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Sunday, Aug 30, 2015

Fresh Squeezed

A Florida Politics Blog

Made fresh, never frozen, here's the juice on local and state politics from the staff of The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Tribune.

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Gov. Scott got ‘bad advice’ on open gov’t law, lawyer says

Published:
The Associated Press

A Tallahassee attorney says Florida Gov. Rick Scott was a “novice politician” who got “bad advice” that led him to ignore the state’s public records law.

State officials on Friday paid $700,000 to Steven Andrews to settle seven lawsuits that contended that Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and other officials flouted Florida’s public records law.

It’s believed to be one of the larger payments ever approved in an open government case in Florida.

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Jolly’s Senate run means ‘Zen’ning out on redistricting battle

Published:
By James L. Rosica

Running for U.S. Senate means David Jolly has reached his moment of Zen regarding redistricting.

Lawmakers are back in Tallahassee this week and next to redraw – yet again – the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts.

They’re starting with a “base map,” the product of 31 prior drafts, meant to be a starting point.

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Bush unveils border security, immigration plan

Published:
The Associated Press

MIAMI – Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is outlining a six-point strategy to bolster security at the nation’s border and overhaul its immigration laws.

The former Florida governor said Monday that finding a solution to the status of people in the country illegally “is a nonstarter if our borders are not secure against future illegal immigration.”

Bush is proposing the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally could earn legal status “over time,” after they pass a criminal background check, pay a fine and learn English, among other requirements.

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Scott wants Medicaid insurance, hospital contracts examined

Published:
The Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott is targeting health insurers participating in the state’s Medicaid care program, accusing them of negotiating hospital rates that are too high.

Scott instructed state health officials Monday to examine hospital contracts, warning that contracts over 120 percent of the Medicaid cap will be subject to an “immediate corrective action plan” that includes possible termination.

Scott and the insurers are locked in intense negotiations that could undermine the fledgling program that gives federal funds to private health insurance companies to oversee medical care for poor and disabled people instead of reimbursing doctors and hospitals for each service.

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Joyner to Jeb Bush: “Acknowledge your mistakes and unequivocally apologize”

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The state Senate’s top Democrat is chiding former governor and current presidential candidate Jeb Bush over his voting-rights record.

In a one-page letter that cites legislation and Scripture, state Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa called Bush out on voter-roll purges and cutting early voting, among other things.

“If you are indeed sincere about being inclusive, then you need to first acknowledge your mistakes and unequivocally apologize directly to the community you wronged,” she wrote on Thursday.

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State Senate districts next to be redrawn in third special session of year

Published:   |   Updated: July 28, 2015 at 04:17 PM
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

A lawsuit over the boundaries of Florida’s state Senate maps was settled Tuesday, with lawmakers agreeing to go into an Oct. 19-Nov. 6 special session – the third one of this year – to redraw the political maps.

What comes out of that 18-day meeting could reshape the Tampa Bay area’s political landscape.

Three local Senate districts, among others, were called unconstitutional gerrymandering by the plaintiffs in the now three-year-old suit, brought by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause.

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Dueling letters show blackjack battle heating up

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The battle over blackjack between the state and the Seminole Tribe got a little hotter after dueling demand letters on Monday.

The state’s top gambling regulator sent a letter to Tribal Chairman James Billie, asking when the Seminoles were closing down blackjack tables at their Florida casinos.

After all, Ken Lawson wrote, the two sovereigns have “enjoy(ed) an unprecedented amount of cooperation ... and good will.”

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Mason-Dixon poll: No clear favorite in U.S. Senate race

Published:
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster in Naples

There is no clear favorite in either the Democratic or Republican primaries to fill an open U.S. Senate seat, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released Monday.

According to a poll of 500 registered Republicans, U.S. Rep. David Jolly (Tampa Bay area) would be the choice for 16 percent of respondents; ten percent of people said they would favor Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (northeast Florida) was the choice for 9 percent, while Rep. Jeff Miller (Panhandle) was the choice for 8 percent. Todd Wilcox (political newcomer) was favored by 2 percent.

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Seminole Tribe edges toward federal lawsuit over blackjack rights

Published:
James L. Rosica in Tallahassee

The state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe are one step closer to squaring off in a federal courtroom over the tribe’s right to continue offering blackjack at its casinos.

Those casinos include the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, which alone generates more than $1 billion yearly for the tribe.

An agreement to give the Seminoles exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games expires next Friday, and renewal talks went nowhere earlier this year.

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Former Lt. Gov. agrees to $1,000 fine to resolve ethics case

Published:
The Associated Press

Florida’s ethics panel and former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll have reached a deal over allegations that she broke the state’s ethics law.

The Florida Commission on Ethics unanimously approved the deal Friday with no comment.

Carroll, a Republican, did not attend the meeting.

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