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Jeff Brandes say his next focus will be on reforming Florida prison system

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A mentally ill inmate who was in protective custody was found dead at the Columbia Correctional Institution on Tuesday, a day after a corrections officer was hospitalized in an attack. It’s yet another black mark on a prison system that many say is overcrowded and underfunded, though Department of Corrections insist those issued had nothing to do with the attack. The Florida Legislature opted not to give the Department of Corrections the 734 additional positions that the agency said were necessary to…

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At Tiger Bay, Andy Gardiner says he expects Democrats to make some gains in 2016 elections

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Outgoing Senate President Andy Gardiner conceded Thursday that the presidential election, the possible “Trump effect” and other issues likely will lead to Democrats making gains in the Florida Legislature elections this fall. Gardiner, an Orlando Republican, told the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida that he is confident the GOP will retain its majority in the Senate but that this year voters appear to be looking at experience as a liability. “I certainly don’t see the Florida Senate flipping Democratic, but I…

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Still no decision on Florida Senate’s ‘Five Flags Mural’

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With work well underway on renovations of the Florida Senate chamber, there’s still no word on the fate of the decades-old mural that greets visitors to the chamber’s fifth floor public gallery. Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Tuesday no final decision has been made about the artwork’s future. This past October, Betta said the mural will be taken down because it’s showing signs of age, including fading and peeling. The “Five Flags Mural” also happens to depict a Confederate flag, which the Senate previously voted to remove from…

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House, Senate Republicans to hold fundraiser at Universal Orlando

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

How do you celebrate the end of a Legislative Session? If you’re Florida House and Senate Republicans, you do it with a fundraiser at Universal Orlando. Republican leaders will hold a fundraiser at Universal Orlando on April 9 and 10. The event, first reported by POLITICO Florida reporter Matt Dixon, will benefit the House and Senate Majority Committees, which oversee legislative campaigns. Among those listed as headliners is Rep. Chris Sprowls, the Pinellas County Republican who may be the House…

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Property Casualty Insurers “disappointed” by failure to pass ride-sharing regulation

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said it was disappointed lawmakers capped off the 2016 Legislative Session without passing insurance regulations for Uber and Lyft drivers. “Twenty-nine other states have passed legislation addressing insurance coverage requirements for TNCs, and it is past time for Florida to do the same,” the group said in a Friday email. “PCI will continue to work with lawmakers on a solution for 2017 so that this is the last year rideshare drivers and passengers…

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Uber legislation finally flames out

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A compromise between Republican lawmakers and ride-hailing firms like Uber was on thin ice Friday afternoon as Session raced to a close, until finally, the bill hit a brick wall. Sen. David Simmons, the Senate Rules Chair, had worked on the bill (SB 1118) for months. It would have mandated minimum commercial insurance requirements for drivers with Uber and similar app-based companies, known as “transportation network companies” in Capitol-ese. The House — which favors a more Uber-friendly approach — passed its own bill (HB 509) last…

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Florida poised to approve a nearly $82.3 billion budget

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Putting behind a year’s worth of rancor, the Florida Legislature on Friday will approve a more than $82.3 billion budget that includes a slight boost in money for schools but also rejects many of Gov. Rick Scott‘s main priorities. Just a few months ago the Republican-controlled Legislature was rushing to pass a budget to avoid a state government shutdown. This time the House and Senate put together a spending plan for this year that increases the state budget by roughly…

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