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Senate Transportation

George Gainer, Jeff Brandes reverse positions on Tri-Rail, push bill to let controversial contract stand

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Tri-Rail’s controversial, one-source, half-billion, operations contract could go forward under an amended bill pushed Thursday by the Gov. Rick Scott administration and state Sens. George Gainer and Jeff Brandes. Just a few weeks ago, both Gainer and Brandes were hostile critics of the contract and Tri-Rail. Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, sponsored an amendment Thursday that strips away language that he and Scott had pushed for earlier that would have forced Tri-Rail to rebid the $511 million, 10-year contract. Tri-Rail’s operating…

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Jesse Panuccio one step closer to staying DEO chief

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Jesse Panuccio is now a step closer to remaining executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. With a 5-1 vote Wednesday, the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Committee cleared Panuccio’s nomination. State Sen. Jack Latvala offered no comment when asked why he would not recommend Panuccio to remain as Florida’s economic developer in chief. Leading the DEO for two years, Panuccio played a key role in Gov. Rick Scott’s business recruitment and job creation efforts since 2011.…

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