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Bill to exempt Florida credit unions from regulations advances in Senate

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The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved SB 1620 Monday, a bill filed by West Palm Beach Democrat Bobby Powell that would exempt credit unions from regulation under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. However, there were also discussions about rolling back federal consumer protections by President Donald Trump, leading Fort Lauderdale Democrat Gary Farmer to attempt a late-filed amendment. Farmer said common law fraud protects consumers only when someone makes an affirmative misrepresentation, and that recipient lies on that misrepresentation. If no statement is…

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Bill regulating ridesharing in Florida advances in Senate Committee

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Legislation to provide statewide regulations for transportation network companies (TNC’s) advanced in its latest committee stop in the Florida Senate Tuesday. St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes‘ bill (SB 340) received only two votes in opposition in clearing the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, though there were substantial concerns expressed about funding for paratransit that animated the debate. Noting that there is a hole in disability transportation, Parkland Democrat Gary Farmer offered an amendment that would assess ride-sharing companies one-half of one percent of TNC…

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Smoker’s widow fights for multimillion-dollar jury award

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A lawyer for the widow of a Florida man “addict(ed) to cigarettes” asked the state Supreme Court Monday to reinstate her $30 million jury award for punitive damages. Tallahassee attorney John S. Mills, who represents Joan Schoeff, told the court the conduct of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.(RJR)—in selling a product they knew was killing 500,000 people a year—stopped just short of “intentional genocide.” Mills called RJR “the worst of the worst,” saying the cigarette maker was aware their customers “were going to die and continued (selling cigarettes)…

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Rick Scott criticized for not mentioning LGBT community in State of State

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Advocates blasted Gov. Rick Scott for failing to mention the LGBT community in his State of the State address, despite dedicating a significant portion of his comments on the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. “We heard about the horror that our state has experienced; we heard about the heroism from first responders and ordinary Floridians, and we heard about the pain of the families who lost loved ones,” said Hannah Willard, the public policy director for Equality…

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More legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018, 2020

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The list of incumbents eyeing re-election just keeps getting longer. State elections records show dozens of members of the state House and Senate have filed to run for re-election in 2018, and several more are looking ahead to 2020. Sen. Gary Farmer is one of those lawmakers thinking about his next race. He filed to run for re-election in Senate District 34 on Jan. 24. Farmer won his seat in 2016, beating out two well-known South Florida Democrats for the…

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Bill Galvano’s higher-ed reform bills sail through Senate committee

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Two bills that would increase Bright Future scholarship benefits and rework how colleges and universities measure progress and deal with top professors sailed through the Florida Senate Education Committee Monday. Senate Bills 2 and 4, both introduced by Sen. Bill Galvano, drew some concerns about how they might affect nontraditional and working students but little opposition, as Galvano assured committee members, he shared and would be addressing those concerns. “The thrust of this bill is not to somehow put additional pressure…

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Dana Young to unveil anti-fracking legislation next week

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Tampa Republican state Senator Dana Young will announce her legislation to ban fracking next week, her office said on Friday. During her successful campaign to win the Senate District 18 seat last fall, Young promised that she would introduce such a ban, after she was accused of actually supporting the controversial practice of extracting natural gas and oil during the 2016 legislative session. Democrat Bob Buesing, independent candidate Joe Redner and other environmental groups all said her support of a bill sponsored by…

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