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Senate Appropriations Committee

Lawmakers likely to face tough budget

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A key economist offered a sobering message Friday to state lawmakers: Forget having extra cash for next year’s budget. A long-range financial analysis projected that lawmakers would have a relatively slim $52 million surplus as they put together the 2018-2019 budget. But that was before Hurricane Irma blew through the state early this week.

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Appropriations Committee vote sends solar tax break bill to the Senate floor

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Senate implementing legislation for last year’s solar energy referendum passed its final committee test Thursday, when the Appropriations Committee voted its unanimous approval. The bill by St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes  would implement $54.5 million in annual solar breaks on local taxes, approved by Florida voters via Amendment 4 in August. SB 90, supported by environmental groups and solar panel installers, lacks the same safety standards and disclosure requirements found in the House version, HB 1351. Brandes said the House is moving…

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Looks like that Confederate general will remain in Statuary Hall collection

in 2017 by

Representative Scott Plakon may have succeeded where a devotee of Southern Heritage failed in blocking the replacement of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith as one of Florida’s two representatives in the National Statuary Hall collection. Seber Newsome III of Save Southern Heritage appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee last week to oppose sending Smith packing. It was a lost cause: The committee voted unanimously in favor of a resolution, SCR 1360, by Sen. Perry Thurston, to replace Smith with Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Meanwhile,…

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Pollution-spill notice bill races to approval by Senate Appropriations Committee

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The Senate Appropriations Committee wastes little time or comment approving a proposal to make sure the public is notified within 48 hours of a toxic spill. The panel took bare minutes to vote the bill out unanimously. It was the final committee stop on the way to the Senate floor. CS/SB 532, the Public Notice of Pollution Act, requires notice to the Department of Environmental Protection of any spill within 24 hours. The department then would have 24 hours to…

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Florida prison chief: State losing corrections staff to ‘Wal-Mart,’ creating insecurity in system

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More than three-quarters of Florida’s corrections officers have less than two years’ experience. In some state prisons, a single CO will be left alone to supervise 150-200 inmates in a jail block. Contraband has become so bad, one random search of (just half) a Dade facility turned up $15,000 in street value of cocaine, seven knives, 46 cellphones and an array of other drugs and illicit materials, said Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones Thursday. The state’s prisons chief was in…

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School recess, in disarray statewide, to become uniform under Seante bill

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In the decades before tablets and standardized testing wormed their way into primary and secondary schools, school playgrounds were a familiar place for children and adolescents. Up to an hour a day was spent running around, throwing balls to, or at, one another. But with all the technology and pressure to make the academic cut, with extracurriculars lumped in, recess somehow got lost in the mix. However, one Florida state senator is looking to change that, even if only by…

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Jack Latvala says evidence doesn’t support House on job incentives

in Statewide by

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee defended state spending on economic incentives Thursday by pointing to evidence the effort produces solid returns on investment. Visit Florida, for example, returns $3.20 cents for every dollar spent on advertising, according to figures (here; scroll down) from Amy Baker, state government’s top economist. Enterprise Florida’s international offices program, meanwhile, returns $4. And its export assistance program returns $1.90. That’s as measured in tax revenue. Not counting spending on beaches, transportation, and aviation,…

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