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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. Florida House committee proposes changes to school recess bill

    Blog

    Next week would have been make-or-break for this year’s efforts by the Florida Legislature to implement mandatory daily recess in public elementary schools.

    While the Senate bill (SB 78) sailed through committees and awaits a floor vote, the House bill had yet to move — and next week is the last week policy subcommittees are expected to meet....

    Omari Accius 6, enjoys recess at Citrus Grove Elementary School on Thursday, February 9, 2017. Florida lawmakers are again considering a statewide mandate for daily recess in public elementary schools.
  2. Florida Senate takes 'stand for liberty' in passing religious freedom bill for schools over Democratic concerns

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's public schools would have to let students lead religious prayers during the school day and at school-sanctioned events under a controversial proposal that the state Senate approved Thursday.

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, heralded his bill (SB 436) as a way for lawmakers to "take a stand for liberty," because it makes explicitly clear the rights to religious expression that students and teachers have in public schools, regardless of their faith....

     Cambridge Christian and Clearwater Academy players join in prayer after the game between Clearwater Academy and Cambridge Christian at Skyway Park in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. A Clearwater player had to be evacuated late in the fourth quarter of the game after possibly suffering a spinal injury. Cambridge beat Clearwater 44-34.
  3. Religious expression bill passes Florida Senate

    Blog

    Florida's public schools would have to let students lead religious prayers during the school day and at school-sanctioned events, under a controversial proposal that the state Senate approved Thursday, mostly along party lines.

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, heralded his bill (SB 436) as a way for lawmakers to "take a stand for liberty," because it makes explicitly clear the rights to religious expression that students and teachers have in public schools, regardless of their faith....

  4. Bill promoting religious expression in school passes Florida Senate

    Blog

    Florida’s public schools would have to let students lead religious prayers during the school day and at school-sanctioned events, under a controversial proposal that the state Senate approved Thursday, mostly along party lines.

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, heralded his bill (SB 436) as a way for lawmakers to “take a stand for liberty,” because it makes explicitly clear the rights to religious expression that students and teachers have in public schools, regardless of their faith....

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala
  5. Miami-Dade-backed legislation cracking down on 'rogue' condo associations advances

    Blog

    A plan from Miami-Dade lawmakers to penalize fraud and abuse in condominium associations earned unanimous initial approval in House and Senate committees this week.

    The bills, most notably, impose new criminal penalties for falsifying association documents, committing fraud in association elections and refusing to turn over administrative records, among other reforms....

    Hundreds of Miami-Dade County condominium owners marched in protest in the city of Doral on April 16, 2016.
  6. Republicans accused of advancing 'union-busting' proposal with little chance at becoming law

    Blog

    Florida’s public-sector labor unions — which represent thousands of workers ranging from school teachers to public utility linemen — would have to convince their members to pay up or else risk being shut down, under a controversial plan by House Republicans that is now headed to the floor despite little chance at becoming law.

    HB 11 is a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, but it drew resounding backlash from Democrats and labor leaders who say the measure is nothing more than a politically motivated attempt to bust up unions....

    Florida House
  7. Some religious schools could be allowed to have guns

    Blog

    Private schools with a religious institution on-site could decide for themselves if they want to allow armed security or concealed guns on their property, under a proposal that got preliminary approval from a House subcommittee on Wednesday.

    The measure (HB 849) from Polk County Republican Rep. Neil Combee would carve out certain religious private schools from the Florida law that prohibits anyone except law enforcement officers from carrying guns in K-12 schools and colleges and universities, regardless of whether those schools are public or private....

    Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk County, presents a concealed weapons bill to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla.
  8. 'Stand Your Ground' changes pass Florida Senate. Now it's on the House.

    Blog

    This could be the year the Republican-led Florida Legislature succeeds in enacting a controversial change to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law that prosecutors warn could lead to a flood of self-defense claims and would force state attorneys to essentially try cases twice.

    For the second consecutive session, Florida senators on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 128) from Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley to shift the burden of proof — from the defendant to the prosecutor — during the pretrial phase of “Stand Your Ground” cases....

    Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, left, confers with Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, during the debate of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill during session, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tallahassee.
  9. Senate passes 'stand your ground' law changes to benefit defendants

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — This could be the year the Republican-led Florida Legislature succeeds in enacting a controversial change to the state's "stand your ground" law that prosecutors warn could lead to a flood of self-defense claims and would force state attorneys to essentially try cases twice.

    For the second consecutive session, Florida senators on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 128) from Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley to shift the burden of proof — from the defendant to the prosecutor — in the pretrial phase of "stand your ground" cases....

  10. Lawmaker: House should 'put Florida Supreme Court in position of telling us that we're wrong'

    Blog

    Some Florida House Republicans have issued a challenge to the state’s top court — saying if the Legislature moves forward and enacts a constitutionally questionable measure seeking to impose harsher penalties on undocumented immigrants, then the Florida Supreme Court should prove them wrong....

    State Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa
  11. 'Religious liberties' measures diverge, but advance

    Blog

    Efforts by the Legislature to make explicitly clear the rights students and teachers have to express their religious beliefs in Florida public schools is ready for a floor vote in the Senate, while earning high praise in an initial House hearing.

    A fast-tracked measure in the Senate (SB 436) — one of President Joe Negron’s top priorities — passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, shortly before a House panel unanimously advanced its own version (HB 303)....

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, presents his “religious liberties” bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The panel sent it to the Senate floor on a 5-4 vote, with Democrats opposed.
  12. Plan to fortify religious expression in public schools quickly advancing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Efforts by the Legislature to make explicitly clear the rights students and teachers have to express their religious beliefs in Florida public schools is ready for a floor vote in the Senate, while earning high praise in an initial House hearing.

    A fast-tracked measure in the Senate (SB 436) — one of President Joe Negron's top priorities — passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, shortly before a House panel unanimously advanced its own version (HB 303)....

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is sponsoring a bill that would allow students to express their religious beliefs. It cleared a key Senate committee on Tuesday. [AP Photo | /Steve Cannon]
  13. Miami-Dade superintendent voices 'grave concern' of lawmakers' plans

    Blog

    The superintendent of Florida’s largest school district says he has “grave concern” about state lawmakers’ proposed reforms in how charter schools get taxpayer funding for maintenance and construction projects.

    Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Miami-Dade public schools stand to pay $83 million the district hasn’t accounted for if the Legislature goes through with its plan to force school districts to share their local tax revenue for capital projects with charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed....

    Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho gives his annual state-of-the-district report to the Miami Herald Editorial Board on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
  14. Controversial 'sanctuary cities' bill advances in House

    Blog

    Communities in Florida that are considered “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, such as four counties in the Tampa Bay area, would have to do away with those practices or risk fines and other penalties from the state, under controversial legislation that passed its first legislative committee on Monday.

    If the bill becomes law, county and local law enforcement agencies would also be required — at their taxpayers’ cost, with no guarantee of reimbursement — to comply with federal immigration detention requests, which are currently only optional....

    Florida Capitol
  15. Florida House moves controversial penalty for 'sanctuary' counties

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Communities in Florida that are considered "sanctuaries" for undocumented immigrants, including four counties in the Tampa Bay area, would have to do away with those practices or risk fines and other state penalties under controversial legislation that passed its first committee this week.

    If the bill becomes law, county and local law enforcement agencies would also be required — at local taxpayers' cost with no guarantee of reimbursement — to comply with federal immigration detention requests, which are currently only optional....

    Rep. Larry Metz introduced the anti-sanctuary bill.