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Senate President Says No to More Authority and Prescription Power For Nurse Practitioners

| February 26, 2014

A House bill would give advanced-practice nurses more authority, including prescribing of controlled substances, and set up a pathway to independent practice, not supervised by physicians. But Senate President Don Gaetz opposes it.

Florida Lawmakers Reeling Up Billion-Dollar Tax Breaks For Film and TV Industries

| February 25, 2014

Less than a week after a measure was introduced in the House to provide $1 billion in tax credit to film and television production efforts in Florida, the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee released a proposal that offers $300 million in tax credits.

Forget Vegas: Florida Senate Wants
You to Gamble in State’s Backyards

| February 24, 2014

The Florida Senate has released an ambitious gambling proposal that would authorize two Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida, create a gambling commission and allow voters to decide if they want to control future gambling expansions.

Memo to Florida Legislature: Quit Bashing Public-Employee Pensions

| February 20, 2014

A determined cohort of elected officials in our Legislature is trying to turn working and retired people against each other, to better the odds of a dangerous bill becoming destructive law. If ever there were a legislative wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing of “fiscal responsibility,” this would be that perpetually hungry beast, argues Daniel Tilson.

“Massive Expansion” of School Vouchers Would Fund Private Education at Public Expense

| February 20, 2014

Under the proposal, retailers could divert sales-tax payments to the system; middle-class families would qualify for partial scholarships; and each scholarship would cover more of the cost of attending a private school.

Florida Lawmakers Edging Toward Offering In-State Tuition for Some Undocumented Immigrants

| February 19, 2014

A measure allowing some undocumented students to receive in-state tuition was easily approved Wednesday by a House subcommittee, but the bill still faces a steep climb in the Senate.

Obamacare Enrollment Surging in Florida Despite Resistance from State Officials

| February 18, 2014

By the end of January, nearly 300,000 Floridians had enrolled in a new health plan through Obamacare — a surge that left most other states in the dust, despite state officials’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the relative scarcity of helpers available.

Latest NRA Push: Let County Tax Collectors Issue Concealed-Weapons Permits

| February 17, 2014

The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider a proposal that would allow county tax collectors to accept applications for concealed-weapon or firearms licenses. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services currently accepts the applications at regional locations, but supporters of the bill say it would address increasing demands. The proposal comes as lawmakers move forward with bills backed by the National Rifle Association. But it also comes as a verdict this weekend in a highly publicized Jacksonville shooting places renewed focus on Florida’s gun laws.

Busy Tallahassee as Red-Light Camera Ban, Pension Phase-Out and Pot Phase-In Animate Lawmakers

| February 15, 2014

Lawmakers seemed to be drawing closer this week to giving a green light to a limited form of medical marijuana, while some of them complained that red-light cameras were spreading across the state like weeds.

Another Tax Cut for Business: Putnam Proposes Reducing Electricity Sales Levy By Half

| February 13, 2014

By phasing in the reduction from 7 percent to 3.5 percent, the impact to state revenue should be a reduction of about $85 million the first year, and an additional $70 million in each of the two following years. Residential customers would see no tax cut.

State Employees Would Be Shifted to 401(k)-Like Plans, Ending Florida Retirement System for Almost All

| February 12, 2014

The Senate proposal dramatically overhauling the pension plans for many future public employees sets off a highly anticipated election-year fight between unions and Republican legislative leaders. Only firefighters and cops would be allowed to stay in FRS.

Stand Your Ground: Florida is Not My Castle. And It’s Not Yours, Either.

| February 11, 2014

The right to stand one’s ground against aggression in one’s home is unquestioned, but, argues Julie Delegal, in public, spaces must be shared, peacefully. The castle doctrine cannot be extended to cover the entire state, as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law does.

State Study Skeptical of Red-Light Cameras’ Effectiveness Buoys Senator’s Push For Repeal

| February 10, 2014

The report from theFlorida Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability found there were fewer fatalities but more crashes at electronically monitored intersections, and that fines issued due to the technology cost motorists nearly $119 million last year. The study cast doubt on cameras as safety-inducing devices.

NRA-Backed Bill Would End Zero-Tolerance Punishment of Students Play-Acting Guns at School

| February 6, 2014

The NRA-backed measure by Florida House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would prevent children from being disciplined for simulating a gun while playing or wearing clothes that depict firearms.

Florida Lawmakers Would Stiffen Penalties On Insurers Discriminating Against Gun Owners

| February 5, 2014

Insurance companies could face tougher penalties if they impose higher rates, refuse to issue or cancel auto or homeowner policies due to gun ownership, under a measure backed by a House committee Tuesday.

