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Florida cities among the biggest population gainers

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Three metro areas in Florida were among the nation’s 10 biggest gainers in the number of people moving there last year, and another three Florida metro areas were in the top 10 for overall growth rates. The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday said the Tampa area had the nation’s fourth-highest gain from people moving there last year. Some 58,000 new residents moved there. South Florida had the nation’s seventh-highest gain from migration, adding about 48,000 residents who moved there. Orlando…

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Mickey vs. the tax man: Disney, Universal fight tax bills

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It takes a lot of land to accommodate Cinderella’s castle, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Epcot’s 11-country World Showcase — and a hefty purse to pay the property taxes on it. To cut tax bills in the tens of millions of dollars, the specialists at Orlando’s famous theme parks have employed methods from the creative — placing cows on undeveloped land and claiming an agricultural exemption — to the traditional — negotiating or appealing to a county board.…

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Orlando hosts Florida-flavored NCAA Tournament first round

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For NCAA Tournament organizers, their desire to fill seats at the eight first and second round sites, Orlando should be gold for them. With the Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles coming to the Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday, fans of all three teams will not have far to travel. Florida’s other NCAA Tournament is Miami. The eighth-seeded Hurricanes will open play on Friday in Tulsa against the ninth-seeded Michigan State Spartans. The team traveling…

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Protests at Marco Rubio’s office say focus is on access, not booting him

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost leases on his offices in Tampa and Jacksonville in part because of landlord’s impatience with the incessant barrage of protests out front. Is Orlando next? The plaza in front of the downtown Orlando office building housing Rubio’s Central Florida office was the site of another protest Tuesday, as it has been almost every Tuesday this year. This time, it was For Our Future and other groups pressing a combination of state, local and federal liberal…

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Rick Scott criticized for not mentioning LGBT community in State of State

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Advocates blasted Gov. Rick Scott for failing to mention the LGBT community in his State of the State address, despite dedicating a significant portion of his comments on the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. “We heard about the horror that our state has experienced; we heard about the heroism from first responders and ordinary Floridians, and we heard about the pain of the families who lost loved ones,” said Hannah Willard, the public policy director for Equality…

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Linda Stewart, Amy Mercado introduce bills to protect bears, their food and habitat

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As state Rep. Amy Mercado declares, Florida’s now-annual black bear hunt has become a “slaughter.” Mercado and fellow Orlando Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart laid out bills Wednesday to ban the hunts for 10 years, as well as steps to keep bears happy enough in the forests and stop raiding neighborhoods. “The bears, we’ve encroached on their homes,” Mercado said. “They were here first. And a slaughter of the bears is unacceptable.” Mercado’s House Bill 491 and Stewart’s Senate Bill…

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Move to Orlando seems to have bailed out annual Pro Bowl

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Did the move to Orlando save the NFL Pro Bowl? Maybe. The Pro Bowl was more competitive than in most seasons, and it was played in a sold-out stadium. The AFC won 20-13 after an interception by Washington’s Kirk Cousins late in the game. Tampa Bay Bucs’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had four tackles, two of them solo, and one of the NFC’s seven sacks. Everson Griffen had three sacks, and former Buc Michael Bennett had two. But the NFC could…

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