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Supreme Court asked to overturn blind trust law used by Scott

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott has used blind trust since 2011

The Florida Supreme Court was asked Wednesday to overturn a state law used by Gov. Rick Scott to place his multimillion dollars in assets in a blind trust rather than submit to full financial disclosure.

The lawsuit was filed by Jim Apthorp, a former chief of staff to late Gov. Reubin Askew, instrumental in developing the state’s “Sunshine Amendment,” which included financial disclosure requirements for elected officials. Attorney in the case is Talbot ‘Sandy’ D’Alemberte, a former Florida State University president.

Scott won approval from the state’s Commission on Ethics in 2011 to put his holdings in a blind trust, steered by money managers independent of the governor. The state Legislature two years later approved a measure allowing such blind trusts to be used as a form of state-required, annual financial disclosure for elected officials.

“The Sunshine Amendment requires that things be revealed; blind trusts require that things be concealed,” Apthorp’s petition to the court says. “It would be absurd to conclude that the latter is an adequate substitute for the former.”

Scott has $72 million in investments managed in the blind trust by Hollow Brook Wealth Management, a New York investment advisor. Democrat Alex Sink also kept her investments in a blind trust during her term as Chief Financial Officer and when she ran against Scott for governor in 2010.

Among the organizations supporting the lawsuit are the media-backed First Amendment Foundation and the Florida Press Association.

While the state’s Commission on Ethics has issued two opinions in recent years defending blind trusts and lawmakers who advanced the 2013 legislation termed it a good government move, critics say it can lead to less information being made available to the public.

For example, while state law requires annual “full and public disclosure of financial interests” assets, liabilities or income sources of more than $1,000, blind trusts used by Florida politicians occasionally report such holdings in lump-sum amounts.

“The meaning of the Sunshine Amendment is clear: Officials and candidates must disclose their finances in full,” Apthorp said.

 

For first time, minor and no-party registrations eclipse Republicans in Palm Beach County

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by George Bennett

For the first time ever, more Palm Beach County voters are registered with no party or minor parties than with the GOP, according to today’s voter statistics from the county elections office.

As of this afternoon, there were 235,487 registered Republicans in the county and 235,508 voters registered with no party affiliation or with minor parties, according to the county elections website, which updates daily. There are also 366,450 registered Democrats in the county.

The numbers posted on the elections website fluctuate and it’s possible Republican registrations will nose back ahead of the “Other” category. But the long-term trend lines have pointed for years toward independent voters overtaking GOP registrations in the county, as PostOnPolitics.com noted in January.

The percentage of Republicans in the county has fallen from 40.2 percent in January 1994 to 33.2 percent in January 2004 to 28.1 percent today. The percentage of registered Democrats has slipped as well, but the drop hasn’t been as steep. Dems were 48.2 percent of all county voters in 1994 and are 43.8 percent today.

“It’s not a big shock,” county GOP Chairwoman Anita Mitchell said today. “I think the country is moving in that direction. It makes it more important that we articulate our message and make it clear why those people should vote Republican.”

Mike Coleman, a county Democratic Party precinct leader who’s active in registration and turnout efforts, said he doesn’t see the same level of interest that Republicans had in 2010, when the GOP won control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s not 2010, I can tell you. We have so many people who are not interested in joining a party on either side…pretty much anybody under 40 goes that way,” Coleman said.

Coleman and Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, who regularly watch the daily totals, said today is the first day that independent voters have moved ahead of Republicans in the county.

Hastings’ new Dem primary challenger greets voters outside Hastings’ district

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by George Bennett

Democratic congressional candidate Jameel McCline greets voters last week at the United South County Democratic Club west of Delray Beach -- and outside congressional District 20

Jameel McCline, the retired heavyweight fighter who last month launched a surprise Democratic primary challenge to veteran Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, introduced himself to voters at the influential United South County Democratic Club last week and posted some pics from the event on his campaign Facebook page.

McCline was well-received, club president Ed Sol said, but probably didn’t meet anyone who will be able to vote for him.

The club meets in West Delray and consists largely of voters in the congressional district of Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

“Alcee’s not in this district,” Sol said. Asked if any voters from Hastings’ Palm Beach-Broward District 20 come to his club’s meetings, Sol said, “There aren’t any that I know of.”

McCline and Port of Palm Beach Commissioner Jean Enright are both running against Hastings in the Aug. 26 Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Jay Bonner in November in a heavily Democratic district.