Flagler’s Vacation Rental Reform Bill Advances Through 2 Committees, Buoying Chances

| February 5, 2014

The proposed reform of a law that would return control of short-term rental regulations to counties and cities gained additional support at the Legislature Tuesday as it cleared a second Senate committee and its first House committee with solid backing.

Healthy Families and Other Children’s Programs Could Benefit From Scott’s Election-Year Budget

| February 3, 2014

Scott’s proposed budget includes an additional $7 million for Healthy Families Florida, a program that reduces child abuse and neglect, and $3.6 million for Early Steps, which screens the youngest children for disabilities and delays, the better to catch them at the earliest and most correctable.

Scott Proposes $74.2 Million Budget, Culminating Weeks of Tax-Cutting and Spending Pitches

| January 29, 2014

The blueprint released Wednesday included at least two notable items: an increase in the exemption from the corporate income tax that would cost the state $21.6 million, and up to $70 million for land conservation efforts.

Scott Pitches Cut of Sales Tax on Rental Properties and $80 Million for Cancer Research

| January 28, 2014

Scott will ask lawmakers to support a $100 million reduction in the commercial lease tax that now brings in about $1.4 billion a year, and $60 million to existing cancer centers as they seek National Cancer Institute designation.

Scott Proposes Increasing Education Funding By $542 Million, Mostly For Public Schools

| January 27, 2014

The bulk of the new spending — $542 million — would go to public schools. While that is far lower than the approximately $1 billion increases Scott sought in each of the last two years, his office touted the fact that it would bring spending on education to the highest level in state history in terms of raw dollars, though unadjusted for inflation.

Fulfilling Pledge, Rep. Travis Hutson Files Animal Cruelty Bill Inspired By FPC Student

| January 23, 2014

Animal abuse may cost abusers far more in penalties and punishment if a bi-partisan bill inspired by Flagler Palm Coast High School student Morgan Purtlebaugh and filed by Rep. Travis Hutson last week becomes law.

In Latest Re-Election Ploy, Scott Proposes 10-Day Sales Tax Holiday, Triple the Usual Length

| January 18, 2014

Scott announced Friday he wants lawmakers to approve a 10-day sales tax holiday in August. The extended tax-free period is the latest of the budget proposals Scott has rolled out in advance of the 2014 legislative session.

Stores May Host Tastings For Wine But Not Beer. Senate Bill Would Repeal Prohibition.

| January 17, 2014

The Florida Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Thursday gave unanimous support to the bill (SB 470)–including the vote of Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine–but lawmakers, lobbyists and substance-abuse prevention advocates were quick to question the packaging of the proposal.

Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus To Gov. Rick Scott: Drop Dead

| January 16, 2014

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday abruptly canceled its annual meeting with Gov. Rick Scott, a move the group said was meant to underscore its frustration with the governor.

Extending Spending Spree, Scott Asks for $200 Million Increase For Roads, Bridges and Ports

| January 14, 2014

The $200 million proposed increase for infrastructure follows Friday’s request for $100 million for tourism from Scott, who entered office in 2011 slashing a state budget he said was weighted down with “short-sided, frivolous, wasteful” projects.

Weeks After Bunnell Commissioner’s Residency Is Questioned, Lawmakers Float Tighter Rules

| January 10, 2014

A pair of state lawmakers announced a proposal Thursday that would tighten the definition of residency for elected officials, but the measures don’t specify what the punishment might be or who would be responsible for enforcing the standards.

No Need To Lie Anymore: Proposed Law Would Allow Sale of Fireworks For “Personal” Use

| January 8, 2014

Currently the law limits sales to relatively innocuous devices such as sparklers, while banning sales of such things as bottle rockets. Lawmakers are gathering support for a proposal that would allow the sale of aerial and explosive devices as long as the individuals buying the fireworks sign a waiver asserting that it’s for personal use–not just agricultural use, as is now the case.

CFO Jeff Atwater’s Lunge for FAU Presidency May Trigger Political Scramble for Cabinet Seat

| January 6, 2014

Atwater is expected to easily win reelection to his Cabinet post and is believed to be considering a run for governor in 2018. A CFO vacancy in this year’s elections could unleash a domino effect in the state Legislature and also open up the door for Democrats to recapture a seat on the Cabinet.

14 For ’14: What Will Command
Florida’s Attention This Year

| January 5, 2014

From the governor’s race to the economy to gambling to common core and the continuing battles over health care, here are some of the issues that will dominate the political landscape in the year ahead, some of which focusing the nation’s eyes on Florida yet again.

Florida Hospital Flagler CEO: State Must Extend Medicaid to Working Poor

| January 4, 2014

The Florida Legislature still has the opportunity this year to draw down $51 billion in federal dollars already sent to Washington to help pay the cost of health insurance for those who cannot afford it, argues Floridfa Hospital Flagler CEO Ken Mattison.

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