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Legislature votes to tear down the ‘liquor wall’

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The Florida Legislature has voted to tear down the booze ‘wall.’ The House, on a by-a-nose vote of 58-57, Wednesday passed the Senate’s bill (SB 106) to allow retailers, at least those who choose to do so, to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. The legislation now heads to Gov. Rick Scott. If signed into law, the state will end 82 years of mandating that retailers sell distilled spirits in a separate store from other items. Beer and wine…

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House forms first-ever Legislative Progressive Caucus

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More than a dozen Democratic Florida House members have formed the Progressive Legislative Caucus, with firebrand state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando elected as its first chair. The caucus held its organization meeting last week with Smith becoming chair, state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando vice chair, and state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo of Boca Raton as clerk. “As we enter the final weeks of the 2017 legislative session, the Legislative Progressive Caucus will adopt caucus positions on key legislation…

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House advances bill that would change Tampa’s election dates

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Under a new bill passed Wednesday by the House Government Accountability Committee, Tampa would need to change the dates of municipal elections every four years. Changes to when local municipalities hold election days was one of a series of proposals included in a committee-written bill passed by the House Government Accountability Committee, approved easily by a 22-1 vote. Historically, residents in the city of Tampa voted in primary and general municipal election held in March. Under the committee bill passed, the election would…

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Bill banning steroids for greyhounds headed to House

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A bill that would ban injecting racing greyhounds in Florida with anabolic steroids is heading to the House floor. The House’s Commerce Committee approved the bill (HB 743) on Tuesday. Florida is home to 12 of 19 tracks in the United States and one of the few places where the use of steroids is permitted. It’s banned in Great Britain and Australia, where the sport remains popular. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith — the Orlando Democrat who is the bill…

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Bill to eliminate sanctuary cities in Florida moves through another House committee

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Legislation banning sanctuary city policies moved through another Florida House committee Tuesday. Yalaha Republican Rep. Larry Metz‘s bill (HB 697) would force any “sanctuary city” or county in Florida to remove all formal or informal policies shielding undocumented immigrants from federal custody. It passed the House Subcommittee on Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs on a 9-5 vote on Tuesday. The legislation would fine local governments that don’t comply with immigration officers between $1,000 to $5,000 a day. It requires local officials to report violations, but exempts…

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House to Enterprise Florida: Drop dead

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The Enterprise Florida economic development organization and a multitude of business incentives would be eradicated under legislation passed by the Florida House Friday. The bill (HB 7005) passed on an 87-28 vote, with some members voting against their respective parties’ position. The measure was pushed by Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has derided Enterprise Florida as a dispenser of “corporate welfare.” But the legislation goes to a Senate that largely backs incentives and wants to keep the organization that, though a public-private partnership, doles out mostly…

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Florida to legislate free speech on college campuses?

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The issue of free speech on college campuses reached its nadir earlier this month when protests regarding the appearance of far-right writer and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos caused more than $100,000 damage to the University of Berkeley campus. Yiannapoulos speech was ultimately canceled, just as it was two weeks after protests erupted before his appearance at the University of California at Davis. The day after the Berkeley cancellation, President Trump threatened to pull federal funds from the university for canceling the event. If…

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