives are about cases 10 years or older.

“Those survivors will have a wider window to come to terms with what happened to them, to appreciate the impact of the attack on themselves as individuals and to make that big decision to come forward,” said Baldwin.

Representative Evan Jenne says the extension makes sense, given the capability of modern technology.

“With the advancements that we’ve had in DNA techniques it doesn’t make sense not to, for me at least personally, not to push back the statue of limitations. Especially on an act as heinous and vile as a sexual assault,” said Jenne.

Lawmakers allocated more than $2 million to help reduce a backlog of more than 8,600 rape kits in 2016.

1316 rape kits remain untested, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a goal of processing all of them by June of 2019.

To prevent future backlogs, the new legislation would require FDLE to track the status of rape kits.

“That’s a great next chapter to this story,” said Baldwin.

If the bill passes, FDLE would have until 2020 to implement the new tracking requirements.

A second bill filed in the Senate would abolish any statute of limitations for sexual battery on persons under the age of 18.

Currently those protections are only guaranteed to victims under the age of 16.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

“I may not make it home” thought Trooper of the Year

December 7th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

A five year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol is this year’s Trooper of the Year in part because of his heroism caught on dash cam video.

Trooper Nickolas Dolan smiled as the Governor presented him with the Trooper of the Year award, but last February Dolan was in fear of his life. Marion County Deputies were chasing an active shooter, and asked for help, says FHP director Col. Gene Spaulding.

“Gentleman was shooting a .50 calibre rifle at construction equipment at a known protest location at one of the pipelines” Spaulding told the Governor. 

The suspect crossed into citrus county where deputies there picked up the chase continued the FHP Director.

“This was an active shooter situation. He hears the Lieutenant with the Sheriff’s office tell the deputies to pull over and put on their ballistic rifle vests before they engage the subject.”

Dolan was driving toward the fleeing suspect. 

“February 26th last year changed my life forever” says the Trooper.

As the suspect passed, the report says he pointed a hand gun at Dolan, but didn’t fire.

In hot pursuit, Dolan is about to execute what is call a pursuit termination maneuver, or PIT, then momentarily backs off. Director Spaulding explained why.

“These two motorcycles coming in the opposite direction. He has the presence of mind to hold off until they get in a safe location. He immediately engages the suspect in a PIT maneuver.”

The car slides into the ditch, the police cruiser running into it.

The suspect then slides out of the truck holding a handgun and wearing bullet proof equipment. He refuses to drop it.” Shots are fired.

“I may not have made it home, but I wanted to make sure everybody else is okay” Dolan told the Governor.

But go home he did.  Trooper Dolan says he regrets having to take a life that day, but says he would do it again. 

Posted in State News | No Comments »

New Bill Would Make Not Buckling Up Your Kids Child Abuse

December 6th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

Newly filed legislation would impose stronger penalties for adults who don’t properly restrain their children in a car.

The Senate bill would allow incidents where unrestrained children are killed or injured to be investigated as child abuse.

In Florida if your child isn’t wearing a seat belt you face a minimum $60 fine.

Even still, Corporal Patricia Johnson Shaw with the Florida Highway Patrol says unrestrained children in vehicles remains a major problem.

“You’ll have a lot of it actually when they’re picked up from the schools and they’re just jumping in the cars and the parents are taking off,” said Shaw.

Nationwide, In 2016, 723 children age 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes.

Of those, 35% weren’t restrained.

“When you see that it’s a child it takes it to heart,” said Shaw. “And knowing that, that child was not properly restrained, it makes it even worse.”

A new bill filed for the 2019 session would allow the Department of Children and Families to investigate adults for child abuse if a child passenger is injured or killed because they weren’t properly restrained.

A recent study found that in a single year more than 600,000 children in the US rode in a car at least once without a seat belt or car seat.

Corporal Shaw says kids are much more likely to ride unrestrained if their parents don’t set a good example.

“The example that you set as a parent, that’s the example the kids see,” said Shaw.”If a kid doesn’t see you strapped up, it’s more likely that they wont strap up.”

Currently in Florida children five and under are required to be restrained in a car or booster seat.

A House companion bill has not been filed yet, but is expected to come soon.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Uber Drive Takes Plea in Kidnapping Case

December 6th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

The former Uber driver accused of false imprisonment after she refused to stop and let a passenger out of her car has entered a plea.

