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Monday, May 04, 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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Fla. Supreme Court turns down request to force House to reconvene

Published:   |   Updated: May 1, 2015 at 05:14 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday denied the Senate Democrats’ request to compel the House back into session, saying it would not “produce any beneficial result.”

In other words, with session set to expire at 11:59 p.m. anyway, there wasn’t much good in trying to get all 120 House members back to Tallahassee.

That’s the extent of the good news for the House.

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Seminoles call for new talks with state over blackjack deal

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

In a letter that was hand-delivered Friday, the Seminole Tribe of Florida “renew(ed) its request” to negotiate a new agreement for the tribe to continue offering blackjack at its casinos.

A section of the “Seminole Compact,” set to expire at the end of July, was worth a minimum of $1 billion over five years.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office and tribal leaders have been unable to agree on renewal terms.

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Fla. House to Senate (D)s: Case is groundless, meritless

Published:   |   Updated: May 1, 2015 at 01:31 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The Florida House of Representatives says there are no substantive or procedural grounds to force it to come back into session, according to a court document filed Friday morning.

The House responded to an emergency petition filed Thursday with the state Supreme Court asking the justices to find the chamber violated the state constitution and to order the House back into session.

At issue is a section that says “[n]either house shall adjourn for more than seventy-two consecutive hours except pursuant to concurrent resolution.”

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Fla. Senate Democrats to Supreme Court: Order the House back

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

Florida’s Democratic senators took a short field trip to the state Supreme Court building Thursday, where they filed an emergency petition to force the House back into session.

Time is running out, however, with the time for regular session due to expire at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The paperwork now before the justices cites a provision of the state Constitution, which says “[n]either house shall adjourn for more than seventy-two consecutive hours except pursuant to concurrent resolution.”

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New board could investigate how much money Fla. hospitals really make

Published:
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Tallahassee

A week after Gov. Rick Scott said he would convene a commission to “examine the revenues of Florida hospitals, insurance and healthcare providers,” his office released an outline that could guide that commission’s investigation.

The Governor’s Office on Wednesday released a draft outline that Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding may follow to look into the role of taxpayer funding for hospitals, insurers and healthcare providers.

If convened the commission could look at the revenues hospitals collect, profit margins and total charity care.

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Fla. House adjourns early; Speaker tells members, “We have done all we can do...”

Published:
Matt Dixon in Tallahassee

With a $5 billion funding fight hanging over the Capitol, the House on Wednesday sent its members home, saying there was no more business to accomplish before the Friday official end to the legislative session.

The 1:15 p.m. adjournment shocked lobbyists and even most House members, an indication that the decision – known as “sine die” – was quietly made by a handful of top House members.

The issue prompting the logjam is Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. The Senate’s budget includes $2.8 billion for expansion, while the House stand philosophically opposed to accepting federal dollars to expand coverage.

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“Whiskey and Wheaties” provision almost back before state lawmakers

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

An attempt to resurrect the contentious “whiskey and Wheaties” bill this session as an amendment to another bill didn’t have success in the House Monday.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican, filed an amendment to a Senate bill (SB 998) seeking to outlaw powdered alcohol – or “palcohol” – in Florida.

The bill and amendment were set to be considered, then “temporarily postponed,” and now listed as “on second reading,” a legislative purgatory in the late days of a session.

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Could it be? Bill legalizing 64 oz. ‘growlers’ heading to governor

Published:
Staff and wire report

Florida’s yearslong “growler war” could be ending under legislation headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

A bill (SB 186) passed in the House on Friday would allow craft breweries to sell beer in the 64-ounce sized “growler” and lift a requirement that they operate as tourist attractions.

The half-gallon glass beer jug is the most popular size for taking home craft beer.

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Bill to make police ‘body cam’ videos secret heads to governor

Published:
The Associated Press

Florida may soon place limits on who is allowed access to video taken by body cameras worn by law enforcement officers.

The state Legislature on Friday sent to Gov. Rick Scott a bill that would keep confidential police videos that are shot in a house, a health care facility or any place that a “reasonable person would expect to be private.”

The House voted 112-2 for the bill. It passed the Senate earlier this week.

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State Senate approves PSC, child protection bills; sends back to House

Published:
The news Service of Florida

Pointing in part to savings for Duke Energy Florida customers, the Senate on Friday unanimously approved a plan that would place additional requirements on the state Public Service Commission and make changes dealing with electric utilities.

The bill (HB 7109) will go back to the House, which approved it earlier in the week. That’s because the Senate added amendments to the bill.

Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who has spearheaded the issue in the Senate, said a key part of the bill would lead to about $600 million in savings for Duke Energy customers.

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