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Kristen M. Clark, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Kristen M. Clark

Kristen Clark covers the Florida Legislature and state government in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau. A Michigan State graduate, Kristen previously covered community news for the Palm Beach Post, Michigan state government for the Lansing State Journal and local and federal politics for the Forum in Fargo, N.D. She is married to Ryan S. Clark, a sports journalist who covers Florida State athletics for Warchant.com.

Email: kclark@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @ByKristenMClark

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  1. Statewide condo law reforms sought by Miami-Dade lawmakers signed into law

    Blog

    From Brenda Medina of El Nuevo Herald:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott has approved state condominium law reforms that seek to punish voter fraud and theft in condo associations, clarify the definition of conflicts of interest and promote transparency.

    Amendments to chapter 718 of the state law will take effect on July 1.

    “I am very happy that we have finally achieved some of what is needed to stop fraud and abuse toward condominium owners,” said Maritza Escobar, owner of a condo unit in Hialeah Gardens. “In the future we have to make more changes to stop the abuse from management companies and boards.”...

  2. Gov. Scott signs school funding, economic development bills

    Blog

    From the News Service of Florida:

    Gov. Rick Scott signed 29 bills late Monday, including measures boosting spending on education, tourism marketing and economic development.

    By signing the bills, and vetoing five more, Scott essentially closed the books on this year’s regular and special legislative sessions.

    The bills Scott approved included perhaps one of the hardest-fought wins of his time as governor: a measure (HB 1A) that provided $76 million for the tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida; established an $85 million fund to pay for infrastructure improvements and job training to help draw businesses; and set aside $50 million in repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike along Lake Okeechobee....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott
  3. Gov. Scott plans D.C. trip as U.S. Senate debates Obamacare repeal

    Blog

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that he will travel to Washington, D.C. next week so he can provide input as the U.S. Senate debates its proposal to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new plan.

    No details were released as to when Scott would travel to the nation's capital or whom he will meet with there.

    "I have been carefully reviewing the bill and next week, I will be traveling to Washington to meet with congressional leaders to provide input on how we can make the bill better for Floridians," Scott said in a statement....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott
  4. Andrew Gillum: FBI says I'm 'not the focus of investigation' into city of Tallahassee

    Blog

    Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said in a formal statement Friday that he spoke with the FBI last week about its probe into redevelopment deals in the city, and he said FBI officials "assured me I was not the focus of an investigation."

    Gillum's statement was distributed to media through a city of Tallahassee spokesman, not Gillum's 2018 Democratic campaign for governor....

    Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018
  5. Credit rating agency: HB 7069 could affect Florida school districts' financial standing

    Blog

    From the News Service of Florida:

    Part of a controversial and wide-ranging education bill (HB 7069) signed by Gov. Rick Scott could affect the credit ratings of some of the state's school districts, according to a report released Thursday by Moody's Investors Service.

    The report said a requirement that school districts share construction funds generated by local property taxes with charter schools "is credit negative for school districts with significant charter enrollment."...

     Gov. Rick Scott speaks to legislators at the end of a  special session, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla.
  6. Florida Legislature will return to Tallahassee in less than 3 months

    Blog

    Not even two weeks removed from a special session to close out this year's legislative agenda, Florida lawmakers are already looking ahead to 2018.

    Because that's an even-numbered (i.e. election) year, the 60-day session will run from January through early March -- which means pre-session committee weeks will start this fall.

    In less than three months, to be exact.

    Mark your calendars -- here are the House's and Senate's schedule, released Thursday afternoon:...

    Florida Senate during the 2017 session
  7. Gillum wants state law so women can maintain no-cost birth control if Obamacare is repealed

    Blog

    Criticizing President Donald Trump's administration for wanting to "turn back the clock and take essential healthcare away from women" by rolling back parts of Obamacare, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Thursday will propose protecting women's access to free birth control through a new state law instead.

