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Michael Auslen, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Michael Auslen

Michael Auslen covers state government and politics in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. He is originally from Arvada, Colo., and graduated in 2014 from Indiana University with degrees in journalism and political science. Michael has previously worked for the Indianapolis Star, USA Today and Dow Jones.

Phone: (850) 224-7263

E-mail: mauslen@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MichaelAuslen

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  1. Florida House marijuana bill moves closer to Senate version

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers are inching closer to an agreement on medical marijuana after more than 70 percent of voters declared they wanted to allow patients with debilitating conditions to use the drug.

    On Friday, the Florida House made sweeping changes to its legislation (HB 1397), addressing concerns raised by activists that the bill initially proposed by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, made it too difficult for doctors to recommend cannabis to patients and limited access....

    House majority leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero
  2. House overhauls medical marijuana plan, but the bill still isn't final

    Blog

    State lawmakers are inching closer to an agreement on medical marijuana after more than 70 percent of voters declared they wanted to allow patients with debilitating conditions to use the drug.

    On Friday, the Florida House made sweeping changes to their legislation (HB 1397), addressing concerns raised by activists that bill initially proposed by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, made it too difficult for doctors to recommend cannabis to patients and limited access....

    State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, in 2015.
  3. Look what Uber did: Longtime Hillsborough County agency faces extinction

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Hillsborough County board that regulates taxis and waged a years-long war against Uber is on track to be abolished by the state Legislature.

    Decried by opponents as unnecessary and out-of-date, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been at the center of controversy over ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. It approved a ban on their operation within county boundaries and tried to regulate them like taxicab companies....

    Taxi cab drivers may no longer be regulated by Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission, as a Florida House bill that eliminates the board passed the chamber on Friday. The Senate is scheduled to vote on, and expected to pass, the same bill next week. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Watered-down deregulation of trauma care on tap in Florida House

    Blog

    The Florida House is expected to pass watered-down legislation meant to increase the number of trauma centers in the state on Friday.

    Trauma centers, which handle the worst, most time-sensitive injuries like gunshot wounds and violent car crashes, are limited under state law based on the need in each part of the state. State Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, had proposed to get rid of limits statewide....

  5. Florida Medicaid cuts will hit $650 million, Senate chair says

    Blog

    As part of a broad budget deal, House and Senate leaders have agreed to roughly $650 million in cuts to hospital payments through Medicaid.

    Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, the Senate's health care budget chairwoman, confirmed that the state would cut its share of Medicaid payments by $250 million in the upcoming budget, which reduces federal matching dollars by more than $400 million. That's more than was proposed by either the House or Senate in their original budgets....

    State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, (right) talks to Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, on the floor of the Senate.
  6. House to consider allowing patients with chronic pain to use medical marijuana, permit vaping and edibles

    Blog

    In the first big step toward agreement on the issue in Tallahassee, the Florida House is expected to adopt sweeping changes to its medical marijuana proposal Friday.

    New language (HB 1397) released Wednesday afternoon by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, includes a number of changes pushed by advocates who came to public hearings:

    * Patients with chronic, nonmalignant pain would qualify for medical marijuana....

  7. House votes to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients

    Blog

    Some low-income people who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their health care under legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday.

    Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn’t apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida’s Medicaid enrollment....

    Rep. Travis Cummings
  8. Work requirements for Florida Medicaid recipients move forward in House

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Some low-income people who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their health care under legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday.

    Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn't apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida's Medicaid enrollment....

    Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park. [Florida House of Representatives]
  9. With medical marijuana bills headed to floor votes, final deal won't have public comment

    Blog

    Lawmakers say they're getting close to agreement on sweeping legislation on how to put voter-mandated medical marijuana into effect. But the details of a deal -- and how it might impact patient access -- are still unclear.

    Instead of unveiling the deal to be vetted by House and Senate committees this week, legislators plan to put it forward for full vote by the two chambers, likely next week....

    Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island
  10. Replacing Artiles: Who's in and who's out (so far)

    Blog

    Miami politics went into overdrive Friday following state Sen. Frank Artiles' resignation, as elected officials and their political consultants scrambled to figure out who might run in a yet-to-be-scheduled special election to replace the freshman Miami Republican.

    Political insiders in Miami and Tallahassee had begun whispering about Artiles' potential successor even before he stepped down. District 40 in Southwest Miami-Dade County is a competitive, Democratic-leaning and overwhelmingly Hispanic seat....

  11. How the Legislature could use $1.5 billion in extra Medicaid money for something other than hospitals

    Blog

    There's $1.5 billion on the table that could shore up the state budget, but the question in Tallahassee is this: How will the Legislature be allowed to use it?

    Both the House and Senate appear ready to use the Low Income Pool approved by the Trump administration last week to offset cuts to hospitals and free up money for other priorities.

    "It’ll free up money from general revenue that then can be used to put into reserves to shore up out years or to pay for some of the projects that members have a unique interest," said House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami. "Whether it’s Lake Okeechobee in the Senate or on the House side, a lot of the K-12 priorities, Schools of Hope and Best and Brightest."...

    House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, (center).
  12. Welfare changes in Florida include tougher penalties for recipients

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Welfare recipients in Florida would face tougher penalties for failing to meet work requirements and some food stamp recipients could become ineligible if lawmakers in the Florida House have their way.

    The chamber passed a set of changes to Florida's welfare laws Wednesday by an 82-38 vote with three Democrats joining Republicans in support. It's a move supporters say is supposed to help people who receive cash assistance from the state to find good jobs and discourage reliance on government....

    Rep. Dane Eagle said the bill is intended to encourage employment.
  13. It's up to Rick Scott now: Should local governments be allowed to regulate Uber?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE

    Years of fighting among local governments, the Legislature and ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft could soon come to an end.

    Lawmakers have sent to Gov. Rick Scott legislation that would prohibit local government from regulating the companies. Instead, the companies would need to meet statewide insurance and background check standards only.

    The vote was unanimous in the House and nearly so in the Senate....

    Some taxi companies oppose standard regulation of their cabs, such as this one at Tampa International Airport.
  14. Bill protecting Uber and Lyft heads to Rick Scott's desk after four years of fighting

    Blog

    Local governments won’t be allowed to regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft under legislation passed nearly unanimously by the Florida Legislature.

    It now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for signature or veto. His office has not yet signaled whether he will sign it.

    The bill (HB 221) sets statewide insurance and background check standards for ridesharing companies. But most critically, it overrides local governments’ attempts to regulate them. Some of the most high-profile fights over local rules have been in Key West and Hillsborough County....

    Uber
  15. House and Senate advance medical pot bills but no compromise in sight

    Blog

    Florida lawmakers are moving full steam ahead to implement the voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, but there is still no sign of a compromise between competing House and Senate plans.

    The two legislators tasked with putting the voters’ will into effect, Sen. Rob Bradley and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, say they have begun closed-door talks to bridge large divides between their legislation. ...

    Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, is the House member charged with reaching a medical marijuana compromise with the Florida Senate.