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Senate Committee on Appropriations

Mike Hansen to be next Senate budget staff head

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Incoming Senate President Joe Negron tapped Mike Hansen to head the staff for the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, a spokeswoman said Monday. Hansen will take over when Negron officially becomes president in November. Hansen, 63, had left state government to become president and CEO of The Florida Council for Community Mental Health in Tallahassee. He served as Negron’s staff director when the Stuart Republican was Appropriations chair under former Senate President Don Gaetz. The nearly four-decade veteran of state government is considered a budgeting…

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Fracking public records bill hangs on whether supporters vote against exemptions

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State Rep. Matt Gaetz voted for a hydraulic fracturing regulation bill on Monday, but says he will vote against a companion bill that would provide a public records law exemption. The outcome of the public records exemption bill likely depends on whether Gaetz is joined by others who supported the bill to provide for fracking regulation. HB 1205, which the Department of Environmental Protection proposed to create a fracking permitting program, passed the House 82-34 on Monday. HB 1209, the bill to exclude…

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Senate bill clears final committee stop despite concerns from counties, environmentalists

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A Senate water bill passed its final committee stop on Tuesday despite continuing concerns raised by counties and environmentalists. SB 918 replaces a Lake Okeechobee pollution permitting program with more reliance on water cleanup plans, sets deadlines for establishing minimum flow levels for springs, sets timelines for springs cleanup plans and creates a statewide advisory council to recommend funding for water projects. Sen. Charlie Dean, a Republican from Inverness who is bill sponsor, said SB 918 is close to matching…

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Springs bill in Senate disappoints some environmentalists

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Last year a comprehensive water bill that passed the Senate included a major focus on Florida’s springs and reducing threats from groundwater pollution and over-pumping. Florida’s springs during the past 30 years have turned green with algae because of nitrogen in groundwater from various sources including septic tanks, fertilizer and sewage treatment plants. Fixing the problems cost lots of money, and preventing further pollution requires regulations that are unpopular with rural landowners. The 2014 Senate bill, SB 1576, established springs…

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