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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. Gillum wants state law so women can maintain no-cost birth control if Obamacare is repealed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.
  2. 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]
  3. 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
  4. '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]
  5. 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....

  6. 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
  7. 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....

  8. 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)
  9. 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]
  10. Senate caves on strategy in effort to reach compromise on K-12 spending

    Blog

    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.”...

    Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, speaks to the Senate about overriding Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of the public schools budget during a special session of the Florida Legislature Wednesday June 7, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla.
  11. Defund HB 7069? Senator will attempt it, although House won't accept it

    Blog

    A contentious, charter school-friendly education reform bill that has incensed traditional public school advocates — and given some in the Florida Senate feelings of buyers’ remorse — isn’t on the agenda as the Legislature meets in special session this week.

    But some senators will force the issue on Thursday morning — by proposing to strip out most of the $419 million in HB 7069 and redirect the money toward increasing general spending for K-12 public schools....

  12. Senator will try to defund controversial schools bill

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A contentious, charter school-friendly education reform bill that has incensed traditional public school advocates — and given some in the Florida Senate feelings of buyers' remorse — isn't on the agenda as the Legislature meets in special session this week.

    But some senators will force the issue this morning — by proposing to strip out most of the $419 million in HB 7069 and redirect the money toward increasing general spending for K-12 public schools....

    Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  13. South Florida rain interferes with lawmakers traveling to Tallahassee

    Blog

    South Florida's torrential rains and stormy weather were bad enough to affect attendance at the Florida Legislature's special session nearly 500 miles away in Tallahassee, as some lawmakers found it challenging to make it here because of cancelled or delayed flights.

    Hialeah Republican Sen. René García, for instance, had his flight from Miami delayed -- causing him to miss today entirely....

    Photo credit: A car tries to make its way through the flooded street to the gas station at Sawgrass Mills mall on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.
  14. Florida Senate overrides Gov. Scott's education funding veto, just in case

    Blog

    Wanting to ensure Florida's K-12 public schools can "keep the lights on and keep the doors open" after June 30, the Florida Senate took the unusual step on Wednesday of voting to override a veto by Gov. Rick Scott.

    Scott on Friday formally rejected the Legislature's approved funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1, saying it had insufficient increases to K-12 public education. In doing so, he instructed the Legislature -- with agreement from the House speaker and Senate president -- to return to Tallahassee for a special session during which one of their tasks would be to add $215 million more ini school funding....

  15. In effort to keep schools funded, Senate overrides veto of K-12 spending

    Blog

    Wanting to ensure Florida’s 4,200 K-12 public schools can “keep the lights on and keep the doors open” after June 30, the Florida Senate took the unusual step on Wednesday of voting to override a veto by Gov. Rick Scott.

    Not because the senators particularly like the spending level they approved last month....