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Senate Appropriations Committee - page 2

Visit Florida defenders swarm Senate Appropriations Committee hearing

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Tourism business owners flocked to a Senate committee room Thursday to plead the case for Visit Florida, the state’s embattled tourism promotions agency. Representing both large operations and independent hotels and restaurants, they urged members of the Appropriations Committee to let the agency continue to sell Florida to potential tourists in the United States and overseas. Sheldon Suga, a manager at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, brought 1,000 letters from hotel housekeepers and desk clerks, charter boat captains, and other…

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Jack Latvala defends Visit Florida amid Pitbull contract controversy

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Visit Florida, beleaguered over its $1 million promotional contract with the rapper Pitbull, found a defender Thursday in Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala. In light of a soft construction sector, “what’s kept the whole outlook from softening up has been our strong tourism economy,” Latvala told reporters after the Appropriations Committee heard about the financial demands the state faces during the next three years. “That’s particularly important today in light of the criticisms that seem to be coming now on a…

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Senate panel won’t reconsider controversial fracking proposal

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A bill to regulate fracking is most likely dead after the Senate sponsor said he did not want the Senate Appropriations committee to reconsider the measure. This past Thursday the Senate Appropriations panel voted 10-9 to reject the proposal (SB 318), but lawmakers swiftly made a motion to reconsider to keep the proposal on the agenda. The bill was slated for a hearing Tuesday, but instead Richter made a motion not to reconsider the measure. “This is a controversial subject.…

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Effort to appease pari-mutuels is killing Seminole Compact

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If the Seminole Compact and related legislation don’t pass this session, lawmakers will have no one to blame but themselves, the tribe’s Tallahassee-based attorney said Tuesday. Barry Richard, who represents the Seminole Tribe of Florida, blamed the apparent Tuesday morning collapse of the 2016 gambling bills on lawmakers bending over backward to appease the state’s dog and horse racing concerns. “The issue hanging us up is what happens to the pari-mutuels,” he told FloridaPolitics.com in a phone interview. State Sen. Tom Lee,…

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Senate budget chief Tom Lee adds gaming bills to Appropriations Cmte. agenda

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Senate budget chair Tom Lee has added a pair of potentially momentous gaming bills to the Appropriations Committee’s agenda for its meeting next week, set for Tuesday, March 1. SB 7072 would expand slot machines beyond South Florida and reduce the effective tax rate on the machines. It would allow slots in six counties where voters already have approved the form of gambling in a local referendum – namely Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, and Washington –  but would also allow…

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Senate committee passes series of cost-saving health care proposals

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved Thursday several bills with some cost-saving measures for health providers. The bills now head to the Senate floor. LobbyTools is reporting on SB 1686, sponsored by Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, which will allow Florida’s health care practitioners to provide telehealth services. The bill creates a task force under the Agency for Health Care Administration to study ways to implement telehealth. An amendment allows representatives of long-term-care services to become part of the task force. SB 152,…

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Steve Crisafulli says no budget conference yet

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House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Thursday said the budget conference process won’t begin just yet. The Merritt Island Republican announced the news to members of this chamber in an email: From: Crisafulli, Steve Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:16 AM Subject: Conference will not begin this weekend Members: There is positive forward progress in the effort to reach an agreement on budget allocations with the Senate. However, there is still a great deal to be worked out. Therefore, we will…

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