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Stand Your Ground bill still in legislative limbo

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There were still no definite answers Wednesday on whether the House will consider a Senate-approved change to the state’s Stand Your Ground law. The Senate bill, backed by state Sen. Rob Bradley, “shifts the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecution” in pretrial hearings on whether a use of force was justifiable, according to a staff analysis. Those hearings determine whether a defendant can claim self-defense at trial. The House version died in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee in November…

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Rick Scott calls session ‘successful’ – but still hasn’t got what he wants

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Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday suggested, with as much subtext as he could muster, that lawmakers need to come around on his two main budget goals for 2016-17: $1 billion in tax cuts and $25o million for business incentives. After all, legislative leadership passed their priority bills early on, which Scott happily signed. The message was clear: You got yours, I want mine. “We’ve had a very good Session. It’s all going to be successful,” Scott told reporters after a bill…

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House passes incentives measure desired by Rick Scott

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After a debate that included mentions of monsters, Robert A. Heinlein and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Florida House of Representatives Wednesday passed its 2016 business and economic incentives package, including the framework for Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund. As bill sponsor Jim Boyd reminded members, it still has no funding: “This is a structure bill, a policy bill,” he said, explaining that how much money goes to incentives still must be decided in the budget process.  The legislation (HB 1325)…

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Steve Crisafulli says no budget conference yet

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House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Thursday said the budget conference process won’t begin just yet. The Merritt Island Republican announced the news to members of this chamber in an email: From: Crisafulli, Steve Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:16 AM Subject: Conference will not begin this weekend Members: There is positive forward progress in the effort to reach an agreement on budget allocations with the Senate. However, there is still a great deal to be worked out. Therefore, we will…

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Gut check: Legislative Session reaches midpoint

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With the half-way mark of the 60-day 2016 Legislative Session on Wednesday, the theme so far is like a line from a Frankie Valli song: “… so close/And yet so far.” Take the 2016-17 state budget, the only bill lawmakers are required to pass each year. The House came in at $79.9 billion with the Senate proposing $80.9 billion. Sure, that’s only a billion dollars apart, but $1 billion is still a lot of money, even in Tallahassee. Lawmakers are set to…

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Republican committees post 6-figure hauls in first days of 2016

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Lawmakers could only raise money for the first 11 days of the year, but that didn’t stop some of the top Republicans in Legislature the posting six-figure hauls to start the year. Campaign and committee finance reports aren’t due until Wednesday, though Sen. Bill Galvano’s political committee, Innovate Florida, leads early filers after posting $216,000 raised in January. That haul came across in just 31 contributions, including three checks for $25,000 from the Florida Medical Association PAC, optometry group OD-EYEPAC,…

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Senate budget eliminates direct funding for youth mentoring

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State Sen. Joe Negron, a former budget panel chief, told his colleagues last month in an acceptance speech for his upcoming Senate presidency that the state must do more for its troubled children and teens. “We should not and we will not tolerate serious wrongdoing by young people but, at the same time, let’s not criminalize adolescence,” he said, according to the Senate Journal’s version. Most experts agree that after-school mentoring programs, such as those offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters, are effective at…

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