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ADVANCES: WEEK OF DECEMBER 17, 2017
STAFF |
Amid a series of special elections across Florida, voters in a Hillsborough County House district will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a successor to former state Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican who resigned this summer... Read the Advances

WEEKLY ROUNDUP: SCOTT GETS WIN IN CHILLY WEEK
DARA KAM |
The temperatures plummeted outside the Capitol this week, but the frigid conditions aren't limited to the out-of-doors... Read the Roundup

NEGRON URGES BROADER LOOK FOR RESERVOIR LAND
JIM TURNER |
Senate President Joe Negron wants water managers to expand their search for land to house a reservoir he has backed to help shift water south from Lake Okeechobee... Story

STATE COULD FACE HEFTY LEGAL FEES IN CARD GAME DISPUTE
DARA KAM |
The state could be on the hook for $450,000 in legal fees after a judge sided with cardroom operators in a dispute over controversial “designated player” games... Story


FUGATE SAYS FLORIDIANS SHOULD BRACE FOR STRONGER HURRICANES
JIM TURNER |
Many Hurricane Irma evacuees say they're apprehensive of packing up and leaving their homes again because forecast models failed to match the final track of the September storm... Story

UNIVERSITY LEADERS BACK DROPPING GRAD STUDENT TAX
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
The presidents of the University of Florida and Florida State University said a last-minute decision by congressional leaders to scuttle a proposal to tax tuition waivers for graduate students would be a major victory for higher education... Story

JUSTICES SAY APPOINTMENT FIGHT NOT `RIPE' FOR DECISION
DARA KAM |
Saying it is too soon to rule on the issue, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a high-profile case about whether Gov. Rick Scott or his successor has the power to appoint replacements for three justices whose terms end as Scott's tenure comes to a close... Story

SUPREME COURT RULING GRAPPLES WITH MILITARY SPOUSE LAWYERS
JIM SAUNDERS |
The state Supreme Court on Thursday turned down a proposal aimed at helping ease the way for military spouses to practice law in Florida and ordered a revamped plan that includes more restrictions... Story

VOTERS COULD DECIDE TOBACCO, `CERTIFICATE OF NEED' ISSUES
CHRISTINE SEXTON |
Floridians could wind up voting on two contentious health-care proposals that on Thursday drew closer to the 2018 ballot... Story

BACKROOM BRIEFING: KNIVES COME OUT IN ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE
DARA KAM AND JIM TURNER |
Florida's Republican Party says it is staying out of an effort by one of its attorney-general candidates to paint a competitor as a “Clinton liberal... Read the Briefing

GAMBLING REGULATORS DEALT BLOW IN LICENSE DISPUTE
DARA KAM |
Gambling regulators were wrong to try to take back a South Florida jai alai license they claimed was issued by mistake, an administrative law judge ruled this week... Story


`CERTIFICATES OF NEED' COULD LAND ON BALLOT
CHRISTINE SEXTON |
Free-market advocates for years have tried unsuccessfully to convince the Florida Legislature to eliminate requirements for the state to approve the construction of new nursing homes and hospitals and the provision of new services such as organ transplants or pediatric open-heart surgery... Story

COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE TO STATE EDUCATION SYSTEM
JIM SAUNDERS |
Saying it's not the role of judges to determine education policy, an appeals court Wednesday rejected a long-running lawsuit that alleged Florida has failed to meet its constitutional duty of providing a high-quality system of public schools... Story

CITRUS INDUSTRY SQUEEZED IF CONGRESS DOESN'T HELP
JIM TURNER |
No “plan B” is available if Congress does not add citrus funding to the latest disaster relief package, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday... Story

STATE OFFICIALS WARY OF BOND CHANGE IN FEDERAL TAX BILL
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Florida could be on the verge of losing a key financial tool that helped the state reduce the amount of money it owes by $1.4 billion last fiscal year... Story

SCOTT ORDERS STEPS TO PREVENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT
DARA KAM |
In the midst of a scandal jolting the Florida Senate, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday ordered state agency heads to adopt a sexual harassment policy that requires training for workers and spells out procedures for reporting and investigating complaints... Story

STATE BACKS LAND BUY FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA TRAIL
JIM TURNER |
Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet agreed to spend $1.08 million Wednesday for land that will help link to an ambitious bicycle and pedestrian trail planned to stretch across Central Florida, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico... Story

