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National Conference of State Legislatures

Florida cities closer to banning the bag

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With last year’s styrofoam ban upheld by a Miami-Dade judge, the city of Coral Gables, south Florida’s “City Beautiful,” is stepping into the eco-regulation fray with another initiative. This time, to “ban the bag.” At a March 14 meeting, the Coral Gables City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance prohibiting plastic bags being used by retailers or at special events – with a few exceptions.  A final vote, which would make the ban official, is expected on May 8. Coral…

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Judicial term limits bill likely dead in Senate

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A House initiative to place term limits on state Supreme Court justices and appellate judges was assigned to three committees of reference in the Senate late Tuesday: Judiciary, Ethics & Elections, and Rules. Under Senate rules, though, “Unless approved by the President, no committee shall meet after the fiftieth (50th) day of a regular session except the Rules Committee.” Tuesday was the 50th day of the 2016 Legislative Session, which is scheduled concludes March 11. “It received the same references as the Senate companion, which was…

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House passes judicial term limits in close vote

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A judicial term limits initiative that is stalled in the Senate barely passed out of the House Wednesday. The House approved the measure (HB 197) on a 76-38 vote. Because imposing term limits on appellate judges and justices requires changing the state constitution, it needed three-fifths of the House, or at least 72 votes. A companion measure (SB 322) has yet to be heard in the Senate with less than three weeks left in the 2016 Legislative Session. Even if…

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Picking big green straw gives Democrat big win in tied House election

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Republicans drew the short straw Friday in Mississippi. Seriously. To break a tie from a Nov. 3 state House election, 20-year Democratic incumbent Bo Eaton and Republican challenger Mark Tullos met in the governor’s crowded conference room on the 19th floor of a state office building to carry out the archaic procedure prescribed in state law: They drew straws. Eaton, listed first on the ballot, reached into a red canvas bag and pulled out one of two silver-plated business card…

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After more than a year of delays, Florida finally awards medical pot licenses

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The five nurseries in Florida approved to grow and distribute medical marijuana were announced Monday by the Department of Health, putting an end to a months-long wait by parents and their sick children who need the drug to control severe seizures. The approved nurseries by region are: Hackney Nursery Co. (Northwest) Chestnut Hill Tree Farm (Northeast) Knox Nursery (Central) Alpha Foliage (Southwest) Costa Nursery Farms (Southeast) Those nurseries now have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond, according to a press release.…

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Tough questions for Jack Abramoff, in Tallahassee today for shady solar advocates

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Notorious former lobbyist Jack Abramoff tells anyone who will listen he really wants to improve his image. Fronting a shady, dark money organization is not the best way to go about it. Tuesday morning, Abramoff enters the Florida solar energy fray with an appearance at a news conference hosted by Conservatives for Energy Freedom. The media event is set for 10:30 a.m. at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee. Abramoff spent nearly four years in federal prison on a variety of…

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Lawmakers irked over delays in medical pot law

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Two lawmakers – one Republican, one Democrat – expressed frustration Tuesday over the state Health Department’s delay in putting Florida’s lone medical marijuana law into action. In 2014, the state legalized low-THC, or “non-euphoric,” marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. The department is charged with setting up a system to make sure sick kids can get the drug. At a meeting of the House Health Quality subcommittee, state Rep. Greg Steube asked the Health Department’s top lawyer: What’s taking…

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