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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.

Gambling Regulators Make Concessions to Industry

July 29, 2015 - 5:45pm

Gambling regulators have backed down on a number of proposed changes to the state's pari-mutuel rules after a legislative oversight panel and industry representatives challenged the Department of Business and Professional Regulations' authority to issue the mandates.

Opponents Call Compromise Confederate Flag a Cop-Out

July 28, 2015 - 6:45pm

After nearly three hours of emotional testimony Tuesday about a Confederate flag rippling just outside, the Walton County Commission decided on a "compromise" that will do away with the banner but left one side fuming.

In a surprise move, the commission opted to remove the Confederate battle flag --- bearing the iconic Southern Cross --- from the lawn in front of the county courthouse and replace it with the "first flag of the confederacy," a flag bearing three stripes and 13 stars representing the states that seceded from the Union.

Rejected Medical Pot Applications Likely to Be Challenged

July 25, 2015 - 10:15pm

Even before selecting five nurseries to become Florida's first legal pot producers, Department of Health officials will face a challenge from at least one grower whose application was tossed out because it was late.

The department's Office of Compassionate Use staff rejected two of the 30 applications from nurseries hoping to get chosen as one of the five coveted "dispensing organizations." Both were tossed because they were received after a 5 p.m. deadline following a frenzied scene during a torrential downpour July 8 at the agency's headquarters.

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