REPORT POINTS TO NEED TO ADDRESS PHYSICIAN SHORTAGES
CHRISTINE SEXTON |
Florida hospitals have seen a 29 percent increase in the number of residency slots since 2013, but the state still faces physician workforce challenges, a report on graduate medical education released Wednesday shows... Story


ENVIRONMENTAL PROPOSAL DELAYED AMID BUSINESS OUTCRY
JIM TURNER |
A proposed constitutional amendment that would redefine legal standing for Floridians when environmental problems occur was put on hold Tuesday as opposition mounts from powerful business groups... Story

PANEL SUPPORTS MAKING IT HARDER TO RAISE TAXES
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
A measure that would require future tax or fee increases to be approved by two-thirds votes of the Legislature is ready for consideration by the state Constitution Revision Commission... Story

CITRUS FORECAST DROP SPURS MORE CALLS FOR RELIEF
JIM TURNER |
Florida agriculture leaders say the latest projected decline in citrus production underscores a dire need for federal disaster relief after Hurricane Irma... Story

REGULATORS BACK FPL ON CONTROVERSIAL PLUME COSTS
JIM SAUNDERS |
State regulators Tuesday approved a controversial proposal by Florida Power & Light to collect at least $176.4 million from customers for a project dealing with a saltwater plume that moved from an FPL plant into nearby groundwater... Story

PATRONIS TOPS CABINET CANDIDATES IN MONEY CHASE
JIM TURNER |
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, appointed in June by Gov. Rick Scott, pulled in nearly $650,000 during his first month running to capture a full term in the Cabinet post... Story


SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON JUDGE, FACEBOOK FRIEND
JIM SAUNDERS |
With potential ramifications in courthouses across the state, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday said it will take up a dispute about whether a judge should be disqualified from a case because she is a Facebook friend with a lawyer... Story


...Read More in the Monthly Digest


FIU SUSPENDS FRATERNITY, SORORITY ACTIVITIES

Florida International University will suspend activities at fraternities and sororities beginning in January, President Mark Rosenberg announced Friday...

STATE ASKS JUDGE TO REJECT CHALLENGE TO EDUCATION LAW

Saying the Florida Constitution gives the state “explicit authority” over the public-school system, attorneys for the Florida Department of Education this week asked a Leon County circuit judge to toss out a challenge to a controversial new education law...

JUDGE TO HEAR ARGUMENTS IN MARIJUANA SMOKING CASE

A Leon County circuit judge will hear arguments next month about whether she should dismiss a challenge to a new law that bars patients from smoking medical marijuana...

TECO SEEKS SIGN-OFF TO COLLECT SOLAR MONEY

Tampa Electric Company is asking state regulators to approve a nearly $26.5 million base-rate increase to pay for the first phase of a plan to build solar-energy projects, according to a petition filed Thursday at the Florida Public Service Commission...

GALVANO COMMITTEE TOPS $219,000 THIS MONTH

A political committee led by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, raised more than $219,000 during the first two weeks of December, according to contributions listed on the committee's website...

LAWMAKER SEEKS YEAR-ROUND DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

With the measure dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act,” a House Republican on Friday proposed a bill that calls for Florida to observe daylight-saving time throughout the year...


CORCORAN COMMITTEE CONTINUES RAKING IN CASH

After raising more than $750,000 in November, House Speaker Richard Corcoran's political committee continued pulling in cash during the first week of December...

SCHOOL BOARD, SUPERINTENDENT PROPOSALS CONTINUE ADVANCING

Two measures that would affect Florida school boards and school superintendents are headed to the full state Constitution Revision Commission...

CONSTITUTION PANEL BACKS OIL DRILLING BAN

A proposal to ban oil drilling in Florida's coastal waters was approved Thursday by a Constitution Revision Commission panel...

PUTNAM COMMITTEE PILES UP $135,000 IN EARLY DECEMBER

Continuing to collect large chunks of money, Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam's political committee raised at least $135,000 in early December, according to the committee's website...

CITIZENS EXPECTS TO SEE POLICY COUNT GROW

State-backed Citizens Property Insurance expects a reversal in its downsizing next year, a sign of a less-healthy insurance market in Florida...

SUPREME COURT DISMISSES CASE ABOUT APPOINTING JUSTICES

Saying the issue is not “ripe,” the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit about whether Gov. Rick Scott or his successor should be able to appoint three new justices in January 2019...


