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State Trauma Centers to Remain Limited

February 27, 2012 - 6:00pm

Lawmakers refused Tuesday to lift a cap on the number of trauma centers in Florida, while also siding with hospitals in a dispute about contracting with managed-care plans.

The House eliminated parts of an omnibus health-care bill that dealt with both of the issues, which have been closely watched by hospital lobbyists. A Senate subcommittee also went along with hospitals on the contracting issue.

House Committee OKs Cutting Trauma Center Limits

February 22, 2012 - 6:00pm

Amid an industry fight about new trauma centers in Clay, Pasco and Manatee counties, a House committee Thursday approved a bill that would eliminate limits on the number of trauma centers in the state.

The bill, HB 1419, would overhaul a process the Department of Health uses in reviewing proposed trauma centers and appears likely to make it easier to move forward with trauma projects.

PSC, Progress Energy Hammer Out Rate Agreement

February 21, 2012 - 6:00pm

In what one member described as an "unprecedented" settlement, the state Public Service Commission approved a plan Wednesday that will resolve big-money questions about Progress Energy Florida's base electric rates and two controversial nuclear projects.

Progress customers will see their monthly electric bills go up in 2013, though they also will receive $288 million in refunds related to a repair project at a Crystal River nuclear plant.

FPL Urges PSC for New Natural-Gas Plant in Port Everglades

February 19, 2012 - 6:00pm

State regulators Monday heard arguments about whether Florida Power & Light should build a nearly $1.2 billion power plant that the company says will limit air pollution and help meet electricity needs in South Florida.

The plant would replace a 1960s-era facility at Port Everglades in Broward County and start generating electricity in 2016. The Florida Public Service Commission is considering whether to approve what is known as a "determination of need" -- a key step in the project moving forward.

Rick Scott Declares 'Huge Victory' as House Passes Corporate Tax Exemption

February 14, 2012 - 6:00pm

The Florida House on Wednesday approved a series of tax breaks, hoping to free thousands of businesses from corporate income taxes and put extra money in the pockets of back-to-school shoppers.

House members went along with Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to increase the corporate income tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000, passing it as part of a broader economic-development bill.

Scott, in a statement, said it was "a huge victory" for Floridians, and would help businesses create more jobs.

Corporate Tax Exemptions Spark Partisan Spat on House Floor

February 13, 2012 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to expand corporate tax exemptions touched off a partisan fight on the House floor Tuesday, with Republicans linking the extra tax breaks to nonunion businesses.

Democrats filed a series of politically tinged amendments aimed at placing conditions on the exemptions. For example, Democrats proposed offering the extra breaks to businesses that provide health insurance benefits to employees' spouses and domestic partners, provide contraceptive coverage in insurance policies and do not discriminate against hiring veterans.

ER Immunity Could Be Dead for Session

February 12, 2012 - 6:00pm

A House panel moved forward Monday with a bill aimed at helping doctors fend off medical-malpractice lawsuits -- but a proposal to offer sovereign immunity to emergency-room physicians appears dead.

Also, it remained unclear whether the House would go along with a controversial Senate proposal that would tie medical-malpractice changes with additional drug-prescribing powers for optometrists. That proposal stems from a deal between the Florida Medical Association and optometrists, longtime opponents on the prescribing issue.

Feds Reject Part of State's Request for Medicaid Change

February 11, 2012 - 6:00pm

Taking aim at a controversial piece of Florida's Medicaid overhaul, federal health officials this week rejected hitting beneficiaries with $10 monthly premiums and charges for some emergency-room visits.

The federal Medicaid agency, in a letter dated Thursday, notified the state that the proposals violated federal requirements that are designed, at least in part, to shield poor people from additional costs.

Weekly Roundup: Halfway Through, Redistricting's Done

February 9, 2012 - 6:00pm

The late Senate President Jim King used to talk about trying to get everyone together to sing "Kumbaya.''

The Capitol this week didn't exactly teem with lawmakers holding hands and belting out a tune.

The House passed a $69.2 billion budget Thursday along straight party lines, with Republicans saying it was a responsible plan in tight times and Democrats saying it was, well, "half-witted.''

A short time later, the Senate gave final approval to redistricting maps -- only to be greeted immediately by a Democratic Party-backed legal challenge.

Weekly Roundup: Know When to Fold 'Em

February 2, 2012 - 6:00pm

When the 2012 legislative session started, it would have been safe to predict that redistricting would be the most difficult -- and politically divisive -- issue to resolve.

But with House votes Friday, the Republican-dominated Legislature is close to finalizing its redistricting plans. The maps likely will face court challenges from Democrats and other critics, but Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, praised what he described as a "careful, thoughtful and deliberative process.''

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