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Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas is capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald and co-bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a graduate of the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. Before she became bureau chief for the Herald in 2004, Mary Ellen was Tallahassee bureau chief for Florida Trend magazine and also served as a senior writer for the Palm Beach Post. She was bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post from 1990-94, after which she worked part time for 10 years while her daughters were young. She is married to John Kennedy, senior writer for the Palm Beach Post's Tallahassee bureau. They have two daughters.

Phone: 850-222-3095

Email: meklas@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

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  1. No one is showing cards yet, but a gambling compromise could be coming

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The ice is melting on Florida's gambling impasse.

    House and Senate leaders have agreed to pass their respective bills off the floors of their chambers to set up a gaming conference for as early as next week. It's not a sign that there is a deal. But it is a sign that they're taking the issue of shoring up their gaming revenues seriously as they head into discussions over the budget....

    Gamblers play slot machines in the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa. Its 2012 expansion made the casino's  the 6th largest in the world.  [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Legislature tries to turn the tables on judges in redistricting cases

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — In an aggressive attempt to weaken the Fair Districts amendments to the Florida Constitution, a House committee on Wednesday passed legislation to create new hurdles to legal challenges to the maps lawmakers draw.

    The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee voted along party lines to change the implementation of the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the state constitution, which subjected the Republican-led Legislature to years of litigation and an embarrassing admission that they intentionally drew districts that favored incumbents and parties in violation of the law. ...

    Rep. Larry Ahern, R- Seminole, is sponsoring a bill that would make it harder for the courts to challenge maps of districts that lawmakers draw. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Tampa Bay Times
  3. House targets judiciary with new redistricting rules

    Blog

    In an aggressive attempt to weaken the Fair Districts amendments to the Florida Constitution, a House committee on Wednesday passed legislation to create new hurdles to legal challenges to the maps lawmakers draw. 

    The House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee voted along party lines to change the implementation of the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the constitution, which subjected the Republican-led Legislature to years of litigation and an embarrassing admission that they intentionally drew districts that favored incumbents and parties in violation of the law. ...

    Versions of draft legislative maps from 2012
  4. Gaming bills are headed to conference

    Blog

    So why would a House committee meet for 10 minutes Tuesday for the sole purpose of passing a bill clarifying that fantasy sports leagues are not gambling? 

    The ice has thawed on the gambling impasse.

    House and Senate leaders have agreed to pass their respective bills off the floors of their chambers to set up a gaming conference for as early as next week. It's not a sign that there is a deal. But it is a sign that they're taking the issue of shoring up their gaming revenues seriously as they head into discussions over the budget....

    Fantasy sports companies DraftKings Inc. (the app is shown) and FanDuel Inc. (website) would be treated differently in pending House and Senate gambling bills.
  5. FPL's fracking investment bill passes committee despite objections

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A House committee overlooked opposition by residential and commercial utility customers Tuesday and approved a proposal sought by Florida Power & Light to allow the company to expand its rate base by charging customers for investments in natural gas fracking operations in other states.

    The bill, HB 1043 by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, would give the Florida Public Service Commission the authority to allow utilities that generate at least 65 percent of their electricity using natural gas to invest in oil and natural gas exploration, including fracking. It was approved by the Florida House Subcommittee on Energy and Utilities....

    Fracking.
  6. Hoodwinked! Lawmaker says prison privatization is scamming Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Numbers don't lie and Florida's private prisons are not saving money as promised, according to an investigation by Rep. David Richardson, a retired forensic auditor.

    Part of the reason, he says, is that the agency in charge of monitoring the contracts has no experience in prisons so the private prison vendors have for years "hoodwinked" the Department of Management Services, which supervises their contracts....

    Rep. David Richardson, D- Miami Beach, has become a one-man wrecking crew in forcing the state to provide more oversight of its state prisons. [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  7. House hears bill to allow utilities to charge for exploratory fracking

    Blog

    The Florida House Subcommittee on Energy and Utilities on Tuesday will hear the proposal sought by Florida Power & Light to allow the company to expand its rate base by charging customers for investments in natural gas fracking operations in other states. 

    It's the only bill on the agenda for the committee's three-hour time slot and it's sudden appearance on the committee calendar surprised even the committee's chair, Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, who had been told by House leaders that the bill was not going to get a hearing....