31-year-old Destiny Green will spend four years on mental health probation and pay the costs of her prosecution.

Judge James Hankinson ordered Green to stay away from the victim and to not drive for a ride sharing company.

“Place you on four years mental health probation,” said Judge Hankinson. “The mental health probation will be consistent with the addendum that you signed. There be special conditions, 77 days in jail. Credit for 77 days served. Have no contact with Brooke Adkins. You may not work as a driver for a ride sharing company.”

Green spent 77 days in jail without bond.

A mental evaluation found she was fit to enter her plea of no contest.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Groveland Four Will Have to Wait for Pardon

December 5th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s Governor and Cabinet cancelled the last scheduled clemency hearing of their terms today due to the funeral of president George H.W. Bush.

The cancellation leaves an injustice uncorrected that dates back to 1949.

A legislative resolution leaves no doubt about what happened in 1949.

Four black men were accused of raping a white woman.

One fled and was shot by a mob 400 times as lawmakers described it during the 2018 legislative session.

Three others, including 16 year old Charles Greenlee were tried and convicted.

The US Supreme Court overturned their convictions and while the two adults were being taken back to Lake County for a new trial, they were shot on the side of the road by then Sheriff Willis McCall.

One survived.

Carol Greenlee’s father Charles was released from prison in 1962.

“He wanted forgiveness for everything that had happened to him. And today, a pardon is forgiveness,” said Carol in April of 2017 after the Florida Legislature issued a formal apology.

It’s now been over 19 months since lawmakers apologized and asked the Clemency Board expedite pardons for the four.

The last scheduled clemency meeting under Rick Scott’s administration was cancelled.

NAACP Chapter President Dalaitre Hollinger says the lack of action is only prolonging the injustice.

“Well I think it’s always important to right the wrong, no matter how long long ago it’s been,” said Hollinger.

Under the clemency board rules, any member can bring up any case at any time.
“The year’s not done and our term’s not done,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. “There may yet be an opportunity, but that’s still in flux.”

In a statement, the Governor’s office says, “We continue to review all of our options.”

Under Clemency Board rules, only the Governor can initiate a pardon.

At least one other board member must agree.

The pardon process can take place without a formal hearing

Posted in State News | No Comments »

DeSantis Rumored to Have Eye on Richard Corcoran for Education Commissioner

December 5th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

In a surprise turn Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart has announced her resignation despite having a year left in her contract.

Published reports say charter school advocate and former House Speaker Richard Corcoran may be on the shortlist for the position.

When Corcoran ended his campaign for Governor in May he suggested his career in public office was coming to an end.

“I said all along, you know I was going to run for Governor or go home,” said Corcoran in May.

However, the political landscape has changed.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who had her contracted extended for a year when polling showed a Democrat leading in the Governors race, resigned this week.

Corcoran is now favored to become the state’s top education official.

“It’s no secret that the new Governor and the former Speaker Corcoran are both staunch advocates of school choice,” said Executive Director of the Florida School Boards Association Andrea Messina.

Corcoran is known for championing new voucher programs for private schools and diverting local tax money to charter schools.

“All of this legislation goes directly to what he says as his values, which are disrupting our education program,” said Martin Powell, Chief of Staff of the Florida Education Association.

FEA also points to the fact Corcoran lacks experience in public education, unlike Stewart who worked as a teacher, principal, and administrator for 40 years.

“He is a threat not only to traditional public school advocates and the teachers union, but to traditional schools,” said Powell.

In contrast, State Senator Bill Montford, who also heads the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, is optimistic about a Commissioner Corcoran.

“He’s very bright, he’s energetic and he knows how to get things done,” said Montford.

Stewart will officially step down on January 8th, the same day Governor Elect Ron DeSantis will be sworn into office.

Corcoran was in Washington DC Wednesday, attending a National Convention held by an education think tank established by Former Governor Jeb Bush, another staunch advocate of school choice.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Cabinet Swan Song

December 4th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The Governor and two members of Florida’s cabinet held their final meeting Tuesday morning.

The final goodbye was full of tears and the future for two of the departing members still remains to be seen.

The final cabinet meeting for Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam was a sedimental affair for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

He offered three resolutions honoring their hard work and dedication.

“You have been a friend when I’ve needed a friend and you have given selflessly to this state,” said Patronis.

