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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. Opposition mounts in Miami to new plan for casino

    Blog

    Armando Codina, one of Miami's most prominent developers, is sounding the alarm about the announcement Wednesday that the Florida House has agreed to a Senate plan to bring another casino to Miami-Dade County, arguing that while the revenue will help the state, it will cost the county, and leave the community with infrastructure and social problems. 

    "I'm well-informed, but this surprised me how it was snuck in without any public debate,'' said Codina, chairman of Codina Partners, LLC, a real estate investment and development firm based in Coral Gables, in an interview with the Herald/Times....

    Armando Codina, Miami real estate developer who opposes gambling expansion in the county.
  2. House agrees to give Miami new casino, other concessions

    Blog

    After years of impasse over how to update Florida's gambling laws to reflect the changing times, the Florida House agreed to a series of major concessions Wednesday, including bringing a new casino to Miami-Dade County, ending the mandate that horse and dog tracks conduct live racing and a willingness to give the Seminole Tribe the ability to offer craps and roulette.

    "We know that time is running out, so we wanted to make a substantial offer to the Senate,'' began Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, the House's chief negotiator on the second day of a gambling conference between the chambers....

    The Seminole Tribe will get new craps and roulette under proposed House gambling deal.
  3. Scott's bond director weighs in on Visit Florida cuts

    Blog

    Out of sight and out of the country, Gov. Rick Scott appeared to be on the losing end of budget negotiations Tuesday as House and Senate negotiators scaled down Enterprise Florida to a shell and reduced Visit Florida funding from $75 million to $25 million.

    So the governor dispatched his chief bond officer, Ben Watkins, to send somewhat of a warning letter about the impact of the potential cuts. ...

    There were polite smiles for Gov. Rick Scott flanked by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, left, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, on the first day of the 2016 session
  4. Senate advances bill to let FPL customers pay fracking costs

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Power & Light's quest to have customers pay for natural gas fracking projects in other states overcame a key hurdle Tuesday as the Senate Rules Committee passed the controversial measure and overlooked opposition from residential and commercial customers.

    The proposal, SB 1238 by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, now goes to the Senate floor. A similar measure in the House, HB 1043, has made it through one of three committees in that chamber....

    Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, had his bill on fracking advance in the Senate on Tuesday. [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Senate advances bill to let FPL charge customers for fracking

    Blog

    Florida Power & Light’s quest to have customers pay for natural gas fracking projects in other states overcame a key hurdle Tuesday as the Senate Rules Committee passed the controversial measure and overlooked opposition from residential and commercial customers.

    The proposal, SB 1238 by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, now goes to the Senate floor. A similar measure in the House, HB 1043, has made it through one of three committees in that chamber....

    Opponents of FPL's plan to charge customers for natural gas fracking hold a press conference at the Florida Capitol.
  6. Negron and Corcoran take budget talks into their own hands

    Blog

    Midway through the day on Tuesday, a framework of a budget deal appeared to be emerging as House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron leapfrogged past their budget chairs and spent much of the morning negotiating a break in the deadlock.

    "I'm very encouraged,'' said Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, at midday. "The process has continued and so there's continuing offers between the chambers and we'll take it from there."...

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron
  7. After years of impasse, legislators seem to be conceding courts are now driving gambling train

    Blog

    House and Senate leaders conceded Monday that years of Legislative stalemate over the future of slot machine expansion in Florida -- including whether Miami-Dade will be home to additional casinos -- may come to an end not because of their actions but because the courts have forced their hand.

    Lawmakers convened a conference committee Monday to work out the differences between their vastly different gambling bills aimed at renewing the gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. But, in the process they concluded that no matter what they do, a series of court rulings may be driving the train....

    Slot machines
  8. Four extraordinary days at the Florida Capitol: How Artiles went from defiance to resignation

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Last Monday afternoon, at the start of the state Legislature's seventh week of session, Sen. Audrey Gibson raced up three floors to present one of her bills to the Florida Senate's Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

    Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, stood behind the lectern and tried to catch her breath as she told colleagues about a 6-year-old from back home who had been involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility for three days for a "temper tantrum." She filed legislation to require such facilities to speed up their evaluation of the about 30,000 admitted each year under the state's Baker Act....

    Frank Artiles, R-Miami, resigned his seat in the Florida Senate on Friday.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
  9. Hooters 'calendar girl' and Playboy 'Miss Social' were Frank Artiles' paid consultants

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Just months before his resignation Friday, Sen. Frank Artiles scored a coup in November when he unseated Democrat Dwight Bullard with an aggressive $1 million campaign in a district that favored Democrats.

