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Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

‘Safety valve’ wanted for mandatory-minimum drug law

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In 2008, an Orange County, Florida, judge sentenced William Forrester to 15 years in prison for 15.6 grams of oxycodone, or about 30 pills. Forrester was on disability insurance and had a lung surgically removed due to cancer not long before his arrest, according to court documents. But possession of the oxycodone, combined with a forged prescription to obtain it, turned him into a narcotics trafficker under Florida’s mandatory minimum drug law. “If was an option, then certainly we would…

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Judicial ethics watchdog could suffer in fight for independent Florida courts

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Is Florida’s judicial ethics commission about to become collateral damage in a battle over the independence of the courts? House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the Land O’Lakes Republican, appears to have targeted the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) along with the courts themselves in his campaign to curb the independence of the judiciary. The JQC and the Supreme Court had not concluded an ethics case against Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey III of Jacksonville when Corcoran scheduled an impeachment hearing a month ago.…

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Senate education committee approves mandatory recess bill

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Mandatory recess could be on the horizon. The Senate Education Committee voted 7-0 to approve a bill (SB 78) that requires school district across the state to provide at least 20 minutes of recess each day to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Under the proposal, the master schedule at each school containing elementary grades would need to reflect the requirement for 20 consecutive minutes of daily recess. “It’s time for recess,” said Sen. Anitere Flores, the bill’s sponsor. The…

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On Rick Scott/Richard Corcoran feud; ‘incentives’ not needed to draw business to Florida

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In 2012, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan went on a personal crusade to convince Bass Pro Shops to build a store in Brandon. Hagan’s aim was to create jobs as the county struggled to recover from the Great Recession. He proposed an “incentive” package that was about $15 million of taxpayer money, arguing that it was the cost of doing business with a company like that. Many people disagreed. They screamed. They howled. They complained that giving a Death Star-like…

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Florida’s economic development efforts are ‘underperforming’

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Florida’s state economic development efforts are “underperforming,” according to a new legislative report.   An undesirable label by any standard, critics and lawmakers already skeptical of providing taxpayer support for private businesses are likely to seize on the bureaucratic euphemism and underlying findings to bolster their anti-incentives position ahead of the March state legislative session. The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, a nonpartisan legislative research office, conducted a comprehensive review of Enterprise Florida Inc. and the Department of…

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Jeff Brandes makes another run at ending red-light cameras

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State Sen. Jeff Brandes has never been shy about his dislike of red-light cameras. Last year, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released a stinging report on how local governments use the cameras. In response, Brandes filed legislation to rein in their use. “There are perverse incentives inherent in the red-light camera program,” he said at the time. Although the proposal did not make it in 2014, Brandes takes another run at the cameras Tuesday.  He seeks…

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