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President Trump Pledges Help for the Panhandle, Air Force Base

May 9, 2019 - 8:45am
Donald Trump rally Wednesday in Panama City Beach

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed Tyndall Air Force Base will be rebuilt after sustaining massive damage in Hurricane Michael, and he will approve the state’s request to boost federal funding for storm recovery in Northwest Florida.

Trump, during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, said the federal reimbursement levels for hurricane recovery in the region will be boosted from 75 percent to 90 percent “in many circumstances.”

Backroom Briefing: All Eyes on Venezuela

May 2, 2019 - 10:30am
Rick Scott

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has become a big booster of putting U.S. military might behind efforts to topple embattled President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

But as Scott says President Donald Trump needs to “pre-position” military assets around the South American nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Scott’s successor in the Florida governor’s mansion, appears to be taking a more-measured approach in his support for replacing Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Senate Cool to Tax Changes for Hospitals, Charter Schools

May 2, 2019 - 8:00am
Kelli Stargel

The Florida Senate could eliminate controversial proposals about charter schools and hospitals from a tax package that was approved last week by the House.

Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who is overseeing tax negotiations for the Senate, said Wednesday the Senate’s goal is to keep the package “to the ideas of what a tax package has historically been.”

Visit Florida Could Get a Temporary Reprieve

April 27, 2019 - 7:30am
Ron DeSantis and Dana Young

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desire to look at the effectiveness of the state’s tourism-marketing arm could save Visit Florida for at least a year.

House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican who is among the leading critics of the tourism agency, signaled Friday he may be willing to go along with the governor’s request as time runs down on the legislative session.

House Back Tougher Texting-While-Driving Ban

April 24, 2019 - 7:00am

Law-enforcement officers could pull over motorists they see texting and driving, under a measure approved Tuesday by the House despite concerns the change could increase racial profiling.

However, the Senate is set to vote Wednesday on a different proposal that would only allow motorists to use hands-free wireless devices when they are traveling on Florida roads, a restriction that House leaders haven’t supported.

Enviros Rattle Earth Day in Hopes of Derailing Toll-Road Plan

April 22, 2019 - 6:15pm
Sierra Club protests Monday

Environmentalists used Earth Day to ratchet up criticism of a proposal going before the Senate to expand and build toll roads through hundreds of miles of the state.

Sierra Club Florida Director Frank Jackalone said during a news conference Monday in St. Petersburg that his group will “declare war” on lawmakers who sponsor the bill (SB 7068), which is a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano.

DeSantis Downplays Chances of Offshore Drilling

April 16, 2019 - 9:00am

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday downplayed growing concerns that President Donald Trump is putting Florida’s coastal waters back in play for oil exploration.

Senate Poised to Extend Life of Visit Florida

April 11, 2019 - 7:00am
Debbie Mayfield

Visit Florida would stay in business for at least eight more years under a measure the Senate is set to approve next week.

But as lawmakers approach budget talks, the House continues to support closing the embattled tourism-marketing agency this fall.

The Senate on Wednesday positioned a bill (SB 178) for a vote on April 17 that would allow the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, better known as Visit Florida, to continue operating beyond Oct. 1. Under state law, the agency must be reauthorized or it will go away on that date.

DeSantis Sticking with His 'Dinged' Surgeon General

April 9, 2019 - 11:15am
Scott Rivkees

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended his selection for state surgeon general amid scrutiny about a past sexual-harassment investigation at the University of Florida.

“My thing is, if we have a public health issue, I want somebody that is going to be able to protect the people of Florida,” DeSantis said during a morning appearance at the Collier County Administrative Building in Naples. “If we have other challenges, like opioids, I want somebody that’s going to be able to do a good job. To me, that should be the focus of this.”

Lawmakers Support Making it Harder to Amend the Constitution

April 9, 2019 - 7:00am
Rick Roth and Margaret Good

A move to make it harder to change the Florida Constitution was backed along party lines Monday by a House committee, with supporters saying it would lessen the influence of “outside interests.”

But the proposal (HJR 57) to require a higher percentage of votes to approve constitutional amendments advanced without support from Democrats and --- according to bill sponsor Rep. Rick Roth --- lukewarm backing from House leaders.

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