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2016 legislative session

Looks like that Confederate general will remain in Statuary Hall collection

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Representative Scott Plakon may have succeeded where a devotee of Southern Heritage failed in blocking the replacement of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as one of Florida’s two representatives in the National Statuary Hall collection. Seber Newsome III of Save Southern Heritage appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee last week to oppose sending Smith packing. It was a lost cause: The committee voted unanimously in favor of a resolution, SCR 1360, by Sen. Perry Thurston, to replace Smith with Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Meanwhile,…

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Florida Court: Jury must unanimously agree on death penalty

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The fate of convicted killers on Florida’s death row – as well as the fate of people awaiting trial for murder – was put in limbo Friday after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that death sentences require a unanimous jury. By a 5-2 vote the court struck down a newly enacted law allowing a defendant to be sentenced to death as long as 10 out of 12 jurors recommend it. The court added that the new law can no longer…

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Jorge Labarga, other judges qualify for merit-retention election

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Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and a raft of other appellate judges have already qualified to run for this year’s merit-retention election. The state’s Division of Elections posted the results online. In order of district, here are the judges who will stand for merit retention: 1st District Court of Appeal (Tallahassee): Ross Bilbrey, Susan Kelsey, Lori S. Rowe, Kent Wetherell, Bo Winokur, Jim Wolf.  2nd District Court of Appeal (Lakeland): John Badalamenti, Marva L. Crenshaw, Nelly N. Khouzam, Matt Lucas, Robert Morris, Stevan Travis Northcutt, Samuel Salario Jr., Craig C. Villanti, Douglas Alan Wallace.  3rd District Court of Appeal (Miami): Edwin A. Scales,…

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Florida Chamber endorses legislative Republicans

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce lent their substantial clout to four statehouse Republicans on Monday. Groveland Rep. Larry Metz, Auburndale Rep. Neil Combee, Maitland Rep. Bob Cortes, and Saint Cloud Rep. Mike De La Rosa were among those who got the nod from the pro-business interest group. The lawmakers all received “A” grades from the Chamber’s annual legislative report card, which assigns members marks based on their votes on the group’s priorities, which according to their criteria aim to make “Florida more competitive through private-sector job…

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Takeaways from Tallahassee – The (veto) pen is mightier than the (legislators’) sword

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And so it goes, another attempt to change the state’s alimony regimen, down in flames. This year’s bill (SB 668) was complicated by the addition of language from another measure in the 2016 Legislative Session. It would have changed the beginning assumption of child custody (or “time-sharing”) to 50/50 between spouses. And that is what killed it, thanks to state Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican. He pushed that language, which came from a bill of his (SB 250) that…

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Steve Vancore addressing Suncoast Tiger Bay today

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One of Florida’s brightest political minds is headed into The Tiger’s Den. Steve Vancore is scheduled to speak to the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club about how state election laws prohibit great numbers from participating in the political process – and how it may get even worse – on April 15. The Tallahassee pollster and political analyst will give an address entitled “Voters Keep Out” before taking questions from members at the Tampa Bay political club’s monthly luncheon. Vancore will bring his wealth…

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Rick Scott signs 20 bills into law

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Florida consumers will now have another layer of protection when they get a hospital bill under legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Scott signed 20 bills into law Thursday, including a bill (HB 221) meant to increase transparency at Florida hospitals. Among other things, the bill stops consumers from receiving bills from out-of-network providers for the cost of healthcare not covered by insurance, as long as it was an emergency situation. The bill also calls on hospitals to…

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