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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


Twitter: @MichaelAuslen

  1. Florida House marijuana bill moves closer to Senate version


    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....

  2. 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    Decried by opponents as unnecessary and out-of-date, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been at the center of controversy over ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.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....

  3. 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....

  4. 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....

  5. It's up to Rick Scott now: Should local governments be allowed to regulate Uber?

    State Roundup


    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....

  6. House Republicans push to give hospitals greater say in expansion

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — For four decades, hospitals wanting to expand or open new facilities have had to get the state to agree there's a need for more health care in their community.

    It's a rule that Republicans in the Florida House say creates unnecessary burdens on the free market. This week, they'll be passing a bill to repeal it.

    But opponents of the repeal worry that allowing hospitals to build beds wherever they want will encourage health facilities to build in wealthy areas, leaving poor communities with limited options and safety net hospitals strapped for cash....

  7. Here's why two doctors who treated Pulse victims oppose a plan for more trauma centers

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — After a gunman opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub last summer, the most seriously injured victims were rushed a half-mile to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

    There, doctors and nurses in Florida's busiest trauma center sprang into action, treating nearly four dozen patients from the nation's deadliest mass shooting. They had practiced repeatedly for such an occasion....

  8. Five months after medical pot's big ballot win, anti-drug group helps decide drug's fate

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — An anti-drug group opposed to medical marijuana is helping craft Florida laws on pot's expanded use — a cause its founders tried and failed to defeat during last year's elections.

    The St. Petersburg-based Drug Free America Foundation is one of several anti-drug groups tied to conservative financiers Mel and Betty Sembler that opposed constitutional amendments legalizing medical marijuana in 2014 and 2016. The Semblers, who founded Drug Free America, gave $1 million for a political committee called Drug Free Florida, which fought against last year's amendment that provided greater access to the drug....

  9. Trump administration to renew program that pays Florida hospitals for treating the uninsured

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The federal government agreed on Wednesday to renew a state program that repays hospitals for care they provide to the uninsured, a move that could offset state cuts to hospitals and bridge a gap in the state budget.

    Gov. Rick Scott announced that the Trump administration would allow a $1.5 billion Low Income Pool in next year's state budget. That pot of money, which includes local tax dollars and federal matching money, was set to expire. It has been part of broader negotiations between the state and federal governments over Florida's Medicaid program....

  10. Other states have done it. So why is Florida grappling with legalizing medical marijuana?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — When voters made California the first state to allow medical marijuana in 1996, the rules were so lax, anyone with a doctor's recommendation could grow their own cannabis.

    Not until next year will the Golden State start to regulate its growers. State ID cards are voluntary for patients, making it impossible to track everyone who is legally using medical cannabis there....

  11. On Medicaid? You may soon have to work for it in Florida

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Medicaid recipients in Florida could soon have to meet work requirements and pay a premium to stay in the government-funded health care program.

    The Florida House is moving ahead with a plan to force able-bodied Medicaid recipients to prove they are employed, participating in job training or searching for work to receive benefits, the same requirements the state puts on welfare recipients. The House also wants to require most Medicaid recipients to pay $10 or $15 a month, depending on their income....

  12. Florida House votes unanimously to stop cities, counties regulating Uber

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — It took just seconds for the Florida House to vote unanimously to overrule local governments' regulation of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

    By a unanimous vote Wednesday, the chamber approved the bill (HB 221), which sets statewide requirements for insurance and background checks on those companies. There was no debate, nor were there significant opening or closing remarks by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor....

  13. Rick Scott takes 21 murder cases from Orlando prosecutor who won't seek death penalty

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott took 21 first-degree murder cases away from Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala after she said she would not seek the death penalty in any cases.

    "Each of these cases I am reassigning represents a horrific loss of life," Scott said in a statement Monday. "The families who tragically lost someone deserve a state attorney who will take the time to review every individual fact and circumstance before making such an impactful decision."...

  14. Are Florida House Republicans making health care more 'free market' or 'unfair'?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — When Richard Corcoran was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House in November, he laid out his vision for health care.

    "Let us show Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country how well the people would benefit from a free-market, consumer-driven health care system," said Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.

    On Thursday, the Florida House took steps toward the future Corcoran wants, passing two components of a free-market health agenda the chamber has pushed in recent years:...

  15. Medical marijuana bill moves in Florida House, but draws critics for being too restrictive

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A powerful Florida House Republican said Tuesday he'll consider revising his plan for medical pot after drawing criticism from marijuana supporters.

    House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who's shepherding the lower chamber's bill (HB 1397) to expand the distribution of voter-approved medical marijuana, said he's willing to compromise to ensure the Legislature puts something into law....