    “As governor, I'm going to stand with women and ensure that neither the government nor their employer stand between a woman and her doctor in making the critical health decisions that affect her life. This is an essential part of providing better quality care and economic security and stability to more Floridians," Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, said in a statement provided to the Herald/Times....

    2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks at a press conference in Tallahassee in May.
  8. USF's path to 'preeminence' is restored after Rick Scott vetoes higher education bill

    College

    The University of South Florida's quest to become "preeminent," an official status that could elevate the school's prestige and send millions of extra dollars its way, received a positive jolt late Wednesday as Gov. Rick Scott lifted a key barrier.

    Scott vetoed a sweeping higher education reform bill that was one of Senate President Joe Negron's top priorities of the 2017 session, saying that the measure "impedes" the ability of state colleges to provide access to low-cost, quality education. ...

    Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R- Stuart, greets Gov. Rick Scott on the floor of the Senate during the first day of the 2017 session. On Wednesday, Scott vetoed SB 374, which was a major priority for Negron. The bill would have ushered in reforms in the state's higher education system. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  9. Scott signs "Stand Your Ground" change, religious expression in school, 14 other new laws

    Blog

    Among 16 measures Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on Friday, he endorsed two high-profile bills that were linked by a late-session compromise: one that makes a significant change to Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law and another that fortifies the right to religious expression in public K-12 schools.

    Effective immediately under SB 128, state attorneys will now bear the burden to prove in “Stand Your Ground” cases why a criminal defendant can’t claim immunity from prosecution....

    Gov. Rick Scott
  10. 'Hollow victory?' Some lawmakers say new K-12 spending isn't enough

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Some Democratic lawmakers on Friday criticized a new K-12 schools budget the Legislature approved for 2017-18 that would boost spending by $100 per student over this school year — calling the additional dollars a "hollow victory" and "not enough" to truly address public education.

    "I believe the increase is helpful but more is needed," said Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami. "Florida is the third largest state in the nation, yet our per-pupil funding is still $3,000 below the national average."...

    Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, debates the education portion of the budget bill during session on Friday. [AP Photo | Steve Cannon]
  11. Dems on K-12 funding: 'The increase is helpful but more is needed'

    Blog

    Some House Democrats on Friday criticized a new K-12 schools budget for 2017-18 that would boost spending by $100 per student over this school year — calling the additional dollars a “hollow victory” and “not enough” to truly address public education....

  12. Senator floats idea: Another special session to fix HB 7069

    Blog

    Lawmakers are supposed to wrap up on Friday a contentious special session that brought them back to Tallahassee for three days to resolve budget disputes over K-12 funding and jobs and tourism spending.

    But regardless if that’s successful, one key Republican senator says the Legislature’s work shouldn’t be over and that one more return trip to the Capitol this month would be in order....

    Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs
  13. Funding for HB 7069 left alone after Senate backs off

    Blog

    Florida senators wanting a second crack at stopping a contentious $419 million education reform bill that narrowly passed the Legislature last month were unsuccessful on Thursday in defunding it to redirect the dollars to general K-12 public school spending....

  14. Special session near collapse as Senate President Joe Negron makes new demands

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As a rocky special legislative session veered to the edge of collapse Thursday night, Senate President Joe Negron raised the stakes by demanding that the House restore $75 million in higher education vetoes by Gov. Rick Scott.

    Negron aggressively refuted what he called a "fake narrative" — that by appearing in Miami last Friday with Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, he had agreed to support terms of a special session budget deal, when in fact he had not....

    Rep. Richard Corcoran and Sen. Joe Negron. (SCOTT KEELER | TIMES)
  15. Senate, House seeking compromise on school funding

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers on Thursday morning inched closer to agreeing on how to boost state funding to K-12 public schools starting on July 1, even as a few senators still have plans to revive a debate over a controversial education reform bill, which could wrinkle any compromise.

    In amending legislation to add money to the K-12 budget in 2017-18, the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to forgo the chamber's plan of using local property tax money to pay for the new spending — a plan House Speaker Richard Corcoran had rejected outright as a "massive tax increase."...

    Senator and budget chairman Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]