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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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Supreme Court OKs taxing satellite TV higher than cable

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Satellite TV

Satellite-television service can be taxed at a higher rate than cable TV, the Florida Supreme Court decided Thursday. Satellite companies had challenged the state’s 16-year-old Communications Services Tax (CST), which now taxes cable service at 4.92 percent and satellite at 9.07 percent. Those concerns, led by DirecTV, said that difference was unconstitutional and asked for a refund. But the high court reversed the 1st District Court of Appeal’s 2-1 decision, which said that taxing the two services differently is unconstitutional. Then-1st DCA Judge Simone Marstiller, in her…

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Governor’s office affirmed prosecutorial discretion, state attorneys’ independence, in letter last year

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Among material filed Tuesday with Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala‘s Florida Supreme Court challenge of Gov. Rick Scott‘s executive orders stripping cases from her is a year-old letter from his office affirming her position – that her prosecutorial decisions cannot be overridden. Ayala’s attorneys Roy Austin Jr. of Washington D.C. and Marcos Hasbun of Tampa included the letter as an appendix to their writ of quo warranto, which asks the Florida Supreme Court to vacate Scott’s 23 executive orders used to strip cases…

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Aramis Ayala files challenges of Rick Scott with Florida Supreme Court, federal court

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Arguing Gov. Rick Scott had no legal basis to strip murder cases from her jurisdiction, Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala filed challenges Tuesday morning in both the Florida Supreme Court and federal court. In complaints filed by her attorney, Roy Austin Jr. of Washington D.C., Ayala contends that she legally exercised prosecutorial discretion in deciding not to pursue death penalty prosecutions in the 9th Judicial Circuit. Ayala was not found by guilty of any misconduct. Consequently, Ayala argues that Scott’s executive…

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Florida may pay millions to homeowners for lost citrus trees

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Florida may end a long-running battle and pay millions to homeowners whose healthy citrus trees were torn down in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker. The Florida House has $66 million in its proposed budget to pay lawsuits filed on behalf of homeowners in Broward, Lee and Palm Beach counties. There are also lawsuits ongoing in Orange and Miami-Dade counties. Rep. Carlos Trujillo, the House budget chairman, said the payments should be made because courts have already ruled against…

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Supreme Court tweaks its ‘senior justice’ rule after controversy

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The Florida Supreme Court no longer will allow its justices to keep working indefinitely on open cases after they leave the bench, according to a new rule released Thursday. After Justice James E.C. Perry officially retired on Dec. 30, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga allowed him to finish work on opinions as a “senior justice,” following decades of court practice. But critics, including Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran, cried foul. They complained Perry was displacing his successor, C. Alan Lawson, who started work the next…

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Term limits for Supreme Court, appeals judges clear the Florida House, if barely

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A proposed constitutional amendment to impose term limits on justices of the Florida Supreme Court and state appellate judges squeaked through the Florida House Wednesday after a majority defeated a series of unfriendly — even sarcastic — amendments. HJR 1, by Eustis Republican Jennifer Sullivan, won 73 “Yes” votes — one more than the three-fifths support it needed. Forty-six members voted “No.” The measure would limit judges of the district courts of appeal and justices of the Supreme Court to 12…

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