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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.

Despite Feds' Foot-Dragging on Hurricane Relief, Senate Passes a $90.3 Billion Budget

April 4, 2019 - 9:00am
Senate President Bill Galvano

The Florida Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a $90.3 billion state spending plan for next fiscal year, despite concerns about the federal government’s failure to provide anticipated relief after Hurricane Michael.

Senate Democrats also raised alarms about mental-health funding for students and redirecting money from large teaching hospitals to for-profit facilities, but in the end, they lent their support to the budget.

“This is one of the more difficult budget years I’ve ever experienced,” Senate President Bill Galvano said.

'PIP' Repeal Progresses in the Senate; Still No Action in the House

April 2, 2019 - 7:00am

A move to eliminate Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system advanced Monday in the Senate, though a similar House proposal has not been heard as the annual legislative session reaches its halfway point this week.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 5-3 to approve the Senate bill (SB 1052), which sponsor Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, expects to be worked into any broader insurance package that emerges in the second half of the session.

DeSantis Close to Getting his 'Fracking Ban' Wish

March 26, 2019 - 5:30pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to ban “fracking” advanced Tuesday in the House and Senate as environmentalists argue the proposals don’t go far enough and the petroleum industry fights to allow the controversial drilling technique.

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.




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