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

  • Edmund Burke
    "To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting."
  • Josh Billings
    "Genius ain't anything more than elegant common sense."
  • George Halas
    "Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else."
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
    "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

Pam Bondi Says Lawmakers Who Voted Against Opiate Response Bill Should, “Be Ashamed”

June 15th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Governor Rick Scott has signed into law legislation that increases penalties on traffickers of synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanyl.
The legislation was heavily debated in the Senate because of its inclusion of mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers.
Lawmakers were worried because there was no judicial discretion allowed to not seek the minimum sentence, low level offenders might be swept up in the mix.
Attorney General Pam Boni says in her opinion the inclusion of mandatory minimums isn’t controversial at all.
“Shame on anyone who did not vote in favor of that. I took vials over and showed them seven gains is what it takes to have a possession of fentanyl. Seven little grains can kill you. The trafficking amount, it’s 2,000 to 6,000 lives and it’s just a 3 year minimum mandatory,” said Bondi.
The new law will take affect beginning in October of this year.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Leon County Ranked Highest Crime Rate in Florida for Third Straight Year

June 15th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Crime is at a 46 year low in Florida.
But the State Capitol remains the most dangerous city in the state.
Statewide, there are 3,181 crimes for each 100,00 people. In Tallahassee it’s 5,655.
Many of the 60,000 students who come to college in the State Capitol don’t know they’re moving to a county ranked #1 for per capita crime in the state 3 years running.
Elected in 2016, Sheriff Walt McNeil won on the platform of reducing crime.
Florida A& M has issued at least five crime alerts for students since January.
“I don’t stay on campus anymore so its not as bad. I wont be as afraid because I’m home rather than being on campus where stuff happens.,” said FAMU student, Ottisha Torres.
This year county crime has jumped 8%.
The increase hasn’t escaped students.
“Most of the girls they usually walk with other girls like in groups,” said FAMU student, Nicholas Brown.
“Even just going to get a doughnut at night, if you want to get coffee I would not go there alone,” said FSU student, Leslie Yi.
The Florida state University police department saw a 33% increase in crime over last year.
The department says the spike isn’t actually as alarming as may sound.
“When you’re dealing with small numbers just statistically those numbers will go up very rapidly,” said Deputy Chief James Russell with FSU Police Department.
FSU PD also says most campus crimes are minor,  like theft.
“Other things can happen on campus as well. We don’t want them to think it can’t happen here. We need to be prepared for it, but being prepared makes us safer,” said Russell.
Both Universities have Blue Light stations for students to use in an emergency.
They also keep students up to date with text alerts.
Violent crime is down in Leon County over last year.
The county reported an almost 50% drop in murders and slight decreases in reported rapes and aggravated assaults.
FAMU, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office refused our interview requests.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Rights Restoration a work in Progress

June 15th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Approximately Ten thousand convicted felons have applications pending to have their voting or firearm rights restored, but the process can take five years or more, and only about 2000 cases are disposed of each year. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, a pending constitutional amendment could streamline the process.

Four times a year, the Governor and Cabinet listen to pleas for mercy from convicted felons.

“Yes, I was convicted of manslaughter, and I did it” said one convicted felon.

Thursday, there were 85 cases on the agenda.

“I wish you the best of luck. I want to think about it. I’m gonna take it under advisement” Rick Scott after one case.

But prior to 2011, before Rick Scott and Pam Bondi took office, restoration of rights was near automatic for felons who’d paid their debt to society.

“I never harmed anybody.” Datravicious Smith told the Governor.

Datravicious Smith started the clemency process in 2012. he asked for and got his right to vote back.

“I don’t think just given to you back automatically. You never know” said Smith afterwards.

Jai Jurawan wasn’t so lucky.

“Tell me about the charge of cultivation of cannabis in 2013” Scott asked of him.

Jurawan came with hopes of a pardon.


“Not getting it…it sucks” he told us afterwards.

The Florida Supreme Court has cleared an amendment for the 2018 ballot that would automatically restore non violent felons rights.

Richard Greenberg is the President Elect of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


“They get released, get off off probation or get out of prison and they can’t vote. It makes no sense” says Greenberg.

If the amendment gets on the ballot and if it passes, it could automatically restore the rights of well over a million felons.

That’s a big if. Organizers still need to collect another seven hundred thousand signatures, and they’re trying to it will all volunteer labor.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Teachers Union React to HB 7069 Signing

June 15th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

As we reported earlier this week, Governor Rick Scott was expected to sign an omnibus education bill before the week was out. He signed the legislation this afternoon. House Bill 7069 generated nearly 50 thousand letters, emails and petition signatures, early evenly split asking for a veto or to be signed. The legislation, for the first time, gives charter schools access to federal grant dollars to low income students and it allows charters to share local property tax revenues for construction and maintainence. the Florida education Association says the new law will make it harder for public schools to keep up.

