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The economic incentives bill clears the House by a lopsided vote

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The House passed the economic incentives package Friday over complaints it would hand Gov. Rick Scott a “slush fund” and make a mockery of the leadership’s professed opposition to picking winners and losers in the economy. The vote was 111-4. The “no” votes were John Cortes, Evan Jenne, McGhee, and Emily Slosberg — all Democrats. The bill represents “a fundamental change in direction” for the state’s economic development programs — away from subsidizing individual companies, said Paul Renner, carrying the measure.…

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House panel clears Special Session infrastructure, job training bill

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The House’s main budgeting panel on Wednesday cleared one of the bills planned for the Special Session dealing with tourism promotion, job training and public infrastructure. The Appropriations Committee, on a unanimous vote, OK’d the measure (HB 1A). Among other things, it creates the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, and awards $76 million to and imposes accountability and transparency measures on VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency. The bill—carried by House Republican Paul Renner—was supported by a range of tourism interests,…

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Personnel note: Stephen Lawson moves to VISIT FLORIDA

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Stephen Lawson has left the post of communications director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to become Vice President of Government Relations for VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency. He announced the job change in an email Wednesday. Lawson has been making the rounds of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, previously serving as communications director for Enterprise Florida, the public-private economic development organization. Before that, he was director of research and writing in the Executive Office of the Governor and…

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With school funding in jeopardy, Florida GOP at odds again

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An effort by Florida’s Republican leaders to put aside recent acrimony and reach a new budget deal was falling apart on the eve of a three-day special session. If legislators can’t reach an accord, Florida’s public schools could be in danger of losing billions for the upcoming school year. Legislators are scheduled to return to the state Capitol on Wednesday. They plan to pass a new budget for the state’s public schools and set aside money for top priorities of…

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Pat Neal: Look to Colorado – cutting VISIT Florida funding would be disastrous

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Under the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott, the revival of the Florida economy has been marked by annual job growth and tourism rates that outpace the national average. The inextricable link between Florida’s investment in its tourism industry and this economic recovery is affirmed by the statistics. Visitor spending in Florida has increased by an average of 6.8 percent annually over the past five years, with $78.3 billion spent in 2010 growing to a $108.8 billion total by 2015. The…

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Steve Hayes: Tourism industry in jeopardy with House Bill 1A

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The Florida House of Representatives has recently espoused a philosophy of not “picking winners and losers,” but House Bill 1A does just that. As I watched Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, and Speaker Richard Corcoran announce their plans for a special session to discuss tourism funding, I felt hopeful for the fate of Florida’s tourism industry. However, my optimism faded when I read the strict VISIT Florida provisions tucked inside House Bill 1A. Of course, I am deeply…

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Richard Corcoran stresses that incentives package won’t benefit Enterprise Florida

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The House released a summary Friday of the economic incentives package unveiled by Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders. First on the list — and written in red, boldfaced letters — is what the $85 million program will not be: “a part of Enterprise Florida.” What the program will do: pay for public infrastructure and workforce training; prohibit funding for any single business; and allow “critical, rapid” infrastructure investments benefiting the broader public. “The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund will…

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