Florida Five: 44 bills filed for 2015 legislative session, County petitions state testing change

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

35200_florida-legislatureFrom taxes to texting: First bills filed for 2015 legislative session — With state lawmakers sworn in last Tuesday and organized for next year’s legislative session, it means one thing: Bring on the bills. At last count on Friday afternoon, 44 general bills had been filed in the Legislature, including proposals to cut the state’s corporate income tax, increase penalties for texting and driving and require public schools to screen a “patriotic film.” Among area legislators, Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa filed a bill (SB 98) that would help ensure women get equal pay for equal work, in line with the U.S. Equal Pay Act of 1963. “Women have entered the workforce in record numbers over the past 50 years, yet … many women continue to earn significantly lower pay than men for equal work,” Joyner said in the bill. Read more

Obama sets immigration ‘trap,’ GOP get snared, irked – Scott Walker berated the reporters for “obsessing” about immigration. “You have fallen into the trap the president of the United States has done,” the Wisconsin governor snapped at the Republican Governors Association’s conclave in Boca Raton last week. The ire of Walker and his fellow Republicans over the issue was a sign they were already ensnared by President Barack Obama’s “trap”: an executive action sparing as many as 4.1 million illegal immigrants from deportation. Obama’s Thursday decision effectively injected the immigration issue into the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, whoever wins the White House in two years will have to decide whether to scuttle the president’s plan, potentially estranging Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing demographic group. Read more

Brevard petition seeks changes in state testing – In Brevard County, as across the country, many parents have raised concerns about the amount of standardized testing students face each year. They’ve found an ally in the Brevard School Board, which is pushing a petition to ask state legislators to lighten up on mandated tests and their consequences. More than 700 parents and teachers have already signed their names, and Board Member Karen Henderson is hoping for thousands more. The school board is seeking changes to student testing and school district funding, and thanks to support from parent-teacher organizations and groups like Opt Out Brevard, parents are actively distributing the petition in car loops and at public libraries. Read more

Hukill bill would cut state corporate-income tax – In an issue that has been a priority for Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican senator from Volusia County filed a bill Friday that would cut the state’s corporate income tax. The bill (SB 138), filed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, will be considered during the 2015 legislative session. Under current law, the first $50,000 of a corporation’s net income is exempt from the tax. The bill would increase that exemption to the first $75,000 of net income. Read more

Groups ask Florida Supreme Court to throw out 2012 redistricting plan – The coalition challenging the Florida Legislature’s 2012 redistricting plan has filed its initial appeal to the state Supreme Court. The coalition, made up of individuals and voters rights groups, has been battling to have the maps thrown out, saying they violate Florida’s constitutional ban on partisan gerrymandering. In August, Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that the Congressional map was indeed unconstitutional and ordered two districts to be redrawn. But the coalition says Lewis did not go far enough. The trial court, the coalition said in a brief filed Friday, “erred by only requiring two districts to be redrawn, by allowing the Legislature to provide the remedy by quickly passing a new plan that is largely the same as the old plan, and then by deferring to the Legislature’s decision to maintain an apportionment scheme that ensured continued Republican domination over an electorate evenly divided between the two political parties.” Read more

ICYMI: Arresting clergy who feed the homeless, city gets slapped with major lawsuit

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