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Scott Plakon

Is U.S. Term Limits coordinating a grassroots campaign against Jamie Grant?

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Several state lawmakers — including Reps. Scott Plakon, Neil Combee, and Randy Fine — have received messages from their constituents asking them to block James W. Grant from running for re-election and running for Speaker during the 2022-24 term, saying the Tampa Republican has already served eight years in office and any more would be in violation of the state Constitution. The push comes just days after Nick Tomboulides, the executive director of U.S. Term Limits, wrote a post on the group’s…

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David Simmons: We’re not done yet with HB 7069

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Interparty, cross-house fighting over the controversial education omnibus bill House Bill 7069 is not yet over, nor are efforts to stop provisions that could spell death sentences to underperforming public schools, Republican state Sen. Dave Simmons vowed Wednesday. And the bill might face a legal challenge led by state Sen. Gary Farmer, a Parkland Republican who has become the bill’s most outspoken critic. At a panel discussion, with three Republican state representatives, held by the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce…

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Some lawmakers bowing out of Special Session

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(Originally published Tuesday, June 6, 2017) At least eight House members and one senator won’t be attending some or all of this week’s Special Session, set for Wednesday-Friday.  The June meeting is conflicting with some lawmakers’ plans, including one whose brother is getting married out of state. Below is a list, as of Tuesday afternoon, of lawmakers asking for and receiving excused absences for part or all of the three-day session, with reasons given: — Rep. Bruce Antone, an Orlando…

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Legislature votes to tear down the ‘liquor wall’

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The Florida Legislature has voted to tear down the booze ‘wall.’ The House, on a by-a-nose vote of 58-57, Wednesday passed the Senate’s bill (SB 106) to allow retailers, at least those who choose to do so, to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. The legislation now heads to Gov. Rick Scott. If signed into law, the state will end 82 years of mandating that retailers sell distilled spirits in a separate store from other items. Beer and wine…

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Liquor ‘wall of separation’ could fall in Florida

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A bill to allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods is one step closer to passing the Legislature. On Tuesday, the House decided to take up the Senate’s version of the “whiskey & Wheaties” legislation (SB 106) out of a “spirit of compromise,” bill sponsor Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican said. After two and a half hours of questions and a string of amendments that were defeated or withdrawn, the House could take a final vote on the bill as…

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House advances juvenile justice bill, adding adult diversion program

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Over the past month, juvenile justice bills moving through the Florida Legislature this spring have veered off in different directions. On Thursday, the House version (HB 205), sponsored by Seminole Republican Larry Ahern, changed again in the House Judiciary Committee. Ahern’s bill would expunge the arrests of juveniles for certain first-time misdemeanor crimes. That differs significantly from its Senate companion. Miami Republican Anitere Flores‘ bill (SB 196) would mandate civil citations to juveniles for a number of first-time misdemeanors. Longwood Republican Scott Plakon‘s amendment to HB…

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Janet Cruz’s ‘tough haul,’ frustrations of the Democratic House caucus

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In Tampa, Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel waxed optimistically last month about the Democrats’ chance of winning back the state Senate in 2020. Notably, he didn’t say anything about the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats, 79-41. Tampa Rep. Janet Cruz, serving the first year of a two-year stint as Minority Leader and four weeks into the 2017 Session, admits it’s been a tough haul. “I feel like we’re spending so much time on bills that in caucus meetings, we’ve grown to call them ‘dead…

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