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David Simmons weighing Florida attorney general, congressional runs

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While giving his blessing to state Rep. Jason Brodeur to run for his current post, state Sen. David Simmons says he’s weighing his options to go after the Florida attorney general’s post, Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat, which Democrats just flipped, or staying full-time with his growing law firm. The attorney general option could come sooner rather than later, as Attorney General Pam Bondi is widely reported to be in the running for a position in President-elect Donald Trump‘s administration. If…

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Fantasy sports bill filed again in Legislature

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A bill to exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation has again been filed in the Florida Legislature. State Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, filed a measure (HB 149) on Wednesday. The bill would clarify that fantasy contests “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are not games of chance – and thus potentially illegal gambling. The legislation specifically includes games based on “athletes in the case of sports events.” It doesn’t yet have a…

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Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, I-4, Sanford Burnham, water quality, Pulse, on Central Florida lawmakers’ minds

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As they prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session, Central Florida lawmakers are looking out for help for the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County, the demise of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona, and I-4 throughout the region. Those are things almost everyone in Central Florida’s delegation is examining. The Democrats add, don’t forget about Pulse, and the economic fairness and mental health issues everyone spoke of during the election campaigns this year. But…

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Mitch Perry Report for 1.27.16 – “Pastor Protection Act” moves through state Senate

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Observers of the state Legislature in Tallahassee will recall the backlash that ensued after the Florida House passed a measure last year that effectively codified existing law that same-sex couples could adopt. The bill, sponsored by Miami Beach Democrat Dave Richardson, ultimately made it through the Senate, but not before there was another measure sponsored in the House by Sanford Republican Jason Brodeur that would allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples if they felt it compromised their faith or…

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Today on Context Florida: Inmates & employment, health care cost, the Civil War and Key West Ambassador to Cuba

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Today on Context Florida: With more than 100,000 inmates behind bars, Dominic Calabro notes that Florida’s correctional population is among the largest in the United States. It costs an average of nearly $19,000 per year to house an inmate — more than three times the cost of in-state tuition at the University of Florida. More than 1 in 4 former prisoners are returned to prison within three years of release. Calabro says that allowing nonviolent prisoners who have paid their debt…

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Retailers, business owners reaffirm call to repeal Florida “wall of alcohol separation”

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A coalition of Florida retailers and business owners are reaffirming “unwavering support” for the effort to repeal the state’s Prohibition-era alcohol separation law. In an announcement Friday, Floridians for Fair Business Practices (FFBP) doubled down on its support for “free market and pro-business values” while blasting opponents, who they claim are using “false arguments on competition and scare tactics in alcohol access to minors.” Florida is one of the 20 states with a separation law between liquor stores and other…

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‘Religious freedom’ bill to prevent gay adoptions refiled for 2016

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State Rep. Julio Gonzalez filed his first bill of the 2016 legislative year on Wednesday, and it was a doozy: a proposal to give immunity to certain businesses who wish not to render certain services on grounds of “religious freedom,” including private child-placement agencies. Specifically, the bill amends the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998 to read that an entity owned by a religious institution is “not required to produce, create, or deliver a custom product or service that would be contrary…

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