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Senate Eyes BP Money for Rural, Inland Damaged Areas

March 19, 2019 - 9:00am
Inland damage: A scene in Marianna
Rural Panhandle counties recovering from Hurricane Michael would be in line to receive settlement money from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, under a bill advanced Monday in the Senate.
 
The Commerce and Tourism Committee backed a proposal (SB 1162) that would direct to inland rural counties about $5.3 million a year, which is 5 percent of the annual payments the state receives in a settlement with BP over impacts from the deadly offshore oil-rig explosion.
 

Oliva Has a Bargaining Chip: Galvano Needs House Sponsor for His 3 Toll Roads

March 16, 2019 - 9:00am
Senate President Bill Galvano’s push to expand and build three toll roads may become a negotiation point between legislative leaders, as the House has not put forward a version of the plan.
 
Galvano, R-Bradenton, indicated he remains optimistic, with House Speaker Jose Oliva and Gov. Ron DeSantis supporting improved infrastructure and transportation.
 

Senate Backs Visit Florida as House Speaker Balks

March 15, 2019 - 9:00am
A proposal to keep the state’s tourism-marketing agency open beyond this fall, with no change in funding, moved forward Thursday in the Senate.
 
But Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to provide $76 million next year to Visit Florida, matching the current funding, doesn’t have the same support in the House.
 
House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, maintains the tourism agency’s funding should last until the agency’s legal authorization runs out, which is scheduled for Oct. 1.
 

'Fracking' Ban Advances amid Concerns

March 12, 2019 - 8:15am

A move to ban “fracking” in Florida advanced Monday in the Senate with some oil-drilling protections for the Everglades, but not more comprehensive language sought by environmentalists.

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to approve a measure (SPB 7064) by Chairman Ben Albritton that would meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting large volumes of fluids into rock formations at a “high rate” of pressure to help release natural gas and oil.

Backroom Briefing: Democrats Offer a Different Take

March 8, 2019 - 10:30am
Kionne McGhee

House Democrats have limited power to get priorities in the state budget, but they released a spending plan this week that they said focuses on working Floridians.

Called the “New Sunshine Deal,” the plan seeks a tax-rebate program for working families, expansion of Medicaid, a 13 percent pay raise for teachers and fully funded affordable-housing programs.

Democrats, who are far outnumbered by Republicans in the House, intend to introduce aspects of the plan as proposed amendments throughout the 60-day legislative session, which started Tuesday.

Senate Leader Maps Major Road Projects

March 4, 2019 - 9:00am

(This is part of a series of stories advancing the 2019 legislative session)

Senate President Bill Galvano is pursuing an aggressive transportation vision heading into the 2019 legislative session, but a potential conflict could loom on the use of toll roads.

With the 60-day session starting Tuesday, Galvano has directed a Senate committee led by a veteran lawmaker to study extending two toll roads and reviving the plans for a third, all through mostly rural areas of the state.

House Looks to Limit Local Regulations

February 22, 2019 - 9:00am
Rep. Michael Grant

A broad proposal aimed at curbing local business regulations advanced in a House subcommittee Thursday, despite criticism that it could block ordinances that prohibit “puppy mills” or the regulation of fertilizer use near waterways.

The Republican-dominated House Business & Professions Subcommittee voted 9-5 along party lines to approve the measure (HB 3), which seeks to eliminate existing local business regulations as of July 1, 2021 and prevent new regulations.

State Clamps Down on Shore-Based Shark Fishing

February 21, 2019 - 9:30am

Shore-based anglers will no longer be able to use fish parts, bones and blood to attract sharks, as critics of shark fishing would like to see lines cast farther away from beachgoers.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting Wednesday in Gainesville, approved several shore-based shark fishing changes that will go into effect July 1.

Backroom Briefing: Concealed Carry Could Stay Put

February 8, 2019 - 9:00am

Florida’s most influential gun-rights lobbyist says don’t move --- at least for now --- the state’s concealed-weapons licensing program from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

But in a thin olive branch to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer in a letter posted online Tuesday also made clear she and the other concealed-carry permit holders in the state --- there were 1.95 million as of Jan. 15 --- will be watching how Fried handles the high-profile program.

Panama City's Trumbull Files 41 Bills in One Day for Hurricane-Ravaged Panhandle

February 7, 2019 - 6:00am

Rep. Jay Trumbull is casting a wide net in search of money for his storm-ravaged Panhandle district.

As House members continued to submit projects to be considered for the state’s 2019-2020 budget, Trumbull on Tuesday submitted 41 bills --- worth a total of $253 million --- all with an eye on Hurricane Michael recovery.

Trumbull, a Panama City Republican who represents most of hard-hit Bay County, called it “a good start.”

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