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Florida prison chief: State losing corrections staff to ‘Wal-Mart,’ creating insecurity in system

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More than three-quarters of Florida’s corrections officers have less than two years’ experience. In some state prisons, a single CO will be left alone to supervise 150-200 inmates in a jail block. Contraband has become so bad, one random search of (just half) a Dade facility turned up $15,000 in street value of cocaine, seven knives, 46 cellphones and an array of other drugs and illicit materials, said Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones Thursday. The state’s prisons chief was in…

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House whiskey and Wheaties bill stumbles in second committee

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whiskey and Wheaties

The House version of the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill stumbled and then face planted in its second committee hearing Tuesday afternoon. The Walmart-backed HB 81, sponsored by Hialeah Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, would allow grocery stores and other retailers to sell liquor, rather than keeping up the so-called “liquor wall.” The issue is a top priority for Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and a boatload of retailers, but conservatives in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee wanted nothing to do with it.…

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$20 debt leads to melee at Florida Girl Scout cookie stand

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Law enforcement officials say an argument over a $20 debt led to a melee at a Girl Scout cookie stand outside a Wal-Mart store in central Florida. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two teenage brothers on disorderly conduct and battery charges following the Saturday evening attack. Arriving deputies say the teens knocked over a table and scattered boxes of Girl Scout cookies outside the Palm Coast store. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the teens – ages 18 and 16 – told…

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State could wed whiskey and Wheaties, but at what cost?

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Lost in the rush to get the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill over the finish line this year is the incredible toll it might take on independently-owned liquor stores. The Senate bill (SB 106) that would tear down the “wall of separation” between hard liquor and other retail goods already zoomed through its committees and is now ready to be considered by the full chamber when the 2017 Legislative Session kicks off on March 7. The House bill (HB 81) is teed up…

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Why I have second thoughts about tearing down the wall between the whiskey and the Wheaties

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For the fourth year in a row, lawmakers will try to tear down the wall that separates tequila from tangelos. Senate President pro tem Anitere Flores has a bill (SB 106) to repeal the Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. State Rep. Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican, filed a companion bill in the House. However, for the first time in four years, I’m not so sure about this legislation. In Sessions past, I was…

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Wal-Mart to close Midtown St. Pete Neighborhood Market March 3

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

After opening to much fanfare three years ago, Wal-Mart is shuttering its Neighborhood Market in the Midtown section of St. Petersburg. First reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the retail giant announced it will close the store at 1794 22nd St. S March 3; its pharmacy will close Feb. 1. The store was formerly a Sweetbay Supermarket. “After a careful and thoughtful review process, we have made the difficult decision to close our Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on 22nd Street…

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Drunk teen in Wal-Mart shows why we need wall between liquor, grocery stores

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Florida lawmakers are likely to face another campaign to repeal state law requiring the wall of separation between liquor and grocery stores. Despite good intentions behind such an effort, walls are there for a reason. Consider the case of Lake Mary teen Shellby Conder. After drinking five beers in a Villages Wal-Mart, Conder was arrested last week for assaulting a Sumter County EMT while being handcuffed. CBS affiliate WKMG reports the 18-year-old allegedly told a Wal-Mart manager she was drunk after…

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