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House committee OK’s rewrite of state economic incentive program

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A series of rewrites to Florida’s economic-incentive programs, a chief priority of Gov. Rick Scott, passed its first House panel Tuesday afternoon. Lobby Tools reports that HB 1325, from Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd, seeks to establish a new Florida Enterprise Fund, as well as changes in the process of administering economic incentives for businesses to come to Florida. Several provisions of the bill are similar to a proposal (SB 1646) sponsored by Clearwater Republican Rep. Jack Latvala, including lower…

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Senators divided over using state park money to control Lake O discharges

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Florida senators are divided over a proposal taking money out of the state park system for a pilot program to help reroute discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and estuaries. LobbyTools reports on a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, where Stuart Republican Joe Negron proposed amending the Senate budget to include $750,000 in recurring funds and $6.75 million in nonrecurring funds for the South Florida Water Management District. The money would go to…

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Bill to help DEO fight unemployment fraud passes House committee

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A bill giving the Department of Economic Opportunity more tools in the fight against unemployment benefits fraud unanimously passed the House Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee Monday. According to LobbyTools, state Rep. Mike La Rosa, sponsor of HB 1017, said the DEO identified “9,600 claims based on I.D. fraud” in 2013 alone. Those figures led the St. Cloud Republican to call for giving the agency more authority to combat the issue. A strike-all amendment removed several controversial provisions of the…

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Broad ethics bill unanimously passes first House stop

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After a handful of amendments, an omnibus ethics bill unanimously passed the House Government Operations Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon. LobbyTools reports that HB 593 will create a host of new mandates and requirements to help fraud and waste in state government The strike-all amendment approved by the committee was similar to the original bill, only adding text contained in another anti-corruption proposal (HB 7071) sponsored by Rep. Ritch Workman. Yalaha Republican Larry Metz, who filed HB 593, agreed that he would drop that…

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Don’t expect major education bills in 2016, says John Legg

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There won’t be any major education bills expected in the 2016 Legislative Session, according to Senate Education chair John Legg. As reported by LobbyTools, testing legislation was one of only a handful of substantive bills that ultimately passed in the 2015 session. And for the upcoming session, set to begin next month, Legg said education does not seem to be gaining any traction. “I am talking to fellow senators, and they are not talking about their priorities in education,” he…

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Legislative chambers revise schedule for final week of Special Session

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The state House and Senate have issued legislative calendar changes for the final week of 2015 Special Session C, which is set to end November 6. The session was convened to amend Senate maps, per an adverse Florida Supreme Court judgment that found the upper chamber violated anti-gerrymandering laws. A number of scheduled hearing times were jointly amended Wednesday afternoon. A meeting of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee — previously not scheduled to meet during Week 3 — will now meet…

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Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

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With a tip of the hat to Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round. On: Luke Strickland is a new legislative assistant in the Senate Majority Office. Off: Christine DonFrancesco is no longer a legislative assistant for Wellington Democrat state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo. Off: Katie Martin is no longer a legislative assistant for Lakeland Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel. On: John Kotyk became a legislative assistant for Elkton Republican state Sen. Travis Hutson. Off: Gina Herron has…

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