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WEEKLY ROUNDUP: THE PLOT THICKENS
BRANDON LARRABEE |
If the Florida legislative session were a television series --- one of the serial types that have taken over in the last several years --- this week would serve as the season premiere, where all of the plot lines were being put into motion... Read the Roundup

STATE TAKES INTERNET CAFE CASE TO SUPREME COURT
JIM SAUNDERS |
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office wants the Florida Supreme Court to take up a case involving a prominent Jacksonville lawyer who was charged with racketeering and gambling-related crimes because of his ties to the Internet cafe industry... Story

LOBBYIST FILE - DOING BUSINESS ON THE FOURTH FLOOR, DECEMBER 9, 2016
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
OSCAR ANDERSON has registered to lobby for Acculynk, Inc. BRIAN BAUTISTA has registered to lobby for Modern Health Concepts... Story

ADVANCES: WEEK OF DECEMBER 11, 2016
STAFF |
Florida senators will return to the Capitol during the coming week for an initial round of committee meetings to prepare for the 2017 legislative session... Read the Advances


SUPREME COURT ORDERS NEW SENTENCE IN JUVENILE RAPE CASE
JIM SAUNDERS |
In the latest in a series of cases dealing with long prison sentences for juvenile offenders, a divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered resentencing for a man who at age 15 raped a pregnant woman at knifepoint... Story

BETTER TIMES MEAN LOWER ENROLLMENT AT STATE COLLEGES
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Enrollment at Florida state colleges has plummeted 13.5 percent since reaching a peak of more than 375,000 full-time equivalent students in 2010... Story

BACKROOM BRIEFING: BUCS THROW HAIL MARY FOR STADIUM FUNDING
JIM TURNER |
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the field to themselves this year in the quest for what has become an inaccessible pool of state money for professional stadium upgrades... Read the Briefing

SUPREME COURT QUESTIONS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAW
JIM SAUNDERS |
Florida Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Thursday about the constitutionality of a 2013 medical-malpractice law that critics argue could lead to violations of patient privacy rights... Story


THRASHER TAKES AIM AT GUNS ON CAMPUS
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
In his annual "state of the university" address on Wednesday, Florida State University President John Thrasher reiterated his strong opposition to allowing guns on university and college campuses... Story

WATER CLAIMS COULD LEAD TO MORE CITIZENS POLICIES
JIM TURNER |
Increases in water-damage claims --- primarily in South Florida --- will likely reverse years of downsizing by the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance, board members were advised Wednesday as they approved a hike in the corporation's operating budget... Story

LAWMAKERS LOOK FOR ANSWERS ON WORKERS' COMP
JIM SAUNDERS |
With businesses bracing for rate increases, Florida House members this week began grappling with the tricky political and legal challenge of revamping the workers' compensation insurance system... Story

FORMER UNIVERSITY SYSTEM LEADER REED DIES
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Charles B. Reed, a high-profile figure in Florida who presided over two of the nation's largest public university systems, died Tuesday at age 75... Story

LOBBYIST FILE - DOING BUSINESS ON THE FOURTH FLOOR, DECEMBER 7, 2016
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
MAILEA ADAMS has registered to lobby for the Florida Commission on Human Relations... Story


HOUSE MEMBERS GET CRASH COURSE AT 'LEGISLATOR U'
BRANDON LARRABEE |
There were no sorority rushes or intramural sports, but Florida House members returned to Tallahassee on Tuesday for "Legislator University," a two-day series of courses meant to discuss the finer points of maneuvering the Capitol... Story

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA HAS: FIVE QUESTIONS FOR BUDDY JACOBS
DARA KAM |
With his trademark fedoras and Southern politesse, Buddy Jacobs has been an institution in the Florida Capitol for nearly five decades... Story

BONDI WON'T 'CONFIRM OR DENY' TRUMP SPECULATION
JIM TURNER |
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi offered little information Tuesday about her future or her discussions with President-elect Donald Trump, as she made one of her first appearances in Tallahassee since meeting with Trump last week in New York... Story

