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Court grills Aramis Ayala lawyer over avoidance of death penalty

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A dubious-sounding Florida Supreme Court shellacked Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala‘s lawyer during oral arguments Wednesday, questioning her prosecutorial “discretion” in not seeking the death penalty. “I don’t even see a gray area,” Justice R. Fred Lewis said. “It seems to me that ‘discretion’ is not to ignore Florida law.” Justice Barbara Pariente also raised concerns over “equal enforcement of the death penalty statute,” suggesting that Ayala created a legal oasis in which murderers will never face the ultimate punishment. Ayala, elected…

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Jimmy Patronis’ move to CFO creates PSC, CRC openings

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Now that Jimmy Patronis is leaving the Public Service Commission and Constitution Revision Commission to become the state’s next Chief Financial Officer, Gov. Rick Scott has to replace him on those panels. The Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council is charged with “screening and nominating applicants for appointment by the Governor to fill vacancies on the Florida Public Service Commission,” its website says. (The 12-member council, by the way, has four vacancies, including its vice chair, according to its website.) Patronis’…

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Rick Scott says citrus veto is constitutionally valid

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Gov. Rick Scott responded Monday to a lawsuit brought by homeowners whose healthy citrus trees were torn down by the state, saying his veto of reimbursements to homeowners was “consistent with his constitutional authority.” The homeowners have asked the Florida Supreme Court to undo Scott’s veto of more than $37 million. The Republican-controlled Legislature agreed to pay homeowners in both Broward and Lee counties whose trees were torn down in a failed attempt to eradicate citrus canker. The money was…

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Rick Scott signs drone regulation bill

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Gov. Rick Scott on Friday approved the Legislature’s “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act,” which gives the state authority to regulate “personal delivery devices (PDDs) and unmanned aircraft systems.” A “personal delivery device” is a machine for use on sidewalks, usually not traveling more than 10 miles per hour. Photo credit: Starship Technologies London-based Starship Technologies, for instance, makes a six-wheeled “self-driving delivery robot” that was starting to make deliveries in California and Washington, D.C. at the beginning of this year. “The bill authorizes, subject to local government regulation, the…

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Craft distillers to get fee break under new law

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craft distilleries

Craft distillers got another win in legislation approved by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday. The governor signed into law a wide-ranging bill (HB 689) that changes the state’s alcoholic beverage laws. Among the changes taking effect Saturday, the first day of the new budget year, it cuts the “annual license fee for a craft distillery from $4,000 to $1,000.” “Craft distilleries that qualify for the craft distillery designation will see a 75 percent reduction in the annual license fee for a distillery license,…

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Rick Scott reappoints picks to State University System Board of Governors

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Gov. Rick Scott Thursday announced the reappointment of Syd Kitson and Darlene Jordan to the Board of Governors of the State University System. The move comes after the Florida Senate, which must confirm Scott’s appointments, failed to do so during this year’s Legislative Session. Kitson, 58, CEO of Kitson & Partners, “had a notable career in the National Football League, playing offensive guard for both the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys,” Scott’s statement said. Kitson’s term begins June 22 and…

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Rick Scott gets more time to respond to judicial appointments lawsuit

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The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday granted Gov. Rick Scott‘s request for 14 extra days to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term. Scott general counsel Daniel Nordby filed the request Wednesday, asking to move the deadline to July 19. “Multiple extensions of time for the same filing are discouraged,” the court’s order says. “Absent extenuating circumstances, subsequent requests may be denied. All other times are extended…

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