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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. Where are the compromises on education policy for the public to vet? For now, still private.

    Blog

    With barely three days left before lawmakers have to finalize the annual state budget if session is to end as scheduled May 5, Floridians still have very little idea what kind of compromise lawmakers are crafting behind closed doors when it comes to the most consequential reforms this year that affect K-12 public schools.

    As of Saturday evening, House and Senate leaders had yet to release any proposed amended language for policy bills tied to the education budget, such as those calling for:...

    Florida Capitol
  2. Cruz: Senate chairman who opposes slavery memorial 'knows he can say this and be revered at home'

    Blog

    House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz is among those upset and offended by a conservative Senate chairman's explanation on Friday for why he blocked a bill to establish a Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee.

    Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley, who chairs the Senate's government operations committee, had told the Herald/Times a memorial to slavery would be too negative and would "celebrate defeat" -- remarks, among others, that were viewed as racially insensitive and sparked immediate backlash from House Democrats and members of the black caucus....

    House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, of Tampa
  3. After outcry, lawmakers scrap plans to fully slash funding for 'Moonlight' alumni's school

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers in Tallahassee are largely reversing course on plans to cut $650,000 in state grant funding to the Miami arts school whose alumni helped create the Oscar-winning film Moonlight and the Broadway hit "Hamilton."

    During ongoing budget talks Saturday morning, the Florida House asked for $500,000 for New World School of the Arts in 2017-18. That would still represent a cut of $150,000 in funding from last year, but it's a drastic change from the House's first proposal to entirely de-fund the school....

    Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight (2016). A24 Films.
  4. Once on chopping block, Miami arts school could still get some state aid next year

    Blog

    Lawmakers in Tallahassee are largely reversing course on plans to cut $650,000 in state grant funding to the Miami arts school whose alumni helped create the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” and the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”

    During ongoing budget talks Saturday morning, the Florida House asked for $500,000 for New World School of the Arts in 2017-18. That would still represent a cut of $150,000 in funding from last year, but it’s a drastic change from the House’s first proposal to entirely de-fund the school....

    Alumni of New World School of the Arts in Miami helped create the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight.”
  5. Corcoran: Gov. Rick Scott is 'the problem with recess,' not Legislature

    Blog

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran offered a curious statement shortly after midnight Saturday: It’s not lawmakers who have a “problem with recess” — it’s Gov. Rick Scott.

    Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, made the remark in a tweet with no additional explanation. The Herald/Times has requested clarification from Corcoran’s office and also sought comment from Scott’s spokeswoman. (This story will be updated when they respond.)...

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes
  6. David Rivera is hanging out in Frank Artiles' old Senate office

    Blog

    Former U.S. Rep. David Rivera appears to be testing out the digs of a state legislative office that he might seek to occupy one day soon.

    Rivera, a Republican, was seen casually hanging out in the Capitol office of former Sen. Frank Artiles on Friday evening -- socializing and bantering with a handful of people who appeared to be Artiles' remaining legislative staff and others....

  7. House, Senate agree to small increase in K-12 public school spending

    Blog

    From Brandon Larrabee at the News Service of Florida:

    The House and Senate agreed to a relatively modest increase in per-student funding for public schools Friday, as negotiations continued over state spending for the budget year that begins July 1.

    Under an agreement reached by leaders, per-student spending through the state's main formula for schools would increase 0.34 percent, or $24.49 a head. Discussions on other education projects were expected to continue.

    Lawmakers' ability to significantly increase per-student funding was hampered by two decisions that carried out other House priorities: to not allow local education property taxes to rise with real estate values, and to plow more than $400 million into teacher bonuses and the House's "schools of hope" proposal.

    Neither of those two items is included in the main formula, known as the Florida Education Finance Program, or FEFP. But lawmakers involved in the education budget talks said not accounting for the additional spending doesn't give a full picture of what the Legislature is doing for education.

    "It's been our theme from the very beginning that we're going to laser-target those students in the high-need areas," said Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican who chairs the House's education budget subcommittee....