Scott says he’ll veto speed limit increase: “I don’t want anybody to be injured”

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Not so fast, Florida. Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that he’s going to veto a proposal that could increase speed limits in places to 75 mph.

“There’s times I’d like to go faster,” Scott acknowledged.

But he said he’s heard plenty of opposition from law enforcement officials, including Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Cloud. The governor was urged against the legislation (SB 392) by Cloud at last week’s funeral for Trooper Chelsea Richard, killed a week earlier on Interstate 75 near Ocala while investigating an accident.

“I’m going to stand with law enforcement. I want everybody to stay safe. I don’t want anybody to be injured, so I’m going to veto that bill,” Scott said.

Scott said, “By doing this, I think we’re doing the right thing for our troopers, for law enforcement.”

 

 

Once cold-shouldered by Florida GOP, Rubio comes to party’s aid to ‘re-defeat Charlie Crist’

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rubio outside his Palm Beach Gardens office in 2012.

When Marco Rubio began his bid for U.S. Senate in 2009, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer openly supported his friend, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who was the prohibitive favorite in the GOP primary.

Greer ended up resigning as party boss and going to prison on grand theft and money-laundering charges. Crist ended up falling behind Rubio, bolting the GOP and becoming an independent and then a Democrat who’s now pursuing his old job and leading Republican Gov. Rick Scott in many polls.

Now Rubio is going to bat for the Republican Party of Florida, making a fundraising pitch for the party’s efforts to hang onto the governor’s mansion.

Rubio’s e-mail begins with a veiled reference to the days when the party establishment wrote him off:

“Five years ago, Charlie Crist announced that he was running for the U.S. Senate. At the time, I was 20-30 points down in the polls. No one thought I had a chance. But with your support, things changed, and Floridians were exposed to the phony that is Charlie Crist.

“Today, I’m asking you to help the Republican Party of Florida re-defeat Charlie Crist.”

Abortion bills proof GOP wants to “turn the clock back” on women, Dems say

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 by John Kennedy

A pair of abortion bills approved by the Republican-led Legislature and expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Scott are more evidence the party wants to “turn the clock back,” on women’s rights, three Democratic leaders said Tuesday.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was joined by Rep. Lori Berman of Lantana and Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief now running for Orange County mayor, in condemning the legislation (HB 59 and HB 1047).

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Wasserman Schultz called the measures “extremist” and examples of “tea party-infused legislation.”

Berman said the legislation was unnecessary. “Women make decisions to terminate pregnancies for a variety of reasons, and never are these decisions done lightly,” she said.

The Democrats, though, said they held little hope that Scott would veto the legislation, which passed the Legislature on mostly party-line votes.

One bill (HB 59) would allow separate criminal charges for the death of a fetus no matter what its stage of development was when a crime was committed against its mother. The other measure (CS/HB 1047) could effectively reduce the time period that a woman could legally have a late-term abortion by several weeks.

Rep. Lori Berman

Republican lawmakers during debate this spring called the bills “common sense” measures.

The legislation setting tougher penalties for harming a fetus was dubbed the “Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and stems from a Tampa case where a young woman six weeks pregnant, Remi Lee, was given pills by a former boyfriend, causing her to abort.

The bill would expand a law that already allows a separate manslaughter charge for a fetus that could survive outside the womb.

It also would toughen penalties for anyone convicted of a crime resulting in the death of a fetus, allowing murder charges to be leveled in cases where a fetus was considered viable, and lesser criminal charges in other cases.

The other bill would require a doctor to examine a woman wanting an abortion and refuse to perform the procedure if fetal viability was determined. Supporters of the bill have said that could prevent abortions around the 20th week of pregnancy, whereas Florida law currently bars most abortions following the 24th week.

Scott signs package of tax cuts, rounding out election-year, $500M-plus giveback

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Monday a $121 million package of election-year tax cuts — including breaks on everything from hurricane- and back-to-school supplies to kids’ bike helmets and car seats.

The signing — at the state’s annual Hurricane Conference in Orlando — brings to more than $500 million the total on the tax-and-fee reductions approved by lawmakers. The Republican governor earlier put the give-backs on the top of his legislative wish list.

“This year we worked to promote a $500 million reduction in taxes and fees because Florida families should keep more of the money they earn,” Scott said.

Scott already signed into law last month a $395 million rollback of motorist fees approved in 2009 under former Gov. Charlie Crist. The former Republican governor now is challenging Scott as a Democrat, giving that reduction some extra political mileage.

