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Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Steve Bousquet

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times' Tallahassee bureau chief. He joined the Times in 2001 after 17 years at the Miami Herald, where he held a variety of positions including Tallahassee bureau chief, and he previously was a reporter at TV stations in Miami and Providence, R.I. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island and a master's in history from Florida State University.

Bousquet was a contributor to two editions of The Almanac of Florida Politics and to The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, an account of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Phone: (850) 224-7263


Twitter: @SteveBousquet

  1. Florida auto licenses, tags, issued through private companies could come with new fees


    TALLAHASSEE — Drivers in Florida who renew their licenses and tags through a private company could soon face additional fees to do so.

    Some county tax collectors are blasting the idea, including the fact that the fees have no limit. But the sponsor of the proposal called it voluntary because Florida drivers don't have to use the private companies. They can keep using their tax collectors' offices....

    Former Sen. Mike Fasano, now the Pasco County Tax Collector, calls the new fees for private companies that offer auto tags and licenses, a bad idea. [Associated Press]
  2. A hidden tax on hard-working motorists? Tax collectors think so


    Did the state House just impose a new hidden tax on cash-strapped motorists in Florida? No, say lawmakers. Yes, say Florida's elected tax collectors.

    Every session, private agencies that renew car registrations and licenses seek a greater foothold in the nation's third-largest state, a lucrative market. They succeeded in getting language in a must-pass tax cut package that allows them to charge drivers a new "convenience fee." (Republicans in Tallahassee don't like to use the word "tax.")...

    Florida license tags for sale at a county tax collector's office
  3. So much for 'unprecedented openness' as Corcoran, Negron cut budget deal in secret


    TALLAHASSEE — After promising unprecedented openness, House Speaker Richard Corcoran has spent long days and nights negotiating an elaborate budget deal in secret with Senate counterpart Joe Negron, keeping most other lawmakers and the public in the dark.

    Like two attorneys privately resolving a court case, the two lawyers are cutting deals on tax policy, public school spending, charter school expansion, major environmental projects and levels of local pork-barrel spending. They are also negotiating state worker pay raises, new pension and health care plans, changes to statewide tourism and job-incentive programs, and other issues — even a need-based college scholarship program for the children of farm workers, a Senate priority....

    Florida's proposed budget is now in the hands of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. [SCOTT KEELER | TIMES]
  4. Rick Scott : 'Shortsighted' lawmakers would slash jobs, tourism


    From Buenos Aires, where he's on the third day of a four-day trade mission, Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement Wednesday warning the Legislature not to carry out planned budget cuts to Enterprise and VISIT Florida. Here's Scott's statement:

    "Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families by cutting funds for tourism marketing and economic development. I would be absolutely shocked if politicians in the Florida Legislature put their self-interests before the interests of our families and small businesses. Let's remember, fully funding VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida is only 0.24 percent of Florida's state budget. But reducing this funding will have a significant impact on state, county, city and local tourism and economic development boards' revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars."...

  5. State lawmakers end budget stalemate, but clash with Rick Scott looms

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers reached a tentative deal on an $83 billion budget Tuesday that could end the session on time but could put them on a collision course with Gov. Rick Scott.

    A day after a stalemate threatened to derail the legislative session, Republican leaders in the House and Senate privately hammered out the broad terms of a deal that ensures both sides can claim victory for their top priorities....

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, left, and Senate President Joe Negron talk during Tuesday’s joint session of the Legislature.
  6. If Richard Corcoran is anti-hometown projects, why is this project earmarked for $4.3 million?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Nothing is immune from the bruising budget battle between the House and Senate in Tallahassee — not even victims of unsolved murders.

    When House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, excoriated "liberal" senators for loading the budget with hundreds of millions of dollars in hometown projects, the Senate responded in kind. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, noted that Corcoran wants to take home $4.3 million for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, where the speaker does legal work....