    Photo credit: Water gushes out of a drilling pipe as it is pulled up to be replaced with a fresh pipe at a hydraulic fracturing site in Midland, Texas, Sept. 24, 2013. The drilling method known as fracking uses huge amounts of high-pressure, chemical-laced water to free oil and natural gas trapped deep in underground rocks.
  8. Seminole Tribe warns that court ruling could end compact

    Blog

    The Seminole Tribe of Florida is warning Gov. Rick Scott that a two-week old decision by a Leon County circuit court which opens the door for anyone from convenience stores, family fun centers to poker rooms to install slot machine look-alikes is a violation of the state's gaming compact with the Tribe.

    "Slots-style type games materially the same as these have been held by federal and state courts in other jurisdictions to be illegal slot machines and are a clear violation of the Tribe's negotiated exclusivity,'' as set forth in its gaming compact with the state which guarantee exclusive operation of slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in exchange for monthly payments,'' wrote Marcellus Osceola, Jr., chairman of the Tribal Council....

    The Seminole Tribe warns that a recent court ruling violates gaming deal
  9. Adam Putnam facing questions about spending in expected run for governor

    Politics

    TALLAHASSEE — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised more than $9.4 million for a 2018 governor's race he has yet to announce and, in the last two years, spent $1.8 million of it on a Lakeland-based political consulting firm that has failed to disclose how the expenses were paid.

    According to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, 70 percent of the $2.6 million spent by Putnam's political committee, Florida Grown, went to Silloh Consulting, operated by Justin Hollis, the 36-year-old political consultant and real estate investor who manages Putnam's political fund. ...

    Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam gives the keynote address at the Fresh from Florida Summitt held at the Port Tampa Bay in Tampa's Channelside on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  10. Adam Putnam and the $75,000 a month consulting firm

    Blog

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised more than $9.4 million for a 2018 governor’s race he has yet to announce and, in the last two years, spent $1.8 million of it on a Lakeland-based political consulting firm that has failed to disclose how the expenses were paid.

    According to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, 70 percent of the $2.6 million spent by Putnam’s political committee, Florida Grown, went to Silloh Consulting, operated by Justin Hollis, the 36-year-old political consultant and real estate investor who manages Putnam’s political fund....

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam
  11. Conservatives tell legislature: reform sentencing like neighboring states

    Blog

    More than a dozen conservative groups sent an appeal to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and the chairs of several legislative committees Friday, urging them to get behind legislation reforming the state's minimum mandatory sentencing law, which they have concluded are "costly to taxpayers" and "harm families and communities."

    "In the last 15 years, more than 30 states around the country – Florida among them – have reconsidered the wisdom of disproportional mandatory minimum sentencing laws.'' the coalition wrote. "These centralized, one-size-fits-all laws undermine individualized consideration in the American justice system. They also waste taxpayer dollars locking up for far too long some people who pose little to no threat to public safety."  Download 2017 Florida Sentencing Reform Support Letter (Corcoran)...

    Conservative groups are lining up behind sentencing reform
  12. Lawmaker to Rick Scott: Restore order in privately run women's prison

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state's largest privately run women's prison, Rep. David Richardson asked Gov. Rick Scott this week to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility.

    In a letter delivered late Thursday, Richardson asked Scott "to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security, and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control."...

    Rep. David Richardson, D- Miami Beach, is asking Gov. Rick Scott to declare an emergency about the conditions at Gadsden Correctional Facility, the state's largest women's prison. [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  13. Lawmaker asks governor have state take over private prison

    Blog

    Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility.

    In a letter delivered late Thursday, Richardson asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security, and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.”...

    Rep. David Richardson at Gadsden Correctional Facility
  14. Corcoran criticizes Constitution Revision schedule

    Blog

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Thursday criticized Constitution Revision Commission chair Carlos Beruff for scheduling four public hearings in the middle of the legislative session, when five of his nine appointees, all legislators, are unavailable to attend.

     "When you have such a once-in-20-year august body, dealing with something of the highest impact -- which is our Constitution -- and you only have a limited number of members, 37, and immediately the first action is to disenfranchise one sixth, I don't think that is a good start,'' Corcoran told reporters on Thursday....

  15. Senate advances bill aimed at 'gotcha' public records requests

    Blog

    The Florida Senate on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a compromise proposal aimed at cracking down on “gotcha” public records requests while preserving the attorney fees leverage the public has against public officials who violate Florida’s Sunshine laws.

    The bill, SB 80, by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is intended to crack down on what he says is are a small group of serial records abusers who attempt to snag unsuspecting public officials into violating public records laws in an effort to coerce a financial settlement....

    Sen. Greg Steube