Florida Five: What Bill Nelson, ‘do nothing’ Congress did in 2014, State to review standardized testing

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

Florida says it will review standardized testing in schools – Florida education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced Monday that her department would conduct an examination of standardized testing in public schools, following months of criticism from school boards, teachers and parents across the state. In a statement, the Department of Education said Stewart will “work closely with districts to gather complete and accurate information on the tests being administered to meet federal, state and local requirements.” The department will analyze the data and produce “information about the number of standardized tests and how each of the test results are used by the state, school boards and teachers,” the statement said. Read more

View from the Beltway: ‘Do nothing’ Congress did help Florida in 2014 – It was a Congress derided for inertia. The “do-nothing” Congress lived up to its billing, as the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-run Senate found little common ground on substantive issues. Of the 366 roll call votes taken this year in the Senate, about 70 percent dealt solely with nominations. The few bills that did pass often dealt with extensions or delays. Twice, hours from a government shutdown, Congress acted to keep the lights on. And those were considered big victories. Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson couldn’t muster much enthusiasm. Read more

Satanic temple display in FL capitolSatanic Temple’s display goes up in Florida Capitol – The Satanic Temple, a New York-based group that doesn’t really worship the devil, put up a crudely made diorama in the entry rotunda of Florida’s Capitol on Monday. The only dispute involved a brief dustup with a state official over the exact spot on the floor to place the display. The falling-angel diorama, which a year ago was barred from the Capitol because it was deemed “grossly offensive” by the Department of Management Services, is the latest in a series of irreverent holiday displays from groups motivated by the state’s acceptance of Christian nativity scenes the past two years. Read more

Gov. Scott revokes acquitted mayor suspension – Gov. Rick Scott has revoked the suspension from office imposed on the mayor of Miami Lakes who was acquitted of federal corruption charges. Scott issued the new executive order Monday evening, following a ruling earlier that day by the Florida Supreme Court. In a 5-2 ruling, the majority said state law requires Scott to revoke Michael Pizzi’s suspension, which could lead to his reinstatement as mayor to serve the remainder of a term that ends in 2016. Pizzi’s attorney, Ben Kuehne, said he will ask Miami Lakes to restore him as mayor – and if the city does not, he will take the issue back to court. “I hope that they will welcome him with open arms,” Kuehne said. Pizzi was suspended by Scott in August 2013 after he was arrested on seven corruption-related charges. Read more

County clerks caught in legal tug-of-war – Florida’s county clerks are stuck between a rock and a hard place – or in this case, legal advice and lawsuits. On the one hand, the group’s lawyers have said only Washington County’s clerk can legally issue same-sex marriage licenses when the ban falls on January 6. On the other, LGBT rights groups on Monday threatened to sue any clerk who does not comply. “I have no doubt there will be clerks issuing marriage licenses on Jan. 6,” said Stratton Pollitzer, the deputy director of Equality Florida. “Clerks should not have to be dragged by their ears toward equality.” When other states have had their same-sex marriage bans lifted, the decision generally had immediate statewide implications. But two factors make Florida different and have thrown the process into confusion. Read more

Bowl watch bonus: Florida State hasn’t sold out its allotment of tickets for the Rose Bowl

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