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The Florida Cabinet

State will exhaust budget for agriculture conservation easements by year’s end

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The state would run out of money to buy agricultural conservation land easements by the end of 2017 under the budget approved by the Legislature, the head of the Florida Forest Service said Wednesday. The service asked for $50 million and got $10 for the Rural & Family Lands Protection Program, land program administrator John Browne told aides to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. Combined with about $11 million for the current fiscal year, that would leave around $21…

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Thousands of acres of conservation easement on Cabinet aides’ agenda

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The Triple S Ranch lies 15 miles north of Lake Okeechobee — a 7,000-acre cattle operation, relatively untouched by development, within the recharge zone for the Kissimmee River. Rare and endangered species, including a Florida panther, wander its streams and cypress swamps. On Wednesday morning, aides to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet will peruse a proposal to buy a conservation easement on 4,177 acres of the Okeechobee County property, for close to $7 million. The deal is scheduled to…

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Jeff Atwater leaving office early to take job at Florida Atlantic University

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Jeff Atwater announced Friday that, following the conclusion of the 2017 legislative session, he would leave office to become vice president for strategic initiatives and chief financial officer at Florida Atlantic University. The move will allow Gov. Rick Scott and Atwater’s remaining Cabinet colleagues to name someone to fill the remainder of his second term as chief financial officer, which runs through early 2019. “I am honored to join FAU in such a significant capacity,” Atwater said in a written…

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State’s DHSMV seeking permission to use drones

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The state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will ask lawmakers next session to consider legislation to “allow law enforcement to use drones for traffic crash management.” But the law in question, the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, includes an exception for “aerial mapping” as long as the drone is being operated safely. The proposed bill is part of a “legislative concepts” package Executive Director Terry Rhodes plans to present at next Tuesday’s Florida Cabinet meeting. The measure…

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Gov. Scott cancels Cabinet meeting to monitor Matthew

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The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday warned boaters to start preparing for Hurricane Matthew, and Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to visit the state’s emergency operations centers along Florida’s east coast. Scott canceled Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting to make the trip. He wants to make sure counties are prepared if the storm moves toward Florida, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said. Scott signed an executive order on Monday declaring a state of emergency for every Florida county. Matthew was a Category 4 storm…

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Decision near on proposed workers compensation insurance rate hike

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Florida’s business owners will soon find out the fate of a proposed increase of nearly 20 percent in workers compensation insurance rates. “We’re getting very close to being finished with those review and putting these rate filings out into the public, so our business owners and community can respond to that and plan effectively,” state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet Tuesday. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation held a public hearing in August on…

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The million dollar Insurance Commissioner question

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About a month ago, when FloridaPolitics.com offered “The Good, the Bad and the Interesting” of the applicants for the next Insurance Commissioner, we highlighted the legal requirements for the job. They’re high … on purpose. HB 3, passed in Special Session E in 2002, implemented a 1998 constitutional amendment that merged the jobs of Comptroller and Treasurer into the Chief Financial Officer position, shrinking the number of statewide elected officials serving on the Cabinet. The Offices of Financial Regulation and…

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