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Alimony overhaul bill heading to governor

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A bill that could end “forever alimony” is heading to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott after passing the Florida Legislature Tuesday. The House passed the Senate family-law bill (SB 668) by a vote of 74-38 after Democrats tried but failed to tack on a last-minute amendment to ensure the bill can’t be applied retroactively to old divorce judgments. The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Colleen Burton of Lakeland, said the bill was not retroactive, but Democratic critics said the bill’s language was…

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House passes judicial term limits in close vote

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A judicial term limits initiative that is stalled in the Senate barely passed out of the House Wednesday. The House approved the measure (HB 197) on a 76-38 vote. Because imposing term limits on appellate judges and justices requires changing the state constitution, it needed three-fifths of the House, or at least 72 votes. A companion measure (SB 322) has yet to be heard in the Senate with less than three weeks left in the 2016 Legislative Session. Even if…

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Today on Context Florida: Death penalty questions, digital campaigning and hackers

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Today on Context Florida: Legislation that the Florida House of Representatives approved last week cures what the U.S. Supreme Court specifically found wrong with Florida’s death penalty, but Rick Scott shouldn’t plan on signing any more death warrants soon, if ever. Several large questions linger, says Martin Dyckman. Will the Supreme Court uphold it? What will it cost? And what happens to the 389 people on death row? One of the most talked-about narratives in U.S. politics, says Joe Clements and…

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Larry Ahern faces broke challenger in re-election bid

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If a campaign’s probability of winning can be measured by the fundraising advantage it holds over its opponent, state Rep. Larry Ahern is well on his way to another term in the Florida Legislature. At the close of 2015, the Pinellas Republican had raised nearly $75,000 compared to his opponent’s paltry $305. Ahern is seeking re-election in the district he’s held since 2012. Facing him is Democrat Lorena Grizzle. Of her total campaign earnings, $200 stemmed from two campaign loans from herself. The…

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Bill would mandate elementary schools to give recess

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A House education panel unanimously cleared a bill that would create a state mandate for elementary schools to give students at least 100 minutes of recess per week. The K-12 Subcommittee OK’d the measure (HB 833) Tuesday. It must next clear the Education Appropriations Subcommittee and full Education Committee before it can be heard on the House floor. The bill, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Rene Plasencia of Orlando and Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs specifies “supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess.” On the question…

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15 things I think I think about the latest Florida House campaign finance reports (Part 1)

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Florida legislative candidates, as well as political committees, had until Jan. 11 to report their campaign finance activity for the month of December. Now that the figures are in, here are 15 things I think I think about these latest reports. Thank you to LobbyTools for assembling much of the data relied on in this report. House District 4 — One of the most competitive races in the state is in this North Florida seat, where the winner will all but…

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Marco Rubio speaks to New Hampshire House of Representatives on Wednesday

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Marco Rubio may be on familiar territory during a trip to New Hampshire this week. Rubio is set to head to the Granite State on Wednesday, according to his campaign. The Florida senator is scheduled to address the New Hampshire House of Representatives on Wednesday morning. The address could remind campaign watchers of Rubio’s early days in politics. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 and was House Speaker from 2006 to 2008. The speech is…

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