Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

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

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Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet agreed Tuesday to spend $630,000 to obtain the development rights for several acres west of Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

The deal is viewed as a way to restrict the amount of future development within the neighboring Mayport Village and as a defense against potential military downsizing in the next round of the federal process known as "Base Realignment and Closure," which could occur in 2017.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott continues telling business leaders to pressure lawmakers for more incentive money to help attract companies to Florida, despite pushback from the state Senate.

Scott on Tuesday reiterated his position that Enterprise Florida, the state's business-recruiting arm, is running short of cash for incentives. He said at the Gulf Power Economic Symposium in Destin that more money must be set aside in next year's budget if the state wants to continue enticing companies to relocate to the state.

Trying to make legal services more accessible in Florida, recommendations released Monday call for a "robust" website outlining local, state and national legal resources that low- and moderate-income residents could access at home or on an increased number of public computers.

The Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, created by Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, also called in an interim report for additional people providing pro bono services and to draw leftover money from class-action lawsuits to help fund legal-aid efforts.

State of Florida

Florida Cabinet members agreed Tuesday to spend $7.8 million to conserve two large tracts of ranch land over objections from Gov. Rick Scott, who said he wanted a better deal on one of the parcels.

The debate stemmed, at least in part, from appraisals on the Central and Southwest Florida properties, which will continue to be used for ranching after state acquisition. Scott and Cabinet members received two appraised values for each.

It will be illegal to post sexually explicit material without the knowledge of people identified in the images, and criminal penalties will increase to try to help curb sex trafficking, as 27 new Florida laws hit the books Thursday.

The bulk of the 232 bills signed by Gov. Rick Scott out of the 2015 legislative session went into effect July 1.

Lucio Eastman / WIkimedia Commons

A proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to pack heat while hitting the books on college and university campuses notched it first two successes Wednesday.

The legislation (SB 68 and HB 4001), which won support from criminal-justice committees in the House and Senate, is widely opposed by academic leaders.

Proponents argued that the proposal would make colleges safer, while opponents questioned the need to allow weapons into an already stress-filled atmosphere.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Gov. Rick Scott will not use executive authority to block the state's first bear-hunting season in more than two decades, despite pleas from animal-rights groups.

While anti-hunt groups have been collecting petitions and planning protests across the state on the eve of next month's hunt, the governor's office said Scott has left the issue up to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has already voted to proceed.

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.

Attorney General Pam Bondi put added pressure Wednesday on lawmakers to increase funding for crime labs as she detailed a massive backlog of untested rape kits across the state.

"Those need to be tested because, hidden in those estimated thousands of untested rape kits, we have the potential to solve cold cases and lock up sexual predators and make Florida the safest place to live and raise a family," Bondi said during a news conference at The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

Architect of the Capitol

The bronze statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, which has stood in the U.S. Capitol since 1922, would be replaced by a statue more representative of Florida, under a bill filed Tuesday by a Republican state lawmaker.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz said he's been considering the proposal (HB 141) for several years, and the bill comes as people across the country have reconsidered Confederate symbols after the racially motivated slaying in June of nine black church members in South Carolina.

bear sleeping
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission via Flickr

A target was placed on at least 320 black bears Wednesday as the once-threatened species will be hunted across Florida next month for the first time in more than two decades.

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.

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