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Why Jack Latvala ranks ahead of Richard Corcoran on our list of Tampa Bay’s most powerful pols

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SaintPetersBlog’s fifth annual ranking of Tampa Bay’s most powerful pols wraps up today with the (somewhat) surprising reveal that state Sen. Jack Latvala finished ahead of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. A dominant force in regional and state politics for decades, this is Latvala’s first time atop the list. But how can this be? Isn’t the Speaker of the House more powerful than any individual state Senator? Yes, of course, the Speaker is more powerful than any senator, including the Senate President. Besides the Governor, the…

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Joe Henderson: If Rick Scott stands on principle, then he must use budget veto pen

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Take your seats, folks. This is going to be good. We are about to find out who is the boss in Florida. If Gov. Rick Scott wants to remind everyone in the Legislature who has the most stripes on their shoulder, then he has to follow through on his threat to start vetoing major — or all — parts of the $82.4 billion budget presented to him by the House and Senate. Special session? Bring it on. The budget eviscerates…

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Rick Scott says he will make veto decision ‘based on what’s best’ for Florida families

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Gov. Rick Scott took a swing at state lawmakers, saying the Legislature turned its back on economic incentive deals that have helped Florida “out compete … top competitors for important jobs.” The Naples Republican released a scathing statement Tuesday, scolding legislative leaders for passing a budget that “was done largely behind closed doors.” Scott said he has begun the process of reviewing the budget, and said he will make a decision about whether he vetoes the entire budget “based on…

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House OKs VISIT FLORIDA, Enterprise Florida funding cuts

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House members on Monday approved a measure dealing with VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida funding on a 74-34 vote. If vetoed, however, the “conforming bill” would need 80 votes to overcome Gov. Rick Scott‘s red pen. Both chambers have begun discussing the 2017-18 state budget, which wasn’t completed on time to finish the 2017 Legislative Session last Friday. That caused a rare extension to Monday, using the weekend to count toward the constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote. The…

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Top line tourism, economic development money closed out, chair says

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Don’t expect any movement in the budgets for Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA at the conference committee level. “I’m authorized to negotiate quite a few things in this budget and there’s a few things I’m not, and those would be among the things I’m not,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, the St. Petersburg Republican chairing the Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations conference committee. The panel met again at 8 a.m. Saturday. Earlier this week, legislative leadership agreed on roughly $83 billion…

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Ken Lawson on VISIT FLORIDA funding: ‘Protect our people’

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Ken Lawson, CEO of the embattled VISIT FLORIDA, again pleaded with lawmakers to fully fund his agency, saying jobs depend on it. Lawson appeared before the Legislature’s tourism and economic development budget conference on Friday as Gov. Rick Scott left the state to attend a National Rifle Association meeting in Atlanta. Meantime, Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, has been “robo-calling” residents in key districts, asking them to encourage their lawmakers to vote for $200 million to start work on…

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Pat Neal: Florida must commit to the future and invest in high-tech jobs

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The world around us is constantly changing as technology evolves. Investing in high-tech jobs can set Florida up to succeed far into the future while providing people with high-wage jobs that will keep the American dream alive and well in our great state. Other states have already committed to investments in the future, with millions of dollars being poured into high-tech centers that boost the economy and create hundreds of jobs. Luckily, our state leadership is committed to this goal,…

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