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Supreme Court Sides with Water Managers over Property 'Takings' Case

November 2, 2011 - 7:00pm

In a case watched by developers, environmentalists and government agencies, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the St. Johns River Water Management District in a long-running dispute about the "taking" of property.

The dispute stemmed from a district decision in 1994 to deny a permit for a development project to Orange County landowner Coy Koontz.

District officials indicated they would grant the permit if Koontz agreed to conditions that included doing an environmental mitigation project several miles away from his land. Koontz refused and filed a lawsuit.

PSC Looks at Power Companies' Bills for 2012

October 31, 2011 - 7:00pm

State regulators largely signed off Tuesday on how much Floridians will have to pay for electricity next year -- but faced a tricky question about the amount Progress Energy Florida should pass along to consumers.

The state Public Service Commission approved fuel costs and a series of other smaller costs for Florida Power & Light, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power Co.

Progress Energy Permit Renewal Challenged For Plants in Citrus County

October 25, 2011 - 6:00pm

Arguing that fish and other sea life in the Gulf of Mexico are being damaged, two environmental groups are challenging the state's decision to renew a permit for Progress Energy Florida power plants in Citrus County.

The Sierra Club and the Florida Wildlife Federation, in a case filed last week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, target two coal-fired plants at Progress Energy's Crystal River complex.

U.S. Gives Florida Medicaid Pilot Program More Time

October 24, 2011 - 6:00pm

As acting state Medicaid director Justin Senior met with an advisory group Tuesday, he got an email on his wireless phone.

Federal officials were letting Senior know they want Florida to request another 15-day extension of a Medicaid managed-care pilot program.

The pilot was originally supposed to end June 30, but the federal government has repeatedly granted temporary extensions as Florida seeks approval to continue the program through June 2014.

"I'm going to get the whole three years, 15 days at a time,'' Senior quipped after reading the email.

Florida's Prescription Database Goes Online

October 13, 2011 - 6:00pm

After years of debate about privacy issues and deadly drug use, Florida doctors and pharmacists can start tapping into a state database Monday to check out patients' prescription histories.

The database is aimed at curbing prescription-drug abuse and "doctor shopping" -- addicts going from doctor to doctor to try to score prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as OxyContin.

Weatherford Top 3Q Fundraiser in House

October 12, 2011 - 6:00pm

Wesley Chapel Republican Will Weatherford, who is set to become House speaker after the 2012 elections, collected $190,300 in campaign contributions between July 1 and Sept. 30 -- far outdistancing all other House candidates.

Weatherford, whose only declared opponent in District 61 is no-party candidate Franklin Donald Stockmeister, increased his overall cash total for the 2012 campaign to $266,750, according to quarterly reports filed this week.

Insurance Chief McCarty Criticizes Workers' Comp Drug 'Spike'

October 10, 2011 - 6:00pm

Looking at a proposed 8.9 percent rate increase for next year, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and business groups Tuesday criticized a controversial drug-dispensing practice that they say drives up workers' compensation insurance costs.

The practice involves doctors dispensing what are known as "repackaged" drugs to injured workers, rather than writing prescriptions to be filled at pharmacies. Critics say prices for the repackaged drugs are inflated -- and account for 2.5 percent of the proposed 8.9 percent average rate increase for businesses.

Weekly Roundup: Betting on Budget Cuts. And Slots

October 6, 2011 - 6:00pm

This wasn't the way it was supposed to work.

State lawmakers were supposed to bite the bullet and make cuts in the 2011-12 budget and -- take a deep breath -- things would all get better.

But as budget committees met this week, gloom set in again. Medicaid costs are rising, schools need to find money, tax revenues are lagging. You get the picture.

House Back to Debating Hospital Approval Process

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Amid questions about taking a free-market approach, a House panel Tuesday reopened a long-running debate about state approval of new health facilities.

House Health Care Appropriations Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, said the state has taken a series of steps in recent years to scale back the so-called Certificate of Need process. He questioned whether "we could make the free market work" for facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Public Hospital Debate Set to Return

October 3, 2011 - 6:00pm

Two Senate leaders said Tuesday they expect lawmakers to plunge back into a debate next year about public hospitals, as a panel appointed by Gov. Rick Scott studies the system.

Senate Health Regulation Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, said he plans to again propose a bill that could require circuit judges to sign off on the sales or leases of public hospitals.

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