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Chris Smith to appear with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to address state gun measures

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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will speak to reporters and the public about a pair of controversial gun bills circulating in the Legislature at her old state Capitol stamping grounds Thursday. Broward Sen. Chris Smith will join the Democratic National Committee chairwoman in Tallahassee to oppose legislative proposals to allow Floridians to openly carry firearms and to strike the state prohibition against guns on college campuses. Public visits to the statehouse have been rare in recent years for Wasserman Schultz, who served in…

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Don Gaetz outlines Senate health care proposals during Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding meeting

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Sen. Don Gaetz used his appearance before the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding to outline several health care proposals before the state Legislature during the 2016 session. The Niceville Republican also used his appearance to remind members of Gov. Rick Scott’s commission that all recommendations are subject to an objective, nonpolitical analysis. “When it comes to estimating whether ho much a proposed policy will affect cost, everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not everyone is entitled to his own set of facts,” said Gaetz.…

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Anti-corruption bill faces rocky path in Legislature

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A major ethics and anti-corruption bill that advocates say is long overdue – but critics say may go too far – faces a rocky path in the Legislature. The legislation seeks to end what a 2010 grand jury called a “corruption tax” on Florida citizens amounting to millions a year in extra taxes, government fees and even highway tolls to make up for the waste, fraud and misconduct by public officials. The grand jury, sought by former Gov. Charlie Crist…

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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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Andy Gardiner promises first 3 bills this Session

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On the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session, Senate President Andy Gardiner made a promise that Gov. Rick Scott would get three bills by the end of the week. Gardiner, an Orlando Republican, spoke during the Senate’s first floor session for 2016, with Scott sitting in the first row. The first measure is statewide water policy legislation (SB 552/HB 7005) championed by Republican state Sen. Charlie Dean. According to The Associated Press, it “modifies dozens of areas of Florida law including…

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Lobbyist Sean Pittman switches sides in ride-sharing wars

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High-profile lawyer-lobbyist Sean Pittman, who formerly represented the Florida Limousine Association, is switching sides to Uber, the ride-sharing service. Pittman, one of INFLUENCE magazine’s “Top 100 Influencers,” is a big get for Uber, based in San Francisco. Pittman’s reach is statewide, with a presence in Tallahassee, Palm Beach County, and Miami. Expect Pittman and Uber to push lawmakers to pass a measure giving Florida regulatory power over app-based transportation services, taking control away from individual cities and counties. As Session gets under way,…

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Public corruption bill hits snag amid senators’ furor

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An anti-corruption bill with roots in the editorial department of a newspaper hit a snag in a Senate panel Monday, after a protracted debate over specific provisions and about the proper role of the news media momentarily killed it. Former Senate President Don Gaetz is carrying SB 582, a bill which began as a proposal by the Florida-based Gannett chain of newspapers and Florida Today public interest columnist Matt Reed. The measure’s early adopters says it would prevent “bid-rigging” and other corrupt practices by adding…

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