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Tuesday, Jun 30, 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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Governor OKs $78.6 billion ... make that $78.2 billion state budget

Published:   |   Updated: June 23, 2015 at 10:42 AM
By Capital Bureau Staff

(Updated 10:30 a.m.) Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed the state’s $78.6 billion state budget, minus a whopping $461.4 million in line-item vetoes.

Among those projects getting “whacked,” to use the governor’s favored “Sopranos” references, are $3 million slated for Hillsborough Community College’s South Shore campus and $1 million for the Tampa Theatre’s improvement project.

The sheer volume of vetoes shocked veteran lawmakers.

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Pasco Republicans set to elect a new party chairman

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

— Pasco Republicans will elect a new party chairman on July 9.

Acting Chairman Randy Maggard notified members of the Republican Executive Committee of the upcoming election, which will be conducted by state GOP leaders at Spartan Manor. Only REC members are eligible to vote.

Maggard has been serving as acting chairman since late May, when New Port Richey attorney James Mathieu resigned the position for undisclosed personal reasons a week before the party’s biggest fundraiser, the Reagan Dinner.

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Some lawmakers missing important budget vote

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

It’s arguably the most important vote a lawmaker can cast, but 10 of Florida’s 160 legislators aren’t in Tallahassee Friday to vote on the state’s $78 billion budget - the one constitutionally-required bill.

In the Senate, three senators were granted excused absences: Dwight Bullard, D-Miami; Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.

Bullard was excused “to attend the Key West Africana festival, which is a biannual event in his district,” according to a Senate spokeswoman.

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O’Neil to run for 3rd term as clerk

Published:
By Laura Kinsler

Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller Paula O’Neil filed last month to run for a third term in 2016.

“I love the work we do, and we’ve accomplished a lot of milestones,” O’Neil said regarding her efforts to modernize the office.

Saying she wants to serve the citizens online — not in line — O’Neil has transferred the county’s official rec­ords and court records from paper to electronic versions. That includes deed recording, foreclosures, mortgages and citations. Next is tax deeds.

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Lawmakers begin teeing up state budget for passage

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Good news, Tallahassee lobbying corps: You can make Friday dinner plans after all.

In a brief floor session, Senate President Andy Gardiner on Thursday told his members he planned to convene at 1 p.m. Friday to explain and debate the 2015-16 state budget.

He expects a vote at 5:38 p.m. – one minute after the mandatory 72-hour “cooling off” period.

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Medical marijuana backers announce new campaign to get signatures

Published:   |   Updated: June 17, 2015 at 04:45 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The head of the effort to pass a state constitutional amendment allowing medical pot on Wednesday announced a “massive, statewide paid petition effort” to begin July 1.

Not surprisingly, the announcement was in a fundraising email. Paid workers “will join and expand on a volunteer effort that has already collected tens of thousands” of signatures.

“Every $3 we collect pays for a petition,” writes Ben Pollara, head of Orlando-based People United for Medical Marijuana. “Please contribute to support our petition gathering efforts.”

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Late-night budget rewards Tampa Bay amid questions of transparency

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

State lawmakers late Monday allotted $17 million for the relocation of the University of South Florida’s medical school to downtown Tampa, ensuring an anchor for the proposed redevelopment of the city’s Channel District.

But that news didn’t come till after 11 p.m., when they unloaded reams of budget documents, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in spending.

The late-night data dump flabbergasted reporters and flustered fatigued lobbyists who tried to figure out exactly what was in the nearly $80 billlion annual spending plan.

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Surprise: Fla. Senate telegraphs that Medicaid expansion will not go gentle into that good night...

Published:   |   Updated: June 15, 2015 at 08:09 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

...Indeed, health care expansion, it seems, will burn and rave at close of day.

The Senate’s health policy chair announced late Monday he was asking for the creation of a “Joint House and Senate Task Force on Health Care Policy Innovation.”

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, issued the news in a press release that he was cancelling Tuesday’s meeting of his Health Policy committee.

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Suit settled in Fla. top cop ouster

Published:   |   Updated: June 15, 2015 at 05:51 PM
The Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are settling a lawsuit filed by media organizations over the firing of former Department of Law Enforcement chief Gerald Bailey.

The lawsuit contended that Scott and Cabinet members sidestepped the state’s Sunshine Law in the way they handled Bailey’s dismissal.

The lawsuit asserted that the firing should have been voted on during a public meeting.

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Jeb! announces he’s in it to win it

Published:
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Miami

After months of consideration, Jeb Bush made it official Monday in a speech to a boisterous crowd at Miami Dade College.

“Our country is on a very bad course, and the question is: What are we going to do about it,” said Bush. “The question for me is: What am I going to do about it? And I have decided. I am a candidate for president of the United States.”

Bush announced in December he was considering a 2016 presidential bid. In a speech to several hundred supporters Monday, Bush made it official. In a 28 minute speech, Bush touted pointed to his time as governor as an example of how he would govern.

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