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Katie Betta

Take it to court: Florida Senate sued over doomed website

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Florida taxpayers have already spent $5 million on a state budget website that never went public. Now litigation over the failed project could cost another $200,000. The Florida Senate hired a Tallahassee-based contractor six years ago to create the website to help the public understand the state budget. Legislative officials say it didn’t work as intended and never went online.

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Maria Sachs accuser seeks to drop harassment case

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An ex-aide to former state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs has asked a federal court to drop his sexual harassment case against the Florida Senate. Matthew Damsky’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss Tuesday, asking that each side pay for its own attorneys’ fees and costs. The Senate was named as the defendant because it was Damsky’s official employer. The Senate’s outside counsel, Lisa Fountain of the Sniffen & Spellman firm, told attorney Marie Mattox that the chamber would “consent” to…

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Absent any takers, Senate mural in limbo

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You can’t give away some art these days. At least 10 museums or other institutions have declined an offer from the Florida Senate to donate its “Five Flags Mural“—now in storage—that formerly adorned the wall outside the chamber’s 5th floor public and press galleries in the Capitol. “Most cited the size of the mural and their limited capacity for storage as the reason why they could not accept it,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Thursday. The nearly 40-year-old mural, installed during…

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‘Progress’ on getting marijuana in Special Session but ‘no deal’ yet

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Legislative leaders working behind the scenes are getting closer to putting medical cannabis implementation into the call of this week’s Special Session. For instance, one senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “some progress” had been made but there was “no deal” as of Monday afternoon. When this week’s Wednesday-Friday Special Session was announced last Friday, it only included plans to fund education, tourism marketing and economic development. That’s despite dozens of lawmakers, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who have said the…

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Still no decision from Joe Negron on special session on pot referendum

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Senate President Joe Negron has yet to decide to join House Speaker Richard Corcoran in calling for a Special Session on medical marijuana implementation, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Negron, a Stuart Republican, is still “in the process of having discussions with senators in response to the memorandum he sent last Thursday,” Katie Betta said in an email.  Negron had sought input from fellow senators after the 2017 Legislative Session ended without a bill to guide state Health regulators on the…

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Dorothy Hukill extends legislative absence as she fights cancer

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State Sen. Dorothy Hukill will be absent from the upcoming committee week as she continues her battle against cervical cancer, a Senate spokeswoman said Thursday. “We expect her to return within a few weeks,” Katie Betta told FloridaPolitics.com. “Until then, she will remain engaged in the legislative process by working remotely as she continues her treatment and recovery.” The Port Orange Republican disclosed her condition last November in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron. “I am fortunate that it (is) in the early stages and…

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Former Maria Sachs aide sues for discrimination, retaliation

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An aide to then-Florida state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs has sued his former employer, saying she “exposed (him) to unwelcome sexual conduct” by frequently undressing in front of him. Matthew Damsky sued the Florida Senate in Leon County Circuit Civil court this week on gender discrimination and retaliation charges. The 68-year-old Sachs, elected to the Senate in 2010, declined to run for re-election this year. The Palm Beach County Democrat was known for her frequent wardrobe changes, particularly on long…

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