Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

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

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be asked next week to set a quota of 320 bears for a controversial hunt in October.

The hunt, the first in the state in more than 20 years, has already attracted 1,795 hunters who have purchased permits, according to the commission.

http://www.beachsidekeywest.com/

The president of a Key West real-estate development company has been named to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, replacing the former chairman who announced last week he is stepping down after 12 years on the board.

The appointment late Friday of Robert Spottswood by Gov. Rick Scott came three days after Richard Corbett, whose term on the board was scheduled to expire in January 2018, submitted his resignation to Scott.

State of Florida

A dispute alleging Gov. Rick Scott and his staff subverted public-records laws will cost the state $700,000, according to an agreement released Friday by the governor's office.

As first reported by the Herald/Times capital bureau, the state will pay the money to Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews, who until this week had been involved in a legal battle with Scott and the Cabinet about the state's desire to expand property known as "The Grove" near the governor's mansion.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Conservation groups want a judge to shoot down the return of bear hunting in Florida and to halt the pending sale of bear-hunting permits.

With permits for this fall's hunt going on sale Monday, the Seminole County-based group Speak Up Wekiva filed a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court Friday challenging the constitutionality of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved bear hunt.

"There is no evidence to support the supposition that hunting bears in remote wildlife management areas will reduce conflicts in suburbia," the lawsuit contends.

fdle.state.fl.us

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement wants more investigators to handle an increase in shooting incidents involving officers at other police agencies across the state.

The department next week will present Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet an outline of its budget proposals, which include requests for a boost in salaries for forensic lab technicians and for additional staff to help investigate officer-involved shootings and use-of-force cases.

State of Florida

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has described her exit from office more than two years ago as a "knee jerk reaction" by Gov. Rick Scott.

Now, Scott will get the final say in Carroll having to pay a $1,000 fine to resolve allegations she did not properly report income from consulting work that led to her sudden resignation.

The state Commission on Ethics on Friday unanimously, and without comment, agreed to support the fine as part of an agreement with Carroll.

Florida House of Representatives / myfloridahouse.gov

Republican legislative leaders, who have been huddling with staff and counsel, continue to offer little comment publicly as they decide how to respond to a Florida Supreme Court ruling last week that eight congressional districts must be redrawn.

But state Democrats haven't been holding back.

Shortly after Thursday's court ruling, Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, announced that he would reintroduce legislation for the 2016 session to create an independent commission to oversee future district-map drawing.

The Florida Channel

Nearly a third of state lawmakers are millionaires, with two members of the Senate having net worths that top $20 million, according to newly filed disclosure reports.

Almost half of the Senate is in the millionaires club, and more than two dozen senators saw their net worths grow in the past year. Some reports remain to be filed, but so far no senator sits in the red financially, according to the reports posted on the Florida Commission on Ethics website.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources / via Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Florida will land about $3.25 billion as part of a multi-state federal settlement with BP over widespread damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The deal announced Thursday requires London-based BP to pay $18.5 billion in economic and natural resources damages to the five Gulf Coast states affected by the disaster, which pumped at least 3.9 million gallons of oil off the coastlines of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

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.

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