Near the land where dreams come true, CannaBiz Day to take place

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Steve DeAngelo, medical marijuana leader, will speak at CannaBiz Day in Orlando

With the Republican-led Legislature recently approving a measure legalizing a strain of medical marijuana in Florida, there is certainly something different in the political air.

Next month, the business-side of the marijuana industry will gather in Orlando for the state’s first CannaBiz Day — June 6.

Organizers said the event at the Royal Caribe Hotel, just down the road from DisneyWorld, will feature business owners, legal, real estate and finance professionals with real-world cannabis business experience. Also expected to attend are activists and policy makers involved in Florida’s marijuana movement.

Keynote speaker is Steve DeAngelo, who operates Harborside Health Center, a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Cal. Harborside was a pioneer in treating children suffering from severe epilepsy with the non-euphoric marijuana oil now dubbed Charlotte’s Web, which Florida lawmakers have approved for epilepsy and cancer victims.

Gov. Rick Scott has said he will sign the legislation into law.

Much of the one-day session, though, also will focus on the more sweeping medical marijuana initiative that is set to go on Florida’s November ballot as a constitutional amendment. That measure could broaden the use and cultivation of medical marijuana in the state.

 

GOP congressional hopefuls challenge Dem incumbents to volunteer for Benghazi committee

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by George Bennett

Calvin Turnquest, one of six Republicans who hopes to challenge Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter.

Calvin Turnquest, the former Tequesta councilman who’s one of six Republicans running for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast seat of freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, says Murphy should volunteer to be on the select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack.

At least one other Florida Republican has issued a similar challenge to a Democratic incumbent. Jorge Bonilla, one of three Republicans running for the seat of Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, says Grayson should show the “guts” to volunteer for the panel.

Grayson and most Democrats voted against creating the Benghazi committee. Murphy was one of only seven Dems to join a unanimous GOP caucus in voting to approve it last week.

Two days before the vote, a spokeswoman said Murphy “respects the work his colleagues have done already investigating this matter” and “believes that Congress’ main concern needs to be focused on improving safety so that an attack like this doesn’t happen again.”

Turquest released a campaign statement calling Murphy’s vote for the committee a “sudden conversion” based on “pure politics” and said that if Murphy is serious about investigating Benghazi, he’ll ask to be on the panel.

Murphy and other House Dems from Romney districts stick out in Benghazi, IRS votes

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by George Bennett

Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch (left) and Lois Frankel (center) voted with their party's leaders on Benghazi and Lois Lerner last week. Rep. Patrick Murphy (right), whose district voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, broke ranks with most Dems. (GARY CORONADO/THE PALM BEACH POST)

Only nine of the 435 districts in the House of Representatives sent a Democrat to Congress while being carried by Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 is one of those ticket-splitting districts. Voters there went 51.5 percent for Romney in 2012 while narrowly choosing Democrat Patrick Murphy over Republican Rep. Allen West.

When there’s a largely party-line vote in which a few Dems cross the aisle to join Republicans, there’s a good chance Murphy and the other Democrats from Romney districts will be among them. That was the case in last week’s votes to find former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress and to approve a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks were the latest examples.

Subscribers to MyPalmBeachPost.com can read more about it in this week’s Politics column.

Also in this week’s Politics column: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, offer different interpretations of the Benghazi vote; why an immigration reform activist who was a registered Democrat showed up at Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign event in Greenacres.

For Mother’s Day, Nan Rich and Lois Frankel turn to their moms for political help

Sunday, May 11th, 2014 by George Bennett

Democratic governor candidate Nan Rich with her mom, Lucille Lovitt, from a Mother's Day fundraising pitch.

Underdog Democratic governor candidate Nan Rich is featuring her mom, Lucille Lovitt, in a Mother’s Day-themed fundraising appeal.

“Mother’s Day is Sunday. I can’t think of anyone who will do more for mothers, and all the women of Florida, than Nan. That’s why I hope you will make a contribution to Nan’s campaign today,” Lovitt says in an e-mail that went out this weekend.

An e-mail titled “my mom” (lower-case letters in the original) from Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, makes a Mother’s Day pitch for abortion rights and for building the Frankel campaign’s e-mail list of supporters and fundraising prospects.

“My mom, Dorothy, has always been an inspiration for me,” begins Frankel’s e-mail. “She instilled values of equality and justice in me from an early age — values that I still carry with me in my work. She was the first to teach me to always stand up for what I believe in. This is why I have always stood with women — especially when it comes to their reproductive choices.”

