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State’s DHSMV seeking permission to use drones

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The state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will ask lawmakers next session to consider legislation to “allow law enforcement to use drones for traffic crash management.” The proposed bill is part of a “legislative concepts” package Executive Director Terry Rhodes plans to present at Tuesday’s Florida Cabinet meeting. The state law governing drones, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, already includes an exception for “aerial mapping.” But a DHSMV spokeswoman says it doesn’t apply to the agency. The department reports to Gov.…

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Governor, Florida Cabinet to receive agency budget requests

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It’s that time of year when state agencies start asking what they want lawmakers to pony up. Agencies that report to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – will formally turn in their legislative budget requests Tuesday at the September Cabinet meeting. The wish lists for the 2017-18 fiscal year were available Monday on the Cabinet’s website as part of the meeting material. State…

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Darryl E. Owens: Proposals for offsite reform school memorial insults memory of dead Dozier boys

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Emotion drenched the first meeting last week in Marianna of the state task force charged with deciding how Florida memorializes dead boys who possibly endured unspeakable depravity at the shuttered state-run Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. For two years, University of South Florida researchers scoured the nearly 1,400-acre grounds. Their sleuthing unearthed 51 sets of remains dumped in the Boot Hill Burial Ground. Researchers identified 21 bodies rescued from obscurity from the unmarked graveyard. With marching orders from the…

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Glenn Sutphin appointed state vets’ agency head

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Glenn Sutphin, now the agency’s interim head, will become the next permanent director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet made the hire at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. The 67-year-old Sutphin, himself a National Guardsman for over 30 years, was the only person interviewed for the position out of more than 300 applicants. He told Cabinet members he wants the state to focus on building more nursing homes for veterans and doing more outreach to let them know what benefits…

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Rick Scott wants Glenn Sutphin for vets’ agency head

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As expected, Gov. Rick Scott is interested in Glenn Sutphin becoming the next director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  A Scott spokeswoman Wednesday confirmed Sutphin, now the acting head, is Scott’s top pick. Cabinet aides had had a brief conversation about the opening at their meeting earlier in the day. Scott and the Florida Cabinet — Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — will interview candidates and make the final pick. The governor and cabinet next meet Aug. 2. Sutphin, now interim executive director of the…

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Cabinet aides tee up land deals for Tuesday vote

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A plan for the state of Florida to buy $6.6 million in new state land easements took another step toward approval this week. Aides to Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet officers heard plans to buy two huge swaths of land in Osceola County, south of St. Cloud, for conservation purposes. Such land is set aside to help stave off development and preserve biodiversity. John Brown of the Florida Forest Service presented the plan at the Wednesday morning meeting, held in the Capitol’s Lower…

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David Altmaier named Insurance Commissioner

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A 34-year-old former high school math teacher was named Friday to be the next Florida Insurance Commissioner. David Altmaier, 34, currently a deputy commissioner at the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), starts on Monday. Altmaier, who will be paid $165,000 a year, began at OIR as an insurance examiner in 2008. The selection caps off weeks of indecision. Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater have deadlocked at two previous Cabinet meetings. State law dictates they first have to agree on…

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