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Fried Rallies Support for the Hemp Industry

June 15, 2019 - 8:00am
Nikki Fried

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday encouraged supporters of a new state hemp industry to tell Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign a bill that would lead to a regulatory framework for the crop.

Fried said an envisioned hemp “revolution” needs the governor’s signature on the bill (SB 1020), which would create a hemp program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Backroom Briefing: Feeling Right at Home?

June 14, 2019 - 7:45am
President Trump gets what he wants in Florida

President Donald Trump has become more than a part-time Florida man since taking office.

At least that’s Gov. Ron DeSantis’ take, as Trump prepares to formally announce his re-election campaign next week at Orlando’s Amway Center.

“The reason they’re in Florida is because, really if you look at it, since he’s taken office, Florida really has been his home,” DeSantis said Tuesday while in The Villages “He’s not spent any time in New York City. Palm Beach has kind of been the place. Orlando is just at the center of so much going on in our state.”

State Task Force on Toxic Algae: Don't Expect a Quick Fix

June 13, 2019 - 7:00am
Algae bloom of 2018 on Lake Okeechobee

Reducing harmful nutrients in state waters, through moves such as more monitoring and staffing, is an expected short-term goal of a new task force set up by Gov. Ron DeSantis to look at toxic algae fouling Florida waterways.

But with a brief timeline for the five-member Blue Green Algae Task Force to reach its initial findings, don’t expect proposals for massive state rule changes related to farming practices or moving away from septic systems.

DeSantis Prepares to Sign Budget, Issue Vetoes

June 12, 2019 - 7:00am
DeSantis in The Villages Tuesday

Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes to sign a state budget and issue vetoes next week, with the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year expected to arrive on his desk Friday.

Appearing Tuesday at a bill-signing event in The Villages, DeSantis said he and his staff have completed a “first glance” at the line items in the $91.1 billion, 448-page document for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The governor has line-item veto power.

Florida TaxWatch Identifies $133 Million in 'Turkeys'

June 6, 2019 - 7:15am

Florida TaxWatch says $133 million should be slashed from the state’s proposed budget, though Gov. Ron DeSantis should employ a relatively “light touch” when wielding his line-item veto pen for the first time.

The business-backed nonprofit group Wednesday highlighted 109 member projects, known in Tallahassee parlance as “turkeys,” which it contends failed to be properly vetted before being inserted into the record $91.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Steube, Rooney Defend Votes against Disaster Aid

June 5, 2019 - 7:00am
Greg Steube and Francis Rooney

Two Florida Republican congressmen pointed Tuesday to irresponsible federal spending as the reason for their votes against a $19.1 billion disaster-relief package that would help portions of the Panhandle still recovering from last year’s deadly Hurricane Michael.

U.S. Rep. Greg Steube of Sarasota and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney of Naples said they took principled fiscal stands against the package, which is designed to assist communities in more than 40 states.

Good News for the Panhandle: House Finally Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Aid Package

June 4, 2019 - 7:30am
Much Hurricane Michael debris remains uncollected

A federal disaster-relief package, long sought by Florida officials and Panhandle residents recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Michael, received approval Monday from the U.S. House after three earlier attempts were blocked.

The 354-58 vote, which came after the House returned from a 10-day holiday recess, sends the $19.1 billion package to President Donald Trump. The Senate backed the measure 85-8 on May 23.

Federal Money Will Boost Everglades Flow

June 4, 2019 - 7:30am
The Tamiami Trail

Long-sought federal money is coming to complete a project that will raise a section of the Tamiami Trail to improve the flow of freshwater through the Everglades.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao advised state officials Monday that $60 million will be provided to the National Park Service for elevating a 6.5-mile section of the roadway that runs west from Miami.

Rubin Disputes Allegations amid Calls for Resignation

May 30, 2019 - 8:45am
Ronald Rubin and Jimmy Patronis

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants the state’s top financial regulator --- whom he championed for the job earlier this year --- to resign, amid allegations of sexual harassment.

But Ronald Rubin, who was hired by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet in late February as commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation, strongly disputes the allegations.

Rubin is “unwilling to resign,” his lawyer, Daniel Blonsky, said in an email Wednesday afternoon.

Backroom Briefing: Finger-Pointing over Suspended Financial Watchdog

May 24, 2019 - 9:00am
Ronald Rubin and Jorge Labarga

A national report has focused a spotlight on the background check Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet did before hiring Ronald Rubin as the state’s chief financial regulator.

Rubin was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, amid an investigation into a sexual-harassment complaint. Since then, other accusations --- including comments about “old” employees and “rednecks” --- have been leveled against the Office of Financial Regulation commissioner.

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