Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

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

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.

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles / FLHSMV.gov

Lawmakers took steps Thursday that could cancel a fifth of the specialty license plates available in Florida but also advanced 26 more designs for motorists to pre-order.

House and Senate committees backed higher thresholds for plates to qualify to be produced and for the current 122 tags to remain on the road.

At the same time, the Senate Transportation and House Economic Affairs committees moved a wide range of tags toward pre-sale for Panhellenic organizations, non-profits, environmental endeavors and professional sports teams.

tax cut chart
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

House members backed Gov. Rick Scott's push to reduce taxes on cell-phone bills and pay TV on Tuesday.

And they bettered the governor, by $17 million, in rolling out a $690 million tax-reduction package that offers a slew of sales-tax holidays and eliminating taxes on gun-club memberships, college textbooks, materials purchased at book fairs and vehicles purchased overseas and brought to Florida by military members.

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

With the state's unemployment rate holding steady as Gov. Rick Scott's second term got underway, he focused Tuesday on private-sector job growth since he first took office.

The jobless rate stood at 5.7 percent in January, equaling a revised unemployment mark for December, the state Department of Economic Opportunity said Tuesday.

The December figure had initially been posted at 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate stands at 5.5 percent.

The January figure represents approximately 551,000 Floridians qualifying as unemployed from a work force of 9.7 million.

Ines Hegedus-Garcia / Flickr

A plan that would make changes to the management of the state's natural springs and address drinking-water issues across Central Florida and the flow of pollution in and out of Lake Okeechobee was approved Thursday by the House on the third day of the legislative session.

Jacksonville Jaguars

A much-anticipated decision about divvying up sales-tax dollars to sports-stadium projects was handed-off to the full Legislature on Thursday.

And now, a process that was intended to reducing lobbying may do the opposite.

The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, comprised of seven senators and seven representatives, agreed to move any funding decisions regarding the stadiums --- Daytona International Speedway, the Miami Dolphins' home of Sun Life Stadium, EverBank Field in Jacksonville and a soccer stadium in Orlando --- to the regular legislative session.

JAXPORT / Flickr

The top lobbying group for Florida's seaports wants the state to establish a marketing campaign to help lure cargo-shipping companies from major ports in other areas of the country.

A study released this week by the Florida Ports Council calls for lawmakers to create an advertising effort to entice shipping firms to move cargo through the Sunshine State rather than ports in Savannah, Houston, New York or even Los Angeles.

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