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Backroom Briefing: E-Verify Plan a Heavy Lift

March 22, 2019 - 9:00am
Thad Altman
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign vow to require Florida businesses to use federal “E-Verify” checks on the immigration status of new hires remains a tougher lift than his call for a sanctuary-city ban, which is speeding through the Legislature.
 
But he’s not giving up, even as he blames a lack of unanimity among Republican lawmakers for slowing the red-meat proposal that has been opposed by large farmers and tourism and construction interests.
 
While saying this week he’d like the proposal to advance this year, he noted he has “four years.”

Senate Ties Tourism Funding to Sunscreen

March 21, 2019 - 9:00am
Florida Senate leaders are putting up money to keep the state’s tourism arm alive, despite an effort by the state House to scrap the agency.
 
But the Senate's $50 million for Visit Florida comes with a hitch: The agency would be barred from promoting communities that have banned certain sunscreens.
 

Florida Senate Wants to Top DeSantis' Spending on Environment, Water Quality

March 20, 2019 - 3:30pm
The Florida Senate is topping Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for environmental funding, despite early concerns about a tight budget and the need to react to Hurricane Michael.
 
The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday released an initial $5.9 billion budget proposal that includes $656 million for Everglades restoration and water-quality efforts such as trying to reduce future outbreaks of toxic algae and red tide.
 

House Cuts Tourism, Economic Development Money

March 20, 2019 - 9:00am
The tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida would only be funded for three months, while Enterprise Florida wouldn’t get any state money as part of a budget proposal released Tuesday by a House panel for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
 
Also left out of the House proposal was continuation of an $85-million-a-year economic-development effort, known as the Job Growth Grant Fund, that was created in a compromise between the House and former Gov. Rick Scott.
 

Senate Eyes BP Money for Rural, Inland Damaged Areas

March 19, 2019 - 9:00am
Inland damage: A scene in Marianna
Rural Panhandle counties recovering from Hurricane Michael would be in line to receive settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, under a bill advanced Monday in the Senate.
 
The Commerce and Tourism Committee backed a proposal (SB 1162) that would direct to inland rural counties about $5.3 million a year, which is 5 percent of the annual payments the state receives in a settlement with BP over impacts from the deadly offshore oil-rig explosion.
 

Oliva Has a Bargaining Chip: Galvano Needs House Sponsor for His 3 Toll Roads

March 16, 2019 - 9:00am
Senate President Bill Galvano’s push to expand and build three toll roads may become a negotiation point between legislative leaders, as the House has not put forward a version of the plan.
 
Galvano, R-Bradenton, indicated he remains optimistic, with House Speaker Jose Oliva and Gov. Ron DeSantis supporting improved infrastructure and transportation.
 

Senate Backs Visit Florida as House Speaker Balks

March 15, 2019 - 9:00am
A proposal to keep the state’s tourism-marketing agency open beyond this fall, with no change in funding, moved forward Thursday in the Senate.
 
But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to provide $76 million next year to Visit Florida, matching the current funding, doesn’t have the same support in the House.
 
House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, maintains the tourism agency’s funding should last until the agency’s legal authorization runs out, which is scheduled for Oct. 1.
 

'Fracking' Ban Advances amid Concerns

March 12, 2019 - 8:15am

A move to ban “fracking” in Florida advanced Monday in the Senate with some oil-drilling protections for the Everglades, but not more comprehensive language sought by environmentalists.

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to approve a measure (SPB 7064) by Chairman Ben Albritton that would meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting large volumes of fluids into rock formations at a “high rate” of pressure to help release natural gas and oil.

Backroom Briefing: Democrats Offer a Different Take

March 8, 2019 - 10:30am
Kionne McGhee

House Democrats have limited power to get priorities in the state budget, but they released a spending plan this week that they said focuses on working Floridians.

Called the “New Sunshine Deal,” the plan seeks a tax-rebate program for working families, expansion of Medicaid, a 13 percent pay raise for teachers and fully funded affordable-housing programs.

Democrats, who are far outnumbered by Republicans in the House, intend to introduce aspects of the plan as proposed amendments throughout the 60-day legislative session, which started Tuesday.

Senate Leader Maps Major Road Projects

March 4, 2019 - 9:00am

(This is part of a series of stories advancing the 2019 legislative session)

Senate President Bill Galvano is pursuing an aggressive transportation vision heading into the 2019 legislative session, but a potential conflict could loom on the use of toll roads.

With the 60-day session starting Tuesday, Galvano has directed a Senate committee led by a veteran lawmaker to study extending two toll roads and reviving the plans for a third, all through mostly rural areas of the state.

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