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Brian Pitts suing Rick Scott, lawmakers over “invalid” state budget

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Perennial gadfly and Capitol fixture Brian Pitts is suing Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for “preliminary and perpetual relief” from what he calls an “invalid” state budget for this year. Pitts, a trustee of his St. Petersburg-based Justice-2-Jesus church group, filed a 30-page complaint in Leon Circuit Civil Court last week, according to court records. The suit also names House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Senate President Andy Gardiner, and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. He’s well known to observers of…

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Big-name groups, leaders trumpet progress on legislative priorities

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A major trio of political players at the Florida Capitol are happy with progress made Thursday on big-ticket priorities in the Legislature. The H2O Coalition, a water policy consortium affiliated with Associated Industries of Florida, applauded the further progress of what it calls comprehensive water reform in the Legislature. The praise comes after the House gave final approval to SB 552 by Sen. Charlie Dean, which is identical to HB 7005 by Rep. Matt Caldwell, who led the House’s efforts to update state water policy after…

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House OKs priorities for Steve Crisafulli, Andy Gardiner

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The state House of Representatives knocked out three pieces of priority legislation Thursday, sending two measures — a wide-ranging water policy bill and an education bill expanding scholarships to students with disabilities — to the governor. “I think this just sets the tone,” Senate President Andy Gardiner said after the House adjourned Thursday. “I think you’re going to see us work together quite a bit on all this stuff. This has just been a really good week.” The water bill (SB…

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Senate passes disabled children bill; now it moves to House

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The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed legislation expanding aid for students with intellectual disabilities and named the program for Senate President Andy Gardiner, who has made what he calls “people with unique abilities” the signature issue of his tenure as president. The bill (SB 672) increases funding from $55 million to $73 million for $10,000-per-year scholarships for children with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities, starting as early as age 3. The program was expanded last year to add…

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Major players react to Senate passage of water legislation

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On Wednesday, the Senate passed a major water bill, a major priority of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and the object of much interest on the part of environmentalist community as well. Reactions from significant groups and individuals will continue to flow in as the debate goes forward, but for now here’s a look at what some of the most influential Floridians are saying about the move. The Senate itself put out a detailed statement breaking down the legislation piece by piece. It…

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Senate passes education, water bills

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The sausage-making began in earnest Wednesday morning, as the Florida Senate teed up nine bills for final approval and passed a sweeping $95 million educational policy bill and a water protection measure desired by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. The education bill (SB 672) was sponsored by GOP state Sen. Don Gaetz of Niceville, a former schools superintendent. Among other things, it expands scholarships for students with disabilities and awards public and charter schools $10 per K-8 student if they adopt a dress code or require…

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Steve Crisafulli advocates for ride-sharing legislation in opening-day speech

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Opening the 2016 Legislative Session Tuesday, Speaker Steve Crisafulli listed the priorities that he expects the House to focus on in 2016. That included an endorsement of Gov. Rick Scott‘s goal of cutting taxes by $1 billion, something that Senate members have expressed discomfort with. He also put in a good word for legislation that would regulate ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. “Let’s put the free market to work for Florida families,” he said in his speech. “Let’s cut red tape…

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