“As it is right now, we’re having a hard enough time meeting our growth potentials. Meeting the unfunded mandates the legislature puts on school districts, and so its just going to make it harder for them to meet the needs of our schools and our children” says Pudlow.

Florida’s School Boards and Superintendents and asked Scott to veto the legislation.”

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Seven Florida Educators Awarded SHINE Awards

June 14th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
The Governor and Cabinet awarded this year’s SHINE Awards to a group of Florida teachers for their contributions to the State’s education system.
Among those receiving the award is Latrece Brown, who won 2017 Duval County Teacher of the Year.
Brown, a Duval County native and UNF graduate teaches at Andrew Robinson Elementary School.
In her four years of teaching she’s become known for her high energy methods. She says what’s most important to her success is connecting with her students on a personal level.
“The most important thing is to love each child for who they are. Before you even think about educating them or mentoring them. Enjoy the children for who they are they will work and always meet your expectations,” said Brown.
Six other teachers from around the state were also honored with the SHINE award this morning.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Bill to Boost Bright Futures Back to 100% Likely to Receive Governor’s Signature

June 14th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
There could soon be good news for the parents of college students.
Bright Futures Scholarships are likely to receive a drastic boost in funding thanks to bill awaiting the Governor’s signature.
More than 750,000 students have gotten financial aid through Bright Futures since the program began in 1997.
“Having my mom dish out extra money would have been like a struggle for her so it definitely helped me out,” said FAMU student Auvion Bradshaw.
For many students like Giacomo Billisi it’s helped ease the financial burdens of pursuing a higher education.
“Bright Futures was really important to me. Something I worked for my entire high school career and when I got it it helped me tremendously, go to college. I’m very low on any loans I’ve been taking out,” said FSU student Giacomo Billisi.
The Bright Futures Academic Scholarship is, the highest of three scholarships available.
The bill would raise the payout for the the Academic Scholarship by 47%.
The increase in the Academic Scholarship and more state funding will cover the full cost of tuition, plus an additional $300 for books.
“I’m lucky enough that I could probably afford college if I didn’t have it, but I know there are kids out there that wouldn’t and this would help like thousands and thousands of kids,” said FSU student Jesse Grosman.
For the first time students would be able to use their bright futures scholarship to help pay for summer classes.
“That would help a lot so I could cut down these loans. I’m tired of taking out loans,” said Bradshaw.
Unlike the funding boost which only affects students at the Academic Scholarship level, the summer coverage will apply to everyone receiving Bright Futures.
“It would probably increase the population of kids who come up here and study during summer and that will actually help them graduate a lot quicker, which is one of our universities goals,” said Billisi.
Students already receiving the top scholarship will be grandfathered into the new payouts.
For High School Students to receive the top scholarship they need to have a 3.5 weighted GPA, 100 Hours of community service and a 29 ACT score or a 1290 SAT score.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Local Governments Free to Ban Pot Shops

June 14th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

88 Florida cities have adopted moratoriums or other restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries, As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the bill lawmakers passed for medical pot will let cities or counties ban the dispensaries altogether.

A fight over how many retail locations medical marijuana growers can operate delayed legislative action for a month. When a compromise appeared during last weeks special session, it contained something not seen before:  authorization for local governments to ban dispensaries. Sen. Kevin Rader was unhappy.

“Why are we allowing local elected officials in any county or municipality to override the will of the voter?” asked Rader.

The legislation now awaits the Governors signature, which Rick Scott says will be forthcoming.

Cities and Counties have a choice when it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries. Treat them like a drug store, or ban them.

Sponsor Rob Bradley says allowing the ban was part of the grease that made the pot deal possible.


“I would disagree with such a decision, but if a local jurisdiction would like to not have dispensaries in there area, they have that ability to do that. I hope they don’t exercise that ability” says Bradley.

Casey Cook is the Senior Legislative Advocate for the League of Cities

Q:”Do you think some local governments will ban medical marijuana dispensaries?” we asked.

“It’s too early to tell. I would think with 412 cities in the state, you would have some cities that decide to ban the retail space. that being said, medical marijuana would still be available to patients in those communities, either from a dispensary in a neighboring city or the unincorporated county, or through direct delivery” says Cook.

While bans are possible, Only three counties in Florida saw a medical marijuana vote below 60 percent. even there a majority in all three still said yes.