PERSONNEL FILE - PEOPLE ON THE MOVE, DECEMBER 6, 2016
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
PERRY THURSTON has been elected chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus... Read the Personnel File


CORCORAN MAKES BUSINESS PITCH FOR JUDICIARY CHANGES
BRANDON LARRABEE |
House Speaker Richard Corcoran called Monday for the business community to rally around his push for changes to Florida's judiciary, saying failure to do so could make the Legislature's efforts to pass pro-business legislation futile... Story

SCOTT CONTINUES PUSH FOR LAW OFFICER PAY RAISES
RYAN RAY |
Gov. Rick Scott urged legislators Monday to back his proposed 5 percent pay raises for state law enforcement officers in the 2017-18 budget --- and hinted the plan could grow to include corrections officers... Story

ENVIRONMENTALISTS RENEW PUSH TO TEAR DOWN DAM
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Reviving a decades-old fight, environmentalists have begun a legal push to remove the Rodman dam in North Florida and restore the Ocklawaha River... Story

STATE TAKING DEATH PENALTY ISSUE TO U.S. SUPREME COURT
DARA KAM |
The state plans to ask the U. S. Supreme Court to revisit a landmark case in which justices struck down as unconstitutional Florida's death-penalty sentencing procedure because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries... Story

CAPITAL STEPS APP DEVELOPER BETTS JOINS NSF AS CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
The News Service of Florida, the state's premier online news-gathering and reporting service, today announced the addition of Steve Betts, who will serve as chief technology officer... Story

FLORIDA MAY BE PONDERING 'NOVEL' LETHAL INJECTION CHANGE
DARA KAM |
In a move that would be certain to spur more litigation over the state's already embattled death penalty, Florida corrections officials appear to be planning what could be a dramatic change to the triple-drug lethal injection process --- including the use of a drug never before used for executions... Story

LOBBYIST FILE - DOING BUSINESS ON THE FOURTH FLOOR, DECEMBER 5, 2016
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA |
MARY LOUISE ANDREWS has registered to lobby for Lee Memorial Health System... Story


WEEKLY ROUNDUP: IN WITH THE NEW
BRANDON LARRABEE |
The calendar turned this week to the last month of the year, but many in Florida seemed to be getting a jump on new beginnings... Read the Roundup

ADVANCES: WEEK OF DECEMBER 4, 2016
STAFF |
Florida House members will go back to school during the coming week... Read the Advances

STATE SAYS INSURANCE PREPARATION FOR HURRICANES 'PAID OFF'
JIM TURNER |
Insurance companies, for the most part, have been responsive to customers affected by two hurricanes that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Florida this year, state officials said Friday during a roundtable discussion with industry executives... Story


STATE PENSION CHIEF SET TO GET RAISE
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Ash Williams, who oversees Florida's $144 billion state pension fund, is in line for a 5.5 percent raise in a proposal that will go before Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet next week... Story

BACKROOM BRIEFING: JEB IN HIS ELEMENT
BRANDON LARRABEE AND JIM TURNER |
In one of his first formal outings since onetime rival Donald Trump won the presidency, Jeb Bush went before a friendly crowd Thursday... Read the Briefing

SUPREME COURT ORDERS NEW SENTENCING FOR TRIPLE MURDERER
DARA KAM |
Signaling how it is likely to handle scores of Death Row cases, a majority of the Florida Supreme Court threw out death sentences and ordered a new penalty proceeding for a convicted triple-murderer on Thursday... Story

COURT RULES AGAINST INSURER IN PROPERTY DAMAGE FIGHT
JIM SAUNDERS |
In a case watched by insurance-industry groups, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against an insurer in a dispute about paying for damage to a multimillion-dollar Naples home that had to be demolished after a combination of construction defects and water intrusion... Story

STATE DEBT DROPS AFTER BONDS REFINANCED
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
State debt declined by $1.6 billion during the past year, although the head of the state Division of Bond Finance warned Thursday that rising interest rates could present more financial challenges in the coming year... Story


UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT TUITION ISSUE RE-EMERGES
BRANDON LARRABEE |
A newly elected state senator has filed legislation that would undo a 2014 law allowing in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrant students, potentially reopening an emotionally charged debate in the wake of Donald Trump's presidential win... Story

HURRICANE SEASON ENDS AFTER HERMINE, MATTHEW DEAL BLOWS
LLOYD DUNKELBERGER |
Florida ended its 2016 hurricane season Wednesday, marking the first time in more than a decade that the Sunshine State was hit by a hurricane... Story


...Read More in the Monthly Digest


SENATE BILL WOULD ALLOW OPENLY CARRYING GUNS

Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, introduced a controversial measure Friday that would allow the more than 1.67 million Floridians with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry handguns...

RULE WOULD BAR USE OF TELEMEDICINE FOR MARIJUANA

The Florida Board of Medicine this week proposed a rule to make clear that doctors cannot use "telemedicine" to order medical marijuana for patients...

DEVELOPER KITSON NAMED TO UNIVERSITY SYSTEM BOARD

Syd Kitson, a developer from West Palm Beach, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the state university system's Board of Governors...

CITRUS FORECAST HOLDS STEADY

The projected harvest for Florida's struggling citrus industry experienced little change over the past month...

CLEAN ENERGY GROUP ALLOWED IN GULF POWER RATE CASE

Despite objections from Gulf Power, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy was allowed this week to intervene in the Pensacola-based utility's rate case at the Florida Public Service Commission...

STATE SAYS ZIKA TRANSMISSION ENDS IN MIAMI BEACH

Saying part of Miami Beach has been cleared, Gov. Rick Scott's administration announced Friday that Florida does not have any identified areas where the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes...


ST. LUCIE JUDGE COULD FACE DISCIPLINE AFTER ATTORNEY CLASHES

A St. Lucie County judge could face disciplinary action from the Florida Supreme Court after an investigation raised questions about his impartiality amid repeated clashes with an attorney, according to documents released Thursday...

SEMINOLES KEEP MONEY FLOWING AMID GAMBLING TALKS

After meeting this week with Gov. Rick Scott's administration to try to reach a gambling agreement, the Seminole Tribe of Florida said Thursday it continues to make payments to the state that will total $306 million this year...

SUPREME COURT TURNS DOWN HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION CASE

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear an appeal of a case that involved a married couple having homestead exemptions in two states...

MAYFIELD SETTING STAGE FOR 2020 RE-ELECTION BID

After winning a Senate seat in last month's elections, Vero Beach Republican Debbie Mayfield has taken a first step toward running again in 2020, according to the state Division of Elections website...

BURDEN OF PROOF CHANGE SOUGHT IN SELF-DEFENSE CASES

A controversial proposal to shift the burden of proof in "stand your ground" self-defense cases has been refiled in the Florida Senate...


ARTILES GEARS UP FOR RE-ELECTION BID

After unseating Democrat Dwight Bullard in a bruising election last month, state Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, has taken an initial step toward running for another term in 2018, according to the state Division of Elections website...

FAMU PRESIDENT BACKS PLAN FOR SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING

Florida A&M University interim President Larry Robinson testified Wednesday before a congressional committee in favor of legislation that would boost scholarship funding for historically black, land-grant colleges such as FAMU. Robinson was part of a panel that included presidents of some of the 19 historically black colleges and universities that would benefit from legislation (House Resolution 6020) filed by U. S. Rep. David Scott, a Georgia Democrat who is also a 1967 graduate of FAMU. Scott's legislation, which is co-sponsored by U. S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla...

CAMPUS CARRY PROPOSAL EMERGES IN HOUSE

A controversial measure that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to pack heat while on college and university campuses was filed Wednesday by state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood...

