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After-dinner Tweets with Sarah Palin

Former Republican candidate and Tea Party darling Sarah Palin will be speaking at the private Orange County Lincoln Day Dinner tonight, and the Chairman of the Florida Federation of Teenage Republicans, Jacob Engels, will be Tweeting from the dinner.

The event is off-limits to the press, but we will be retweeting Engels' tweets live at our Twitter account, SSNAlerts, starting at 6 p.m. You can also follow Jacob at his Twitter feed, JacobEngels.

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Mack is Back (and has Crist's Back)

Locked in a bitter battle with Marco Rubio for the GOP nod for the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist is bringing out former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack to vouch for him.

In a fundraising letter for the Crist campaign, Mack stressed Crists conservative credentials. Mack labeled Crist a common sense conservative and said that the governor is a reliable conservative on crime, guns and abortion. Mack said that Crist passed the biggest tax cut in Florida history and cut $7 billion in state spending during his term as governor.

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Proposed Road Kill: Texting

This just in from the House Majority Office:

Legislation moved through committee Wednesday designed to improve the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists; prevent crashes; reduce the financial impact of injuries, death, and property damage -- all caused by texting while driving; and authorize law enforcement to issue citations as a secondary offense.

I am thrilled that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves, said Rep. Doug Holder R-Sarasota, sponsor of the bill. We must send a message that Floridas roads are safe to travel.

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Atwater Looks the Federal Gift Horse in the Mouth

Even with an influx of Medicaid money headed Florida's way thanks to the U.S. Senate, Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, plans to continue building the budget as if the new federal funds were not coming.

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Higher Standards and Merit-based Pay for Teachers Passes Committee

The Florida Senate Pre K-12 Education Committee advanced two bold education reform measures today. SB 4 and SB 6.

SB 4, sponsored by Committee Chairwoman Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, focuses on increasing standards for hight school students, particularly in Math and Science. Detert says they're hoping these reforms will prevent dropouts and provide and educated workforce that will bring employers to the Sunshine State.

"With this legislation today, Florida students will be prepared for the competitive workforce of the 21st Century economy," she said.

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Rubio Camp: "I want my M-TV"

The U.S. Senate campaign takes to the airways this week with former House Speaker Marco Rubio launching his first TV ad.

Rubios camp emailed supporters with the subject line I want my M-TV, linking to the new ad that will begin airing on TV stations around the state Thursday.

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Florida's Unemployment Grows

More bad news on the employment front. The U.S. Department of Labors Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation came out with new numbers today. Floridas unemployment rate was 11.9 percent for January, up from 11.7 percent in December. This matches the unemployment rate in May 1975 as the highest unemployment in Floridas history.

Florida continues to drag behind the nation in terms of unemployment as the national average is 9.7 percent.

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Senators Ante Up on Seminole Gambling Compact

The Senate's Regulated Industries Committee briefly workshopped, but did not vote on, a new Seminole Gambling Compact bill that gives four Seminole casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties the exclusive rights to banked card games and strips the Governor's office of the ability to make a compact that does not comply with the bill.

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Political Bits and Pieces

Having chased state Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, from the race, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam is feeling secure about his chances to be Floridas next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Besides taking his place alongside Charlie Crist and Bill McCollum on the House floor when the legislative session opened, Putnam now has current Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson on Monday in Plant City predicting a certain redhead will be taking his place.

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Cretul Serious About Killing Old Laws

One of the keys parts of House Speaker Larry Cretuls, R-Ocala, agenda for this legislative session has been streamlining Florida laws. In his opening remarks to the House last week, Cretul said, State laws should be made smaller and cleaner. That means repealing out-of-date laws so that Florida Statutes will actually be smaller than we started.

Cretul meant it.

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