Margie Menzel - News Service of Florida

Margie Menzel is a reporter for The News Service Of Florida.

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Following a spate of high-profile shooting deaths nationwide, a gun-rights group Tuesday endorsed a Republican congressional candidate in a conservative Northwest Florida district on the grounds that she would not compromise on any gun-control measure.

Florida abortion providers are breathing sighs of relief following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday striking down a Texas law that would have greatly limited access to legal abortion in that state.

Celeste Philip has been Florida's interim surgeon general and secretary of the Department of Health since March, after the Legislature adjourned without confirming her predecessor, John Armstrong.

Suicide rates are rising for children and young adults, both nationally and statewide --- and Florida policymakers are trying to reverse the trend.

While suicide is increasing for nearly every age group, it's now the second-leading cause of death for Floridians aged 25 to 34, according to the state Department of Health Vital Statistics, and the third-leading cause of death among youths aged 10 to 24.

Sammy Mack / Health News Florida

After an ambitious effort to revamp Florida's mental-health treatment system died at the end of the last legislative session, state officials are readying a new round of proposals for 2016.

Gov. Rick Scott has proposed an increase of $19 million for mental-health and substance-abuse treatment services in his recommended budget for the next fiscal year, with the lion's share going to treat people with mental illnesses in the community instead of in a state-run institution.

A House panel on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill aimed at keeping Floridians with mental illnesses out of the criminal-justice system.

The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee supported the measure (HB 439), filed by Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, that would create a statewide framework for counties to offer treatment-based mental health courts.

Many counties have mental-health courts, but they have varying eligibility and program requirements.

After a shooting spree at a clinic in Colorado, a conservative Florida group has postponed a rally that had been scheduled next week to protest government funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, sponsor of the "Florida Taxpayer Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood," said the Dec. 7 event at the Florida Capitol will take place in the spring instead.

More children are coming into Florida's foster-care system after a sweeping child-welfare reform law went into effect 19 months ago, but officials say the state is trying to focus on what's best for kids in difficult situations.

"You write laws to respond to the issues of the day, and those change at least annually," said state Sen. Nancy Detert, a Venice Republican and sponsor of a number of foster-care reforms. "So our focus in today's world is the best interests of the child in every way — safety, quality of life, the best location — and that's all we can do."

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The Florida House and Senate will reform the state's troubled mental-health system during the 2016 legislative session, predicts one of the lawmakers spearheading the effort.

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A Senate panel is looking to help Early Steps, which serves infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities and delays -- and which has been struggling to keep up with the growing demand for its services in Florida.

Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University President Elmira Mangum said Monday she's undaunted by the failed efforts of members of the university's Board of Trustees to fire her less than two weeks ago, and that she's still focused on "transformational change" at the school.

"I was shocked, surprised, disappointed -- all of that -- but not deterred," she said. "If anything, it made me more committed."

Florida Department of Health

Attorneys representing four children with serious heart conditions have challenged a move by the Florida Department of Health to repeal cardiac-care standards related to a program that provides specialized services to children.

Department of Children and Families

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told a Senate panel late last week that the state's child-protection system appears to have failed two Southwest Florida children whose bodies were found in recent days.

"In both these cases, there's no question we had system failure," Carroll told the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

Florida Legislature

Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Wednesday they hope to pass a series of bills early in the 2016 legislative session that would expand educational and economic options for Floridians with disabilities.

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Nneka Campbell spent the third anniversary of her daughter's death at a hearing at the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee -- to honor, she said, the memory of 10-month-old Amelia, who died of complications following heart surgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.