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Wednesday, Jul 30, 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.

Montelione files for re-election in 2015

Published:   |   Updated: July 30, 2014 at 04:24 PM
By Kevin Wiatrowski

— Incumbent Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione has filed for re-election.

Montelione is in her first term representing District 7, which runs from Sligh Avenue north along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to the Pasco County line. The district includes the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens, older neighborhoods in North Tampa and more recent suburbs of Tampa Palms and New Tampa.

She is the fourth incumbent to file for re-election. Councilmen Harry Cohen and Charlie Miranda have yet to file to run again. Cohen represents South Tampa’s District 4. Miranda, who is term-limited out of District 6, has said he might run for citywide District 2, which has no candidates so far.

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State ethics panel clears state Rep. Jamie Grant and others in Hardee County economic development investigation

Published:   |   Updated: July 30, 2014 at 04:23 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Two state lawmakers have been cleared of alleged ethics violations regarding their involvement in a project to bring high-tech jobs to a poor, rural Florida county.

The state Commission on Ethics found “no probable cause” that either state Rep. Jamie Grant or state Rep. Ben Albritton misused their elected position.

They were accused of wrongly benefiting themselves in the Hardee County development project.

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Ethics panel tosses complaints against Scott, Crist

Published:
By TBO.com staff

The Associated Press reports: Ethics complaints targeting both former Gov. Charlie Crist and current Gov. Rick Scott have been dismissed.

The Florida Commission on Ethics announced Wednesday that the panel found no legal reason to investigate the complaints.

The commission tossed a complaint filed by a top Republican Party of Florida official that alleged that Crist misused his office in December 2010 when he appointed a partner in the Morgan & Morgan law firm to a panel that nominates judges for appointment. Crist later joined the firm.

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Citizens announces more settlements in sinkhole suits

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has has made settlement offers to 600 policyholders to resolve lawsuits over sinkhole damage, a spokesman said Tuesday.

All of the customers are represented by Tampa’s Marshall Thomas Burnett law firm, which specializes in sinkhole and personal injury litigation.

“Citizens has agreed to pay for below-ground repairs as recommended by a licensed professional engineer, who will monitor the repair work and direct any additional necessary below-ground repairs,” spokesman Michael Peltier said in a release.

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Tampa’s Sen. Joyner will press for compensation for FSU player’s family

Published:
Staff and wire reports

A Tampa senator, also the incoming leader of that chamber’s Democrats, is now championing the cause of a Florida State University football player who died during preseason training.

State Sen. Arthenia Joyner filed a bill Tuesday that would lead to the state paying $1.8 million to the parents of Devaughn Darling, who collapsed and died in 2001.

The parents, Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling, Sr., reached a $2 million settlement with the university.

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Florida sheriffs pick Latvala as “Legislator of the Year;” state pension support noted as reason

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The Florida Sheriffs Association announced Tuesday it had selected state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, as “Legislator of the Year.”

The association gave Latvala the award at its summer conference in St Johns County.

The group recognized Latvala “for his tireless work to support Florida’s sheriffs and all law enforcement across the state,” said Polk County Sheriff and association president Grady Judd.

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Politicians’ use of blind trusts is constitutional, Tallahassee judge rules

Published:   |   Updated: July 28, 2014 at 05:57 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A state law allowing politicians to use blind trusts to avoid conflicts of interest is constitutional, a Tallahassee judge ruled Monday.

Jim Apthorp, a former top aide to the late Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, had challenged the law in May.

He said the use of blind trusts violates the Sunshine Amendment, approved by voters in 1976, which calls for elected officials and candidates to “file full and public disclosure of their financial interests.”

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State medical lobby ties support for Medicaid expansion to increased doctor pay

Published:   |   Updated: July 28, 2014 at 04:47 PM
By William March

In a significant sign of physician backing for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the Florida Medical Association now says it favors the idea.

The FMA, the premier trade association for Florida doctors, is normally a politically conservative group, though non-partisan, making its stance a major breakthrough in the eyes of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion supporters.

But the FMA attached one significant condition: It said it backs Medicaid expansion only if doctors get paid more for treating Medicaid patients.

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Gravis Marketing: Crist 68, Rich 20

Published:
By William March

new poll by Gravis Marketing

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More endorsements announced in HD 61 race

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The battle of endorsements between the two leading candidates in the Florida House District 61 Democratic primary keeps getting hotter.

This Thursday, Sean Shaw dropped the news that state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, had given him her approval.

“I’m often asked to endorse candidates, but this time I volunteered,” Joyner said in a news release sent out by the Shaw campaign.

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