The four hour long meeting was filled with time honored traditions including pet adoptions and seasonal celebrations.

Photo opportunities, not policies took up the majority of the meeting.

Keeping in line with what has largely defined the Governor’s eight years in office, Rick Scott abruptly left the meeting without taking questions.

Commissioner Putnam, who lost his bid for the Governor’s Mansion says his next move is still in the works.

“I’m focused every day on all the work yet to be done between now and January 8th and then we’ll figure it out after that,” said Putnam.

Beginning January 8th, these seats will be filled by Republicans Ron DeSantis, Ashley moody and returning Jimmy Patronis.

For the first time in eight years a democrat will join the ranks.

Niki Fried will take over as commissioner of agriculture.

Patronis says he’s looking forward to working with Fried, despite their political differences.

“We all serve and love the state of Florida so I’m sure that Commissioner Elect Fried is going to come here with that same type of passion,” said Patronis.

He offered this advice to the newly elected members, show up early and be prepared.

Attorney General Pam Bondi also didn’t take questions after the meeting.

Appearances on FOX News in recent months have lead to speculation Bondi may land a job with the network after she leaves office.

It’s also been suggested she might be a possible candidate for US Attorney General, replacing Jeff Sessions.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

State Transfers Dozier Property

December 4th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

The state has transferred more than 1200 acres including the main campuses at the infamous Dozier School for Boys to Jackson County, where the school was founded in 1901.

County officials say it is one more step to closure in the brutality that took place there.

Hundreds were beaten, some died in the so called White House, all at the hands of state officials during the Dozier Schools 100 years of operation.

In 2017, state ordered the sprawling campus turned over to local officials.

Jackson County Commission Chair Clint Pate acknowledged the schools dark history as he made his pitch for the property.

“We’d like to take the challenge of turning this into a positive impact to Jackson County instead of some of the negative stuff we’ve had with there,” said Pate.

With little debate, the Governor Rick Scott and the Cabinet agreed to turn over the schools 360 acres.

“This is long overdue,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

They also transferred another 919 acres for economic Development.

The legislation calls for a monument and the preservation of the White House and the Boot Hill cemetery.

The barbed wire that kept inmates from escaping is now gone.

Several buildings on the property are still usable.

“I’m really excited about urning it into a positive and we’re gonna be good caretakers of the property,” said Jackson County Sheriff, Lou Roberts.

A plan to reinter more than four dozen bodies taken from the campus has been delayed until sometime next year.

While the state has apologized, the question of reparations for dozens of men who survived the abuse remains open.

Seven bodies from children who died in a fire will go back to Boot Hill on the property.

More than 40 others will be reinterred in a Tallahassee Cemetery.

County officials could not put a timetable on how long it will take to turn the property into something positive.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Retailers Hopeful Liquor Wall Will Fall

December 3rd, 2018 by Jake Stofan

You might soon see Whiskey next to the Wheaties in Big Box stores thanks to an Administrative Law Judge’s ruling, but advocates for traditional liquor stores say the ruling is a far cry from putting an end to the debate over where hard liquor can be sold.

For at least the past five years, dozens of lobbyists have worked lawmakers to allow the sale of hard alcohol in big box stores instead from a separate storefront.

Last year it passed by one vote, but was then vetoed by Rick Scott.

Trying a new strategy, Walmart and Target turned to an administrative law judge, successfully challenging a rule that defined items customarily sold in restaurants.

“Anybody can go to these places [restaurants] and see that they’re selling stuff that isn’t hot and cold food and beverages,” said Will Spicola, an Attorney representing Walmart, Target and Top Golf.

Spicola says the way the rule had been applied prohibited retailers from acquiring Consumption on Premisses licenses, which if granted, would allow them to sell liquor in their main stores, while businesses like hotels and bowling allies got away with selling products off the state’s list.

Retailer hope with the rule gone, they might now be able to acquire a license.

“A lot of these big box retailers have restaurants,” said Spicola. “They have concession areas where they’re selling food and drink to their patrons. There could be an opportunity there for them to get a license to sell things just like every other restaurant does.”

While the ruling favors retailers, there’s nothing in it prohibiting the state from creating a new rule blocking the big box stores.

Attorney Will Hall with the Florida Independent Spirits Association says a new rule would likely add tee shirts and branded merchandise and not much else.

“If the point of all of this at the beginning was to basically allow every item in a Costco warehouse to be customarily sold in restaurants, this ruling doesn’t do that,” said Hall.

