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Rick Scott signs death warrant for Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Among the bills Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Tuesday is HB 647, which eliminates of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission by December 31 of this year. The agency, originally created by a special act of the Florida Legislature in the 1970’s and the only one of its kind in the state, has been shrouded in controversy for years. It’s last executive director,  Kyle Cockream, remains under investigation for his handling of public records. The PTC had been criticized for years by local lawmakers,…

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Joe Henderson: Tallahassee gets Special Session, the public gets the bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

After the budget compromise reached by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the biggest question hanging over the Legislature’s three-day special session this week is whether there is enough time for some lawmakers to grow a backbone. Only one of two things can happen. There will either be a full-blown party revolt at how this was handled, followed by points, counterpoints, then fire and pestilence raining down on the state capital as rank-and-file members…

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Associated Industries releases 2017 Voting Record report

in 2017 by

The voting record report is out. Associated Industries of Florida released its 2017 Voting Record report. Published for more than four decades, the annual report is considered one of the definitive legislative scorecards for the business community. This year, the organization calculated more than 208,966 votes on 1,955 bills with 848 legislators. “This session, AIF faced a variety of tough issues on behalf of Florida’s business community, including opposing any measure that would have made it more expensive for businesses…

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Joe Henderson: Jeff Brandes’ push for criminal justice reform just makes sense

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

State Sen. Jeff Brandes has the right idea. No politician wants to be tagged with the label of weak on crime, but with Florida’s prison system costing taxpayers more than $2 billion a year, maybe there is a better and more reasonable way to deal with some lawbreakers. Give Brandes, a Republican, credit, not only for his willingness to explore those options but also bucking the trend in his own party while doing so. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently…

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Criminal justice reform remains a top priority for Jeff Brandes

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Sen. Jeff Brandes said he plans to continue his push for criminal justice reform, advancing a multi-year process to take a closer look at the state’s criminal justice system. Brandes, who has made criminal justice reform a top priority, was in Washington, D.C. last week for the Right on Crime annual summit. The conservative-leaning organization has been working on criminal justice issues in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Brandes said the key takeaway from the summit was that “many states are…

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Pinellas GOP heavyweights raising money for Rick Baker on Wednesday in Clearwater Beach

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Former Mayor Rick Baker continues building momentum in his quest to return for a third term as St. Petersburg Mayor. Coming off a successful campaign kickoff event last week, Baker, who served two terms from 2001-2010, is following with another high-profile reception Wednesday in Clearwater Beach. Co-chairs of the event – with the tagline “Proven Leadership” – include renowned attorney Brian Aungst Jr., former Pinellas GOP Chair Jay Beyrouti and restaurateur (and one-time “Mr. Clearwater”) Frank Chivas. According to the invite,…

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Andrew Warren, Aramis Ayala blast Jeff Sessions plan for stricter sentencing in criminal cases

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In recent years, criminal justice reform, especially in drug sentencing, has taken on more momentum, with governors in some of most conservative parts of the country embracing such efforts. In Florida, progressive State Attorney candidates like Andrew Warren in Tampa and Aramis Ayala in Orlando won their respective races last year by running on a similar platform. The two State Attorneys joined a group of current and former prosecutors last week in blasting Attorney General Jeff Sessions recent directive that the Justice Department return to…

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