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Sen. Jeff Brandes

Jack Latvala gets into it with Jeff Brandes over economics incentives bill

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The Senate sent the VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida budget cuts to the Governor Monday on a 29-8 vote, but not before Sen. Jack Latvala, who has supported Gov. Rick Scott on economic incentives, took the opportunity to nitpick. The House approved the measure earlier in the day. Latvala started with HB 5501’s formal name: Displaced Homemakers. Among its many provisions, the bill would fold a jobs program for them into standard programs within the Department of Economic Opportunity. “You…

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Insurance bill sponsor insists it won’t become a train for AOB, PIP

in Statewide by

When Lee Jacobson heard that that an insurance omnibus bill had been pulled from the Rules Committee onto the Senate floor Wednesday, he hightailed it to Tallahassee. The Orlando insurance and personal-injury attorney, active in the Florida Justice Association, was watching his daughter play soccer at the time. “I ran home, threw two suits in a bag and grabbed two one-way flights to get here,” Jacobson said Thursday morning. His fear was that the bill — CS/CS/SB 454 — would…

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Appropriations Committee vote sends solar tax break bill to the Senate floor

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Senate implementing legislation for last year’s solar energy referendum passed its final committee test Thursday, when the Appropriations Committee voted its unanimous approval. The bill by St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes  would implement $54.5 million in annual solar breaks on local taxes, approved by Florida voters via Amendment 4 in August. SB 90, supported by environmental groups and solar panel installers, lacks the same safety standards and disclosure requirements found in the House version, HB 1351. Brandes said the House is moving…

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Bill sponsor bows out of fight over short-term vacation rentals

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The Senate sponsor of legislation crimping local restrictions on Airbnb and other home vacation rentals abruptly cried uncle Monday — confusing a committee room full of lobbyists, plus a few committee members. Sen. Greg Steube acquiesced in a late amendment by Sen. Jeff Brandes that essentially gutted his bill. CS/SB 188, as amended, passed on a vote of 5-3. “Just to be clear, this allows cities to currently do anything they that they currently can do under current law,” Steube…

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Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform formed as Legislative Session formally begins

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With numerous criminal justice reform bills already moving through Florida House and Senate committees this year, a nonpartisan coalition called The Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform announced Monday its formation on the eve of the 2017 Legislative Session. The Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU of Florida, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, League of Women Voters, R Street Institute, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Florida Public Defender Association, Florida Legal Services, Florida Immigrant Coalition, New…

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Jeff Brandes amendment would give felons gun rights

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A restoration of civil rights bill got an amendment from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes that would give convicts the right to own guns after completing their sentence. SB 934, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, would automatically restore all other civil rights, such as the right to vote, when a felon completes their sentence, but specifically carves out the right to own firearms. Thurston argues in the bill that automatic restoration helps felons reintegrate into society and takes…

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Jeff Brandes: Legislature needs educating about flood risk

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A state senator proposing legislation to mitigate flood risk said Friday that lawmakers in Tallahassee don’t fully appreciate the extent of that risk. “I think my colleagues in the Legislature don’t quite understand the gravity of the situation — much like Congress,” said Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican. “They do not understand how serious the risk is.” But that’s understandable, Brandes said — their constituents don’t, either. “Most folks don’t understand how important the issue of flood insurance is. Most…

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