GENERAL REVENUE TO BE SET IN FEBRUARY

A panel of state economists will meet Feb. 9 to determine the amount of general revenue that lawmakers will have in drawing up the 2018-2019 budget, according to a schedule posted online this week...

APPEALS COURT REJECTS MIAMI BEACH MINIMUM WAGE

In a win for business groups, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday said state law prevents Miami Beach from moving forward with a local minimum wage...

HEARING POSTPONED IN BLACK FARMER MARIJUANA CASE

A Leon County circuit judge has moved back to Dec. 28 a hearing in a legal dispute about part of a new state law that calls for issuing a medical-marijuana license to a black farmer...

CANDIDATES FILE FOR CORCORAN, WHITE HOUSE SEATS

With House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and Rep. Frank White, R-Pensacola, leaving the Legislature next year, two more candidates have opened campaign accounts to run for their seats...

THREE CHARGED IN SHARK DRAGGING VIDEO

Three men have been charged in connection with a video posted on social media this summer that showed abuse of a shark in Tampa-area waters...


BROWARD HOSPITAL LEADERS INDICTED ON SUNSHINE CHARGES

Four current and former North Broward Hospital District commissioners and the district's general counsel have been indicted on misdemeanor charges that they violated the state's open-government law in the firing of former interim President and CEO Pauline Grant...

TADDEO TOPS SENATE FUNDRAISING IN NOVEMBER

Fresh off a victory in a September special election, Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, has quickly turned to her 2018 re-election bid...

FIRST SETTLEMENT REACHED IN IRMA PRICE GOUGING

Florida has reached its first price-gouging settlement after Hurricane Irma, with Attorney General Pam Bondi's office Tuesday announcing a $25,000 settlement with a hotel...

FELONS' RIGHTS INITIATIVE TOPS $1.1 MILLION IN NOVEMBER

Continuing a petition drive to get on the November 2018 ballot, backers of a proposed felons' rights constitutional amendment raised more than $1.1 million last month...

SENATOR PROPOSES GENERATOR TAX EXEMPTION

A Senate Republican on Tuesday proposed creating a tax exemption for generators installed at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities...

BROGAN NAMED TO FEDERAL EDUCATION POST

Frank Brogan, a former Florida lieutenant governor, education commissioner and university-system chancellor, has been tapped by President Donald Trump for a top post at the U. S. Department of Education...


GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WEIGHS HOW TO REPLACE PSC APPOINTEE

Gov. Rick Scott's staff has not determined how to fill a Public Service Commission seat after the withdrawal of an appointee who was accused by an influential senator of sexually inappropriate behavior...

DISNEY SINKS ANOTHER $1 MILLION INTO GAMBLING INITIATIVE

Disney Worldwide Services contributed an additional $1 million in November to a ballot initiative that could make it harder to expand gambling in Florida, according to a newly filed finance report...

CORCORAN COMMITTEE TOPS $753,000 IN NOVEMBER

With speculation continuing that he will run for governor next year, House Speaker Richard Corcoran's political committee raised $753,700 in November, according to a newly filed finance report...

SENATE, HOUSE PLAN FLOOR SESSIONS DURING FIRST WEEK

The Senate and House will each follow the tradition of meeting in their chambers Jan. 9 before gathering for a joint session to hear Gov. Rick Scott's “State of the State” address, according to tentative schedules for the first week of the 2018 legislative session...

JUDGE TO HEAR ARGUMENTS ON BLACK FARMER POT LICENSE

A Leon County circuit judge will hear arguments Thursday on a request for a temporary injunction to block the Florida Department of Health from carrying out part of a new law that calls for issuing a medical-marijuana license to a black farmer...

`ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORATION' AUTHORITY PROPOSED

House and Senate Republicans are proposing the creation of a “Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority” that would oversee developing transportation systems for such things as autonomous vehicles...


DEMOCRATS FILE FOR COMBEE, PLASENCIA HOUSE SEATS

A Democratic candidate emerged Friday in a special election to replace former state Rep. Neil Combee, an Auburndale Republican who left the House last month to take a federal agriculture job...

NEGRON SAYS PIP REPEAL NEEDS TO INCLUDE MEDICAL COVERAGE

The Senate will consider the merits of repealing Florida's long-standing requirement for drivers to carry personal-injury protection insurance, but Senate President Joe Negron said it's important to ensure that any replacement coverage still provides Florida drivers access to medical coverage and funeral benefits...

