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Central Florida Political Pulse - Orlando Sentinel

The best source for Central Florida and statewide political news, insider happenings and more.

Last Build Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:40:33 -0400

Copyright: ©2017 Orlando Sentinel

Legislature apologies for abusive Dozier boys school

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 11:45:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — With one senator pointing Wednesday to "violations of fundamental human decency," the Florida Legislature has formally apologized for the mistreatment of juveniles held at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

The Senate on Wednesday joined the House and unanimously approved...


Tear down that 'liquor wall,' lawmakers say

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:20:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Grocery store shoppers in Florida could soon pick up vodka with their vegetables or bourbon with their bread.

The House on Wednesday passed a bill to end the post-Prohibition Era requirement that liquor be sold separately from groceries and other retail items. The bill also allows...


Budget outline is set, but details remain, Negron says

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:30:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE – Lawmakers have a broad agreement on a roughly $83 billion state budget, Senate President Joe Negron confirmed Wednesday, but final details still have to be ironed out.

House priorities such as avoiding a property tax increase and spending $200 million for charter schools are included,...


Lawmakers agree to state budget deal

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:50:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Homeowners won’t see property tax increases, a state reservoir will be built south of Lake Okeechobee and economic development agencies will be drastically cut under a broad budget deal reached between the House and Senate on Tuesday night.

The accord, coming a day after lawmakers...


Rick Singh sues, accusing 2 political groups of libel in election ads

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:35:00 PDT

Orange County’s property appraiser sued two mysterious groups that spent millions of dollars on mailers and other ads against him during last year’s election, accusing them of libel.

Rick Singh filed the suit in Orange Circuit Court on Tuesday against Leadership for Florida’s Future and For a Better...


Gov. Scott says he will sign Uber bill

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:10:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott revealed via Twitter on Monday that he will sign a bill preempting local regulations of ride-for-hire app companies like Uber and Lyft.

“I look forward to signing the @uber/ @lyft bill,” Scott posted on Twitter.

The bill, HB 221, sets minimum insurance levels of $50,000...


Anti-Semitic incidents soar in Florida

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:45:00 PDT

Anti-Semitic incidents soared in Florida last year, according to a Jewish advocacy group.

The Anti-Defamation League reported Monday that there were 137 anti-Semitic incidents in Florida in 2016, which was a 50 percent increase over the previous year.

Only California, New York and New Jersey had...


Corrine Brown trial opens with jury selection

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 07:25:00 PDT

JACKSONVILLE — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a former Democratic congresswoman Corrine Brown, who is facing fraud charges.

The Florida Times-Union reports that prosecutors and defense attorneys hope to seat 12 jurors by Wednesday when opening arguments are set to begin in federal...


House, Senate butt heads over state budget

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:35:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers traded insults instead of budget offers Monday as negotiations between the House and Senate broke down, raising the prospect of an extended or special session to reach an agreement.

Lawmakers have just eight days left to avoid the politically embarrassing prospect of going...


Fountain flag — or is it a whale? Panel asks for more input, voting

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:15:00 PDT

Facing concerns that the people’s choice for Orlando’s new flag looks to some like a surfacing whale, a panel of experts opted Friday to ask for tweaks to the four most popular designs and another round of public voting.

The top design, which with 1,474 votes led its closest rivals by more than...


Ethics commission: No probable cause in Bondi-Trump bribery complaint

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 11:25:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — A state ethics panel on Friday decided not to look further into a complaint against Attorney General Pam Bondi over her solicitation of a campaign donation from President Donald Trump in 2013.

The hearing conducted by the Florida Commission on Ethics was closed to the public, but...


Frank Artiles resigns after racist, sexist diatribe

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:05:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Frank Artiles resigned Friday rather than face a Senate inquiry and possibly expulsion for using racial slurs and calling a fellow senator a “bitch” in a late-night tirade earlier in the week.

“I clearly made comments that were hurtful, unacceptable and inappropriate,” said Artiles,...


