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Suncoast Tiger Bay to perform 2017 Session post-mortem

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As the 2017 Session grinds to a halt, with only one piece of unfinished business left for Monday, lawmakers now enter the traditional post-mortem phase. On Thursday, The Suncoast Tiger Bay Cub hosts its 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up, the annual gathering for members and constituents to ask questions and (hopefully) get some answers on the 60-plus-day Session, and how it will impact both the region and Florida. This year, Session went into overtime at 63 days, as lawmakers return to the…

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Rick Kriseman needs to respond forcefully to Rick Baker’s Trumpian ‘St. Petersburg carnage’

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It’s been seven years since Rick Baker exited City Hall as its most powerful, successful mayor. Hardly a day has gone by that someone — perhaps this site more so than anywhere else — has wondered whether he’d have to, like Cincinnatus, come in from the fields to save the city he loves. Today, St. Petersburg received Baker’s response, as he forcefully declared that he would challenge Rick Kriseman in what wrestling promoters would call a loser-leaves-town match. Before I analyze…

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Announcing another bid for St. Pete mayor, Rick Baker savages Rick Kriseman

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Speaking in impassioned tones Tuesday, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is ready to tangle head on against incumbent Rick Kriseman. “You’re going to hear a lot about Republicans and Democrats over the next few months,” Baker said as he formally announced his bid for mayor on the steps of St. Pete City Hall. “Because that’s that’s the only thing they have.” Baker was referring to earlier statements from Kriseman’s campaign manager about Baker’s support for Republicans like Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin…

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House OKs VISIT FLORIDA, Enterprise Florida funding cuts

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House members on Monday approved a measure dealing with VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida funding on a 74-34 vote. If vetoed, however, the “conforming bill” would need 80 votes to overcome Gov. Rick Scott‘s red pen. Both chambers have begun discussing the 2017-18 state budget, which wasn’t completed on time to finish the 2017 Legislative Session last Friday. That caused a rare extension to Monday, using the weekend to count toward the constitutionally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote. The…

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TBARTA bill one step closer to going to Rick Scott’s desk

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Legislation to revamp the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) by reducing its footprint passed Tuesday a second reading on the Florida House floor. One more vote in the House, and the bill goes to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. Sponsored in the House by Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, HB 1243 would downsize TBARTA from seven counties to five (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Hernando), and change the TBARTA’s focus to transit (and not simply transportation). Two weeks ago, an amendment filed by Tampa Bay area Republicans Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes made…

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Legislature votes to tear down the ‘liquor wall’

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The Florida Legislature has voted to tear down the booze ‘wall.’ The House, on a by-a-nose vote of 58-57, Wednesday passed the Senate’s bill (SB 106) to allow retailers, at least those who choose to do so, to remove the ‘wall of separation’ between hard liquor and other goods. 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. Beer and wine…

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House Health Quality Subcommittee approves medical marijuana implementing bill

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A House panel approved legislation Tuesday that would implement the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, despite concerns from some advocates the proposal doesn’t honor the spirit of the amendment. The House Health Quality Subcommittee voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill (HB 1397) that would implement the 2016 constitutional amendment. Sponsored by House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, the bill would, among other things, maintain the current vertically integrated regulatory structure, only allow terminally ill patients to use vaporizers or consume cannabis…

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