Frankel’s e-mail asks recipients to “Click here to stand with women on this Mother’s Day” and later to click to “Support women’s reproductive choices. Florida women don’t need government interference in their medical decisions.”

On speed limit bill, all roads lead to Gov. Rick Scott

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 by John Kennedy

One of the most contested battles of the legislative session continues to divide lawmakers, with a proposal to increase state speed limits now fueling more wrangling focused on Gov. Rick Scott.

The clash over “how fast is safe” has crossed the median strip of Florida politics. Democratic and Republican legislators are scattered on both sides of the issue that Scott is expected to settle in coming weeks, either by allowing the legislation (CS/SB 392) to become law or vetoing it.

So far, he’s given no hints. But both sides are working him hard.

Two of the leading players are a pair of Palm Beach County Democrats whose districts are separated by less than 20 miles — but whose views are light years apart on the subject.

Rep. Irv Slosberg

“If you want road safety, this is a no-brainer. He’s got to veto it,” said Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, who has pushed for stricter seat-belt and texting-while-driving laws during his 10 years in the House.

But Sen. Jeff Clemens, a sponsor of the measure, says it would not heighten risks on Florida roadways.

“When you take a step back from the emotions of this issue, you realize that we’re talking about a difference of 5   mph — maybe,” said Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “That’s entirely reasonable.”

Sen. Jeff Clemens

Full story here:  bit.ly/1nseBBL

Today: Carl Domino, 70, interrupts congressional campaign to receive law degree

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 by George Bennett

Former state Rep. Carl Domino, investment manager and congressional candidate, will get law degree from Nova Southeastern University today. (THOMAS CORDY/PALM BEACH POST)


At an age when many of his peers are in or nearing retirement, 70-year-old former state Rep. Carl Domino will join a crop of millennials today to receive a law degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Domino plans to take the bar exam this summer and then contend in the highly competitive job market — not for an entry-level post at a law firm, but for a seat in Congress.

He’s one of six Republicans running in the Aug. 26 GOP primary for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast seat of Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. If the election doesn’t pan out, Jupiter resident Domino will still run an investment management firm that handles nearly $300 million in assets.

Domino said he spent three years and about $120,000 pursuing his juris doctorate so he could better understand how legislation works and because he enjoys learning new things.

“I think if you keep trying to learn stuff, and I’ve always been a big reader, it just helps your mental acuity,” Domino said this week.

(more…)

Jim Davis, slammed by Crist in 2006 for Cuba visit, says Crist ‘will learn a lot’ if he goes

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by George Bennett

2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis, who lost to then-Republican Charlie Crist

When he was a Republican running for governor in 2006, Charlie Crist accused Democratic rival Jim Davis of “poor judgment” for visiting Cuba three years earlier.

Castro

A Crist ad said Davis “met with terrorists” because as a member of Congress he met with members of the Cuban government (though not Fidel Castro himself) and also met with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Now a Democrat and no longer a supporter of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Crist has said he might visit Cuba himself this year.

Davis was asked today if he sees any inconsistency in Crist visiting the communist island after bashing Davis for doing so.

“I don’t want to be a Republican Party of Florida tweet today,” Davis said. He said he gained valuable information by seeing conditions in Cuba firsthand and “talking to people, particularly regular people” while he was there.

“In campaigns these days, everything gets thrown at you, including the kitchen sink. That’s what happened to me and it’s even worse now,” Davis said. “I think if Charlie Crist goes to Cuba he will learn a lot. I did.”

Murphy 1 of 7 Dems to get U.S. Chamber award; 1 of 6 voting to hold IRS official in contempt

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by George Bennett

Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter


Freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, will make a pair of appearances Monday with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official to highlight the pro-business group’s “Spirit of Enterprise” award, which goes to members of Congress who supported the Chamber’s agenda on at least 70 percent of votes in 2013.

The Chamber is handing out 206 of the awards in the House — but only seven to Democrats.

Murphy and the Chamber’s Moore Hallmark will appear at a Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce breakfast and a Martin County Council of Chambers of Commerce lunch on Monday. Murphy voted with the Chamber’s position on 10 of 13 selected votes in 2013 for a 77 percent score. The three other members of Palm Beach County’s House delegation — Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings — each got 31 percent scores.

Murphy often highlights votes in which he joins Republicans since he represents a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast district that has a slight Republican tilt and voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Six Republicans are competing for the right to challenge him in November.

On Wednesday, Murphy was one of only six Democrats to join 225 Republicans in a vote to hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about her role in delaying applications from conservative groups for tax-exempt status.

