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'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.

House Looks to Limit Local Regulations

February 22, 2019 - 9:00am
Rep. Michael Grant

A broad proposal aimed at curbing local business regulations advanced in a House subcommittee Thursday, despite criticism that it could block ordinances that prohibit “puppy mills” or the regulation of fertilizer use near waterways.

The Republican-dominated House Business & Professions Subcommittee voted 9-5 along party lines to approve the measure (HB 3), which seeks to eliminate existing local business regulations as of July 1, 2021 and prevent new regulations.

State Clamps Down on Shore-Based Shark Fishing

February 21, 2019 - 9:30am

Shore-based anglers will no longer be able to use fish parts, bones and blood to attract sharks, as critics of shark fishing would like to see lines cast farther away from beachgoers.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting Wednesday in Gainesville, approved several shore-based shark fishing changes that will go into effect July 1.

Backroom Briefing: Concealed Carry Could Stay Put

February 8, 2019 - 9:00am

Florida’s most influential gun-rights lobbyist says don’t move --- at least for now --- the state’s concealed-weapons licensing program from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

But in a thin olive branch to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer in a letter posted online Tuesday also made clear she and the other concealed-carry permit holders in the state --- there were 1.95 million as of Jan. 15 --- will be watching how Fried handles the high-profile program.

Panama City's Trumbull Files 41 Bills in One Day for Hurricane-Ravaged Panhandle

February 7, 2019 - 6:00am

Rep. Jay Trumbull is casting a wide net in search of money for his storm-ravaged Panhandle district.

As House members continued to submit projects to be considered for the state’s 2019-2020 budget, Trumbull on Tuesday submitted 41 bills --- worth a total of $253 million --- all with an eye on Hurricane Michael recovery.

Trumbull, a Panama City Republican who represents most of hard-hit Bay County, called it “a good start.”

$625 Million of DeSantis' Budget Proposal Will Go to Everglades and Other Water Efforts

January 30, 2019 - 9:30am

Water protection and restoration projects, including the fight against red tide and the continued cleanup of the Everglades, will account for $625 million of a proposed budget that Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will roll out Friday for state lawmakers to consider.

DeSantis on Tuesday outlined part of his environmental budget proposal during an appearance at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center in Naples. He also named Chauncey Goss and Ron Bergeron to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

Lawmakers to Look Again at Job Growth Fund

January 29, 2019 - 6:00am

An economic-development fund created as a compromise after a battle between former Gov. Rick Scott and House leaders could be short-lived.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said a close look is warranted at the $85-million-a-year Job Growth Grant Fund, which was passed by the Legislature in 2017.

“I’ve always had some concerns about the parameters of that money,” Bradley told reporters last week.

Ethics Officials Slap Andrew Gillum with 'Probable Cause' He Accepted Gifts

January 25, 2019 - 3:30pm
Andrew Gillum and Adam Corey on a NYC boat ride

State ethics officials have found probable cause that former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost the governor’s race last year and continues to draw national political attention, violated Florida ethics laws by accepting gifts from lobbyists.




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