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Wednesday, Jun 03, 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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Court upholds verdict against AHCA in ‘gas mask’ case

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A federal appeals court has upheld a $240,000 verdict against the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration in a discrimination and retaliation case brought by one of its workers.

The award was for mental and emotional anguish: In one incident, the employee – who is black – claimed that a supervisor wore a gas mask when she left the office as a comment about her perfume.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta unanimously affirmed the jury’s award for Valerie Davis, a secretary and paralegal in the agency’s Facilities Counsel’s Office in St. Petersburg.

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Scott vetoes measure affecting ‘mom ‘n’ pop’ convenience stores

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have mandated heightened security for convenience stores that stay open all night, saying it would have “resulted in increased costs on small businesses.”

The bill (HB 755) had passed both the House and Senate unanimously this session.

It would have required convenience stores open 11 p.m.-5 a.m. to add extra late-night staff, install bulletproof cashier enclosures, hire a security guard or install a window and drawer setup, similar to a bank drive-through lane.

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Crisafulli: If it quacks like a duck ... it’s Medicaid expansion

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

As state lawmakers Monday kicked off a 20-day special session to finish a budget for next year, Medicaid expansion supporters took a different tack to get it passed: Using terms other than “Medicaid expansion.”

Members of “A Healthy Florida Works,” a coalition of hospital and business interests backing the state Senate’s version of expansion, were at the Capitol to again press their case.

“The House has made it clear they’re not interested in expanding Medicaid, and the good news is, neither are we,” said Dale Brill, a Tallahassee-based business consultant and former state tourism director under then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

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West Pasco Republican Club could regain charter

Published:   |   Updated: May 31, 2015 at 12:40 PM
By Laura Kinsler

An influential Pasco political club could regain its charter as a newly designated “legacy club” from the Republican Party of Florida, based on new policies party leaders adopted at their quarterly meeting this month.

Pasco State Committeewoman Sandy Graves took the plight of the West Pasco Republican Club directly to GOP leaders during the Orlando meeting after the county’s chairman and state committeeman decided  not to renew the club’s charter despite its long history and deep community ties.

Graves signed the charter, but Pasco GOP Chairman James Mathieu and State Committeeman Bill Bunting refused.

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Political podcast: Everyone is on the same page headed into special session (not really)

Published:
TBO.com staff

This week’s episode features guest co-host Tia Mitchell, the always awesome statehouse bureau chief for the Florida Times-Union.

We talk about the Senate’s amended health care expansion plan, which was intended as an olive branch, but fell flat.

House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott quickly said they oppose the proposal, which means there is a lots of work ahead as special session kicks off next week.

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Pasco voter hits Mariano with ethics complaint

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

— A Pasco man says he filed a formal ethics complaint this week against County Commissioner Jack Mariano for failing to report income from a second job in 2013.

Gary Cooper said voters have a right to know if their commissioners are “moonlighting” and he doesn’t believe it was a honest mistake. “It’s not like he wasn’t aware he was working more than one job,” he said.

Mariano, who is running for his fourth term, said he was unaware of the mistake and filed an amended financial disclosure report to the Florida Commission on Ethics after the Tribune brought the matter to his attention.

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Pasco commissioner files amended 2013 financial report

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

— Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano filed an amended 2013 financial disclosure report to the Florida Commission on Ethics after the Tribune discovered he failed to report income from his second job as an insurance salesman.

All Florida elected officials are required to file a full public disclosure of their financial interests each year. In Mariano’s 2013 report, he neglected to list $15,514 he earned as an agent for Barrett Harding Insurance in Hudson. Mariano makes $84,242 a year as a county commissioner.

Mariano, who is running for his fourth term, is a former car salesman who started working at the insurance company shortly after his 2012 re-election. He said he earned about $30,000 last year selling insurance policies and would include that income in his 2014 report, which is due July 1.

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Political podcast: Reaction to LIP deal; Scott’s commission is unhappy with hospitals

Published:
Tribune staff

We have a Low Income Pool funding deal!

What’s that mean? Are we out of the budget woods? This week’s episode has reaction to the deal from a trio of Florida’s legislative leaders.

We also dive into the first meeting of Gov. Rick Scott’s health care financing commission, which is not very happy with state hospitals.

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Gov. Scott approves 44 more bills

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed another 44 bills from the recently concluded legislative session into law, including 10 relating to exemptions from the state’s open government laws.

One of the bills (SB 290) approved by Scott will allow concealed weapons to be carried for 48 hours during a mandatory evacuation, such as before a hurricane.

It was sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican.

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Fla. Supreme Court: Medical malpractice caps aren’t retroactive

Published:
The Associated Press

A 2003 law capping medical malpractice lawsuit awards at $500,000 can’t be applied retroactively, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The decision was in a Miami-Dade County case in which a woman suffered permanent damage to her leg from what she claimed was unnecessary surgery.

A jury awarded Kimberly Ann Miles $1.5 million, but Dr. Daniel Weingrad appealed the case.

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