Murphy then was one of 26 Democrats to vote for a resolution calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Scott says Crist will be Castro ‘puppet’ if he visits Cuba

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera campaigning today in Greenacres.


GREENACRES — Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera blasted Democrat Charlie Crist for considering a trip to Cuba this summer.

“It’s sort of laughable. He’s going to go down there and help promote the Castro regime,” Scott told reporters after a campaign appearance at AutoNation Chevrolet to promote cuts in motor vehicle fees and other taxes.

“He’s just going to be a puppet for the Castro regime and every dollar he spends down there is going to help them oppress their people,” Scott said.

Crist’s interest in visiting the communist island was first reported by The Tampa Bay Times.

“The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people,” Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate said. “Gov. Crist is exploring every opportunity to help bring economic freedom and democracy to the people of Cuba.”

Lopez-Cantera said his family “lost everything” after Castro came to power and his grandmother’s brothers were imprisoned by Castro.

“Charlie’s been a Republican and an independent and a Democrat,” Lopez-Cantera said. “I don’t know, maybe he’s going down there to explore becoming a communist.”

Charlie Crist says ‘I’ll just go there,’ plays race card again in explaining party switch

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by George Bennett

Crist: GOP treatment of "the African-American president" was "a big reason" he left party.


Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist denied he left the GOP because he was trailing Marco Rubio in a 2010 Senate primary and said “a big reason” he bolted was the way some Republicans treated “the African-American president.”

Crist’s remarks in an interview with Fusion TV’s Jorge Ramos echo his claims to Stephen Colbert in February that his infamous Fort Myers stimulus hug of President Barack Obama angered GOP activists in part because Obama “was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American.”

Then-Republican Crist was initially the frontrunner for the party’s 2010 Senate nomination, but fell far behind Rubio and left the party to become an independent in 2010. He became a Democrat in December 2012.

“You left the Republican Party because you were going to lose to Marco Rubio,” Ramos said.

Crist said he left because the party’s leadership “went off the cliff” and “I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there.”

He referred again to “the African-American president” and said the way “some” in the party treated Obama was “a big reason” he left the GOP.

RNC spokesman Izzy Santa responded to Crist’s remarks in an e-mail to Fusion: “Being a flip-flopper is bad enough, but playing the race card to win over voters is pitiful.”

Release of inmate Jim Greer’s ‘Shakespearean’ tell-all might be delayed until his own release in July

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by George Bennett

Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer's Department of Corrections photo

A tell-all book about former Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Charlie Crist friend Jim Greer‘s plunge from political power to incarceration might be delayed five weeks to coincide with Greer’s July release from custody on grand theft and money-laundering charges.

Authored by Peter Golenbock and published by NewSouth Books, The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer, is billed on Amazon as nothing less than “a Shakespearean tale of friendship and betrayal to rival Hamlet.”

The book — which appears likely to take shots at Crist, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum and the tea party movement — has been scheduled for June 1 release.

But NewSouth publisher Suzanne La Rosa said the date might be pushed back to July 7. She mentioned possible “safety concerns” for Greer, who is scheduled for release from the Bridges of Orlando work-release facility on July 5.

(more…)

Medical marijuana gets 88% support in new Florida poll; 53% back ‘personal use’ of pot

Monday, May 5th, 2014 by George Bennett

Nearly 9 out of 10 Florida voters say adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

An amendment to the Florida constitution to legalize medical marijuana goes before voters in November and needs 60 percent support to pass. The Quinnipiac poll didn’t specifically ask about the ballot question, but found 88 percent support for permitting medical marijuana. That’s up from 82 percent support in November.

The same poll found 53 percent support for “allowing adults in Florida to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use,” with 42 percent opposed. Voters were more evenly divided in November, with 48 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

Asked if they’ve ever tried marijuana, 45 percent of Florida voters say they have and 54 percent say they have not. The age group with the highest percentage of reported marijuana use was 50-to-64-year-olds, with 62 percent saying they have tried pot.

Does GOP help Scott’s re-elect by adding new pages to playbook? (w/vid of session’s last night)

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 by John Kennedy

After years of budget-cutting and strict social policies, Florida’s ruling Republicans worked to soften some edges during the just-completed legislative session with steps that appear designed to bolster Gov. Rick Scott for a bruising re-election battle.

The $77.1 billion state budget approved by lawmakers late Friday is the largest in state history, filled with increased dollars for schools and environmental programs, and chocked with hometown spending on social services, museums, theaters and local government projects.

Full story here: bit.ly/1g0vImH

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