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2017 special session

Legislature adjourns sometimes-bumpy special session in a burst of amity

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The Legislature concluded its special session with about an hour and 20 minutes to spare Friday, after voting to improve funding for public schools, colleges, and universities, and revamping the way the state encourages economic growth. While they were at it, the lawmakers passed an implementing bill for the medical marijuana constitutional amendment the voters approved last year. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron gaveled their chambers into adjournment at around 4:40 p.m. — well in advance…

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Senate holds off on school funding until House acts on higher education

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The Senate has teed up a compromise school-funding bill designed to help send the Legislature home from its special session. But the senators held off a final vote until the House makes good on its promise to OK an economic development bill that contains $60 million in higher education projects. The Senate passed the latter bill, HB 1-A, earlier in the afternoon, on a vote of 34-2 (with Jeff Brandes and Perry Thurston dissenting). Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala conceded that…

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The economic incentives bill clears the House by a lopsided vote

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The House passed the economic incentives package Friday over complaints it would hand Gov. Rick Scott a “slush fund” and make a mockery of the leadership’s professed opposition to picking winners and losers in the economy. The vote was 111-4. The “no” votes were John Cortes, Evan Jenne, McGhee, and Emily Slosberg — all Democrats. The bill represents “a fundamental change in direction” for the state’s economic development programs — away from subsidizing individual companies, said Paul Renner, carrying the measure.…

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Joe Negron doubles down: He was not party to any special session deal

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Senate President Joe Negron insisted Thursday, for the second time in as many days, that he emphatically was not party to any deal between Gov. Rick Scott and the House over public education spending and economic incentives. Any suggestion otherwise, Negron told reporters following the day’s Senate session, is a “false narrative.” There is evidence, he said — absence of reference to him in the governor’s special session proclamation, and of any quote from a press release announcing the session. He…

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Senate avoids loading down schools funding bill with hostile amendments

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The Senate rejected amendments Thursday that might have blocked a meeting of minds with the House on public schools funding — including bids to tie the legislation explicitly to economic development investments. “These issues have been parsed out separately,” said Sen. Gary Farmer, who offered both amendments. “Let’s put them together. And let’s candidly assert ourselves as the Florida Senate. Let’s make a statement about what our policy is. Let’s send the House one bill, one package,” he said. “Let’s…

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Budget panel sends schools, economic development, Medicaid bills to the floor

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The Senate’s versions of legislation pumping money into public schools, hospitals, Enterprise Florida, and Visit Florida — and establishing a regulatory framework for medical marijuana — cleared the Appropriations Committee Thursday. The votes — either unanimous or nearly so — sent the measures to the Senate floor. They also augured confrontations with the House involving oversight of economic development grants, and spending on Medicaid and public schools. Chairman Jack Latvala appeared determined to hold his ground. For example, of a…

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As Special Session opens, the Florida Senate asserts its prerogatives

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That deal everyone assumed Gov. Rick Scott struck with legislative leaders to ensure a smooth special session? It didn’t exist. At least, it didn’t include Senate President Joe Negron. Scott invited him to Friday’s press conference held to announce that he was calling a three-day special session on education, Visit Florida, and Enterprise Florida, Negron said Wednesday. He went out of respect for the governor, but there was no meeting of minds. “It was very clear to the governor, in my…

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