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Backroom Briefing: Gambling Foes at Odds over Poll

January 7, 2016 - 4:00pm

Floridians overwhelmingly back the current Seminole gaming "compact" and support what they know of a bigger gambling deal Gov. Rick Scott has asked lawmakers to approve, according to a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released Thursday.

Scott and the Seminole Tribe of Florida reached agreement last month on a compact that would allow tribal casinos to add craps and roulette in exchange for a guarantee of $3 billion to the state over seven years. That came after lawmakers in 2010 approved another gambling compact, part of which expired last year.

Springs Backers Seek Water Policy Changes

January 4, 2016 - 6:45pm

An advocacy group for Florida's natural springs has outlined concerns with a major water-policy bill that is expected to be quickly approved during the upcoming 2016 legislative session.

The Florida Springs Council, a consortium of 35 organizations, is telling lawmakers what changes are needed to get its support for the proposal (SB 552 and HB 7005). But the group isn't hopeful that its requests --- or similar requests from other environmental groups --- will result in changes to the proposal.

New Water Policy Expected to Flow in Session

December 30, 2015 - 5:00pm

Shortly after the 2016 legislative session goes through its opening rituals, the House and Senate will take up a statewide water-policy proposal more than two years in the making.

The proposal (SB 552 and HB 7005), which sped through legislative committees, has attracted some last-minute opposition from environmental groups that contend it wouldn't go far enough to ensure clean waterways.

But the package, a priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, is expected to quickly win approval from the House and Senate.

Florida Population Tops 20 Million

December 22, 2015 - 8:30pm

Florida has surpassed the 20 million population mark while growing faster than California.

The Sunshine State, adding more than 1,000 people a day, is nearly up a half-million people on New York, which it surpassed a year ago to become the third most-populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

Florida, with an estimated 20,271,272 residents as of July 1, is also growing faster than a year earlier, when 803 people a day were being added to the state's head count.

End of the Road Near for Old Sunpass Transponders

December 16, 2015 - 6:30pm

Time is running out for about 100,000 SunPass customers to convert, for free, to new transponders

Older, battery-operated transponders used for Florida toll roads and some bridges become obsolete with the New Year.

"It is important that anybody with that type of unit contact us now so that their service continues uninterrupted," Chad Huff, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Turnpike, said in an email.

Putnam Seeks Money for Rural Lands, Firefighter Raises

December 11, 2015 - 4:30pm
Adam Putnam

Florida's agriculture commissioner wants raises next year for state forestry firefighters, as well as money to buy and maintain active farm land --- items not included in Gov. Rick Scott's recommended budget.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, outlining his priorities to reporters this week, said he is lobbying lawmakers to include $25 million to keep the Rural and Family Lands Protection program active. Also, he wants lawmakers to provide $2,000 raises for the nearly 1,000 forestry firefighters and support staff, an idea that Scott vetoed earlier this year.

Backroom Briefing: Lawmakers Push 'Cut and Dry' Energy Plan

December 3, 2015 - 8:00pm
Installing solar

A pair of competing solar-energy initiatives seeking space on the 2016 ballot may cause confusion for voters.

But Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is confident that won't be the case with a separate measure involving solar panels and energy-saving devices that he wants to put before voters.

"Mine is cut and dry," Brandes said. "We're going to cut taxes."

Negron Chosen as Senate President as GOP Seeks Unity

December 2, 2015 - 9:15pm
Joe Negron

Stuart Republican Joe Negron, who until a month ago was locked in a contentious and expensive leadership battle, was formally designated Wednesday as the next president of the Florida Senate.

Members of the Republican caucus, praising Negron's "matter-of-fact style" and offering a video message about leadership from former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, unanimously voted to have Negron take the gavel from President Andy Gardiner after the 2016 elections.

Cities Push to Retain Control of Local Election Dates

November 30, 2015 - 10:45pm

Florida's municipalities intend to fight a proposal now before state lawmakers that would take away their ability to set local election dates and could extend the terms of some current elected officials.

State lawmakers on Thursday will look at a proposal that seeks to improve local voter turnout by requiring every city, town and village to line up their elections the same day each year.

Environmentalists Say Scott Budget Doesn't Go Far Enough

November 23, 2015 - 6:30pm

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing more money for land preservation next year, but environmentalists say the levels fall short of what voters wanted in passing a 2014 constitutional amendment.

As part of his proposed $79.3 billion budget introduced Monday, Scott is asking for $62.8 million for the land-acquisition program Florida Forever, $188 million for work to improve the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee and another $50 million to help maintain the state's natural springs.

Scott called his proposal a "historic investment" as all the numbers top the funding for the current year.



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