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  1. In major Tallahassee reversal, mandatory sentences called a waste of taxpayer money

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Cynthia Powell is serving a 25-year sentence for selling 35 pills for $300 in 2002. Her incarceration at Homestead Correctional Institution costs taxpayers an average of $18,064 per year — or $451,600 by the time she is released in 2023.

    State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, is sponsoring a "prison diversion bill" that would allow judges to depart from 118 minimum mandatory sentences in Florida law, but would exclude drug traffickers. Rouson estimates it would save the state $131 million in costs and put 1,001 fewer people in jai. [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. House hands Rick Scott defeat on jobs programs, tourism


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott suffered another political setback with the Legislature.

  3. Parents say some kids get school recess and others don't. The numbers back them up.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — For more than a year, whenever a "recess mom" has come to the Florida Capitol and pleaded with lawmakers, they have told stories of their child's lack of access to daily recess — offering anecdotes from their child's school or school district to showcase the inequities of unstructured playtime …

    The Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) last fall surveyed all 67 county school districts about their recess policies and also sought responses from 2,900 public elementary and middle schools. The results revealed broad inconsistencies in whether school districts and specific schools actually offer daily recess, and if they do, how frequently and for how long.  [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Florida Senate is MIA in civil war between Rick Scott and House Republicans

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Almost three weeks have passed since open warfare erupted between Florida House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott over his two prized agencies.

    Senators such as Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, have stuck to the sidelines on Gov. Rick Scott’s battle with the House.
  5. PolitiFact Florida: Gov. Rick Scott's misleading attack on fellow Republicans

    State Roundup

    Gov. Rick Scott is painting fellow Republicans as job-killers for their support of a bill that would decimate the state's agencies for tourism promotion and business incentives.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks during a roundtable discussion about the local economic impact of VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida in Panama City Beach on Feb. 14, 2017.  (Andrew Wardlow/News Herald via AP)
  6. Florida House and Senate on different gambling tracks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A new House proposal would ban the expansion of slot machines and prohibit wildly popular card games at the state's parimutuels, putting the House at odds with a gambling industry-friendly plan floated by Senate Republican leaders.

    Slot machines, like the ones at this Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood, Fla., could become more prevalent under a new plan negotiated by Sen. Bill Galvano. [Willie J. Allen Jr. | Times]
  7. Trump family's elaborate lifestyle is a 'logistical nightmare' — at taxpayer expense


    On Friday, President Donald Trump and his entourage will jet for the third straight weekend to a working getaway at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

    President Donald Trump and his grandchildren Arabella Kushner and Joseph Kushner board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Friday for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Trump was flying to Charleston, S.C., and later would be traveling to Florida. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  8. A month into his presidency, Donald Trump prepares for a campaign rally in Florida


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally Saturday in politically strategic Florida — 1,354 days before the 2020 election.

    Donald Trump speaks to a large group of supporters at a Florida airport hanger on Sept. 27 in Melbourne. [Getty Images]
  9. Richard Corcoran takes his fight with Rick Scott behind closed doors


    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who vowed a "new era of transparency," called a private caucus of Republican lawmakers and urged them to "stand strong" in the face of opposition to his plan to shut down the state's two largest economic development programs.

    Despite vowing that he would set a new standard for transparency, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran held a private meeting with his Republican colleagues on Wednesday, refusing to let a Times/Herald reporter to attend. [Steve Bousquet | Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Withdrawal of Florida from federal refugee program passes House committee

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers took their first step Thursday toward removing Florida from the refugee resettlement program amid charges that the federal government was not an effective partner with state law enforcement.

    Rubycellia Salnero, Anthony Salnero, 6 months, Angel Salnero, 9, of Tampa pray at a special church service at the Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon on Feb. 1. 

The Diocese of St. Petersburg held a prayer vigil for migrants and refugees led by Rev. Gregory L. Parkes, Bishop of St. Petersburg, with an estimated 1,000 people in attendance from around the community.

Many in our community and throughout the country are experiencing fear and anxiety in response to President Trump. On Thursday, a Florida House committee passed a bill that would withdraw state participation in a federal program that resettles refugees. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]