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Disney Draws Democrats, Just Not the A-List

October 31, 2015 - 10:30pm
Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort

While it was far from spooky, the Florida Democrats' annual fete at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort was less than magical for many of the delegates in attendance.

Party faithful from across the state snapped selfies beside Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but standing next to life-sized cardboard figures of the candidates, who didn't show up at this weekend's party convention, left some feeling flat.

Fighting Words Further Fracture Senate GOP

October 29, 2015 - 8:30pm

Name-calling that erupted on the Senate floor Wednesday has deepened the divide within a Republican caucus embroiled in an acrimonious feud over who will lead the chamber after next year's elections.

A 17-minute diatribe by Sen. Don Gaetz against Sen. Jack Latvala has prompted some disgruntled Republicans to call on Senate President Andy Gardiner to postpone a Dec. 2 caucus vote to designate the next president.

Latvala, R-Clearwater, has been pitted against Sen. Joe Negron in a years-long battle over who will lead the chamber starting in November 2016.

Tribe Goes to Court amid Gambling Talks

October 26, 2015 - 6:45pm

The Seminole Tribe of Florida sued the state Monday, setting in motion what could be a protracted legal fight over the tribe's exclusive rights to offer "banked" card games like blackjack at most of its casinos.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, comes even as the Seminoles for the first time said they have made "significant progress" in negotiations with Gov. Rick Scott's office and legislative leaders toward a deal that sources close to the talks say could allow the tribe to add craps and roulette.

Weekly Roundup: Squid Ink and Mumbo Jumbo

October 24, 2015 - 2:00am
Andy Gardiner

Nobody thought the Legislature's latest attempt at crafting new Senate districts was going to be easy.

But this week's intraparty Republican fighting at the opening of a special session --- in a year that sadly might best be characterized as the "Session That Never Ended" --- foreshadowed what could be another grim two weeks of drawing maps, chased by an equally foreboding regular session in a few months.

The contentiousness wasn't restricted to the Legislature's domain, however, even if another painful controversy did wind up inside the Capitol.

Senate President Targets Fantasy Sports

October 21, 2015 - 10:00pm
Andy Gardiner

Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is exploring what the state can do to shut down daily fantasy sports, even as federal prosecutors are probing the online industry that has taken the nation by storm and drawn accusations of illegal gambling.

Gardiner has asked his lawyers to look into fantasy sports, in which players pay entry fees to draft "teams" that compete against each other for cash prizes based on the actual performance of players.

Weekly Roundup: 'Whistling Past the Graveyard'

September 25, 2015 - 6:00pm

Evidence of widespread Republican angst cast a shadow from the nation's capital to the Sunshine State this week.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday rocked the political world with his announcement that he is resigning from his seat late next month.

Succumbing to pressure from conservatives, Boehner's decision to call it a day came at the height of an intraparty GOP Game of Thrones over a possible government shutdown.

Weekly Roundup: That Pesky Third Branch

September 4, 2015 - 5:45pm
Florida Supreme Court Justices

An off-election summer in the capital city usually provides a tempting opportunity for idle hands to pursue thrills in far-flung climes more palatable to the senses than Tallahassee's oppressive heat.

For the fortunate, this sweltering season was one like any other, full of indulgences in travel and esprit. But for others, the Florida Supreme Court put the kibosh on even Thurberish escapes, replacing fantasy with drudgery and casting a lugubrious pall over an already pudding-like ambiance.

Iran Deal Puts Florida Democrats in a Fix

August 21, 2015 - 10:15pm
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

A looming vote on a nuclear deal with Iran, one of President Barack Obama's top priorities, has Florida Democrats in a bind.

More than a month after Obama announced the agreement, veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is Florida's sole Washington lawmaker openly backing the plan.

Other Democrats --- including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee --- are biding their time. Exceptions are U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings, who condemned the accord.

Weekly Roundup: Looking for Peaceful Resolution

August 14, 2015 - 5:45pm
The U.S. Embassy in Cuba

What happened this week at the Florida Capitol obviously pales in comparison to Friday's historic hoisting of Old Glory in Cuba.

But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's words, delivered 90 miles away from the Sunshine State Friday morning, were apropos to the Legislature's challenge about where to draw the lines for Florida's congressional districts.

Kerry, in Havana to reopen the U.S. embassy in Cuba for the first time in more than half a century, called the occasion an opportunity "for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities."

Florida Bar Faces Controversy over Out-of-State Lawyers

August 4, 2015 - 6:30pm

In his first speech as president of The Florida Bar a little more than a month ago, Ramon Abadin urged his colleagues to "go far and do big things."

Six weeks later, Abadin is at the center of a controversy over a proposal that would allow out-of-state lawyers to practice in Florida without taking the state's Bar exam, considered to be one of the nation's most rigorous.

Opponents of the plan have accused Abadin of pushing the idea, the result of a two-year study that is part of the "Vision 2016" agenda launched in 2013 by then-Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis.

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