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Monday, Jan 26, 2015

Fresh Squeezed

A Florida Politics Blog

Made fresh, never frozen, here's the juice on local and state politics from the staff of The Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Tribune and the Tribune/Scripps Capital Bureau.

Bill aims to protect cyclists, pedestrians on Florida roads

Published:
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Naples

It was an accident that got Kathleen Passidomo involved.

Her law partner, Chuck Kelly, was struck by a pickup in January 2014. He broke his back, ribs and punctured a lung.

The driver that hit him was cited by Naples police for improper passing.

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Whoops: HD64 write-in lost his password, filing says. And his PIN. And his username

Published:   |   Updated: January 22, 2015 at 06:43 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

With social media, online banking, email, news website paywalls and a host of others, it’s not surprising when people have trouble keeping track of all their passwords.

Add to that a campaign for state representative and it only gets more confusing.

A filing on the state’s Division of Elections public website (non-password protected) shows that the write-in candidate for House District 64 asked to reset the password for his account in the state’s Electronic Filing System.

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Effort to allow hard liquor in supermarket aisles returns

Published:   |   Updated: January 22, 2015 at 04:56 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

It’s back: A lawmaker has revived an attempt to knock down the wall between whiskey and Wheaties.

Tucked nearly 1,300 lines down in an omnibus booze bill (HB 107), a provision would repeal the requirement for retailers such as supermarkets and big box stores to sell hard liquor separately from groceries.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is sponsoring the bill.

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Top aides to Putnam and Scott met after Bailey firing

Published:   |   Updated: January 21, 2015 at 05:46 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

[Note: Post updated at 5:30 p.m.; see additional info at bottom.]

Adam Putnam had struck a nerve in the Governor’s Office, and it was time for his new chief of staff to engage in some shuttle diplomacy.

On Dec. 16, news media started reporting that Gov. Rick Scott that same day had forced out Gerald Bailey, head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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Brandes is bullish on solar energy

Published:
The News Service of Florida

Florida voters would be asked to give commercial property owners a tax break for installing renewable energy devices, such as solar panels, under a proposal (SJR 400) filed Tuesday by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

The legislation would expand to commercial structures an existing property-tax cut on installing renewable energy devices and would exempt the assessed value of the devices from the state’s tangible personal property tax.

Brandes’ proposed constitutional amendment comes after a diverse coalition announced last week that it is pursuing a 2016 ballot initiative that would allow businesses and property owners to sell limited amounts of solar energy to tenants and neighbors.

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Weatherford starts firm with brothers

Published:
The News Service of Florida

Former House Speaker Will Weatherford, often mentioned as a possible future candidate for statewide office, has formed a Tampa-based consulting and investment firm with two of his brothers, the firm announced Tuesday.

The firm, Weatherford Partners, will provide consulting services to businesses and will invest in companies. Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican who served as speaker from 2012 to 2014, will be the firm’s managing partner.

He will be joined by Sam Weatherford, who was a founding member of the private-equity firm Schulze Global Investments, and Drew Weatherford, a former Florida State University quarterback who in 2011 co-founded Strategos Public Affairs in Tampa, according to the announcement.

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Craft brewers turn to ‘crowdfunding’ for upcoming legal fight

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The state’s craft brewers are trying to “crowdfund” a legal battle that could ultimately result in the end of tasting rooms at breweries, they say.

Their trade group, the Florida Brewers Guild, has started an Indiegogo.com campaign for “legal defense, legal offense, and lobbying.”

Indiegogo is a website for crowdfunding, loosely defined as raising a lot of small donations from many people, usually through websites and social media.

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Gov. Scott matches Jeb Bush in executions

Published:   |   Updated: January 16, 2015 at 05:21 PM
The News Service of Florida

Just starting his second term, Gov. Rick Scott has matched former Gov. Jeb Bush for the most executions in the modern era.

Death Row inmate Johnny Shane Kormondy was put to death by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison near Starke for the 1993 murder of an Escambia County man during a home-invasion robbery.

The execution was the 21st since Scott took office in 2011, equaling the number overseen by Bush during an eight-year span. Scott was re-elected to a second term Nov. 4.

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Fight over politicians’ ‘blind trusts’ heads to appeals court

Published:   |   Updated: January 14, 2015 at 02:41 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Having elected officials fully disclose their finances is not only good public policy, “it’s a good political policy,” a lawyer told state appellate judges Wednesday.

A three-judge panel in Tallahassee heard arguments in a case over the constitutionality of a 2-year-old state law allowing politicians and candidates to use blind trusts.

Attorney Sandy D’Alemberte represents Jim Apthorp, a former top aide to the late Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew.

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Liquor retailers cry foul over craft breweries selling their own beer

Published:   |   Updated: January 13, 2015 at 06:08 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

What the Big Beer concerns couldn’t do legislatively, they’ll try to do administratively.

The Florida Retail Federation, a statewide lobbying group, wants the state’s alcoholic beverage regulators to “clarify” a policy allowing craft breweries to sell beer direct to consumers in on-site tasting rooms.

It’s worth noting that in 2013, lobbyists for Anheuser-Busch beer wholesalers unsuccessfully tried to get lawmakers to clamp down that same policy.

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