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

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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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Hillsborough lawmakers clash during Tampa Chamber’s Session look-back

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As House Minority Leader Janet Cruz notes, the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation works “as a united front” when representing their community in Tallahassee. That’s true on issues like the eleventh-hour move by the Florida Senate to push the University of South Florida out of pre-eminent status under a conformity education budget bill that passed in the waning hours of the legislative session two weeks ago. Over that matter, members acted in unison, denouncing what they said was a fundamental unfairness, leading…

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#5 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Jeff Brandes

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It seemed that in 2017, Jeff Brandes was involved in every facet of public policy in Tallahassee, introducing 43 separate bills for consideration even before Session began. A year ago, the St. Petersburg Republican co-sponsored the initiative in the Legislature that led to the August passage of Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment giving tax breaks to companies that buy and install solar devices and equipment. In the recently ended Session, Brandes sponsored bills on autonomous vehicles (where he has been…

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Still no decision from Joe Negron on special session on pot referendum

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Senate President Joe Negron has yet to decide to join House Speaker Richard Corcoran in calling for a Special Session on medical marijuana implementation, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Negron, a Stuart Republican, is still “in the process of having discussions with senators in response to the memorandum he sent last Thursday,” Katie Betta said in an email.  Negron had sought input from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to guide state Health regulators on the…

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Jeff Brandes asks for medical marijuana Special Session

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Add state Sen. Jeff Brandes to the list of those calling for a Special Legislative Session on medical marijuana implementation. “I hope that we can reconvene in a Special Session, which should include ample time for public input, to implement the will of the voters, so that patients and entrepreneurs alike may access the marketplace,” Brandes wrote to Senate President Joe Negron on Friday. This week, Negron sought input from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to implement…

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Suncoast Tiger Bay to perform 2017 Session post-mortem

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

As the 2017 Session grinds to a halt, with only one piece of unfinished business left for Monday, lawmakers now enter the traditional post-mortem phase. On Thursday, The Suncoast Tiger Bay Cub hosts its 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up, the annual gathering for members and constituents to ask questions and (hopefully) get some answers on the 60-plus-day Session, and how it will impact both the region and Florida. This year, Session went into overtime at 63 days, as lawmakers return to the…

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