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Friday, Mar 06, 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.

FPL responds to Dudley’s criticism of gas exploration project

Published:   |   Updated: March 5, 2015 at 04:56 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A spokeswoman for Florida Power & Light shot back after statements made earlier today by state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, calling them “unsubstantiated,” “flat-out wrong” and “ludicrous.”

Earlier Thursday, Dudley criticized a deal approved in December by state utility regulators to allow FPL to charge customers to explore for natural gas, calling it “corporate crack.”

In return, FPL spokeswoman Sarah Gatewood said in an email that the exploratory project “actually reduce(s) our customers’ risk in the market and protects against future price spikes.”

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Soto vows to ‘crush’ House’s bathroom bill

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A Democratic senator Thursday promised to use Senate rules to “crush” a House bill that would force some transgender people to use only the public restroom designated for the gender which they were born.

Specifically, the bill (HB 583) would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for a woman still undergoing the process to become a man to “knowingly and willfully” use a men’s restroom, and vice versa.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, vice chair of the Rules committee, spoke at a press conference where the Senate Democratic Caucus was releasing its annual civil-rights legislative package.

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St. Pete’s Dudley continues blowback on contentious FPL deal

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A Tampa Bay lawmaker blasted a deal to allow Florida Power & Light Co to charge customers to explore for natural gas, calling it “corporate crack.”

State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, spoke to reporters Thursday. He’s the Democratic ranking member of the House Energy and Utilities subcommittee.

“That puts ratepayers in the natural gas and oil business,” he said. “Is that what ratepayers want, who want to just flip the switch and have electricity?”

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Odds ‘n’ ends from Wednesday

Published:   |   Updated: March 4, 2015 at 06:43 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

♦ From the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security committee: A bill that would create a public records exemption for members of the military’s special ops units was OK’d 4-0.

The exception to Florida’s public records law would black out identifying information of active and retired members of special operations teams.

The bill (SB 674) would extend an exemption now covering home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and other information now in the public record to applicable service members, their spouses and children.

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Seminoles air ad touting benefits of gambling deal

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is using television to salvage its exclusive deal with the state to offer banked card games such as blackjack.

A half-minute ad started airing in Tallahassee this week – when lawmakers also have returned to the capital to kick off the annual legislative session.

On Monday, the House introduced a comprehensive gambling overhaul bill that leaves the Seminoles out of its long-term picture.

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Pasco commission chair Schrader considers seeking 5th term

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

— Pasco County Commission Chairman Ted Schrader is rethinking his decision to retire at the end of his term in 2016.

The San Antonio Republican now says he “is giving serious consideration” to running for a fifth term.

“I still feel like I have a lot of offer as a public servant,” he said.

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Gambling bill will drop on first day of legislative session, Tampa’s Young says

Published:   |   Updated: February 27, 2015 at 04:16 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A massive gambling overhaul bill will hit lawmakers’ desks on the first day of session, but its sponsor is holding back on exactly what’s on it.

“Everything is on the table and that’s all I’m going to say about it,” House Republican Leader Dana Young of Tampa said Friday of the 100-plus page piece of legislation.

But already, gambling opponents are wary. For years, interests such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Genting have wanted action in the Sunshine State.

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Lawmaker seeks binding charter panel

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

— Some Pasco legislators say they will accept the invitation from Commission Chairman Ted Schrader to appoint members to a charter government advisory board, but delegation Chairman Richard Corcoran said he would only participate if the committee’s recommendations are binding.

“What we want is for voters to be empowered and citizens to be empowered and not to have this be a charade or a power grab,” Corcoran said Thursday.

Schrader has asked the commissioners and legislators to give him a list of their appointees by Tuesday so the county attorney’s office can prepare an agenda item for the March 11 commission meeting. Each commissioner will have two appointments, while each legislator would have one.

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Brandes files legislation to help Uber, Lyft

Published:   |   Updated: February 25, 2015 at 06:34 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

State Sen. Jeff Brandes once again has filed legislation to help app-based car services such as Uber and Lyft.

The St. Petersburg Republican filed a bill on Wednesday that would set statewide insurance and background check requirements, clearing the way for the upstarts to be free of some local regulation.

But Brandes’ bill (SB 1326) doesn’t go as far as its House companion.

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Grant catches break on Election Commission fines

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Sometimes, it pays to appeal. Or rather, it saves.

Former state Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, was facing nearly $6,000 in fines from the Florida Elections Commission for late-filed finance reports from his 2014 campaign.

He appealed and the commission took up his two fine cases Wednesday.

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