Florida Five: Other states proceed with non-citizen voter purge, House Dems pick at budget

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

While Florida halts SAVE non-citizen voter purge, other states proceed ahead: Think the use of SAVE to search for non-citizen voters is dead? Perhaps in Florida, but not elsewhere.While Florida recently scrapped using SAVE to search for non-citizen voters this year, Colorado and Maricopa County, Arizona continue to use that federal data to check voter registration eligibility — and more states appear poised to join that list. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced last week that he would delay his second round of searching for non-citizen voters due to changes underway to the federal SAVE website that won’t be done before the 2014 election. Read more.

rick-scottGov. Scott signs off on cut in vehicle registration fees: Governor Rick Scott signed a bill on Wednesday which rolls back vehicle-registration fees that were increased in 2009.The measure was one of Scott’s top priorities for the legislative session. “Last winter, we announced our intent to return $500 million to Floridians by cutting taxes. Today, we are rolling back many of the 2009 tax increases on annual motor vehicle registrations. This will result in an annual savings of $25 per typical motor vehicle and will let families keep nearly $400 million of their hard-earned money in their own pockets—because it’s their money,” said Scott in a statement. Read more.

House Democrats pick at budget: The House is poised to approve a $75.3 billion budget proposal after several hours of at-times testy but mostly tame debate Wednesday about the spending plan for the year that begins July 1.The Republican majority continued to sing the praises of the blueprint (HB 5001), which is expected to pass Thursday and set up negotiations with the Senate, which would spend $74.9 billion. The Senate will begin debate on its version of the budget Thursday, perhaps voting later in the day.Even House Democratic leaders concede that members of their caucus are likely to support the spending plan, jammed with politically popular goodies in an election year. Read more.

Bill to allow guns in schools passes House subcommittee: A bill that would arm school officials is speedily making its way through the Florida House of Representatives, where the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee approved it by a vote of 8-4.All four opposing votes came from Democrats.HB 753, sponsored by Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would allow local school boards or school principals to designate employees — typically former or current law enforcement officers — to carry guns on campus.If passed, the legislation would require trained officials to complete 40 hours of school safety training as well as eight hours of active shooter training and four hours of firearm proficiency training. Read more.

Colleges’ 4-year program under fire: Some Florida legislators are concerned that four-year degree programs at state colleges such as Miami Dade College are overlapping on what universities offer and perhaps funding for it should be cut.That would be a step in the wrong direction, said Miami Dade College Provost Rolando Montoya.“I have a perception that is very different from those few senators,” Mr. Montoya said in an interview last week with Miami Today.“Obviously, we’ll follow whatever legislation” is approved, he added. “But I hope those kind of limitations will not be imposed on us.” However, Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, is questioning the way the system works. Mr. Negron said there are now 175 four-year programs offered at state colleges – in the past known as community colleges – which are primarily supposed to focus on offering two-year degrees and preparing some students for universities.He said four-year programs at state colleges may be a duplication that undercuts the state’s goals for higher education. Read more. 

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