    Sen. Jack Latvala: “The largest single project in the budget is for him. … It’s do as I say, not as I do.”
  7. House Republicans push 'take it or leave it' budget as Democrats accuse GOP of 'playing games'


    The Florida House on Tuesday forged ahead with House Speaker Richard Corcoran's strategy of sending the Senate a stand-pat, take-it-or-leave-it budget, even as reports swirled that the two sides had begun productive discussions on a number of budget-related policy priorities.

    UPDATE, 10 a.m.: Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, the next Senate president, told the Herald/Times' Jeremy Wallace that budget talks were back on track and agreement on spending allocations in budget areas could be reached Tuesday....

    The House Appropriations Committee in session Tuesday.
  8. 'Cold case' murder victims get dragged into budget controversy


    Nothing is immune from the bruising budget battle between the House and Senate in Tallahassee -- not even victims of unsolved murders.

    When House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, excoriated "liberal" senators for loading the budget with hundreds of millions of dollars in hometown projects, the Senate responded in kind. Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, noted that Corcoran wants to take home $4.3 million for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, where the speaker does legal work....

    A rendering of the first-of-its-kind forensics center in Pasco.
  9. As budget talks crash, Corcoran wants 'continuation' budget, no new spending

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A bitter stalemate over spending forced the Legislature to suspend work on a budget Monday, stirring more bad blood among Republicans and putting an on-time adjournment in doubt.

    Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, bargained privately by phone through last Friday and were making progress on issues such as public school spending and raises for state workers....

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land O' Lakes and Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R- Stuart, talk during a joint session of the Florida Legislature in March. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Tampa Bay area business leaders lobby on contentious transit bill


    TALLAHASSEE — More than a dozen top business local executives went to Tallahassee with an appeal in the days following last week's political showdown between three GOP senators from Tampa Bay over a regional transit bill.

    Keep talking. Please.

    The nonprofit Tampa Bay Partnership had planned the lobbying trip anyway.

    But the delegation arrived just a day after Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, watched in frustration as fellow Republican senators Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Tom Lee of Thonotosassa amended his bill to overhaul the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) during a tense meeting of the Senate Community Affairs Committee....

    Rick Homans is president of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
  11. After private talks crash, Corcoran wants 'continuation budget'


    TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Legislature, still getting over the shock of former Miami Sen. Frank Artiles' resignation after a racist tirade, faced a new problem Monday as backroom talks on a new state budget suddenly collapsed.

    That led to a flurry of insults and brought negative comparisons of the Legislature to the perpetually gridlocked Congress, along with talk of extending the 60-day session by at least one week....

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes
  12. Talks stall as Senate blasts House's 'continuation budget' offer


    Negotiations between the Florida House and Senate on a state budget are at a stalemate after the House on Sunday proposed a "continuation budget" for the fiscal year that begins July 1, meaning that current spending levels would remain flat with no cuts, no new initiatives and no hometown projects for legislators.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, made his offer in response to what he said was a liberal, free-spending Senate obsessed with higher spending and a lack of respect for the House. Corcoran viewed that as a serious offer, in part because it would keep in place the current spending levels for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida for another 12 months....

    Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart
  13. 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)
  14. 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....

    Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles denied none of the language when he apologized Wednesday on the Senate floor.
  15. Florida's top court green lights voting right for felons ballot question

    State Roundup

    Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE — Voting rights advocates and civil rights attorneys cheered the Florida Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Thursday approving language of a proposed amendment that would restore voting rights for convicted felons, saying the decision is a major step toward erasing a lingering vestige of Jim Crow.

    "It's a game changer," said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who said the ruling could alter the state's political landscape by opening elections up for hundreds of thousands of new voters. If supporters collect the needed signatures to get on the measure on the 2018 ballot, it could energize Democratic-leaning voters in a year when Florida will elect a new governor and a U.S. senator....

    The Florida Supreme Court's ruling that approved the language of a proposed amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons was hailed by advocates on Thursday.  [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]