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  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. While Hillsborough, St. Pete colleges take a budget hit — public universities get more

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As Senate President Joe Negron aims to make Florida's 12 public universities "elite" destinations, state lawmakers this spring voted to give an extra $232 million next year to those institutions — while simultaneously cutting $25 million that has helped the state's 28 state colleges serve …

    Florida Senate President Joe Negron talk to members in the chamber. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times].
  4. State Supreme Court rejects massive expansion of slot machines

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — In a major defeat for counties that wanted to authorize slot machines by referendum, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that Florida counties have no legal authority to ask voters to approve slot machines at existing pari-mutuel race tracks or jai-alai frontons without …

    In 2008 about 800 Vegas-style slot machines were installed in the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood Florida. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday against expanding the use of slot machines in parimutuels throughout Florida. [Willie J. Allen Jr. | Times]
  5. Says Florida woman who hit 9-foot alligator on I-75, 'Are you kidding me?'

    Wildlife

    SARASOTA — A mother of four escaped serious injury when her SUV hit a 9-foot alligator crossing Interstate 75.

    Jennifer Rosinski's Ford Escape struck this alligator as it tried to run across Interstate 75 near North Port in Sarasota Couonty late on Tuesday. [Photo courtesy of Jennifer Rosinski via Palm Beach Post]
  6. SeaWorld and Sesame Street plan more joint parks and expansion in Orlando

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Muppets fans are going to have more places to ask the question, "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?"

    A photo provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment shows the Grover Coaster at the current Sesame Place theme park located in Langhorne, Penn., and is the nation's only theme park based entirely on the award-winning educational program Sesame Street. On Thursday, SeaWorld Entertainment and Sesame Workshop announced an extension of their 37-year partnership to include the development of an additional Sesame Place theme park scheduled to open by 2021 in a U.S. location to be determined. [SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  7. Election experts begged lawmakers for new tool to fight voter fraud, but got nothing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As President Donald J. Trump repeatedly makes unfounded claims of people having voted twice in the last election, Florida had an easy way to make it much less likely.

    But the state Legislature did nothing.

    White House chief strategist Steve  Bannon was registered to vote in two states, New York and Florida, before he contacted Sarasota County to remove his name from the voter rolls in November. A bill that would have allowed Florida to join a nationwide database that would better detect double registrations failed to pass this year's legislative session. [Associated Press]
  8. How profitable will medical-marijuana shops be? Very, says confidential pitch for investors

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As differences over pot shop restrictions burned a medical marijuana bill to ashes in Tallahassee, one of Florida's largest legal cannabis operators courted millions of dollars from new investors and touted a lucrative plan to open dozens of storefronts around the state.

    Medical marijuana products are on display in the "Garden" at Surterra Wellness Center, 2558 E Fowler Ave. in  Tampa. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  9. Veto schools bill and education budget, critics urge Gov. Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott faces mounting pressure from school superintendents, teachers unions and parent groups to veto $23.7 billion in base funding to K-12 public schools next year — as well as a controversial $419 million education policy bill that lawmakers unveiled and passed in the span of just …

    Joining other superintendents from large counties, Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Mike Grego is urging Gov. Rick Scott to reject the education budget and a massive education bill, HB 7069. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Medical marijuana special session in limbo: It's up to Rick Scott or Joe Negron

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — As support builds for lawmakers to return to the state Capitol to pass medical marijuana language, two of the three men who could call a special session have been quiet about their plans.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott announces during a press conference at Jungle Island that the number of tourists visiting the state for the first three months of 2017 was about 31.1 million people. Once again, he demurred when asked about calling a special session for medical marijuana. "I'm looking at all my options," he told reporters on Monday.  [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]