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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.
 

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.
 

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