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2017 Legislative Session preview: Showdown over gambling—again

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With competing legislation now set up in both chambers, the question remains whether lawmakers finally will pass a gambling overhaul or whether the effort will founder as it has in years past. Hanging in the balance is a new blackjack exclusivity deal for the Seminole Tribe of Florida that promises a cut to the state worth $3 billion over seven years. Negotiated by Gov. Rick Scott in late 2015, it failed to gain approval from lawmakers last session as it…

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It’s official: John Legg not running in 2018

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

It’s time for the Leggs to enjoy it being “Quiet Uptown.” Former state Sen. John Legg said Monday he will not run for Senate in 2018, quashing rumors he might considering a comeback in the coming years. “After 12 years my family and I need a break,” he said.  “Also, I am enjoying working on education issues and innovation both national and statewide. I feel like I can make a bigger difference in education right now outside of the Florida Legislature.…

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Craft beer debate includes … Chance the Rapper?

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chance the rapper

Craft brewers can thank Chance the Rapper for getting this year’s beer bill over its first legislative hurdle. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday cleared the measure (SB 554) on a 6-3 vote. Democrats Perry Thurston and Randolph Bracy joined Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto in opposing the bill.   But Oscar Braynon, the chamber’s Democratic Leader, said he would support the legislation because of the example of the 23-year-old Chicago-based rap star. The measure would allow smaller craft brewers to…

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Impressive roster of GOP leaders line up for Ed Hooper fundraiser

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper is assembling an impressive number of high-profile state lawmakers for a Tallahassee reception next month. Hooper, a former state representative, is seeking the open Senate District 16 seat currently held by Jack Latvala. Hooper’s campaign fundraiser will be Monday, March 6, from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Governors Club, 202 South Adams Street. The host committee reads like a Who’s Who of GOP state leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and nearly all the…

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At Tampa rally for Enterprise Florida funding, Rick Scott repeatedly calls out Shawn Harrison

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Saying that he is “shocked” that a committee in the Florida House voted to kill funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida last week, Governor Rick Scott came to Tampa on Monday to urge the public to urge their state legislators to maintain the funding for those two besieged  agencies. “This is an important issue to me personally,” Scott said in his comments to reporters after concluding the second of three scheduled appearances around the state in what his staff is calling a “Fighting for…

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Dana Young joins push for new greyhound bill, banning steroids

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Decrying that racing dog owners are “doping greyhounds,” state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith joined state Rep. Alexandra Miller and Dana Young Friday in another effort to tighten regulation of dog racing in Florida, with a bill explicitly banning the use of steroids. Smith, the Orlando Democrat, and Miller, the Sarasota Republican, introduced House Bill 743 Thursday, replacing an earlier version Miller had introduced. Young, the Tampa Republican introduced Senate Bill 512 last month. On Thursday, it was referred to the…

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Darryl Rouson, Jeff Brandes driver’s license suspension bill advances in Senate

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation to reduce the number of driver’s licenses suspended annually in Florida. The bipartisan bill (SB 302), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes and Democrat Darryl Rouson, would end the suspension of licenses for non-driving-related offenses. If passed, it could dramatically reduce a large number of suspensions taking place statewide each year. Right now, one can lose driving privileges in Florida over a number of nondriving offenses: truancy, writing graffiti, theft, vandalism, writing worthless…

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