    But the long list of expenditures filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Artiles' political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, also raised some questions. Why did the committee hire a former Hooters "calendar girl" and a Playboy model with no political experience as "consultants?" Were the payments related to a trip to the Kentucky Derby or a fishing tournament in Key West? What was the more than $51,000 in reimbursements to Artiles for?...

    State senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, who resigned Friday. [AP Photo/Steve Cannon]
  10. Frank Artiles resigns, says he needs time for personal reflection, growth

    Blog

    Sen. Frank Artiles resigned from the Florida Legislature today, consumed by a scandal that erupted three days earlier over a diatribe of insults the Miami Republican unleashed against two lawmakers at a Tallahassee bar.

    In a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Artiles said he was stepping down for the sake of his family and of the institution of the Senate, whose work ground to a near halt this week as Republican leaders grappled with Artiles’ political future....

    Artiles
  11. Frank Artiles, Miami state senator, resigns after racist, profane remarks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Frank Artiles resigned from the Legislature on Friday, consumed by a scandal that erupted three days earlier over a diatribe of insults the Miami Republican unleashed against two lawmakers at a Tallahassee bar.

    In a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Artiles said he was stepping down for the sake of his family and of the institution of the Senate, whose work ground to a near halt this week as Republican leaders grappled with Artiles' political future....

    Republican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, resigned Friday for using racial slurs and obscene insults in a private after-hours conversation with African-American colleagues. [Associated Press]
  12. Controversy over Miami lawmaker's racial slur engulfs Florida Legislature

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Controversy raged in the Florida Capitol for a second day over Sen. Frank Artiles' racist and sexist tirade, distracting and slowing down the Legislature on Thursday, just two weeks before the end of the annual lawmaking session and building pressure on the Miami Republican to resign — or risk the potential career-ending condemnation of the Senate.

    The Senate abruptly canceled formal meetings Thursday afternoon as leaders scrambled to find a quick resolution to Artiles' political future. As a Senate lawyer began taking sworn statements about Artiles' Monday-night verbal assault on two black colleagues at a bar near the Capitol, the senator hired a defense attorney who argued Artiles' use of the n-word and other insults are constitutionally protected free speech....

    Dawn Roberts, the special master in the Artiles' case.
  13. Artiles asks Negron to recuse himself, asks for independent investigator

    Blog

    The Florida Senate abruptly canceled all formal meetings Thursday afternoon as Senate leaders scrambled to find a quick resolution to the political future of Sen. Frank Artiles, the Miami Republican being asked to resign by his Senate colleagues after his racist-laced comments about them in a bar earlier this week.

    Artiles hired a lawyer and formally asked Senate President Joe Negron, the Senate's general counsel, Dawn Roberts, and five other senators to recuse themselves from the pending investigation, and appoint an independent investigator. He suggested the Senate does not have jurisdiction and the inquiry is flawed....

    Frank Artiles
  14. What's next for Frank Artiles? Asks and apologies

    Blog

    As a freshman senator this year. Frank Artiles has filed more bills than just about anyone except maybe Republican freshman, Sen. Greg Steube; so how will that play out when his bills come up before some of the colleagues he has insulted?

    The Senate Judiciary Committee hears two of Artiles' top priority bills Wednesday:  SB 12, a claims bill against the Department of Transportation on behalf of the family of Jacksonville man who was killed when his car skidded out of control because of standing water from a clogged drainage basin. He also seeks approval for a more controversial bill, SJR 134, which is a constitutional amendment to require Miami-Dade, Broward and Volusia counties to elect their sheriffs. ...

    Frank Ariles being sworn in to the Florida Senate in November
  15. Legislators prepare an apology and vindication for families of Groveland Four

    Blog

    The Florida Legislature moved closer Tuesday to extending an historic apology to the families of four black men who were wrongly accused of rape in 1949 then tortured, murdered or unjustly imprisoned after one of the ugliest racist episodes in state history.

    Known as the Groveland Four, none of the four men — Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — are still living, but members of their families were seated in the gallery of the House chamber when lawmakers voted 117-0 to unanimously join as sponsors of HCR 631. The measure exonerates the men and asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to expedite consideration of posthumous pardons....

    Legislators are advancing a bill that will apologize to four young black men were falsely accused of rape in 1949.