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Saturday, Aug 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.

Legislative pre-session meeting schedule released

Published:   |   Updated: August 29, 2014 at 06:15 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

With a November election coming up, the Florida House of Representatives will compress the time it meets in committee before the yearly legislative session.

Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, on Friday released a 2015 schedule in which his chamber’s committees meet on five different weeks and not until after the new year.

For last session, legislative committees met on nine different weeks, starting as early as the week of last Sept. 23, records show.

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Plaintiffs file appeal to redistricting ruling

Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

Florida’s midterm elections are no longer in danger of being changed, but the lengthy challenge to the state’s congressional districts is not over.

A coalition of plaintiffs that sued over the congressional maps is appealing a Leon Court judge’s ruling earlier this month that the Legislature’s second attempt at drawing those political lines was constitutional.

Within 10 days, the coalition will also file a request that their appeal be certified directly to the Florida Supreme Court.

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Report: Betting on Fla. horse and dog races continues to decline

Published:   |   Updated: August 28, 2014 at 06:42 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Florida’s horse- and dog-racing tracks have seen another year of overall declines in their core business, according to figures released Thursday by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

The combined “handle” for fiscal year 2013-14, which ended June 30, dropped to $850.1 million from $872.3 million the previous year – a 2.5 percent decrease. Those amounts include the state’s jai ajai frontons.

Handle is defined as the total amount wagered at a track in a season of horse or dog racing.

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More school voucher litigation is in the works

Published:   |   Updated: August 27, 2014 at 05:57 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A news release sent Wednesday by the state’s teachers union says it is planning another lawsuit related to Florida’s school voucher program.

The Florida Education Association will hold a press conference 10:30 a.m. Thursday at its Tallahassee HQ to discuss the case. A spokesman didn’t elaborate.

The organization already is suing over a bill (SB 850) passed this year that expands the program.

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Rich backs Crist

By William March

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Detzner: Pre-primary voting may have topped election day numbers for first time

Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

Secretary of State Ken Detzner says for the first time in state history people using absentee ballots and voting by mail may have surpassed the number of people voting on election day.

The 2014 primary was largely quiet, with big-ticket statewide races all but decided before election day.

What piqued the interest of many political junkies and election observers is the continued spike in the use of absentee ballots, which were up more than 40 percent from the 2010 primary.

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Primary election results will be online

Staff report

They’ll be “unofficial” till Sept. 4, but results from today’s Florida primary elections will be available online this evening.

The Department of State’s Division of Elections will broadcast vote tallies on a special website at <http://enight.elections.myflorida.com>.

The counts should be up starting shortly after 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern, when the polls close.

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Light turnout likely in Pinellas County

By Kate Bradshaw

Polling places throughout Pinellas County opened at 7 a.m. today for the primary election to determine who will be on the November ballot in partisan races, and the final results in other races, including the school board and judges.

Voters who haven’t mailed in ballots or voted at an early voting site will be able to cast ballots at their precinct locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

St. Petersburg voters in Precinct 139 are voting at Roberts Recreation Center, 1246 50th Ave. N., because of a weekend fire at their original polling place, the Vietnamese Evangelical Church, 4344 21st St. N.

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Scott makes election day stop in Naples

Published:   |   Updated: August 26, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Naples

Gov. Rick Scott thanked supporters Tuesday during a stop in Naples, and encouraged Southwest Floridians to head to the polls this afternoon.

“We want everyone to get out to vote,” the Naples Republican told reporters after calling a supporter to thank her. “This is a special day. The sacred right of voting is very important.”

Scott and his wife, Ann, have spent the day stopping by campaign offices to thank supporters. The governor voted early by absentee ballot, a spokeswoman said.

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Early voting for primary in Hillsborough sets record

By Keith Morelli

No one knows yet who will win today’s primary races, but one thing already is clear: More and more people are casting a ballot before election day dawns.

Hillsborough County elections officials Monday tallied the early voting and vote-by-mail ballots and said the number far eclipsed before-election voting in the last two primaries in 2012 and 2010.

Early voting ended Sunday, and counting the mail-in ballots continued late Monday afternoon.

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