Florida Five: New year brings new laws, Florida tops worst ‘school choice moment’ list

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

New Year 2015Few new Florida laws come in with new year – Some children could travel with more protection in 2015 as a new law about child car seats takes effect Thursday. Overall, the start of 2015 will be quiet for new laws in Florida. Lawmakers sent 255 bills to Gov. Rick Scott after passage during the 2014 legislative session, but only three take effect Thursday. The majority of the new laws, 158 of them, went into place July 1. Florida residents and businesses, however, will see other changes with the start of the new year. Read more

Stakeholders find Dept. of Health’s Charlotte Web’s rule development difficult to comprehend – The Florida Department of Health will hold a rule development workshop for a medicinal marijuana law Tuesday in Orlando. DOH’s first set of rules for growing marijuana and selling oil processed from the plant were thrown out by an administrative law judge in November.  As of Monday afternoon the Department had declined to provide any information about the meeting except for an outline of an agenda without any supporting documents. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world, I just don’t know what I’m going to say tomorrow,” said Louis Rotundo of the Florida Medical Cannabis Association. “From what I can tell it’s informational; they’re going to tell us what the judge said. I have the judge’s order in front of me right now.” Read more

Florida one of five worst school choice moments in 2014 – Lawsuits, politicians whose actions don’t match their words and aggressive teachers unions have troubled school choice programs since the first one was launched in Milwaukee in 1990. Since these problems show no signs of disappearing, they warrant attention no matter how familiar they seem. Watchdog surveyed some of the country’s leading school choice experts, and these are their picks for the five worst school choice moments of 2014. Read more

State punts gay-marriage ruling back to federal judge – Just two hours before a midnight deadline, the state obeyed a federal judge’s order to clarify Florida county clerks’ role in issuing same-sex marriage licenses — by asking the judge to clarify it himself. Last Wednesday, federal judge Robert Hinkle ordered Chad Poppell, Florida’s Secretary of the Department of Management Services, to explain by the end of the day Monday whether Florida’s county clerks could issue the licenses. Hinkle overturned Florida’s same-sex marriage ban in August, and the ruling is set to go into effect Jan. 6. But lawyers for the state’s county clerks advised them that even after the ban falls, they could be held criminally liable for issuing the licenses. Read more

Florida consumers get small break on insurance premiums Jan. 1 – In just a few days, Florida consumers will get a break — albeit a small one – when insurance premiums drop for 2015. Florida Catastrophe (CAT) Fund is eliminating the 1.3 percent assessment on policies issued or renewed starting Jan. 1. The price cut will affect all sorts of insurance policies: homeowner, auto, business, rentals, religious and charity institutions, local governments and school boards. Initially, the assessment covered claims arising from a succession of eight hurricanes hitting Florida between 2004 and 2005, such as Hurricane Charley in August 2004, which blasted through Charlotte County. Total damage from storms was more than $70 billion. Read more

Bonus: The 15 political questions for 2015

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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