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Calder Should Lose Slots License, Judge Says

May 25, 2019 - 7:15am
Calder demolished its grandstands in 2017

In a turnabout from a similar case last year, an administrative law judge Friday decided that state gambling regulators erred when they allowed South Florida’s Calder Race Course to keep its lucrative slot-machine license after demolishing a grandstand where bettors watched horses compete.

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association challenged a state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering renewal of Calder’s slots license after the grandstand was razed and a slot-machine facility was built near outside areas where patrons could view live races.

D'Alemberte Remembered as 'Definition of a Statesman'

May 22, 2019 - 9:00am
Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte

With a shock of white hair, a trademark bow tie and a soft, Southern drawl, Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte was a legal icon who influenced decades of Florida governance and was described Tuesday as a “force of nature.”

Conservative Court Eyes Key Death Penalty Issue

May 21, 2019 - 8:45am
Florida Supreme Court

More than 100 inmates condemned to death could face a major upheaval, as a revamped Florida Supreme Court ponders whether to undo a 2016 ruling that allowed nearly half of the state’s Death Row prisoners to have their death sentences revisited.

With a conservative bloc of justices led by Chief Justice Charles Canady now in the majority, the court has begun the process of reconsidering whether changes to Florida’s death penalty-sentencing system should continue being applied retroactively to cases dating to 2002.

Tribe Says No Dice to Paying State

May 15, 2019 - 6:45am

The Seminole Tribe of Florida made good on threats Tuesday by telling Gov. Ron DeSantis it is quitting a long-standing revenue-sharing agreement with the state after negotiations on a new gambling deal went nowhere this spring.

Controversial Felons' Rights Plan Clears the Senate

May 3, 2019 - 8:45am
Jeff Brandes

Seeking to carry out a November constitutional amendment, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored, an issue that’s been a sticking point as lawmakers grappled with one of this year’s most controversial pieces of legislation.

The Senate spent about two hours in emotional debate on the measure before voting strictly along party lines and sending the proposal to the House for consideration Friday, the final day it can pass before the legislative session ends.

Would a Lottery-Addiction Warning Make Florida a Nanny State? Lawmakers Divided

May 2, 2019 - 8:00am

Booze and beer don’t carry similar cautions, but some Republican lawmakers want people playing the state lottery to be warned that the games may be addictive.

With the 2019 legislative session in its final days, the Senate is considering a proposal that would require all lottery tickets to include a warning, which also would be part of any advertisements for the state-sponsored games.

The bill would require the tickets and promotions to include the words: “Warning: Lottery games may be addictive,” or “Play responsibly,” under an amendment approved Wednesday by the Senate.

Felons' Rights: Democrats Say Legislature's GOP Just 'Does Not Want Certain People to Vote'

April 30, 2019 - 9:30am
Perry Thurston and Jeff Brandes

With days left before the legislative session ends Friday, the Senate sponsor of a proposal aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment on felons’ voting rights said he worked all weekend to reach what he called a compromise with his House counterpart.

But Senate Democrats are still opposed to the measure, which they believe creates onerous financial barriers to restoring voting rights for people who’ve already got the odds stacked against them.

Sports Betting? DeSantis Studies Late Gambling Proposal

April 25, 2019 - 7:30am

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his staff continued Wednesday to scrutinize a proposed gambling agreement, but the odds of closing out what some lawmakers have called a “three-dimensional game of chess” grow dimmer as the clock winds down on the legislative session.

After weeks of negotiations, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe reached a tentative deal on Tuesday. DeSantis and House Speaker José Oliva received an outline of the agreement, known as a “compact,” on Tuesday.

DeSantis Says Gambling Deal Could Be a 'Lift'

April 24, 2019 - 7:00am
Ron DeSantis

With time already an enemy, Gov. Ron DeSantis injected more uncertainty Tuesday into a gambling deal reached by a Senate Republican leader and a representative of the Seminole Tribe, saying its passage would be a “legislative lift” with less than two weeks remaining in the annual session.

“There’s a lot of stuff to go through,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday morning. “I’d like to get a deal, but at the same time I’ve got to make sure that what we’re doing is right for Florida.”

Weekly Roundup: Heading Toward the Home Stretch

April 20, 2019 - 7:30am

A gambling deal may or may not happen, but lawmakers are racing toward the finish line in the 2019 legislative session.

As in previous years, Republican leaders are horse-trading over their priorities in the lead-up to budget negotiations, expected to kick off when lawmakers return to Tallahassee following the holiday weekend.

Armed teachers, immigration and abortion were among the high-profile issues that prompted party-line schisms this week, as lawmakers took up issues considered GOP “red meat” while also setting the stage to finalize the leaders’ priorities.

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