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Latest Beer-Sale Proposal Protects Big Distributors as Craft Brewers Are Limited to 2,000 Off-Site Kegs

| April 22, 2014

A Senate proposal that would allow small craft brewers to directly sell beer in bottles and cans, as long as they limit to 2,000 kegs how much beer is made for off-site sales, continues to leave a bad taste for the growing industry.

0-For-5: In latest Blow to Scott, U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal on Drug-Testing State Workers

| April 21, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case means that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stands: Drug tests can’t be justified constitutionally for many of the 85,000 workers who would have been subject to Scott’s policy. The two sides continue to carry out a painstaking process of looking at different categories of workers to determine whether some could be subject to drug testing — a process stemming from the appeals court ruling.

Florida State University’s Rape Problem: Football First, Morals Later

| April 19, 2014

The Jameis Winston revelations are one more reminder of just how far universities and their apologists are willing to go to protect the multibillion-dollar enterprise that we call “college sports.” What is the cost to the women at Florida State—and the parents who send them there–who surely can have no illusions about what will happen if they dare to cry rape?

Dream Act’s Florida Push Dies as Senate Panel Kills Proposal to Give In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants

| April 18, 2014

Supporters of the bill seemed taken aback by the news, which came less than a week after Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who sponsored the bill, announced that half the Senate had agreed to join him in sponsoring the measure. Latvala and Negron are locked in a battle over the Senate presidency for the session beginning after the 2016 elections.

Your Amazon Holiday Is Over: Giant Starts Collecting Sales Tax in Florida in 2 Weeks

| April 17, 2014

For Floridians who are supposed to pay the taxes but haven’t, the announcement of Amazon’s entry into the state’s brick-and-mortar retail landscape could mean about $80 million a year in sales taxes, according to one business lobbying group.

Despite Parental Notification Law, Court Finds Room for Teens to Protect Privacy When Seeking Abortion

| April 16, 2014

Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before their minor daughters can have abortions. But an appeals court ruling released Friday shows how far teens can go to challenge the law–and preserve their privacy when seeking an abortion.

House Balks at $2 Million-a-Year Tax Subsidy to Daytona Speedway as Other Breaks Advance

| April 15, 2014

Funding for Daytona International Speedway and a temporary tax break on gym memberships could be casualties when the House and Senate meet next week on their opposing packages to complete Gov. Rick Scott’s $500 million election-year tax cuts.

Replacing Salisbury Steak With Sardines, Florida Prisons’ Kosher Option Raises Hackles

| April 11, 2014

Inmates contend that the peanut butter, sardines and cabbage served up daily by the Florida Department of Corrections are designed to discourage them from signing up for the kosher meals or to punish inmates if they do, and that the chow is far from what a federal judge had in mind last year when she ordered the state to start serving kosher meals to inmates.

Mega Health Bill Favoring Nurse Practitioners, Trauma Centers and Drs. Without State License Clears House Panel

| April 10, 2014

The bill would protect private for-profit trauma centers, allow for independent practice for nurse practitioners and allow out-of-state doctors to participate in telehealth without a Florida license. The Florida Medical Association opposes the latter two.

Casino Legislation Is Dead This Year, But So Is Proposal to Report Injuries and Deaths of Race Greyhounds

| April 9, 2014

Florida will remain, along with Alabama, the only state that does not require require greyhound tracks to report dog injury and deaths. Also ended is a sweeping gambling overhaul that would have authorized two Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida.

Abortion Restrictions May Tighten in Florida as “Viability” Bill Diminishing Women’s Rights Moves Forward

| April 8, 2014

Under current law, third-trimester abortions are allowed if they are necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life or preserve her health, The proposals would make that standard more restrictive, and would exclude a woman’s psychological health as a reason to perform an abortion.

Health Groups Oppose Bill Banning E-Cigarettes to Minors, Calling It a Stealth Favor to Big Tobacco

| April 7, 2014

The American Lung Association of Florida and other groups are fighting the measure because it would also ban local efforts to restrict the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products.

Third Florida Wrong-Way Crash in Two Months Kills 2 and Injures 14 as 91 Year Old Man Errs

| April 5, 2014

Ernest Lee Holmes, 91, drove his Buick south in the northbound lanes of I-75 near midnight Friday, crashing with one car head-on, killing oral surgeon Peter Linek of Ormond Beach, and triggering three more crashes including a Greyhound bus carrying 42 passengers and a car carrying four children.

Scoring the Legislature at the Half-Way Mark

| April 5, 2014

With the two chambers working in tandem on most issues, Gov. Rick Scott was able to sign a series of bills into law this week. They included a bill, dubbed the “Florida GI Bill,” aimed at making the state more military friendly; a package of bills aimed at keeping sexually violent predators locked up; and a bill that will roll back motor-vehicle registration fees.

Lawmakers Poised to Kill Florida KidCare Expansion for 25,000 Children of Legal Immigrants

| April 4, 2014

The proposal (HB 7 and SB 282) would eliminate a five-year waiting period for lawfully residing immigrants to be eligible for KidCare, a subsidized insurance program that serves children from low- and moderate-income families. Senate President Don Gaetz would vote against it.

