5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

(1) Florida Legislature begins 2014 session

The Florida Legislature begins in 2014 regular session in Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Governor Rick Scott is proposing a package of tax and fee cuts of around $500 million. The state can afford to the cuts because of a projected budget surplus.

With this year being an election year, the Republican-led Legislature wants to make sure its lawmakers retain their seats while helping the state's citizens.

Republicans say their agenda this year is increasing education spending, reforming Medicaid, and overhauling the state's public pension plan.

Lawmakers are scheduled to take up a number of controversial bills this year.

There is a bill that would allow Florida residents to apply for a concealed weapons permit at a county tax collectors' office. Proponents say the proposal would help ease the backlog of permit applications.

The Legislature is considering a bill to allow private insurance companies offer flood insurance to compete with the National Flood Insurance program.

There is a bill that would give every inmate at a state prison a state-issued identification card. The idea is the ID would give the inmates a better chance to find a job when they re-enter society.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would raise the speed limit on rural interstate highways from 70 to 75 miles per hour.

There are also proposals to expand casinos and slot machines horse and dog tracks in South Florida.

Governor Rick Scott will deliver his State of the State address today at 11:00 a.m. ABC Action News will be streaming his speech live online today.

The regular legislative 60-day session is scheduled to conclude on May 2.

(2) Awake the State rallies

People upset with the direction the Republican-led Florida Legislature is leading Florida will hold protests in multiple cities across the state on Tuesday.

The Awake the State rallies are bringing together a coalition of organizations who believe lawmakers in Tallahassee can do a better job.

"We really see this as a starting point," said Tim Heberlien, of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "It's too important to sit this out, there's too much at stake."

Rallies are scheduled for Miami, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral, Merritt Island, Inverness, Lake Worth, Palatka, Ocala, Orlando, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine and Pensacola.

The rally in Tampa will occur from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Centennial Park at 1800 East 8th Avenue in Ybor City.

For more information, visit www.awakethestate.com .

(3) Justin Bieber video hearing

A Miami-Dade County judge will hold a hearing on Tuesday to discuss whether to release more Justin Bieber jailhouse videos.

Judge William Altfield allowed the release of Bieber being booked in the jail last week. The question is whether he will allow the release of video of the 20-year-old singer giving a urine sample while in custody.

Judge Atfield said he would not release the video until after he viewed it in his chambers to make sure no intimate parts of Bieber can be seen.

Police charged Bieber with driving under the influence, resisting arrest and using an expired license after they stopped him for allegedly racing on a city street.

State attorneys say Bieber's urine sample showed he had a small amount of alcohol, marijuana and prescription anxiety medication in his system at the time of his arrest.

Bieber decided against a no contest plea deal in his DUI case. Today, the judge may also ask his attorneys and prosecutors to announce when they will be ready to go to trial in the case.

(4) 23rd annual Dunedin Mardi Gras

The City of Dunedin will host its 23rd annual Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday.

The fun begins with a concert by Come Back Alice at 5:30 p.m. on Main Street.

That will be followed by the Mardi Gras parade begins at 7:30 p.m. The parade begins at the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and heads north to Skinner Boulevard.

A post-parade concert will be headlined by Professor Pennygoode's Mighty Flea Circus.

There will be craft vendors and local merchants selling food, beer and wine.

For information or to purchase VIP tickets, visit www.dunedinmardigras.com .

Mardi Gras, also called "Fat Tuesday" is the last day of the Carnival season. It always proceeds Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

For many Christian religions, the season of Lent is the time for penance and atonement when one gives up something for six weeks for one's faith.

(5) National Pancake Day

IHOP will hold their ninth annual National Pancake Day on Tuesday.

From 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every IHOP restaurant will give each guest a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes.

IHOP is hoping customers will voluntarily donate what they would have paid, or more, to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Shriners Hospitals for Children and other local charities.

This year the restaurant chain aims to raise $3 million for charity,

with a goal to bring the total amount of funds raised in the nine years to more than $16 million.

IHOP restaurants will also be selling "Miracle Balloons" for $1 and $5 today to benefit the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Customers who purchase a $5 Miracle Balloon will receive a $5 off coupon good for their next IHOP visit.

To find the nearest IHOP restaurant to you or to donate online, visit www.ihoppancakeday.com .

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