In addition to 88 cities, four counties have restrictions on marijuana dispensaries. Once the legislation becomes law, those four (Sumpter, Osceola, Hernando, and Columbia) will likely have to revisit their ordinances to conform them with state law.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Pam Bondi Receiving Extra Security

June 14th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Since an stalker tried to get into Attorney Pam Bondi’s home on March 19th, Florida’s Attorney General has been receiving additional security. Bondi is now receiving protection 24/7 from the Florida Highway Patrol. When asked today, Bondi indicated she has received multiple threats, some of which are still unresolved.

“I have had things that are pending, well, one that you know about… a man, he’s in jail. He tried to break into my home twice. extremely frightening, and there are others out there that I can’t talk about. As well” says Bondi.

Q:So you are receiving additional security?”

“I have been receiving security. Yes I have” she responded. ”And I sleep at night as well. I haven’t since the 3Am incident, but I do now, thanks to the great men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol who protect me.”

Earlier this year, a  man was arrested for stalking Bondi at the State Capitol.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

State Pay Raises a Reality

June 14th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Rick Scott today signed legislation giving state employees a $1,400 pay raise for state employees earning less than $40,000 annually and $1,000 pay raise for those earning more than $40,000 annually.. Correctional officers will see a ten percent bump in the legislation, and sworn law enforcement officers will get a five percent raise. Scott says it is well deserved.

“I was proud to sign a bill to give pay raises that are well deserved, to state workers, law enforcement, and correctional officers. All those individuals are working hard. Since I got elected in 2010, I’ve met and actually respect a lot of people who work for the state. They are mission oriented and they want to do the right things” says Scott.

The 1400 dollars for those making under forty thousand is equal to at least three and a half percent for those at the top of the pay scale. It is identical to the raise they received in 2013.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

HB 7069 Tally: 23,440 yeas, 22,734 nays

June 13th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The fate of a sweeping and controversial education bill is now in the hands of Governor Rick Scott. The measure combines nearly two dozen proposals and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, contains both a carrot and a stick for public schools.

On it’s face, House bill 7069 does a lot of good. Grades k through 5 will see 20 minutes of recess every school day, a teacher bonus plan is expanded. Principles will also see bonuses when their teachers perform. It also expands funding for special needs students. House Education Chairman Michael Bileca calls it targeted.


“We get to the teachers. we get bonuses to them. we get funding into the high poverty areas. Try to get meaningful, transformative change to these schools” says Bileca.

HB 7069 also significantly boosts charter school funding, creates charter schools of Hope to augment failing public schools, and for the first time allows charter schools access to federal Title One funding for low income students. Sen. Bill Montford worries about allowing charters to access not only federal, but local property tax revenues.


“Those dollars now will also be shared with charter schools, so it will be far less money to meet the needs that we don’t even have enough money to meet now” says Montford.

The legislation, particularly School of Hope, was the top priority for the House Speaker. It became a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

Governor Rick Scott has said there is no deal to give him what he wanted in exchange for the expansive school legislation. None-the-less, he is expected to sign it later this week.

Lawmakers passed 7069 on May 8th. It didn’t reach the Governor’s desk until Monday, long after a budget deal was crafted.

The Governors office says as of this afternoon, 23,440 people have called, emailed, written or signed petitions in favor of signing HB 7069, while 22,734 say they want the bill vetoed.

If signed, Parents won’t see any changes this fall, but educators warn they’ll see less maintenance, older school buses and some public school program cuts over the next few years as a result of schools having to share local tax revenues. Dozens of calls were made asking the Governor to veto the legislation.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Burden of Proof Shifts in Stand Your Ground Cases

June 12th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Lawmakers made changes this year to the Stand Your Ground law and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, prosecutors say the change may let some bad guys go free.

A 2011 road rage incident involving an Indiana family on their way to a theme park has shaped Stand Your Ground cases ever since.

“And he stopped in the middle of the road and he will not move his vehicle” said a 911 caller in the car.

“He has a gun pointed to me at the back of my car” claimed the driver who stopped in front of the Indiana family.

The driver who made the first call was charged with aggravated assault. His case went to the State Supreme Court. The court said it was okay for prosecutors to make people claiming stand your ground to prove they were in fear for their life.


“and prosecutors have been ignoring the law” says the NRA’s Marion Hammer.

The NRA has been fighting the so called burden of proof hearings ever since. Lawmakers agreed and the Governor has signed legislation that now shifts that burden.

“It just puts the burden of proof back on the prosecutors where it should have been all along” says Hammer.

The NRA had powerful allies: The state’s public defenders. Stacy Scott is the Public Defender in the 8th Circuit headquartered in Gainesville.