Senate Approves Proposed Constitutional Amendment Giving Scott Court-Packing Power

| April 4, 2014

The proposal, passed by the Senate in a 26-14 vote, would give the next governor the ability to pack the courts and is intended to give incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, who is seeking re-election, the ability to reshape the Florida Supreme Court.

Internet Café Crackdown: Gambling Task Force Serves Search Warrants in 5 Counties as Businesses Skirt Ban

| April 3, 2014

The Legislature essentially banned such businesses last year, but some continue to operate under different guises. At one point at least seven of the gambling parlors had been operating in Palm Coast, but none in Flagler Beach or the unincorporated part of Flagler County.

Sweeping Child-Welfare Reform Bill Calls For “Moral Outrage” and More Money

| April 3, 2014

The legislation got its start last fall, after media reports about a wave of child deaths from abuse and neglect — and gained momentum as it became clear that many of the victims were already known to the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had failed to protect them.

Federal Appeals Court Declares Scott Administration’s 2012 Voter Purge Illegal

| April 2, 2014

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from Rick Scott’s administration that the effort to remove suspected non-citizens from the voting rolls did not violate a federal law barring wide-ranging efforts to cleanse those rolls within 90 days of an election.

Obamacare Tally: Florida Subsidies Average $3,000, But Some Families Complain of Costly Exclusion

| April 1, 2014

And yet only one in four Floridians who qualifies for a subsidy had enrolled in a plan by March 1, leaving 1 million eligible residents uninsured. A mother describes how the law’s employee-insurance provision barred her family from subsidies.

Rick Scott’s Dilemma: Helping Undocumented-Immigrant Students Or Sticking to His Base

| March 31, 2014

While Scott has repeatedly said he supports a proposal to end annual 15 percent tuition hikes, he’s remained mum about the portion of the bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, or Dreamers.

News-Journal’s Mark Lane, Chronicler of the Darwinian, Will Try to Explain Florida In Library Talk Friday

| March 31, 2014

Lane will be bringing his wit, observation and histories to the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast on Friday, April 4, at 2 p.m., for a talk entitled, “Trying to Explain Florida in Print.” The free talk is hosted by the Friends of the Library of Flagler County.

“Opportunity Scholarships”: Lawmakers Revive Vast Expansion of School Vouchers By Riding Coattails of Students With Disabilities

| March 29, 2014

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted 8-4 to introduce the measure, which would bind together a program aimed at students with disabilities and the voucher expansion. Senate leaders last week pulled their counterpart to the House voucher bill, but the measure for students with disabilities remains alive.

Flagler Unemployment Creeps Up Again, to 9.4%, But Labor Force and Net Jobs Grow

| March 28, 2014

Flagler County’s unemployment rate again rose in February, to 9.4 percent, a decimal-point increase over the previous month and some 80 more people went on unemployment. But The county’s overall employment went up sharply, by 364 (for a total of 31,976), and the county’s labor force went up even more, by 442–both signs of growing strength in the local economy as more workers seem encouraged to join the labor force, and more workers are actually finding jobs.

Lawmakers’ Proposal to Ban E-Cigarettes for Youths Lights Up Local Governments Over Additional Strictures

| March 28, 2014

Health groups and local governments are criticizing a bill (HB 169) that would ban e-cigarette sales to minors because the measure also would prevent cities and counties from passing their own regulations on the sales of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products.

Red-Light Cameras Won’t Be Repealed This Year, But Restrictions on Profits May Yet Pass

| March 27, 2014

Red-light cameras’ powerful lobby defeated Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes’s attempt to end the use of the devices, but several proposed restrictions are still moving through the Legislature, such as limiting profits to safety uses and requiring safety studies before cameras can be installed.

David Beckham Lobbies Tallahassee for Tax Breaks on a Soccer Stadium in Miami

| March 25, 2014

Elected officials — including Gov. Rick Scott — and staffers flooded Twitter with “selfies” alongside Beckham, who wants to bring a professional soccer team to Miami and has set his goal on the Port of Miami as a potential stadium site.

Measure to Cut Local Red-Light Camera Revenue Falters as Cities Cry Foul

| March 24, 2014

A lawmaker had initially proposed that the state ban new red-light cameras while reducing the fine from $158 to $83, eliminating the money local governments could collect. The outcry from local governments over his initial proposal to eliminate the money demonstrated that the issue is strictly about money, he said.

The Problem With “Step Up for Students,” Florida’s Voucher Jockey

| March 24, 2014

Step Up For Children CEO Doug Tuthill is shameless about the way his organization–the administrative agent for Florida’s school voucher program–spends lavishly on political races, which may explain why a Senate proposal to vastly expand the voucher program this year foundered.

Bill Vastly Expanding School Vouchers Dies As Questions About Accountability Mounted

| March 22, 2014

The decision represents a defeat for the GOP’s Will Weatherford, who was home schooled as a child and strongly pushed the expansion of the system, which gives companies tax credits for donating to scholarship funds that help children attend private schools. Under the bills, retailers would have been allowed to divert sales-tax payments to the system.

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