Florida Five: Sarah Palin endorses fellow ‘mama grizzly’ for CD 19, Red-light cameras stay

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Sarah Palin Amazing AmericaSarah Palin endorses fellow ‘mama grizzly’ Lizbeth Benacquisto for Fla. CD19: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday that she’s endorsing Florida Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto’s bid to represent Florida’s Congressional District 19, calling her “the only proven conservative in the race.” Read more.

Lawmakers play starring role in film industry tax incentive plan: Lights… camera… incentives. Actors, producers and film crew members descended on Tallahassee Wednesday to support the proposed expansion of the entertainment industry incentive program, which provides tax credits to film and television projects based in Florida. Their collective lobbying helped persuade a Senate panel to approve a plan adding another $300 million in tax credits over the next six years — a first step toward the bill becoming law. But the advocates had their eyes on a much larger prize: a long-shot House proposal that would provide the entertainment industry with nearly four times as much support. Read more.

Big-Name politicians take sides in Joe Garcia-Carlos Curbelo showdown: Leading politicians at the state and national level are getting involved in a South Florida congressional race which is increasingly appearing to be one of the most competitive contests of the 2014 election cycle. Read more.

Senate puts brakes on red-light camera repeal: Red-light cameras won’t be turned off in Florida this year.Without enough votes lined up, Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes put the brakes on a bill (SB 144) that focused on repealing the state’s red-light camera law. Instead, he proposed changes to increase regulations on the use of the devices. But Brandes’ Transportation Committee on Wednesday didn’t act on the proposed changes, deciding to postpone a vote on his rewritten bill.“That shows you the power of this (red light camera) industry,” said Brandes who maintained his opposition to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010, the state’s red-light camera law, after the postponement.“What you’re seeing is municipalities that have become addicted to the funds, and in many of these cities it’s not about safety,” Brandes added. “It’s become a backdoor tax increase.” Read more.

Latvala: Getting immigrant tuition bill to floor biggest challenge: The sponsor of a measure that would allow undocumented immigrant students to pay cheaper tuition rates insists he has the votes to pass the bill in the Senate.But the biggest snag with the bill — a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford — is getting it to the Senate floor for a full vote, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said Wednesday. Last week, the House approved a similar plan (HB 851) that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities as long as they first go to school in Florida for four years in a row. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. … I’m one of the best vote-counters in the Senate, if I should happen to say so myself. I know we have the votes to pass this in the Senate if we could just get a hearing on the floor. That will be our challenge. We have three more committee stops. Read more.

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