SENATE PRESIDENT WANTS TO BOOST NURSING HOME PAYMENTS

Senate President Joe Negron said Friday he thinks Florida's nursing homes should be paid more for providing care to the state's elder and frail residents...

EX-LAWMAKER TAYLOR SENTENCED TO 13 MONTHS IN PRISON

After being found guilty this year on charges related to the improper use of campaign funds, former state Rep. Dwayne Taylor was sentenced Friday to 13 months in federal prison, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on its website...

NON-PARTISAN ELECTIONS REJECTED FOR ORANGE COUNTY OFFICIALS

Ruling that such issues are governed by state law, an appeals court Friday rejected a voter-approved change that called for Orange County constitutional officers to be chosen in non-partisan elections...

GAMBLING AMENDMENT TOPS 500,000 SIGNATURES

A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at making it harder to expand gambling in Florida continues to move closer to the 2018 ballot...


JUDGE REFUSES TO SPEED UP SPECIAL ELECTIONS

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson on Thursday rejected arguments by the Florida Democratic Party that special elections in two legislative districts should be held more quickly so the seats don't remain vacant through the upcoming legislative session...

PROPOSAL AIMED AT HELPING OPIOID-ADDICTED INFANTS

In hopes of reducing the costs of caring for opioid-addicted infants and increasing their comfort, a Senate health care panel on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would lead to licensing niche social-service providers and allowing them to participate in the Medicaid program...

DEMOCRATS SEEK VOTE ON MEDICAID EXPANSION

Two Democratic lawmakers Thursday called for voters to decide next year whether Florida should expand the Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act...

STATE HEALTH INSURANCE COULD ADD WATER DISTRICTS

State group health-insurance benefits, including prescription drug benefits, could be made available to Florida's five water-management districts under a measure approved Thursday by a Senate panel...

SENATE PANEL GIVES GO-AHEAD TO FANTASY SPORTS BILL

Despite concerns raised by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, a Senate committee Thursday approved a bill that would make clear fantasy sports contests are not a type of illegal gambling...

LATVALA COMMITTEE RAISES LITTLE IN NOVEMBER

A political committee closely tied to Sen. Jack Latvala appears to have raised little money in November, as the Clearwater Republican has battled sexual-harassment allegations...

SUPREME COURT ASKED TO RULE ON GARDEN BAN

A Miami Shores couple has asked the Florida Supreme Court to take up a constitutional challenge to an ordinance that bars planting vegetable gardens in the front yards of homes...


REGULATORS APPROVE CITIZENS INSURANCE RATE HIKES

State regulators have approved a series of rate increases for Citizens Property Insurance customers, now that a 90-day rate freeze due to Hurricane Irma has been lifted...

FIELD SET IN SPECIAL ELECTION FOR SENATE SEAT

Democratic state Rep. Lori Berman and Lantana Democrat Arthur Morrison will square off in a Jan. 30 special primary election, with the winner facing Lake Worth Republican Tami Donnally in the April 10 general election in a Palm Beach County Senate district...

PANEL BACKS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN HEALTH PROJECTS

More than 208 requests for health-care related funding projects, totaling more than $172 million, had been filed and sent to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee as of Tuesday...

TRAUMA CENTER APPROVED FOR CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

The Florida Department of Health has signed off on a plan by Wolfson Children's Hospital to open a pediatric trauma center...

JUSTICES AGREE TO WEIGH DAMAGES IN SMOKER'S DEATH

A divided Florida Supreme Court has decided to take up a case that focuses on the amount of damages an adult child should be able to receive in the smoking-related death of her mother...

SUPREME COURT PUBLICLY REPRIMANDS ST. LUCIE JUDGE

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday publicly reprimanded a St. Lucie County judge who was engaged in a long-running battle with a local attorney that included an altercation between the men...


SENATOR FILES COMPLAINT OVER LATVALA'S CONDUCT

In the latest development in a sexual-harassment investigation that has roiled the Capitol, Democratic Sen. Lauren Book said late Tuesday she has filed a complaint alleging that Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, improperly took steps to “out” a staff member who has accused him of harassment...

CANDIDATES LINE UP FOR STATE HOUSE RACES

At least four more candidates have taken initial steps this week to run for state House seats in 2018, according to filings with the state Division of Elections...

GOOD WINS DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IN HD 72

Attorney Margaret Good cruised to a win Tuesday in a Democratic primary in Sarasota County's House District 72, catapulting her into a Feb. 13 special general election...

 
 
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