In response to Trump, Florida woman drives immigrants for free

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 07:25:00 PDT

REDLAND — Maneuvering her gray SUV on dirt roads where rural South Florida meets the Everglades, Antonia Catalan looks for a man who’s in the country illegally.

She puts on her reading glasses and grabs a crumpled piece of paper with the address of a young man.

“Where are we heading? You are the...


Bill would kill local contractor rules on state-funded projects

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:50:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Cities and counties would not be able to require contractors to provide certain benefits and wages to workers on state-funded public works projects under a bill approved this week by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The committee voted 11-7 to advance Sen. Keith Perry's bill (SB...


The Villages gave $250,000 to Trump inaugural committee

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:05:00 PDT

Dozens of corporations and companies gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to President Donald Trump’s inauguration – and so did The Villages.

According to documents filed this week with the Federal Election Commission, the massive age-restricted community development district in northeast Lake,...


Biggest trend in Florida politics is cutting yourself a big check

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 11:45:00 PDT

Raising money has always been crucial in politics. But today, being able to spend your own money may be even more crucial, leaving less-wealthy candidates constantly playing catch-up.

With Gov. Rick Scott looking like he’ll run for the U.S. Senate in 2018 — after dropping almost $90 million of...


Voting rights for ex-felons in Florida closer to getting on the ballot

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:50:00 PDT

The movement led by Desmond Meade of Orlando to restore voting rights to non-violent ex-felons is one step closer to fruition.

The Florida Supreme Court approved Thursday the language of a proposed state ballot initiative to restore those rights, paving the way for its placement on the November...


Senate panel stokes coal into education 'train'

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 06:15:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — An education “train” is gathering steam in the Senate.

A bill aimed at scaling back the number of standardized tests administered has passed its final Senate committee — but not before picking up amendments dealing with recess and other education issues.

The growth of the measure...


Rubio, Nelson avoid town halls with voters

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 02:00:00 PDT

Some members of Florida’s congressional delegation have faced raucous crowds of constituents across the state this year. But both of the state’s U.S. senators have so far avoided facing voters in town halls.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson have not held any...


Uber, Lyft bill goes to Gov. Scott's desk

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 11:50:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE – Orlando’s regulations and fees on ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft and their drivers may soon no longer apply.

The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a bill nullifying all local regulations of such companies, giving them a legal basis to operate throughout the state.



Miami lawmaker apologizes for racist, sexist tirade

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:20:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — A Republican from Miami resisted calls Wednesday for his resignation or removal from the Senate for making racist and sexist remarks while arguing with black lawmakers Monday night at a private club.

Sen. Frank Artiles apologized on the floor of the Senate to Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville...


Gov. Scott's requests for dike, tourism funding could fall on deaf ears in House

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:30:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE – Buoyed by a new $1.5 billion deal with the federal government for a Medicaid program, Gov. Rick Scott is asking lawmakers to put big money behind major projects. But whether those requests will be answered by lawmakers, who are in the initial stages of budget talks, is unclear.



To fight Zika, Key West releases bacteria-carrying mosquitoes

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:25:00 PDT

Thousands of bacteria-infected mosquitoes were released in the wild Tuesday near Key West to test a new way to kill mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 male mosquitoes infected by the Kentucky-based company MosquitoMate with...


House apologizes to 'Groveland Four' for false rape charges

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 05:55:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 68 years after four black men were falsely accused of the rape of a white woman, the Groveland Four won key support Tuesday from the Florida House in the quest to get an apology from the state.

The bill “extends a heartfelt apology” to Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel...


'Zero interest' from Senate kills ethics reform, Corcoran says

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:20:00 PDT

TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran says a push to give Florida some of the toughest ethics laws in the nation is dead for this year’s session, and he’s blaming Senate Republicans for showing “zero interest.”

The Land O’Lakes Republican pushed to enact several far-reaching proposals, including...