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Maria Sachs accuser seeks to drop harassment case

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An ex-aide to former state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs has asked a federal court to drop his sexual harassment case against the Florida Senate. Matthew Damsky’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss Tuesday, asking that each side pay for its own attorneys’ fees and costs. The Senate was named as the defendant because it was Damsky’s official employer. The Senate’s outside counsel, Lisa Fountain of the Sniffen & Spellman firm, told attorney Marie Mattox that the chamber would “consent” to…

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Senate demands information in harassment lawsuit against Maria Sachs

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A federal judge has given an ex-aide to former state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs till next Tuesday to explain why he shouldn’t provide information in his still-pending sexual harassment case. Matthew Damsky, then 28, had sued the Florida Senate in Leon County Circuit Civil court last year on gender discrimination and retaliation charges. The 68-year-old Sachs, first elected to the Senate in 2010, declined to run for re-election last year.

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Blackjack appeal now headed to mediation

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An appeal to a federal judge’s ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe to keep offering blackjack at its Florida casinos now has been scheduled for an April 11 mediation, court dockets show. The state’s lawyers had asked the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for more time to file their initial brief in the appeal. But they withdrew that request upon learning that a mediation conference had been set at the Kinnard Mediation Center. The state “learned that … the parties could obtain…

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Pam Bondi steps into federal case over state’s abortion law

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A federal case on the state’s new abortion law has taken another twist with a filing from Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office. Late Monday, her office notified the court of proposed rules related to the law that could affect Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle‘s consideration of a pending request for a preliminary injunction. The controversy in question involves part of the law that requires those engaged in abortion referral or counseling services to pay a fee to register with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and provides for criminal…

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Federal judge sounds dubious on abortion counseling registration

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The state’s new abortion law sparked a contentious dialogue between a federal judge and a lawyer for the state on Friday. Part of that law requires those engaged in abortion referral or counseling services to pay a fee to register with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and provides for criminal penalties for not registering. The American Civil Liberties Union, representing several Florida reverends, rabbis and nonprofit organizations, is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the provision. They say it…

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State appeals federal ruling on Seminole Tribe blackjack

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The state of Florida has filed an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe to keep offering blackjack at its casinos. The 7-page “notice of appeal” to the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals was filed Thursday by Jason Maine, general counsel to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling. The filing did not preview any arguments the state intends to make to get the decision reversed. Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in November…

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Lawmakers get ready for Seminole Compact, gambling debate

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The chair of the House’s gambling policy panel Thursday made clear what the elephant in the committee room would be this legislative session. “Everything we do is connected to this gaming compact,” said state Rep. Mike La Rosa, referring to the pending renewal of an agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  Indeed, the Legislature’s real work on gambling won’t start till the Senate files its gambling legislation for 2017, expected later today (Thursday). La Rosa, a St.…

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