Jim Saunders - News Service of Florida

Jim Saunders is the Executive Editor of The News Service Of Florida.

Just days before lawmakers go into a special session to redraw Senate lines, a federal judge this week tossed out a challenge to the way Florida has carried out redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected arguments by Republican Party leaders from Walton and Pasco counties who contended that their First Amendment rights are being violated amid long-running legal and political battles about Senate and congressional maps.

State of Florida

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has asked a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010, saying he doesn't enforce the "Fair Districts" requirements.

Floridians for Solar Choice

In a battle involving two solar-energy ballot initiatives, a political committee backed by major utilities collected $335,000 in August — and had raised $798,000 in less than two months, according to a newly filed finance report.

The group, known as Consumers for Smart Solar, also had nearly $400,000 in the bank as September began.

Meanwhile, rival group Floridians for Solar Choice, which awaits a state Supreme Court decision on its proposed ballot language, appeared to be living almost paycheck-to-paycheck based on a financial report filed Thursday.

The state's four major investor-owned utilities --- stretching from Miami to Pensacola --- say they expect residents' monthly electric bills to drop by a few bucks next year.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, more than once Tuesday, advised lawyers that arguments about a proposed constitutional amendment to expand the use of solar energy leaned toward campaign rhetoric rather than key legal issues.

Still, when justices finished hearing arguments about ballot language proposed by the group Floridians for Solar Choice, supporters and opponents of the controversial initiative emerged from the Supreme Court offering positive spins.

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to expand the use of solar energy say it might be four years before they would again seek voter approval if the current ballot language is rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.

Florida Senate

The legal arguments about Florida's political maps continue to mushroom.

While the Florida Supreme Court and the Legislature grapple with how congressional districts will be drawn, more legal fights are building in federal courts.

Florida could be a key state next year in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

But first, Florida voters will have to figure out who is running.

A poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University continues to show that voters know little about the candidates seeking to replace presidential candidate Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Google Maps

State regulators Thursday approved a settlement that will clear the way for Florida Power & Light to buy — and ultimately shut down — a coal-fired power plant in Jacksonville.

A three-member panel of the Florida Public Service Commission signed off on the $520.5 million deal, little more than a month after FPL and the state Office of Public Counsel reached a settlement agreement. The Office of Public Counsel is an agency that represents consumers in utility cases.

Trump, Clinton headshots
Gage Skidmore / State Department

The Donald has overtaken Jeb and Marco in Florida.

But a new Quinnipiac University poll might show more-daunting trends for another candidate on a first-name basis with voters — Hillary.

The poll, released Thursday, indicates that New York developer and television personality Donald Trump has taken a slight lead over former Gov. Jeb Bush and a larger lead over U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the Republican presidential primary in Florida.

Tom Flanigan / WFSU News

Two Republican lawmakers Monday filed proposals that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses, setting the stage for a renewed debate about the controversial issue.

Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed the bills (SB 68 and HB 4001) for lawmakers to consider during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.

The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will hear arguments in a challenge to the way Florida sentences people to death — a challenge backed by three former Florida Supreme Court justices and the American Bar Association.

The case, which stems from the 1998 murder of an Escambia County fast-food worker, focuses on the role that juries play in recommending death sentences, which ultimately are imposed by judges.

Florida Election Commission

Pointing to a time crunch, a Leon County circuit judge Wednesday gave the Florida Legislature little more than two months to draw new congressional districts and to defend them in court.

Judge George S. Reynolds III issued an order that said a special legislative session to redraw districts and a subsequent trial must be finished by Sept. 25. The order came after the Florida Supreme Court last week tossed out eight congressional districts because it found that lawmakers violated a 2010 constitutional amendment aimed at preventing gerrymandering.

Dorm interior
University of Florida

After a high-profile legislative debate this spring about concealed weapons on college campuses, a state appeals court is poised to hear arguments in a dispute about whether guns should be allowed in residence halls and other housing at the University of Florida.

Democrat Hillary Clinton holds slight edges over Republicans Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush in potential 2016 presidential battles in Florida, but voters are concerned about the honesty and trustworthiness of the former secretary of state, a new poll shows.

The poll, released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, said Clinton leads Rubio, a Florida senator, by a margin of 47 percent to 44 percent in the critical swing state. She leads Bush, a former Florida governor who formally announced his presidential campaign this week, by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent.

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