Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

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Jim Turner is a reporter for The News Service of Florida.

The state's record-setting budget goes into effect on Wednesday, along with 130 other new laws that were produced by the Legislature this year in the regular and special sessions and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Starting Wednesday, the state will no long collect sales tax on gun club memberships, people with 64-ounce beer containers known as "growlers" can get them filled at breweries, and governments in Florida will have to start looking to buy American-made U.S. flags.

Tree Hill Nature Center

Supporters of Amendment 1 filed a lawsuit Monday claiming state lawmakers in a newly approved budget misappropriated more than $300 million of the money voters wanted for environmental land management and acquisition.

Also, supporters of the ballot initiative want a court to declare exactly what lawmakers can and can't do with the Amendment 1 money.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

  A conservative-advocacy group is telling Gov. Rick Scott it'll have his back if he vetoes projects crammed into the state budget just before the nearly $80 billion package was completed last week.

"We are making everyone aware that we are not happy with the $301 million in last minute projects," Americans for Prosperity-Florida spokesman Andres Malave said Sunday. "AFP stands with Floridians who wouldn't be disappointed if the governor vetoed projects not beneficial to all taxpayers."

Weeki Wachee River
Fredlyfish4 / Flickr

Proponents of water and land conservation are being advised to have "low" expectations as the environmental portion of the state budget is pieced together.

The House and Senate remain split on funding for land acquisition with money from last year's voter-approved Water and Land Conservation ballot initiative, known as Amendment 1.

Lawmakers are also struggling with a flood of requested individual water projects, leaders of the budget talks on agricultural and natural resources said Monday.

Meredyth Hope Hall & Sara Brockmann / The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott's call for more money to attract businesses to Florida put an unexpected halt Monday to budget talks on transportation, tourism and economic-development issues.

Senators claimed a "lack of respect" as they sought what they considered an adequate explanation about why the House wanted to boost funding for Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private economic development agency.

Florida Water and Land Legacy / Instagram

Despite continued lobbying and statewide rallies, lawmakers with control over a water-and-land funding package don't appear to be open to pleas to increase spending on environmental lands.

But as budget talks likely begin this weekend, with the Legislature focused more on deciding whether to expand health-care coverage and how much to earmark for education, proponents of a 2014 environmental ballot initiative say they will continue to push for an increase in spending on land and water projects.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott vetoed bills Tuesday that were intended to increase convenience-store security and to give policyholders more options as the state seeks to move them out of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Scott said one measure (HB 755) would force convenience stores to add "potentially costly security." The second bill (HB 1087), he said, "undermines progress" in shifting policies into the private insurance market from the state-backed Citizens.

Lawmakers approved both bills without opposition during this spring's regular legislative session.

tax cut chart
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Floridians could still get a reduction in their cable-TV and cell-phone bills as part of a new House tax-cut package, but the overall plan likely will fall short of the tax cuts sought by Gov. Rick Scott.

Also, Scott's call to permanently lift the sales tax on the purchase of college textbooks may be altered, as the House is repackaging a tax-cut package (HB 7141) from the regular legislative session to help develop a budget that lawmakers say will include higher health-care costs.

Daniel Oines / Flickr

Voter-approved money for land and water conservation could be used to help create asphalt and concrete bicycle and running paths across Florida.

Among the bills that will be discussed in a special legislative session next month is a transportation measure (SB 7054) that would designate $50 million a year for the creation of a statewide network of bicycle and pedestrian paths known as SunTrail.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Rules for the state's first bear hunt in more than 20 years have been published as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is expected next month to give final approval to the hunt.

The posting of the rules came as the Humane Society has reached out to Gov. Rick Scott to halt the pending hunt because the commission has yet to determine how many bears are in Florida.

"This is very premature," said Kate MacFall, the Humane Society's Florida director. "They haven't even finished the count. They don't even know about the bear population."

handgun
Robert Nelson / Flickr

Failed efforts to allow people to carry concealed weapons on Florida college campuses and to allow some public-school employees and volunteers to be armed will be back before lawmakers next year.

Marion Hammer, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, said Wednesday those measures will return despite running into opposition in the Senate this year.

"The things that were worth working on this year will be worth working on next year," Hammer said. "All of these good pieces of legislation will be back until they pass."

US Environmental Protection Agency

The House on Monday approved a measure that would require oil and gas companies to inform the state of chemicals being injected into the ground as part of a controversial drilling process known as "fracking."

The bill (HB 1205) also would prohibit permits from being issued until a study is completed on the potential impacts of fracking.

Lyft car
Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Proposals to create new insurance requirements for app-based transportation services like Uber and Lyft appear to be idling as the legislative session nears the end.

The House and Senate have moved forward with bills that have differences, including about whether local governments should be prevented from regulating the services. The House bill includes what is known as "pre-emption" of local regulation.

Wikimedia Commons

Despite opposition from the governor's top elections official, legislation that would allow Floridians to register to vote online was sent to the Senate floor Thursday.

Meanwhile, the House delayed a floor vote on a similar measure because of a question about $1.8 million that would be needed to fund creation of the new high-tech application.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in a 10-4 vote, backed a measure (SB 228) that would require the state Division of Elections to develop an online voter-registration application by Oct. 1, 2017, a year later than proposed earlier.

Palcohol.com

Spirits aren't high on the future of powdered alcohol being mixed in Florida.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday unanimously supported a measure (SB 998) that would prohibit the sale and possession of powdered alcohol throughout the state.

The effort to ban powdered alcohol comes shortly after the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the sale of a powdered alcohol called Palcohol by the privately held company Lipsmark LLC.

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