COURT SAYS POLICE NEEDED WARRANT TO SEARCH CELL PHONE

Saying the nature of information contained on a cell phone "sets it apart from other physical objects," a South Florida appeals court Wednesday ruled that police needed a warrant before searching a phone that had been left behind in a stolen car...

PUBLIC RECORDS CHARGES UPHELD IN ELECTION CASE

An appeals court Wednesday sided with the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections in a public-records dispute about charges for examining ballots from the 2014 election...

HOUSE MEMBERS LINE UP FOR 2018 RE-ELECTION BIDS

The number of lawmakers preparing for 2018 re-election bids continues to increase, with a dozen additional House members opening campaign accounts in recent days, according to the state Division of Elections website...


SUPREME COURT REJECTS RIVERA APPEAL IN ETHICS CASE

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up an appeal by former state lawmaker David Rivera in a long-running ethics case...

COURT RULES AGAINST LAKE SCHOOLS ON GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCE

The 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a lower court's ruling that barred a group of students from establishing a gay-straight alliance at a Lake County middle school...

PAY RAISE APPROVED FOR STATE PENSION CHIEF

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet on Tuesday unanimously reaffirmed Ash Williams as the chief investment officer for Florida's $145 billion state pension fund and bumped up his pay by 5.5 percent...

SCOTT, CABINET BACK NORTHEAST FLORIDA LAND DEAL

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet agreed Tuesday to spend $2.9 million to conserve just over 2,300 acres of rural land in Northeast Florida that includes a blueberry-growing operation...

MATTHEW DAMAGE TOTAL UP TO $729 MILLION

Damage estimates in Florida from early October's Hurricane Matthew have grown to $729 million, according to the latest numbers from the state Office of Insurance Regulation...

LAWMAKERS SEEK TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR UNDOCUMENTED CRIMINALS

Two Republican lawmakers filed bills Tuesday that would lead to increased penalties for undocumented immigrants who commit types of violent crimes...

LIQUOR SALES BATTLE RE-EMERGES IN LEGISLATURE

In the first moves toward what could be a renewed lobbying fight, two Miami-Dade County Republicans this week filed bills that would repeal a decades-old law that requires liquor stores to be stand-alone facilities...

ENVIRONMENTAL SPENDING CASES COULD BE COMBINED

Environmental groups that dispute how lawmakers spent voter-approved money for land conservation have agreed to combine two lawsuits...


SENATORS LOOK AT NEXT STEPS WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA

About a month after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment to broadly legalize medical marijuana, a Senate panel next week will start looking at how to carry out the requirement...

LAWMAKERS DIG INTO WORKERS' COMP ISSUES

Preparing for what likely will be a difficult debate during the 2017 legislative session, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee next week will start delving into workers' compensation insurance issues...

YOUNG, HOUSE FRESHMEN PREPARE FOR 2018 RACES

After winning a closely watched race for a Senate seat last month, Tampa Republican Dana Young has taken an initial step toward seeking re-election in 2018, according to the state Division of Elections website...

COURT UPHOLDS LAW ON INFANT WEIGHTS IN INJURY CASES

In a dispute stemming from a baby who suffered neurological injuries because of a lack of oxygen at birth, an appeals court Monday upheld the constitutionality of a state law that sets a minimum weight for infants to be covered through a no-fault compensation program...

SERVICES SET FOR CHILDREN'S HEALTH ADVOCATE

A funeral is scheduled Thursday for Phyllis Sloyer, the retired director of the Florida Children's Medical Services program and a longtime advocate for children's health care...

BUSH TO PARTNER WITH LOBBYING FIRM

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has agreed to become a “strategic consultant” for the lobbying firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney...


BONDI MUM ON POSSIBLE JOB IN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Amid widespread speculation that she could move to a job in the new Trump administration, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi deflected questions after meeting Friday with President-elect Donald Trump in New York...

SENATE, HOUSE BILLS WOULD BAN FRACKING

After a fierce legislative debate early this year about fracking, a freshman senator filed a proposal Friday that would bar the use of the controversial oil and gas drilling technique in Florida...

