The Florida Independent

Conservative lawmakers push legislation that would recommend HPV vaccine

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The same Florida legislator who is seeking an all-out ban on abortion in the state has sponsored a bill in the Legislature that would recommend the HPV vaccine for young girls entering the sixth grade.

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Florida’s jobless rate drops 0.1 percent

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The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday that the state’s “seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December 2011 was 9.9 percent,” a drop of 0.1 percent compared with November.

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Obama administration gives religious groups one year extension for birth control mandate

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The Obama administration announced today that it is standing by its decision to require that insurance providers — with the exception of religious employers — cover birth control as a preventive service. Instead of giving in to requests that all objectors be able to opt out, the feds have instead given religious groups a one-year extension to meet the mandate.

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South Florida Tea Party announces support for GOP casino bill

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Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party and state coordinator for the Florida Tea Party, this week announced his support for the casino bill that would allow three Las Vegas-style casino resorts in South Florida.

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Haridopolos adds committee stop for prison privatization bills

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At the behest of advocacy groups and fellow legislators, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos has added one more committee stop for two controversial bills that would allow the state to take another stab at privatizing prisons.

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GOP bill would rebrand unemployment compensation as ‘reemployment assistance’

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The state Legislature’s Economic Affairs Committee yesterday passed a bill that would rebrand unemployment compensation as “reemployment assistance.”

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Catholic leaders tell Gingrich, Santorum ‘to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes’

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Catholic leaders issued a letter Friday to GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, themselves Catholics, urging them “to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

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Fasano to Haridopolos: Don’t fast-track prison privatization

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In a letter sent to Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos today, state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, writes that the decision to only refer the Legislature’s two controversial prison privatization bills to one committee was the wrong move.

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New higher ed appointee’s company donated big to Republicans last year

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Gov. Rick Scott yesterday announced the reappointment of Ava Parker and the appointments of Joseph Caruncho and Thomas Kuntz to the State University System’s Board of Governors. Caruncho, a Palmetto Bay native, is the co-founder and COO of Preferred Care Partners Inc., and previously worked as a corporate health care attorney. As we’ve previously reported, Preferred Care poured money into Republican Party coffers last year, donating at least $190,000.

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New poll: Majority of Latina/o population supports reproductive rights

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A new survey released from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health found that “strong majorities” of Latina/os registered to vote support “access to legal abortion, affirm that they would offer support to a close friend or family member who had an abortion, and oppose politicians interfering in personal, private decisions about abortion,” the group reports.

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Gingrich’s personal life, Romney’s taxes hot topics during South Carolina debate

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Last night’s GOP presidential debate was crucial for the four remaining GOP candidates. Held just two days before the South Carolina primary, it was the last chance to appeal to the state’s conservative voters and, arguably, the event was the most boisterous of any debate thus far.

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VIDEO: 18 senators drop support for online piracy bill after Internet blackout protests

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At least 75,000 websites participated in the Internet blackout Wednesday to protest congressional bills that supporters say would fight online piracy.

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School prayer bill has one more stop in state Senate

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The Anti-Defamation League, one of the main opponents of a bill allowing for prayer during school events, is denouncing a recent move to only have the bill go through one more committee before a final vote.

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Prison privatization bills get fast-tracked

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Following a contentious introduction of two bills that would allow the state to privatize prisons, leaders in the state’s GOP-led Legislature have fast-tracked the bills by only referring them to one committee.

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National reproductive rights report gives Florida an ‘F’

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NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national reproductive rights groups, today released a report analyzing the “state of women’s access to reproductive-health care” around the country. Florida received an “F” overall for the policies it enacted in the last year.

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Gallup poll: 64 percent of Americans ‘dissatisfied’ with ‘level of immigration’

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Dissatisfaction with immigration levels is an issue that Americans are paying attention to in this presidential election year, according to a Gallup poll released this week.

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Bill giving aid to the homeless moves forward in state Senate

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A bill that would provide a way for Floridians to donate money to the homeless when registering vehicles and renewing their driver’s licenses moved forward in the Florida Senate today.

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Florida Democrat named one of DCCC’s ‘Red to Blue’ candidates

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched its “Red to Blue” program, which “highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support” and aims to introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns. One candidate earning a spot in the program is Florida’s own Keith Fitzgerald, the Sarasota Democrat running to unseat Congressman Vern Buchanan.

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Bill reversing controversial elections measures earns Senate sponsor

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State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, has sponsored legislation that would reverse some of the most controversial aspects of the elections bill passed last session by the GOP-led Florida Legislature.

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VIDEO: Casino debate rages in Legislature, on TV

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The South Florida casino bill that passed its first vote in the Florida House of Representative last week has prompted bills that regulate other gaming business, while opponents move ahead aggressively in the media.

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Perry quits race

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be dropping out of the Presidential race today, according to Politico. Perry is expected to make the announcement in a press conference sometime before tonight’s debate, and will likely support Newt Gingrich’s candidacy.

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Dockery: State Senate’s redistricting maps ‘do not meet’ Fair Districts criteria

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The redistricting maps approved by the Florida Senate on Tuesday “do not meet the criteria set forth by the Fair Districts amendments,” writes state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, in a new column explaining her decision to buck the party line and vote against the maps.

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Scott not among GOP governors declaring ‘National School Choice Week’

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Governors of 12 states, all of them Republicans, declared Jan. 22-28 “National School Choice Week,” according to organizers of the weeklong event. Not joining them: Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

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Presidential candidates focus on abortion, Planned Parenthood at Personhood USA forum

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The anti-abortion group Personhood USA hosted a presidential candidate forum last night in South Carolina, to discuss the legality of abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood and passing legislation to define human life as beginning at the moment of conception.

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Fasano defends resolution honoring crisis pregnancy centers

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A statement from the office of state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, says that his resolution to honor pregnancy resource centers this month is meant to honor “the compassionate people who work in these centers,” who “truly believe in the value of human life.”

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