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Short takes: Legislative roundup for Wednesday

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House votes on senate gambling bill—by amending it with their own bill

The House stood its ground, voting 73-40 Wednesday to replace the Senate’s gambling overhaul (SB 8) with its own version (HB 7037).

That sets up the conference process by which both sides say they can “iron out the differences” between their different approaches.

The gulf is wide, with the House wanting to lock down gambling expansion in the state and the Senate open to a host of new gambling opportunities.

The House bill also would divert revenue share from a new agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, $3 billion over seven years, to educational initiatives including shoring up “persistently failing” schools.

Some Democrats, who unsuccessfully tried to scuttle those provisions with their own amendments, complained that would mean money goes to charter schools.

House ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ sponsor says bill still in play

Hialeah Republican Bryan Avila is keeping hope alive that a bill to allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods will garner enough votes for passage.

“We had some late issues come up,” he said after Wednesday’s floor session.

Lawyers for Publix, the Florida supermarket chain that opposes the measure (SB 106/HB 81), this week said it would mean teenage employees wouldn’t be allowed to work in stores where booze is sold.

But Avila said he disagreed with that reading of the bill and alcoholic beverage statutes. The latest issue came up after other critics raised concerns that gas stations would be allowed to sell distilled spirits under the measure.

“Trust me: I can tell you with certainty I have experienced every thing imaginable that could possibly happen in the legislative process with this bill,” Avila said.

The Senate passed it last month.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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