  8. House passes 'sanctuary' city ban, although Senate version stalled

    Blog

    Florida’s Republican-led House voted Friday to outlaw “sanctuary” cities and to impose harsh penalties on any elected officials or communities that seek to thwart that ban.

    After a divisive debate that spanned almost three hours over two days, the House endorsed the proposed law by a 76-41 vote, with Democrats vehemently opposed....

    Dozens of immigrant advocates gathered at the Florida Capitol in March to oppose anti-immigrant bills lawmakers are considering this spring.
  9. Black lawmakers, Democrats irate after senator says slavery memorial would 'celebrate defeat'

    Blog

    House Democrats and members of the legislative black caucus are offended and irate after a conservative Senate committee chairman said Friday the reason he didn’t hear a bill to create the first slavery memorial in Florida was because he didn’t want to “celebrate defeat.”

    “I would rather celebrate overcoming the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse; I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse,” Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley told the Herald/Times for a story that was published online midday Friday. “I have a discomfort about memorializing slavery. ... I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery.”...

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala
  10. Meet the descendant of a Confederate soldier who is blocking Florida's first slavery memorial

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A proposal to create the first slavery memorial in Florida unanimously passed the state House on Friday with roaring applause — but its prospects in the Senate are uncertain after one committee chairman stalled the legislation over a "philosophical objection" to the concept.

    Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley — the chairman of the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee to which the bill was assigned — never scheduled a hearing to consider the bill calling for a Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee....

    Democratic Rep. Kionne I. McGhee proposed the slavery memorial in the Florida House.
  11. Lawmakers set to defund Miami school that educated makers of 'Moonlight' and 'Hamilton'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers are on the brink of cutting $650,000 in state grant funding to the Miami arts school whose alumni helped create the Oscar-winning film "Moonlight" and the Broadway hit "Hamilton."

    The Florida House wants to entirely defund the New World School of the Arts, while senators propose keeping just $20,000 in aid to the school.

    If lawmakers approve such drastic cuts, Miami's widely admired public arts school would lose the state aid that sustains its dance, music, theater and visual arts programs....

    Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes in Moonlight (2016). A24 Films.
  12. Florida House approves ban - and penalties - on 'sanctuary' cities

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's Republican-led House voted Friday to outlaw "sanctuary" cities and to impose harsh penalties on elected officials or communities that seek to thwart that ban.

    After a divisive debate that spanned almost three hours over two days, the House endorsed the proposed law by a 76-41 vote, with Democrats vehemently opposed.

    Republicans said the bill supports American freedom and "the rule of law" by prohibiting local law enforcement from resisting compliance with federal immigration laws and detention requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement....

    State Rep. Jason Fischer says it should be “offensive to everyone” to encourage illegal activity.
  13. Senator's 'discomfort about memorializing slavery' could block House-approved state monument

    Blog

    A proposal to create the first slavery memorial in Florida unanimously passed the state House on Friday with roaring applause — but its prospects in the Senate are uncertain after one committee chairman stalled the legislation over a “philosophical objection” to the concept.

    Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley — the chairman of the Senate Government Oversight & Accountability Committee who is known for his conservative positions — never scheduled a hearing to consider the Senate’s version of a bill calling for a Florida Slavery Memorial near the Capitol in Tallahassee....

    Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami
  14. Jack Latvala: Budget 'driven strictly by the guy that wants transparency'

    Blog

    Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, the Senate Appropriations chairman, told reporters Friday that in his 15 years in the Florida Senate he's "never seen" a budget negotiated like the one lawmakers are crafting for 2017-18. 

    And he cast blame on one person: House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes -- although not mentioning him directly by name....

    Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, with Senate Appropriations chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater.
  15. 'Schools of hope' compromise hatched -- in secret

    Blog

    Lawmakers secretly struck a tentative compromise Thursday on one of the most consequential education reforms of the 2017 session — a $200 million program to help students who attend perpetually failing K-12 public schools in Florida.

    Specifics of the proposed deal were not released, as some of it was still being finalized, House and Senate pre-K-12 education budget chairmen said late Thursday. But the general description of the agreement was enough to earn initial support from some House Democrats, who had — until very recently — staunchly opposed the concept....