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Appropriations chiefs declare budget talks ‘closed’ — but with an asterisk

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House and Senate budget negotiators traded final offers Thursday and pronounced their work done, bar some last-minute tidying up. “The budget is closed,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Lavala said. “We’ve got a couple of question marks, but this is not an opportunity to entertain any new issues. We’re going to resolve one or two issues, and then we’re going to come back together and get those solved,” he said. “The cupboard is bare.” Left to do is reconcile conforming bills…

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Martin Dyckman: Florida needs answers on death penalty discretion

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The courtroom at the Florida Supreme Court seats 164, which may not be enough for all the attorneys, organizations and individuals who have intervened in the unprecedented case of Aramis Ayala v. Rick Scott. Six groups have weighed in as friends of the court on behalf of Ayala, the state attorney for Orange and Seminole counties who is fighting to regain the 23 murder cases that the governor assigned to another prosecutor after she said she would not seek the…

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Supreme Court denies Aramis Ayala’s first writ to win back cases Rick Scott reassigned

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The Florida Supreme Court denied the first attempt by Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala to win back first-degree murder cases that Gov. Rick Scott reassigned to another state attorney. In denying Ayala’s emergency, non-routine petition to overturn Scott’s executive orders reassigning the cases to Ocala’s State Attorney Brad King, the Supreme Court concluded that the matter “is more properly addressed” through her other legal challenge, a writ of quo warrento, which she later filed. That leaves the matter where most…

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Senate budges little in initial gambling negotiation

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Saying he wanted to “start taking small steps,” state Sen. Bill Galvano on Monday tendered the first offer in the Legislature’s negotiation on a gambling bill this year. The initial tender, though it largely maintains what’s in the Senate’s bill, also would classify contentious “pre-reveal” games as slot machines, and would limit two new slots facilities to either Broward or Miami-Dade counties. A circuit court ruling last month against the state said entertainment devices that look and play like slot machines, called “pre-reveal” games,…

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Gambling deal may come down to slots question

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Seeing it as the “lesser of various evils” to pass a gambling bill this year, the House may give in to the Senate’s position to legislatively approve new slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them, according to those familiar with the negotiations. As of early Monday, the Conference Committee on Gaming was set to meet later in the day at 1:30 p.m., though an official notice had not yet gone out. The House and Senate are far apart on their respective gambling…

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If another SCOTUS opening occurs, will Charles Canady get a serious look?

in 2017 by

According to Sen. Charles Grassley, the U.S. Supreme Court may need to fill another opening this summer. The Iowa Republican, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, did not name names, but rumors are swirling it could be the Court’s swing vote, 80-year-old Anthony Kennedy. If that occurs, President Trump will go back to his list of 21 potential nominees, now numbering 20 after  the elevation of Neil Gorsuch. Rumored to be on the short list before Gorsuch’s selection was Judge William…

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Supreme Court OKs gambling control, felon voting rights amendments

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The state’s highest court on Thursday gave its approval for proposed state constitutional amendments on voter approval of new gambling and restoring voting rights to ex-cons. But there’s a big ‘if’ before either can be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot—both amendments still need hundreds of thousands of signatures. Moreover, Justices Ricky Polston and R. Fred Lewis dissented on the gambling amendment, saying “the ballot title and summary do not clearly inform the public that the proposed amendment may substantially affect slot…

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