Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

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Bruce Ritchie

Bruce Ritchie has 127 articles published.

Gov. Scott vetoes water projects, firefighter pay increases

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Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday vetoed more than $87 million in environmental spending including $27.3 million for suspect “dispersed” water projects. Scott vetoed $461.3 million in spending from a budget of more than $78 billion. While highlighting tax cuts and spending to bring more jobs to Florida, the governor said the 2015-16 state budget provides for springs protection, Everglades restoration and land acquisition. “We are doing the right thing for our environment,” Scott said. He also vetoed more than $29…

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Perhaps DEP’s Jon Steverson will tell the Cabinet what is going on in Palatka

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DEP Secretary Jon Steverson says he has never fired anyone for enforcing the law. Yet his fingerprints – or at least tacit backing – are all over the ouster of top staff at the St. Johns River Water Management District. The resignations of Executive Director Hans Tanzler and four top staff members at the district, based in Palatka, has prompted criticism from environmentalists and newspaper editorial writers about political interference from Tallahassee. Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News…

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Bruce Ritchie: Enough secrecy! After voting on water plan, tri-state rivers group should vote to disband

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A group calling itself ACF Stakeholders was formed in 2010 with great promise in trying to create consensus among the various user groups along the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint (ACF) rivers. But when the group meets in Florida next week, it should vote to disband. Because the river system and the people who depend on it don’t need any more secrecy. And that’s what the group now seems to be largely about. ACF Stakeholders started off with great promise, in…

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Bruce Ritchie: Environmentalists think lack of legislation could be a good thing

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As I was sitting in the press gallery looking down into the darkened Senate chambers on the last day of the 2015 Legislative session, I was reminded of how the environment usually seems to lose amid debate and controversy. The O.J. Simpson trial. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael Jackson’s death. A police shooting in Ferguson, Mo. When these incidents happen, discussion and debate about environmental issues gets pushed off the evening news and forced into the back pages of…

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Bill Nelson files federal bill blocking seismic testing off Florida

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he filed legislation that he says would block a federal plan to allow oil and gas exploration off Florida’s Atlantic coast. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering 10 permits to allow seismic testing from Delaware south to about Melbourne off the coast of Florida. There is no timeline on a permitting decision because they involve multiple agencies, a bureau spokesman said. Environmental groups and 75 scientists have asked President Barack Obama to halt the program because…

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‘Year of water’ failed along with environmental bills, but some did pass

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Another legislative session dubbed the “year of water” failed to deliver in 2015 as the House went home early over a healthcare spending dispute with the Senate. HB 7003, a water bill that was a legislative priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, passed the House by a 106-9 vote on the second day of session. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and industry groups supported the bill, which would have set milestones and timetables for cleaning up springs and other waterways. The Senate…

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Senate passes Duke/PSC bill after House rejected amendments

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The Senate on Wednesday voted to strip off amendments it passed to a bill involving Duke Energy Florida and financing for its Crystal River nuclear plant and sent the bill to the governor. HB 7109 would allow Duke Energy to issue bonds to cover $1.4 billion in operating costs prior to the shutdown of its Crystal River nuclear plant. Sen. Jack Latvala, sponsor of the Senate companion bill, said the legislation would save Duke customers $600 million over 20 years. But…

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