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Floridians file nearly 17,000 flood insurance claims

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Nearly 17,000 flood insurance claims connected with Hurricane Irma have been filed, and more are expected in the coming weeks.

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Kathy Castor wants increased federal disaster aid for Florida after Irma

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Tampa Democratic Representative Kathy Castor is pressing for an increase in federal disaster aid to the highest share possible to help Floridians recover rapidly from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

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Rick Scott defends record-setting budget vetoes

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday defended his latest round of budget vetoes, which set a modern-day record for a governor but came from a long list of spending projects, including money intended for public universities and compensation for homeowners whose trees were torn down by the state. Scott late last week vetoed nearly $11.9 billion from the state budget as part of a private deal he worked out with legislative leaders. Legislators will return to the state Capitol for…

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Tampa Bay region marked for $33M in Florida TaxWatch ‘turkeys’

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Florida TaxWatch, the nonpartisan government watchdog organization, served up its annual list of “Budget Turkeys,” naming almost $178 million in line-item projects part of the $82.4 billion budget passed May 8 by the Florida House and Senate. For the Tampa Bay region, Florida TaxWatch targeted more than $33 million in local projects as individual line items added to the spending plans—usually last minute or in committee — without a thoughtful and thorough budget process. The largest project in the region…

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Rick Scott gets $178M serving of Florida TaxWatch ‘budget turkeys’

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Thanksgiving is six months away, but Friday is “turkey” day for Gov. Rick Scott. Florida TaxWatch, the nonpartisan government watchdog group, released its annual “Budget Turkey List,” of almost $178 million in line-item projects that are part of the $82.4 billion budget passed May 8 by the Florida House and Senate. Budget Turkeys are individual line items added to the spending plans—usually last minute or in committee — without a thoughtful and thorough budget process. A “Turkey” label does not…

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Sarasota County, Airbnb agree on rental tax collections

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Sarasota County has reached an agreement with online lodging and hospitality company Airbnb for the collection of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) for short-term rentals, a deal that will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the county. The Sarasota County Commission Monday approved the voluntary collection agreement, in which the Sarasota County Tax Collector will begin the reporting, collection and remittance of applicable TDT funds, otherwise known as the “bed tax,” on Airbnb’s short-term rentals and accommodations starting May…

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Joe Henderson: Proposed new transportation agency a good start toward solving an old problem

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Short of hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, the surest way to get a headache is to wade deep into Tampa Bay area transportation problems. You encounter a mishmash of competing agencies and agendas that has resulted in legislative and automotive gridlock for frustrated commuters for years. Given that, I’m encouraged by what is coming out of Tallahassee. A pair of Republican legislators — state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater and state Rep. Dan Raulerson of Plant City…

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