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Radio ad blasts Jeff Brandes on ethics

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

An activist group is now running a radio ad in the Tampa Bay area against St. Petersburg-based state Senator Jeff Brandes that questions his ethics. The ad from Florida Strong is called “Let’s Make a (corrupt) Deal.” It attacks the Pinellas Republican for receiving campaign contributions from companies like Duke Energy and insurance lobbyists, and then claims that he voted on issues on behalf of those companies at taxpayers expense. It’s part of the advocacy group’s campaign for stronger ethics reform legislation, called “Got Ethics?” and calls on…

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Campaign finance laws can help or hinder candidates switching races

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Because of differences between federal and state campaign finance laws, MikeHaridopolos can use money left over from his failed U.S. Senate bid to run for state Senate, but Matt Gaetz, who switched from a state Senate seat to a congressional effort, is out of luck. Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican and former Senate President, is mulling a run for Senate District 17, currently held by Thad Altman, a term-limited Rockledge Republican. Haridopolos also ran to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in…

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Don Gaetz says he won’t pursue U.S. House seat

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Former Senate President Don Gaetz on Tuesday declared he will not seek the Congressional District 1 seat left open by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller‘s recent decision to retire in 2016. Gaetz put an end to rumors he may try to make the leap to federal office in a memo to supporters Tuesday afternoon. “Gratified as I am by the many offers of support, I will not be a candidate for Congress,” said Gaetz. “It’s awfully nice to know that folks from every community in our region…

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Rick Outzen: Political domino games begin with Jeff Miller’s announcement

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Congressman Jeff Miller has set off a series of dominoes with his announcement yesterday that he will not seek a ninth term in Congress. Congressional openings are rare. Over the past 45 years, Northwest Florida has only had four U.S. Representatives — Bob Sikes, Earl Hutto, Joe Scarborough and Miller. The last two, Scarborough and Miller, were relatively unknown when they announced their candidacies. Scarborough trailed in the 1994 GOP primary but beat Lois Benson in the runoff. Miller staved…

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Senate approves omnibus health care bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

On Wednesday, the Senate passed an omnibus health care bill after approving a number of amendments. LobbyTools reports that the bill (HB 85) is now going back to the House. After several changes proposed by Sen. Don Gaetz, the bill now combines several House priorities with Senate plans. One substantial amendment from Gaetz rewrites the House bill regarding surgical centers. New language includes allowing patients in an ambulatory surgical center to stay in the center for up to 24 hours but…

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Senate passes abridged public corruption bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida Senate passed a shorter alternative to an omnibus anti-corruption bill to tighten ethics standards and make it easier to prosecute corruption on Wednesday, amid a flurry of bill action. The proposal, HB 7071, passed on a 39-0 vote. The measure lowers a legal threshold for prosecution from “with corrupt intent” to “knowingly and intentionally” engaging in a corrupt act. Senate sponsor Sen. Don Gaetz had also introduced a more expansive version that would strengthen financial reporting requirements, add restrictions on private…

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Tug of war over tax package kills bills

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A squabble over tourist taxes, a last-minute amendment to the Senate’s tax cut package, sucked up about half of the 2016 Legislative Session’s last Senate Appropriations meeting, killing bills left hanging on the agenda. The panel OK’d the House plan (HB 7099), amended with the Senate’s own tax package. The legislation promises about $400 million in tax relief, though Gov. Rick Scott wanted $1 billion. For instance, it scales back Florida’s back to school sales-tax holiday from 10 days to three days…

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