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Skylar Zander

Interests for and against ‘liquor wall’ legislation react to passage

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The reaction to the Florida Legislature’s repeal of the state’s “booze wall” law continued long after Wednesday’s vote. The House, on a close vote of 58-57, passed the Senate’s bill (SB 106) to allow retailers to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. (Full story here.) 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. Floridians for Fair Business…

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James Madison Institute announces top under-40 Florida leaders for 2015

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The James Madison Institute released its 2015 Leaders Fellowship list Wednesday, featuring more than 100 under-40 leaders from across the Sunshine State. The JMI Leaders Fellowship is a yearlong program designed to network young leaders and educate them on key public policy issues and the impact they have on the state’s economic development. The Tallahassee-based think tank started the program last year, and JMI CEO Dr. Bob McClure said applications “flooded in” for the second class. The fellowship has representation…

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American Bridge releases new report on Koch Brothers’ influence in Florida

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The enormously wealthy and powerful Charles and David Koch, better known as the Koch Brothers, have become an increasingly influential team in recent years as they spend their money on causes (and candidates) they support. But in progressive, and even independent circles, their name has been invoked as representing something almost sinister and polluting the body politic. Now the Democratic Super PAC for American Bridge 21st Century hopes that by linking them to Florida presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, they can…

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Americans for Prosperity sending out mid-session mailers thanking supportive lawmakers

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The pro-business political action committee Americans for Prosperity — Florida continues to make waves this session as it prepares to distribute mailers to a handful of legislators thanking them for their advocacy on charter school funding and Medicaid expansion. The move to gain good will among members of the Florida GOP majority serves as the carrot to AFP’s punitive stick, which they have also brandished freely this year. The Charles & David Koch-funded group has criticized some Republican state senators for trying…

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Florida film tax incentives package gets through House Committee

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A Florida House Committee today passed a bill (HB 451) that would replenish a tax incentives program to woo Hollywood film, television and digital productions to Florida, but it wasn’t easy. Orlando Republican Mike Miller is sponsoring the bill in the House, while Nancy Detert from Venice is carrying it once again in the Senate. For the past few years, similar efforts to allow Florida to become competitive with neighboring states in providing tax incentives for entertainment productions has proved to be a bridge…

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Medicaid expansion passes second Senate committee unanimously

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Despite testimony urging them to be wary of tapping into any increased Medicaid dollars, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on Tuesday passed its Medicaid expansion bill that would provide coverage to an estimated 800,000 uninsured Floridians. Though the committee had been given three hours to debate and discuss SB 7044, sponsored by state Sen. Aaron Bean, it moved the bill in less than one hour. It passed unanimously despite opposition from Americans for Prosperity as well as…

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Uber bill greenlighted by House transportation panel

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State Rep. Matt Gaetz successfully steered legislation to formally legalize “transportation network services” like Uber through the House Transportation & Ports Subcommittee on Tuesday. Debate on the bill — heated at times — lasted about an hour and featured an unusual aspect identified by committee Chairman Tom Rooney: “This has got to be the first bill in five years that I’ve seen where every member debated the bill,” he said, just before putting the bill to a question. The bill passed by a 9-4 vote, with…

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