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Maddox Pleads Guilty in Tallahassee Bribery Probe

August 6, 2019 - 6:45pm
Scott Maddox on Monday

After reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors, suspended Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox grudgingly admitted guilt Tuesday to three fraud charges in a “pay-to-play” bribery probe, as the U.S. attorney announced increased efforts to crack down on public corruption.

Under the guilty plea accepted by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, prosecutors dropped 39 of 42 charges against Maddox, a former Florida Democratic Party chairman nabbed in a multi-year investigation into city government.

Weekly Roundup: Hot Times in the Capital

July 27, 2019 - 6:00am
DeSantis' rickety ride is a Beechcraft like this

Summer is supposed to be a sleepy time in the Sunshine State capital.

But partway through the sticky season, the doldrums have yet to descend. Instead, Tallahassee is one hot mess.

A scandal involving a financial regulator has rocked the Florida Cabinet. Elections lawsuits are clogging the courts. And Gov. Ron DeSantis is rattling sabers over a ruling that could revolutionize the state’s medical-marijuana industry.

One sizzling chapter has chilled, at least for now.

State Wants New Hearing in Major Medical Marijuana Case

July 25, 2019 - 9:00am

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is asking an appellate court to revisit a decision that Florida officials argue injected “confusion and uncertainty” into the state’s medical marijuana industry.

DeSantis and health officials on Wednesday asked the 1st District Court of Appeal for a hearing by the full court, known as an “en banc” hearing, after a July 9 ruling that Florida’s “vertical integration” system requiring licensed operators to grow, process and distribute cannabis and by-products runs afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

State Advances Plan for Spanish-Language Ballots

July 24, 2019 - 6:00am

Voters throughout the state will have access to Spanish-language ballots in time for next year’s presidential election, under regulations Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is advancing.

DeSantis in April said he wanted to make Spanish-language ballots available statewide, noting that Florida “has a significant Spanish-speaking population and our state is home to many Puerto Ricans who moved here after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.”

Weekly Roundup: 'One Giant Leap'

July 20, 2019 - 9:00am

Neil Armstrong’s words still give chills.

“The Eagle has landed.”

Fifty years after the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle descended on the moon, the nation --- and space freaks worldwide --- are celebrating Saturday’s anniversary of what was, according to Armstrong, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Google doodles, a postage stamp and parades galore are among the acknowledgments of the awesome event.

'Monumental' Marijuana Case: Florida House Wants a Say

July 16, 2019 - 6:15pm

Florida House leaders should be able to participate in a lawsuit that could revolutionize the state’s medical marijuana market, a lawyer for the Republican-led chamber told a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal Tuesday.

But Tampa-based Florigrown argued that legislators instead should concentrate on fixing the law, aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

Court Says Pot Law Clashes with Constitutional Amendment

July 10, 2019 - 8:30am

Florida’s law requiring pot operators to grow, process and distribute cannabis and related products created an “oligopoly” and runs afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, an appellate court ruled Tuesday.

The 1st District Court of Appeal’s decision sent shockwaves through the state’s highly restricted but rapidly growing medical marijuana industry, in which licenses are routinely selling for upwards of $50 million.

Weekly Roundup: A Message of Unity as Battles Brew

July 6, 2019 - 7:00am
The president's July 4 "Salute to America" event

President Donald Trump acted as maestro of a military extravaganza and delivered a message of unity to a country whose citizens appear more divided than ever as the United States celebrated its 243rd birthday this week.

“As long as we stay true to our cause, as long as we remember our great history, as long as we never, ever stop fighting for a better future, then there will be nothing that America cannot do,” Trump told a crowd of thousands gathered under rainy skies on the National Mall in Washington.

State Wants Ballot Signature Lawsuit Tossed

July 3, 2019 - 7:00am

Arguing an omnibus elections bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week makes the case moot, lawyers for the state are asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging how Florida elections officials handle mismatched signatures on mail-in and provisional ballots.

Lawyers representing former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida and national Democrats filed the lawsuit last fall in anticipation of a statewide recount in Nelson’s re-election campaign against former Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who eventually won the Senate race.

Sheriff Urges 'Harm Mitigation' for School Shootings

June 27, 2019 - 9:00am
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

Three minutes and 51 seconds.

That’s how long it took Nikolas Cruz to kill 17 students and staff members and injure another 17 during last year’s shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

And that’s the timeframe Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri repeated again and again during a presentation to law enforcement officers and educators in Havana Wednesday, as he warned that more school shootings are inevitable.

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