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Saturday, Feb 28, 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.

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

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

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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Scott to announce Wawa store growth in Fla.

Published:   |   Updated: February 23, 2015 at 05:59 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Gov. Rick Scott and the CEO of a Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain will announce “future store growth in Florida” at a press conference later today, the Governor’s Office said in a statement.

Scott is in Philadelphia today and Tuesday on a “domestic business development mission.”

He and Wawa, Inc. CEO Chris Gheysens will discuss the company’s plans at the city’s AAA Five Diamond-rated Four Seasons Hotel shortly after 5 p.m.

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Tom Lee weighs in on Senate President race

Published:   |   Updated: February 23, 2015 at 05:00 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Sen. Tom Lee says the ongoing race to be the Florida Senate’s next president may be leaning in favor of Stuart Republican Joe Negron – by a hair.

Negron and Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala have been vying to lead the chamber after current President Andy Gardiner’s 2-year term ends in 2016.

“They’re pretty evenly matched in terms of votes,” Lee said during a pre-session interview with The Tampa Tribune’s editorial board on Monday.

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Appeals court throws out case on ‘blind trusts’ law

Published:   |   Updated: February 23, 2015 at 03:14 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

An appeals court Monday dismissed a challenge to the state law that lets candidates and elected officials place their assets in a blind trust.

The judges’ decision didn’t address the underlying question: Whether the 2-year-old blind trusts law is constitutional. Such trusts shield their beneficiaries from knowing where money is coming from to avoid conflicts of interest.

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

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“This may not be in your ‘wheelhouse,’ but...”


With session starting in less than two weeks, Tribune/Scripps has decided to start a collection of “Old Chestnuts of the Florida Legislature.”

We’re asking your help to come up with lawmakers’ most, er, well-worn expressions as heard over the last few years.

Here’s a start:

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Greyhound injury-reporting bill clears another panel

Published:   |   Updated: February 19, 2015 at 01:23 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A bill requiring that injuries to racing greyhounds be reported to the state has cleared another Senate panel.

The Fiscal Policy committee OK’d the bill (SB 2) on Thursday by a 9-1 vote, with only Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, opposed.

Florida and Alabama are the last two states that do not mandate racing-dog injury reporting.

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Senate panel clears changes to state’s utility regulation board

James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A bill to overhaul the Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulation board, was unanimously OK’d Tuesday by a Senate panel.

The Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities cleared the measure (SB 288) brought by Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican.

The bill follows dustups involving Duke Energy, which made a one-time change to its billing cycle that resulted in extra days being charged, jacking up bills to thousands of customers in its Tampa Bay service area.

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