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Florida Five: Where does Fla. stand with school testing?, Special legislative session set to begin

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

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After a spring of headaches and change, where does Florida stand with school testing? – Florida’s testing season has ended. The final bell of the school year is near. Yet so much about the state’s new exams has changed or remains in limbo following a spring filled with testing problems and new legislation. State and local education officials are scrambling to decipher the new laws and implement them for students, parents and schools. Here is a Q&A that recaps what has happened so far and outlines where things stand on some key, unresolved issues. Some of the answers may surprise you. Read more

Discord remains as Florida Legislature’s special session opens Monday – For the first time in 23 years, Florida ended its regular session without a state budget, prompting legislators to reconvene — starting Monday — to finish the work. But in a fitting nod to the atmospherics, the opening day of the three-week special session is also the official opening of the hurricane season — and the health care debate that sidetracked the state’s $80 billion budget debate continues to spawn political storms. Read more

Revised Florida Senate health care plan a winner at resolving House Republican objections to Medicaid money – In crafting amendments to the Senate’s centerpiece legislation that provides health care coverage to more than 800,000 low-income and uninsured Floridians, the upper chamber addressed key House roadblocks to passage. The billions in federal money connected to Medicaid expansion remain available, presenting the state with a long-term solution to uncompensated medical costs now hammering hospitals and other health care providers. Read more

Several dog, horse tracks could get slot machines if court decision holds— Slot machines could be installed at several Florida dog and horse tracks if a far-reaching court ruling holds. A Florida appeals court on Friday ordered state regulators to award a license for slot machines to a facility located 25 miles west of Tallahassee. The decision has the potential to once again upend the state’s complicated gambling laws that currently limit slot machines to south Florida tracks and casinos run by the Seminole Tribe. Read more

Despite storm-free seasons, Florida insurance still pricey – Living in a (semi)-tropical paradise has a price – and apparently, not even going nine years without a major hurricane strike will change that. While Florida’s property insurance market has stabilized somewhat since eight storms battered the state in 2004 and 2005 and storms such as Hurricane Wilma caused billions in damages, the state still has some of the nation’s highest homeowner insurance rates. A recent national report showed Florida’s average homeowner premium of more than $2,000 a year is twice the national average. Read more

ICYMI: Hard core South Fla. group willing to be ‘bigger and badder’ taking fight to ISIS

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