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State agencies begin releasing budget requests

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One day before the Oct. 14 deadline, state agencies began issuing Legislative Budget Requests [LBR] for the upcoming fiscal year. As LobbyTools explains, budget requests include several “exhibits” and “schedules” — exhibits offer alternative views of an agency’s budget request, such as by issue or category. Schedules provide supporting documentation for exhibits. For instance, “Exhibit D-3A” is the most detailed level and constitutes the main body of the LBR. It includes a narrative justification for funding each issue or program. “Schedule…

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Statewide voter turnout currently around 17 percent

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There’s just a few hours left until the polls close, and statewide turnout is currently under 20 percent. Forty-seven counties in Florida have started to report turnout numbers, according to LobbyTools. The legislative monitoring service reported that more than 2.1 million votes have already been cast. That brings statewide turnout to just over 17 percent. Statewide turnout in the 2014 primary was 18 percent. Two years earlier, statewide turnout was 21 percent. The turnout snapshot is in line with predictions…

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Senate passes reforms for Department of Financial Services

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An amended version of a bill reforming several laws and policies at the Department of Financial Services passed the Senate unanimously. LobbyTools reports that HB 651 is now headed back to the House. The bill, in part, creates a new grant program for volunteer fire departments and specifies that employees of state universities, special districts and water management districts can participate in the state’s deferred compensation program. Amendments added by Sen. Alan Hays and Sen. Jeff Brandes are the reason…

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Senate unanimously passes broad transportation bill, sends to House

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On Monday, the Senate unanimously passed HB 7027, a broadly worded bill that seeks to reform several policies and programs for the Florida Department of Transportation. After senators adopted a series of amendments, LobbyTools reports the bill now returns to the House. Among the amendments were adding language to encourage the development of transportation policy for the advancement of autonomous, driverless car technology. The Senate also removed a provision giving the Legislative Budget Commission authority to review amendments to FDOT’s work plan. The language…

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House passes sweeping reforms to Department of Financial Services

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A bill making sweeping changes to the Department of Financial Services is heading to the Senate Thursday after passing the House floor 114 to 1. In addition to rewriting a variety of regulations, HB 651, from Monticello Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears, also establishes or alters numerous DFS programs, reports LobbyTools. Among the changes, the bill seeks to create a new grant program for volunteer fire departments as well as modifying firefighter licensure programs. Employees of state universities, special district, and…

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Uber ad blames Andy Gardiner for failure of ride-sharing legislation in Senate

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Uber is publicly blaming Senate President Andy Gardiner for the collapse of a deal that would create a legal framework for the ride-hailing technology company to operate in Florida. LobbyTools reports that the San Francisco-based company is holding the Senate president personally responsible for blocking the bill. “Senator Gardiner’s actions raise a very important question,” Uber spokesman Colin Tooze told reporters. “Is Senator Gardiner going to listen to the voices of the people of Florida, or is he beholden to one special interest…

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Senate committee rejects bill scaling back Florida’s certificate of need program

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A Senate committee rejected a proposal Wednesday to scale back the state’s certificate of need (CON) program for licensing hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. LobbyTools reports that SB 1144, filed by Niceville Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz, sought to give exemptions from the CON requirement to facilities that provide “charity care in an amount equal to or greater than the applicable district average among licensed providers of similar services.” Before new beds can be built, the licensing…

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