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Legislators rake in campaign cash before start of session

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It seems lawmakers hit the annual “drink, drop and dash” scene exceptionally hard this year. In the run-up to the legislative session in Tallahassee, when legislators are prohibited from raising campaign funds, statehouse pols pulled in more than $1 million in 11th-hour contributions, much of that coming from lobbyists and business interests who do business with the state and seek to do more. According to recently released donation figures from the Florida Division of Elections, incumbent lawmakers were by far…

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Jim Waldman lends himself $200k to jump start Senate campaign

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Former Coconut Creek city commissioner and former state Rep. Jim Waldman has kicked in $200,000 of his own money to his bid to succeed Margate state Sen. Jeremy Ring in the state Senate, according to recent filings with the Division of Elections. Waldman is putting his money where his mouth is with a substantial personal investment in taking over for the term-limited Ring, who like Waldman is known as a well-heeled Democrat capable of bringing home the bacon, both personally and in the…

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Today on Context Florida: Tally takeaway, budgets, children in crisis and Amendment 1

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Today on Context Florida:  In his latest “Takeaway from Tallahassee,” Peter Schorsch notes that few would have guessed that the Florida Justice Association would look so formidable at halftime of this year’s Legislative Session. It has played successful defense so far when it comes to the all-important issue of Big Tobacco liability, as well as pro-insurance legislation that would restrict access to the courts for folks looking to claim damages from insurers. The ideological fissure that cleaves the Republican Party nationwide…

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Midway through 2015 Session, Florida Justice Association emerging as early winner

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Who would have guessed on primary night 2014 that the Florida Justice Association would look so formidable at halftime of this year’s legislative session? After playing and losing in a handful of Republican primaries that night, the FJA continued to take a political battering last cycle. They doubled down on Charlie Crist‘s close-but-no-cigar challenge to Rick Scott, Amendment 2 failed to garner the 60 percent of the vote necessary to become enshrined in the state Constitution and six largely lawyer-friendly House…

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Bills to alter tobacco settlements referred to committees

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A smoldering battle in the Florida Legislature affecting the manner in which four major tobacco firms will have to pay up more than 4,000 claimants has taken an early step toward its climax: bills by state Sen. Garrett Richter and state Rep. David Santiago have escaped the session slush pile and been referred to committees in both chambers. The proposal’s original version, Richter’s SB 978, will face just two committee stops: Judiciary and Rules. The House companion sponsored by Santiago will also forgo the…

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4th Floor Files talks with Reggie Garcia about winning, The Fugitive and getting it in writing

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Lobbyist Reggie Garcia is the subject of the newest chapter of the “4th Floor Files.” Garcia is also a clemency lawyer who spends a lot of his time lobbying the governor and Cabinet for clemency on behalf of clients. Garcia has his own practice and his lobbying clients include Clinton Treadway, the Florida Justice Association, the Florida Education Fund, Florida Association of Broadcasters and the Drive Safely Forum. He recently authored How to Leave Prison Early, a do-it-yourself guide for parolees and clemency petitioners…

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2015 Legislative Session Preview: Big tobacco, Brecht Heuchan, and the most interesting food fight this Session

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Almost all of the headlines surrounding the annual session of the Florida Legislature will have already been written by the time lawmakers are gaveled into business on March 3. Those headlines will involve calls to expand Medicaid; a budget hole created by the federal government’s refusal to fund the Low Income Pool health care program; how to spend the money derived from Amendment 1,  etc. You’ll read about gambling and water and Uber and grad school tuition and tax breaks and…

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