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State Capitol Briefs

March 12, 2012 - 7:00pm


Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, issued a proposed calendar Monday for the special redistricting session set to get under way Wednesday. The Senate will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with the Reapportionment Committee meeting 15 minutes after that day's session wraps up. The panel will meet again the following Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to approve a new map. That plan is set to be considered on the floor Thursday and Friday of that week.


Progress Energy Florida, the state and two environmental groups have settled a permitting dispute about the utility's coal-fired power plants at Crystal River. The Sierra Club and the Florida Wildlife Federation in October challenged a Department of Environmental Protection plan to renew a water-discharge permit. The groups contended that Progress's discharges of hot water into the Gulf of Mexico damaged an ecosystem and also raised questions about whether the utility should take additional steps to protect sea life from getting trapped and killed in water-intake systems.

But an administrative law judge last week approved a settlement in the case. That settlement led Monday to the Department of Environmental Protection signing the permit. Under terms of the settlement, the permit will expire Aug. 31, 2013. Also, Progress would have to apply by March 4, 2013, for any future renewals, according to the settlement. Progress spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said in an email that the renewal had originally been expected to expire in September 2016.

Earthjustice attorney David Guest, who helped represent the environmental groups, said agreement on a shorter renewal period stems, at least in part, from new federal emissions standards that will force Progress to decide whether it wants to continue operating the coal plants in the future. "Why litigate if you don't need to?" Guest asked.



Former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla has filed to run for a state Senate seat, District 35, currently held by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami. Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican who formerly represented District 36, had been planning to run for a House seat, and had filed the paperwork to do so, but on Friday filed to instead run for the Senate.

His brother, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, is already in the Senate, having replaced Alex in District 36 in 2010 when Alex Diaz de la Portilla left the Senate because of term limits. Another Diaz de la Portilla brother, Renier, is running for a House seat. According to the Division of Elections, Alex Diaz de la Portilla officially made the switch on Friday.

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