Kevin Derby's blog

Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, released a web video on Tuesday, the first day of the 2011 legislative session. Gardiner offered a quick glimpse of what the Senate will focus on during the first days of the fledgling session.

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Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and ranking Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi calling on them to back a proposal looking to pull the plug on the federal EPA water-quality proposals for Florida.

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The Florida House just inaugurated its newest member in its opening moments. Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, won a special election last month to represent parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. She replaces Oscar Braynon who vacated the seat to run successfully for the Senate. Watson, who was introduced by Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, offered some brief words of thanks before taking her seat and joining the House.

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While most eyes in Florida politics are on Tallahassee this week as the legislative session opens later on Tuesday, keep an eye on Washington on Wednesday. Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who chairs the U.S. House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, will be examining the FEMA budget for FY 2012 and getting testimony from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
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Earlier this week, conservative Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, launched the first in a series of video blogs. Workman, who represents parts of Brevard County and chairs the Space Caucus, won some attention last year for preparing an Arizona-style immigration law. In the video, Workman touched on some of the major issues facing the Legislature.

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Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney applauded President Barack Obama changing course on holding military commissions trying suspected terrorists, but insisted on Monday that the White House did  not go far enough in its new decision.

“While I’m pleased that the president has reversed his previous position and will allow military commissions to resume at Guantanamo Bay, I’m deeply concerned that his executive order will leave the door open for the administration to hold civilian trials for terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohammed,” Rooney said.

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Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who is considering taking on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, wrote to Gov. Rick Scott on Monday supporting his fellow Republican’s rejection of federal funds set aside for high-speed rail projects.
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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) will host a straw poll for the 2012 presidential candidates in Orlando in September. The candidates will engage in debate on Thursday, Sept. 22, which will be televised across the nation on Fox News, before taking part in the Presidency 5 straw poll.

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The House Republicans met on Monday to hold a ceremony honoring Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and tabbing him as speaker designate who will wield the Florida House after the 2012 elections.

As expected, Weatherford was elected without opposition from the Republican caucus.

Speaking from the well of the House, Weatherford praised “servant leadership” and said he would try to be a “servant leader” in his time as speaker.

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House Democrats fired back at the plan unveiled by Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, on Monday morning which would create two state Supreme Courts, one for civil matters and one for criminal cases.

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