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Senate Education Committee talks testing tweaks

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The Florida Senate Education Committee dedicated most of its weekly meeting to tackling issues of assessment bloat running counter to students’ best interests. In the House, the motto has been “fewer, better tests.” Similarly, in the Senate, the bills that have spurred the most comment from committee members are those that address Florida’s testing protocols. At the meeting, representatives from the Florida Department of Education discussed current education accountability standards. Mary Jane Tappen, vice chancellor of K-12 education, laid out the high…

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Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

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With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round. On and off: Tiffany Harrington has replaced Heather Williamson as House staff director of the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining. On: Teri Cariota, formerly an aide to former Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, is now a legislative assistant to Miami Democratic Rep. Roy Hardemon. On: Venusmia Lovely, formerly an aide to Sen. Dwight Bullard, is also a district…

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Claim bills filed for 2017 Legislative Session

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A brain-damaged Pasco County woman and a deceased Florida State football player are again the subjects of claim bills filed in the Florida Legislature. According to the Florida Senate website, 22 of the bills — also known as relief acts — were turned in on Monday. Under the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, Florida law limits local governments and other public bodies to paying no more than $200,000 per person in damages unless lawmakers approve extra money. But in recent years, as…

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Instant winners aplenty in Florida Senate races

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You might want to call them instant winners. As of 5 p.m. Friday, a dozen Florida Senate candidates appeared to win their elections when the qualifying period ended without them drawing opposition. Newcomers Lauren Book and George Gainer were among those candidates who did not draw an opponent. Gainer, a Bay County Republican, ran unopposed in Senate District 2. That race was expected to be hotly contested and deemed one to watch by political observers. But in March, Rep. Matt…

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Senate candidates boost campaign coffers despite running unopposed

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They might be running unopposed, but that isn’t stopping Florida Senate candidates from raking in the campaign cash. Campaign finance reports were due Monday. And while there’re several hotly contested races this election cycle, candidates in 19 of the state’s 40 Senate districts are running unopposed. But that isn’t stopping them building up their campaign coffers. Senate District 5 —Sen. Rob Bradley has created one of the largest campaign war chests this election cycle. The Fleming Island Republican is running…

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Legislature passes new strictures on abortion clinics

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The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that critics say would curtail women’s access to safe and legal abortions, while supporters say it simply “gets Florida out of the abortion business.” The measure to increase medical requirements on abortion clinics, sponsored by Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, passed 25-15 after nearly half an hour of debate. After the Senate removed language pledging the state’s commitment to an “unborn child’s right to life,” which many legal observers could have added further constitutional complications,”…

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Monday in the Legislature: Gas receipts, self-storage, Islamic State

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It’s Week 7 of the 2016 Legislative Session, and Monday brings yet another assortment of policy bills, including measures on gas pumps, self-storage units and even declarations of war. First, the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee takes up SB 1148, sponsored by Tallahassee Democrat Bill Montford, requiring “self-service gas station pumps to have a receipt printer that is in good working order, and capable of producing receipts,” the bill analysis says. “This requirement will be enforced by intermittent inspections of the self-service pumps…

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