Two years in the making, Florida's new online voter registration system is on pace for an official launch on Oct. 1, as the Legislature directed in the 2015 session.
It's the most significant change in voter registration in years in Florida, and most county election supervisors got their first close-up look at the system Wednesday at their statewide conference in Davenport. Reviews were generally favorable, but growing concerns about cybersecurity were also heard....
06/20/17 State Roundup
DAVENPORT — Voting experts in Florida, the national epicenter of electoral suspense, have one concern above all others as they prepare for the 2018 election.
Efforts by Russian hackers to attack computers in Florida last fall failed, but shed light on potential vulnerabilities of an election system managed locally and in mostly small counties with limited technological resources....
As Florida's 67 election supervisors gather for their annual mid-year conference near Orlando, they learned Tuesday that a state fund to pay the costs for special elections is temporarily tapped out -- until a new fiscal year begins.
The state Legislature appropriated $478,000 for the fund last year to pay for special legislative races and there's $276 left in the account, supervisors were told by the state Division of Elections. Lawmakers have no way of knowing how many special elections might be needed. When the new fiscal year begins July 1, there will be more money available, the state said....
Florida's fickle state-run driver database had more service interruptions Monday, and county tax collectors said they couldn't give motorists the service they deserve as taxpayers. But the system was in full working order on Tuesday morning.
Monday was the first day that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles migrated to a new cloud-based solution as part of a long-term modernization of its decades-old databases. The agency said "slowdowns" in its system affected only vehicle registrations. Driver licenses, license renewals and vehicle titles were not affected and police had full access to its data, spokeswoman Beth Frady said....
Gov. Rick Scott returned to Connecticut Monday, reviving his long-dormant strategy of trying to raid jobs from high-tax states that are led by Democratic governors.
It's a return engagement for Scott, a former resident of Stamford, who visited Connecticut two years ago in search of jobs. Last year, the governor attracted a burst of attention for suggesting that Yale University relocate from New Haven to Florida. Scott has made similar trips to California, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Minnesota....
Gov. Rick Scott is considering appointing Public Service Commissioner Jimmy Patronis to be Florida's next chief financial officer, the Times/Herald has learned. CFO Jeff Atwater will resign June 30 so the governor must fill the powerful elected Cabinet post within 15 days.
Patronis, 45, of Panama City, is a former Republican state House member who was one of Scott's earliest and most loyal supporters, and he already has been richly rewarded by Scott for his support. The governor appointed Patronis to the five-member PSC in January 2015 and to the Constitution Revision Commission in March. A source with knowledge of the governor's thinking said Patronis is a leading contender for the job....
The problem was obvious. Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran had wildly different goals. To make things worse, they really didn't seem to like each other.
They wouldn't talk to each other, and that makes it hard to get results. But a deal quickly got done in days between the carefully scripted governor and a speaker who stays up late smoking cigars and sipping red wine. Nobody has explained who dragged the governor and speaker out of their corners to craft a deal that could enhance both of their political futures in 2018....
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, said Wednesday that he remains troubled by HB 7069, the controversial expansion of charter schools that's awaiting action by Gov. Rick Scott, possibly on Thursday.
"It was formed and created at the very end of the session without a lot of sunshine or input, and that's concerning," Putnam said. "But there are certainly some things in there that are positive and some things in there that are less so, so he (Scott) has got a big decision to make."...
Gov. Rick Scott signed a state worker pay raise into law Wednesday, marking the first time in over a decade that employees are getting an across-the-board raise. All employees who earn $40,000 a year or less will get a $1,400 raise, and employees who earn more than $40,000 a year will get a $1,000 raise.
Most state law enforcement officers will get a 5 percent raise and most correctional officers will get a $2,500 raise, and judges, elected state attorneys and public defenders will get 10 percent pay hikes. The pay raise bill makes mandatory changes to state workers' benefits that prompted some Democratic legislators to vote against the measure (SB 7022)....
TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott flew around the state on a five-city "victory tour" Tuesday to promote last week's special legislative session, and leading the cheers was a man who was once his biggest critic: House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
The two Republicans fought bitterly for months, but became fast friends in recent days as their political agendas finally converged. Each man traded support for the other's priorities and both declared victory after a round of dealing in private....
Remember when Gov. Rick Scott called House Speaker Richard Corcoran anti-family, a job-killer, and a career politician to boot? Or when Corcoran called Scott "a governor who won't help us" and who only cared about protecting an "absolute cesspool" at Enterprise Florida?
Scott and Corcoran now realize they're both better off congratulating each other than kicking each other. On Tuesday, the two Republicans will hopskotch around the state on what Scott calls the "Fighting for Florida's Future Victory Tour" to celebrate money for K-12 students, tourism, job creation and the dike at Lake Okeechobee....
TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers stopped fighting Friday and struck last-minute deals on schools, roads, tourism and water to bring a bumpy special session to a smooth finish.
The state's three Republican leaders, Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron, each got something he wanted.
"There was a way for everyone to win," Negron said.
"This is an exciting day," said Scott, who a few weeks ago was publicly castigating legislators for cutting money for jobs and tourism....
06/08/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — As a rocky special legislative session veered to the edge of collapse Thursday night, Senate President Joe Negron raised the stakes by demanding that the House restore $75 million in higher education vetoes by Gov. Rick Scott.
Negron aggressively refuted what he called a "fake narrative" — that by appearing in Miami last Friday with Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, he had agreed to support terms of a special session budget deal, when in fact he had not....
Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to be at the White House Thursday as President Trump holds a "listening session" on how to improve America's infrastructure (on Scott's official schedule, it's a four-hour event). It seems like the perfect moment for Scott to nudge the President on a long-delayed road project in the heart of Pasco County....
At the end of Day 1 of the special session, House Republicans dodged the rain to attend a reception Wednesday night that was planned as a grand exit, a celebration of an agreement on schools, jobs and tourism money. But the session is in a ditch with the House and Senate battling each other.
"That was the plan," House Speaker Richard Corcoran told about 50 lawmakers who attended the social hour at the Hotel Duval ballroom. "I don't want to say who, but one of them did not stick to the plan," an obvious dig at the Senate. Senate President Joe Negron emphasized to reporters Wednesday that he never agreed to details of a deal between the speaker and Gov. Rick Scott, and that he attended a Miami airport press conference last Friday out of respect for the governor, who invited him....