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Hydraulic fracturing bill headed to House floor

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A bill that aims to regulate hydraulic fracturing and other forms of high-pressure well stimulation is headed to the House floor, where bill sponsors said it will likely be amended to address local government concerns. The House state affairs committee on Wednesday voted to approve a measure (HB 191) that, supporters say, creates a regulatory framework for fracking in Florida. Among other things, the bill requires drillers to get a permit before they can use fracking, calls on the Department…

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Today on Context Florida: Death penalty, assaulting the environment, tattoos & Jimmy Buffett, and ugly incidents

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Today on Context Florida: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty sentencing system last week, declaring that it violates defendants’ Sixth Amendment Rights to trial by jury. In response to the Hurst v. Florida decision, Julie Delegal shows us a Jacksonville coalition of civic and faith groups — Justice 4 Jacksonville — is calling on State Attorney Angela Corey to stop action in all capital murder cases until Florida’s sentencing statutes are repaired: “Today’s ruling proves what the Justice 4 Jacksonville Coalition…

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Activists push progressive agenda for 2016 Legislative Session

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On the eve of this year’s Legislative Session, Tampa Bay area activists took to St. Pete City Hall to drum up support for a variety of legislative priorities. Backed by more than a dozen supporters waving signs, the most immediate push was the Fight for $15 movement to raise the minimum wage. Putting a new face to the fight was St. Pete’s newest City Council member, Lisa Wheeler-Brown. “I live in midtown where people work hard, and they deserve a…

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Today on Context Florida: Trump as commander in chief, fracking and hearing from Florida voters

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Today on Context Florida: The 2016 presidential race hasn’t had any official votes yet. But Jac VerSteeg says things are shaping up for two candidates with Florida ties – Jeb Bush and Donald Trump – the contest already has bearing on at least two constitutional issues. They are whether contributing money to candidates is a form of protected free speech; and whether the president, as commander in chief, can usurp Congress’ constitutional power to declare war. Trump’s provocative macho military and…

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‘Year of water’ failed along with environmental bills, but some did pass

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Another legislative session dubbed the “year of water” failed to deliver in 2015 as the House went home early over a healthcare spending dispute with the Senate. HB 7003, a water bill that was a legislative priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, passed the House by a 106-9 vote on the second day of session. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and industry groups supported the bill, which would have set milestones and timetables for cleaning up springs and other waterways. The Senate…

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Fracking public records bill hangs on whether supporters vote against exemptions

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State Rep. Matt Gaetz voted for a hydraulic fracturing regulation bill on Monday, but says he will vote against a companion bill that would provide a public records law exemption. The outcome of the public records exemption bill likely depends on whether Gaetz is joined by others who supported the bill to provide for fracking regulation. HB 1205, which the Department of Environmental Protection proposed to create a fracking permitting program, passed the House 82-34 on Monday. HB 1209, the bill to exclude…

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Offshore oil drilling has been off the table in Florida since 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 likely shut the door politically on oil drilling in Florida waters, a Florida State University oceanography professor said Monday on the five-year anniversary of the spill. In April 2010, a Florida House committee led by future House Speaker Dean Cannon was considering draft legislation to allow drilling in state waters 10.6 miles off the Gulf Coast. But the Senate said it wouldn’t take up a bill. Then the Deepwater Horizon explosion 42 miles off…

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