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Monday, Dec 22, 2014

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.

Fla. House announces ranking members for 2015

Published:
Tribune/Scripps staff

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, on Friday announced ranking members for his chamber’s committees and subcommittees.

Ranking members are the most senior member of committees from the minority party, in this case, Democrats.

Here are some of the assignments for state representatives from the Tampa Bay region:

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Fla. ACLU argues against extending ban on gay marriage

Published:   |   Updated: December 18, 2014 at 04:42 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Note: See update at bottom.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida says it will file arguments by 5 p.m. Thursday against Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request before the U.S. Supreme Court to keep in place the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

The group announced the move in a Wednesday email.

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New Fla. Senate leader praises Jeb Bush’s executive experience

Published:
Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

Senate President Andy Gardiner says he disagrees with a growing narrative among some in the national news media that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a moderate, not a solid conservative.

“You all covered him,” the Orlando Republican told a group of reporters, implying that his governing style does not match how it’s being described nationally.

Bush on Tuesday ended the worst kept secret in politics when he said he will “actively explore” running for president.

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Tampa Bay lawmakers file beer bill

Published:
Jerome Stockfisch in Tampa

Calling the restriction “an insult to the idea of a free market,” freshman state Rep. Chris Sprowls joined Sen. Jack Latvala in introducing legislation Tuesday that would allow the state’s exploding craft beer industry to sell its products in 64-ounce “growlers.”

Florida is now one of just two states -- Utah being the other -- that doesn’t allow patrons to take beer home from a craft brewery in the half-gallon refillable jugs.

“It’s nothing new or revolutionary,” Latvala said at an event at Dunedin Brewery attended by dozens of craft brewers and their backers.

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Steinberg drops out of race for HD64 seat

Published:   |   Updated: December 16, 2014 at 07:14 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The other Republican candidate in the race for Tampa’s House District 64 has dropped out, essentially saying she doesn’t respect a process that won’t respect her.

The state Division of Elections’ website on Tuesday showed that Tampa engineer Miriam Steinberg “did not qualify” to run when the qualifying period ended at noon.

That leaves former incumbent GOP state Rep. Jamie Grant and write-in candidate Daniel Matthews to battle over the seat that represents northwest Hillsborough and eastern Pinellas.

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Legislative leaders manage expectations as budget surplus grows

Published:   |   Updated: December 16, 2014 at 07:07 PM
Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

A continuing rebound in Florida’s economy could translate to a nearly $1 billion surplus in the state budget for 2015, economists predict.

But legislative leaders are greeting the news with caution as they sort through pricey budget requests from state agencies.

State revenue estimators have predicted that revenues for the fiscal year ending in June will grow by 5 percent more than expected, and next year’s revenue forecasts were increased 4 percent.

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Top official of Fla. state police is replaced

Published:
The News Service of Florida

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday replaced longtime Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey with the head of the Capitol Police.

No explanation was immediately given for the change by the governor’s office.

Scott’s press office issued a release in which Scott announced the appointment of Rick Swearingen as interim commissioner. The release briefly thanked Bailey for his service.

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Festivus pole, nativity display return to Fla. Capitol

Published:
The News Service of Florida

A 6-foot-tall stack of empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, built to mark the sitcom-inspired Festivus holiday, returned to the Florida Capitol on Monday for a second year.

The pole, a creation of Deerfield Beach political blogger Chaz Stevens, will stand across the first-floor rotunda from a more-elaborate nativity scene put up the same day by the Florida Prayer Network.

Stevens sees his pole as a protest against the nativity scene, intended to make a point about the need for a separation between church and state.

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Key tax revenue talks postponed

Published:
The News Service of Florida

Economists will meet Monday to update closely watched estimates of state general revenue, after rescheduling a meeting that had been slated for Friday.

The economists, who formally meet as what is known as the Revenue Estimating Conference, pore through data to project the amounts of general-revenue taxes the state will collect.

General revenue plays a major role in funding education, health and prison programs.

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State GOP announces who’s paying for ‘Jobs Jamboree’

Published:
The News Service of Florida

The Republican Party of Florida on Friday announced an initial list of companies that have chipped in money to help pay for Gov. Rick Scott’s inauguration activities.

U.S. Sugar Corp. of Clewiston and Sarasota-based insurer FCCI Services, Inc. each put up $25,000 this month.

Calder Race Course in Miami-Dade County donated $15,000 and Allstate Insurance Co. of Northbrook, Ill., is in for $5,000.

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