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Monday, Apr 27, 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 and The St. Petersburg Tribune.

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Could it be? Bill legalizing 64 oz. ‘growlers’ heading to governor

Staff and wire report

Florida’s yearslong “growler war” could be ending under legislation headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

A bill (SB 186) passed in the House on Friday would allow craft breweries to sell beer in the 64-ounce sized “growler” and lift a requirement that they operate as tourist attractions.

The half-gallon glass beer jug is the most popular size for taking home craft beer.

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Bill to make police ‘body cam’ videos secret heads to governor

The Associated Press

Florida may soon place limits on who is allowed access to video taken by body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.

The state Legislature on Friday sent to Gov. Rick Scott a bill that would keep confidential police videos that are shot in a house, a health care facility or any place that a “reasonable person would expect to be private.”

The House voted 112-2 for the bill. It passed the Senate earlier this week.

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State Senate approves PSC, child protection bills; sends back to House

The news Service of Florida

Pointing in part to savings for Duke Energy Florida customers, the Senate on Friday unanimously approved a plan that would place additional requirements on the state Public Service Commission and make changes dealing with electric utilities.

The bill (HB 7109) will go back to the House, which approved it earlier in the week. That’s because the Senate added amendments to the bill.

Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has spearheaded the issue in the Senate, said a key part of the bill would lead to about $600 million in savings for Duke Energy customers.

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Taxpayer email address privacy bill headed to governor’s desk

The News Service of Florida

The Florida House on Friday gave final approval to a bill that would create a public-records exemption for taxpayer email addresses held by county tax collectors.

House members voted 117-0 to approve the bill (SB 200), which supporters say can help prevent identity theft and scams.

The Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation, which advocates for open records and open government, has opposed the bill.

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Senate passes bill to keep police body cam video from public view

Published:   |   Updated: April 23, 2015 at 10:45 AM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

UPDATED THURSDAY: The House has placed the bill on its “special order” calendar for consideration Friday.

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The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a measure creating a public records exemption for police body camera videos.

With little debate, the bill (SB 248) was approved 36-2. Sens. Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat, and Dorothy Hukill, Port Orange Republican, the lone ‘no’ votes.

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Lawmakers again trying to do away with H.S. athletics organization

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Tallahassee

A measure that would replace the Florida High School Athletic Association with a different state-selected nonprofit organization passed the state House 86-29 on Wednesday, clearing the path for the state Senate to take up the issue in the coming days.

Among other things, the measure:

♦ Calls on the state education commissioner to review the association’s performance following an operational audit;

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Fla. Chamber of Commerce now balking at health care proposal

Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

The Florida Chamber of Commerce says negotiations over a pot of supplemental hospital funding and the debate over Medicaid expansion should be separate issues, a move that puts it in line with Gov. Rick Scott and House Republicans.

The group, which is the state’s largest business lobby, originally supported a Senate plan to use $50 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid under Obamacare if Senators included elements from a Chamber reform plan.

The group now wants lawmaker’s sole focus to be on securing funding for the so-called Low Income Pool, a mix of local and federal dollars used by hospitals to provide charity care.

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Tax credit bill for Florida-made movies postponed again

James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

For the second time in two weeks, the House’s film and entertainment tax credits bill has been pulled off of an agenda of bills for consideration.

The measure (HB 451) was “temporarily postponed” last week to Tuesday’s floor session, when it was postponed again.

State Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican, last week said the bill’s withdrawal “was purely a timing issue … to coincide with what’s happening in the Senate.”

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Ear at door, reporter describes secret House meeting

Published:   |   Updated: April 21, 2015 at 05:22 PM
James L. Rosica Staff writer

TALLAHASSEE — Members of the House Republican caucus held a private meeting Tuesday without public or press access, and some wouldn’t even confirm the nature of what would be discussed.

That didn’t stop Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout, who planted his ear against the closed door of the meeting room on the Capitol’s third floor.

As the meeting went on, Fineout occasionally called out snippets of conversation he could overhear to a band of other reporters hovering in the hallway.

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Senate President predicts no budget by end of regular legislative session

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Tallahassee

The state Senate is in for the long haul, with its presiding officer saying it would be “very difficult” to finish a budget by May 1.

“I can tell you, and I think the chairman would add to this, it is very difficult for us, if we intend to do a budget that is transparent and goes through all of the dialogue and all of the discussion, to finish next Friday with a budget,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

The annual 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end on May 1. Lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget every year.

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