The state could also choose to appeal.

In that case, the ruling would be put on hold until it gets a second look from the First District Court of Appeals.

We reached out to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation for comment on this story, but did not receive a response in time.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Three Day Governor

December 3rd, 2018 by Jake Stofan

Rick Scott is scheduled to begin his term as a U-S Senator on January 3rd, but a new Governor won’t be sworn in January 8th.

The Constitution says he can’t hold two offices, so Scott may ask the Senate to swear him in later so he can finish his term.

He could also resign and let the Lt. Governor have the top title, as happened just over 30 years ago.

In January 1987,Then Governor Bob Graham became a U-S Senator, three days before his successor, Bob Martinez was due to be sworn in.

Graham resigned making Lt. Governor Wayne Mixson Florida’s 39th Governor.

Mixson, now 96, made the most of those three days.

He printed stationary.

He spent the night with his wife Margie, in the Governor’s mansion.

“Never before has a Lt. Governor succeeded to the office of Governor,” said former Governor LeRoy Collins at Mixson’s inauguration. “He is a person of rare good judgement.”
The state could have, and would have paid for it all, but Mixson did it all at his own expense.

“Well, I don’t enjoy the criticism, whether it’s just or unjust that would have come otherwise,” said Mixson.

Mixson even has a portrait hanging outside the Governor’s office.

Like everything else, he paid for it himself.

Rick Scott is scheduled to he a US Senator five days before his term as Governor ends.

If Scott chooses to resign, Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera would become governor.

If that happens, Mixson’s advice is to make the most of those five days.

“I appointed between fifty and sixty County Commissioners or Water Management Districts and these kids of things,” said Mixson. “It was a lot of fun. I felt relevant”

The only other Lt. Governor to succeed to the Governor’s office was Buddy MacKay.

That was on December 12, 1998, the day outgoing Governor Lawton Chiles died.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Rick Scott’s Statement on the Passing of George H.W. Bush

December 1st, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda

“Today, the world lost a statesman who was the symbol of the highest level of civil commitment and who helped weave the fabric of an America that represents freedom and prosperity. The contributions of George H.W. Bush to our country were beyond that of his presidency. As a Naval aviator and fighter pilot, Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, Director of the CIA, Vice President and President, George H.W. Bush dedicated his life to service to our nation and vowed to use his presidency and the power of our nation as “a force for good.” I have had the privilege of knowing the Bush family for years and am incredibly grateful to have met such a genuine, gracious and kind man.


“The United States of America is stronger today because of the selfless service of 41. Ann and I send our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Bush family as they mourn the loss and celebrate the amazing life of George H.W. Bush.” – Governor Rick Scott


Governor Rick Scott’s Communications Office


Posted in State News | No Comments »

State Senate Seeks Immunity from Sexual Harassment Investigation

November 30th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The State Senate says it is immune from a Federal investigation looking into a sexual harassment claim made by a female staffer.

Senate staffer Rachel Perrin Rogers filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in January after a Special Master found she was sexually harassed by former State Senator Jack Latvala.

Latvala resigned last December.

The complaint spurred an investigation into the Senate’s handling of the incident.

The state argued in federal court Friday that sovereign immunity protects it from the investigation.

“It’s highly technical and nitpicking what they’re doing,” said Employment Attorney Richard Johnson.

Johnson believes the state’s argument wont hold water.

He says the mere fact the state would try to absolve itself from responsibility is problematic.

“It’s just not fair or decent for a governmental institution in a democratic society to try to be exempting itself, making itself unaccountable for discrimination and harassment,” said Johnson.

The hearing just after the Senate adopted new procedures for dealing with future sexual harassment claims.

Those too are drawing criticism from employment attorneys.

The most glaring issue according to Johnson, is a new rule that would impose a gag order on Senators, preventing them from discussing sexual harassment claims publicly.

“It’s a club and you know they’re trying to take care of their own,” said Johnson. “You know and they’re all worried about, what about the things that I’ve done? Are they going to come up some day?”

The federal judge postponed any ruling until at least Monday.

Regardless of what the Judge decides, the final decision on the state’s case will likely end up in the hands of a federal appeals court.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

« Previous Entries

copyright © 2016 by Capitol News Service | Powered by Wordpress | Hosted by LyonsHost.com