“What happens if a person exercises their right to self defense and is arrested anyway? What happens is they are in a world of trouble” Scott told a legislative committee earlier this year.

Before the change, advocates argued you were guilty until you could prove your innocence. Now you are innocent until proven guilty.”


State Attorney Jack Campbell says the change will make it harder to get witnesses to cooperate.

“The hardest problem we have in a lot of these cases is to get our victim comfortable enough and will ing to come forward to face their accusers. This is going to set up a scenario where will have to do that twice” says the top prosecutor for the Second Judicial Circuit.

Prosecutors also say the change could let some bad guys, particularly gang members, go free.

Prosecutors did win one battle. Lawmakers settled on clear and convincing as the standard for proving intent…that’s one step lower than where lawmakers started, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

One Year Later, Memory of Pulse Tragedy Still Inspiring Floridians to Donate Blood

June 12th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
One year ago Monday, 49 people lost their lives at Pulse Night Club in the worst mass shooting in the country’s history.
In the aftermath of the horrific act of violence Floridians came out in droves to donate blood in support of the victims.
OneBlood collected 28,000 pints of blood in just seven days last year following the shooting at Pulse Night Club.
On a normal week they take in just 18,000.
Kelsey Deese was among those who donated in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting.
Deese grew up in Orlando and has connections with the LGBT community in the city.
“I know a lot of people who are hurting still from it,” said Deese.
One year later Kelsey is still donating regularly.
One in three who gave blood in the wake of the tragedy were first time donors.
75% of them haven’t come back to donate again.
“You should come back, because you helped save a life a year ago and you can continue to do that every 56 days when you’re eligible to donate blood,” said Susan Forbes with OneBlood.
The blood used to save Pulse victims didn’t come from the donations following the shooting. It came from those who donated in the days leading up to the tragedy.
That’s why OneBlood officials say it’s so important to donate year round.
“Blood has to be there in advance of it ever being needed and that’s why these blood donors really are the first, first responders,” said Forbes.
Deese says last year’s tragedy was the wake up call she needed to become a regular donor.
She hopes others got the message too.
“I don’t think we need to wait for tragedies to happen to do something good,” said Deese. “I think it’s sad that sometimes that’s what it takes to get someone in the doors. “
The one time donations following the shooting didn’t go to waste.
It was being used in hospitals in a matter of days and is credited with saving hundreds if not thousands of lives.
To find your nearest OneBlood donation center, go to www.oneblood.org.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

2017 Special Session Ends

June 9th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
The 2017 legislative special session came to its conclusion today and Governor Rick Scott seems to have left with everything he had asked for.
He received $85 million dollars for Enterprise Florida, $72 million for Visit Florida and $215 million towards public schools.
“I traveled the state for five or six months I guess and I went and sold it to explain to people, you know this is what’s going on in session. I think everybody came to the conclusion this was good for our state,” said Governor Scott. “I think everybody understands that we’ve got to fund k-12 education, we’ve got to make sure we continue marketing our state through Visit Florida and we’ve got to continue to do the things we can to grow jobs in our state and I think that’s how people came to that conclusion.”
An agreement on the implementation of medical marijuana and a $50 million boost to help speed up the repairs on the Herbert Hoover Dike near Lake Okeechobee were also passed.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Funding to Speed Up Herbert Hoover Dike Repair Passes

June 9th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
The state legislature has approved a $50 million boost to speed up repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee.
Damage to the dock has caused environmental and public safety concerns in the surrounding region.
The funding was added in a surprise last minute call by the Governor.
He was present in both chambers as the funding passed.
“You know hopefully we’ll be able to continue getting state funds. The president has promised federal funds, but it’s money every year to continue to fix the dike. I mean they’ve been doing it, but doing it very slowly, it seems like it always takes longer, they keep pushing out the dates. My goal is to get it done by 2022,” said Governor Rick Scott.
The repairs on the dike are being carried out by the Army Corps. of Engineers.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Medical Marijuana Implementation Passes

June 9th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Legislators passed an implementing bill for medical marijuana today.
The deal includes 10 new growers licenses to be granted by October of this year.
Each grower can have up to 25 dispensaries.
The bill allows for more growers and dispensaries as the patient base grows.
The bill allows for edibles and vaporizing as methods of taking the drug.
The final deal did not include smoking.
“Medicine should make you better. Smoking is inherently an unhealthy act based on the evidence that we know today and so I’m comfortable that that is not a mode of delivery for medical marijuana,” said bill sponsor Senator Rob Bradley.
Governor Rick Scott says he plans to approve the legislation.
Lawsuits may still be on the horizon against the state because of the failure to include smoking.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

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