JUSTICES ALLOW REMOTE 'BAKER ACT' HEARINGS TO CONTINUE

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday refused to at least temporarily block Lee County judges from holding videoconference hearings in cases about the involuntary commitment of mentally ill people...

HEARING ENDS IN FLORIDA-GEORGIA WATER FIGHT

A special master appointed by the U. S. Supreme Court finished hearing arguments Thursday in a high-profile legal battle about divvying up water in a river system shared by Florida and Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported...

COURT WILL NOT RECONSIDER STUDENT ULTRASOUND RULING

A federal appeals court this week turned down a request to reconsider a case in which former Valencia College students contend their constitutional rights were violated in a training program that included students performing ultrasound procedures on each other...

PERRY, PONDER PREPARE FOR 2018 RE-ELECTION BIDS

After winning a tough campaign this year to move from the House to the Senate, Gainesville Republican Keith Perry has taken an initial step toward seeking re-election in 2018, according to the state Division of Elections website...


COURT ORDERS DISABILITY HEARING FOR DEATH ROW INMATE

A divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a lower court to hold a hearing about whether a Death Row inmate has an intellectual disability that would prevent him from being executed...

HOUSE OFFERS TRAINING FOR LOBBYISTS ON NEW RULES

With new Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, tightening rules on lobbyists, the House said Thursday it will offer training sessions to help lobbyists comply with the requirements...

LAWMAKER LOOKS TO CARRY OUT AMENDMENT 4

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, filed a bill Thursday to carry out a renewable-energy tax break that voters approved in the August primary election...

SCOTT CALLS FOR BOOSTING LAW ENFORCEMENT PAY

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday began rolling out his budget proposals for next year's legislative session, unveiling a plan to boost pay for law-enforcement officers by 5 percent...

SENATE SCHEDULES FOUR DAYS OF COMMITTEE MEETINGS

With committee leaders and members appointed this week, the Senate has scheduled four days of committee meetings in mid-December as it starts to prepare for the 2017 legislative session...

COURT REJECTS PROBATION, TREATMENT FOR DRUG OFFENDER

A state appeals court Thursday overturned a circuit judge's decision to commit a drug offender to a treatment program and place her on probation instead of sending her to prison...


SUPREME COURT READY TO WADE INTO MALPRACTICE ISSUE

More than three years after a legislative battle about the issue, the Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next week about a medical-malpractice law that spurred debate about access to health information and patients' privacy rights...

FOUR MORE LOCAL ZIKA CASES IN MIAMI-DADE

State health officials said Wednesday they have found four more locally transmitted cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Miami-Dade County, while two "travel-related" cases were reported in the Orlando area...

REPUBLICAN PREPARES TO SEEK BILECA HOUSE SEAT

With House Education Chairman Michael Bileca starting his final two-year term, a Miami Republican has opened a campaign account to try to succeed him in 2018, according to the state Division of Elections website...

SENATOR TARGETS ATTORNEY FEES IN PUBLIC RECORDS CASES

In a move that could spur a renewed lobbying battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed a proposal Wednesday that would give judges discretion in deciding whether to award attorney fees in public-records lawsuits...

COURT REJECTS $18.5 MILLION AWARD IN SMOKER'S DEATH

A South Florida appeals court Wednesday said an $18.5 million damages award against R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was excessive in a lawsuit filed by the daughter of a woman who died of lung cancer...

CABINET TO CONSIDER NORTHEAST FLORIDA LAND DEAL

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet next week will consider a proposed deal aimed at protecting about 2,300 acres of rural land in Northeast Florida...


BILL SEEKS TO END 'TAMPON TAX' IN FLORIDA

Following the lead of other states, a South Florida House member filed a proposal Tuesday to create a sales-tax exemption for feminine hygiene products...

SEVEN NEW ZIKA CASES IN SOUTH, CENTRAL FLORIDA

State health officials said Tuesday that seven more Zika cases have been reported in Florida, bringing the overall number of cases in the state to 1,213...

 
 
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