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Bill to Encourage Inland Oil Drilling Clears House Panel

December 5, 2011 - 6:00pm

Trying to encourage more oil production in Florida, a House panel Tuesday approved a proposal that would offer a tax incentive for tapping old wells in Southwest Florida and the Panhandle.

Sponsor Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said HB 87 seeks to "rejuvenate" oil fields that were discovered decades ago but have been abandoned. At least in some cases, he said, active wells are operating near the abandoned sites.

Florida Health Choices to Offer Small-Business Health Plans by Summer 2012

December 1, 2011 - 6:00pm

Hatched in 2008 when Marco Rubio held power in the state Capitol, the Florida Health Choices program expects to start offering health-insurance plans to small businesses in July 2012.

Chairman Aaron Bean on Friday acknowledged frustrations with the pace of Florida Health Choices, which supporters have long touted as a new type of "marketplace" for buying health coverage. But he also said officials want to make sure it is developed correctly.

For Florida Supreme Court, Ideology Counts: 5-2

November 29, 2011 - 6:00pm

For Florida Supreme Court justices, the numbers are familiar: 5-2.

The court in recent months has split by that margin on a series of cases, with Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston siding together and offering conservative --- and sometimes stinging --- dissents.

The cases have included controversial issues such as injury lawsuits against businesses, Gov. Rick Scott's attempt to exert more control over state rule-making and, in a few instances, death sentences.

Progress Gets OK to Pass Extra Energy Costs to Consumers

November 21, 2011 - 6:00pm

State regulators Tuesday approved Progress Energy Florida's controversial request to collect $140 million from customers next year to cover costs related to the idled Crystal River nuclear plant.

The money will pay for what is known as "replacement power,'' which Progress has to get elsewhere while the Crystal River plant is shut down for massive repairs to a containment building.

Supreme Court Justices Question Ban on Campaign Contributions

November 17, 2011 - 6:00pm

While agreeing a Central Florida judge should be removed from office because of a "pattern of misconduct,'' two state Supreme Court justices wrote Friday that they think a ban on judicial candidates soliciting political contributions is unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston wrote that the ban, spelled out in what is known as a judicial canon, violates free-speech rights.

Lobbying Battle Looms Over Victims' Claims Bills

November 15, 2011 - 6:00pm

A Senate committee Wednesday approved two claims bills that are priorities of Senate President Mike Haridopolos -- but a renewed lobbying battle looms about a proposal to award more than $15 million to a Broward County man.

The Senate Rules Committee voted 9-1 to move forward with SB 4, which calls for the Broward County sheriff's office to pay $15.575 million to Eric Brody, who suffered debilitating injuries in a 1998 car accident with a sheriff's deputy.

Gulf Power Nuclear Option Faces Legal Opposition

November 9, 2011 - 6:00pm

In a move spurring a regulatory fight, Gulf Power Co. is seeking to collect millions of dollars from customers for a possible nuclear-power project in Escambia County.

Gulf expects in 2012 to finish buying 4,000 acres of land near Century that could eventually be home to a nuclear plant or another type of power plant.

But with state regulators scheduled to hold a hearing next month about a Gulf request to raise base electric rates by $93.5 million, attorneys for consumers and business groups are trying to block part of the proposal dealing with the potential nuclear site.

Online Hotel Tax Fight Takes New Legal Twist

November 8, 2011 - 6:00pm

With the House raising arguments about separation of powers, a Leon County circuit judge is expected to allow only limited questioning of Rep. Rick Kriseman in a court battle about the hotel taxes paid by online-travel companies.

Expedia last month subpoenaed Kriseman and an aide to give depositions about their roles in distributing potentially damaging company documents to House members and the news media.

Hospital Districts' Future Could Be in Voters' Hands

November 6, 2011 - 6:00pm

A panel appointed by Gov. Rick Scott could call for local voters to decide the future of public hospital districts and could recommend that district money only go toward caring for indigent patients.

Dominic Calabro, chairman of the Florida Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts, said those are two of the ideas that could be included in a report the panel is required to finish by Jan. 1.

Weekly Roundup: Does What Happens in Gretna Stay in Gretna?

November 3, 2011 - 7:00pm

It's hard to picture two places in Florida more different than Miami and Gretna.

But international, glitzy Miami and rural, down-home Gretna are drawing headlines for the same reason: gambling.

The debate about expanded gambling intensified this week as lawmakers and lobbyists get ready to battle about adding resort casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Meanwhile, the Gadsden County Commission agreed to hold a referendum about allowing slot machines at a new Gretna racetrack and poker room.

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