Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:
Fake car crashes plummet: The number of car accidents staged in Florida so an insurance claim could be filed has fallen by more than half since the laws governing personal-injury protection were reformed, according to a new report.Reports of PIP claims involving accidents that appear to have been intentionally caused fell from 712 in 2012 to 328 last year, the nonprofit National Insurance Crime Bureau found in a study. Overall, questionable PIP claims filed in Florida dropped by nearly 8 percent in a year, reported the bureau, which partners with insurers and police. Read more.
Who is behind the attacks from the left on Charlie Crist?: A shadowy group calling itself Progressive Choice is attacking Charlie Crist as “a conservative Republican” who is “no friend of progressive Democrats.”Mailers started showing up in Tampa Bay area homes (and in Tallahassee, we’re told) over the weekend, claiming Crist is pro-life, A+ rated by the NRA and that he signed a petition banning gay marriage.The attacks aren’t surprising, and most of the specific claims are rooted in truth (though they ignore Crist’s changes of positions/flip flops). The more intriguing question is: Who’s behind and paying for the mailers? Read more.
Gov. Scott signs bills aimed at ending ‘awful tragedies’: After a disturbing newspaper investigation and the murder of a Jacksonville girl, Florida legislative leaders vowed to get tough this year on sexually violent predators.And Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott moved quickly to sign a package of bills aimed at keeping sexually violent predators locked up so they can’t attack again.“Florida’s going to be scorched earth for these monsters,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who worked on the bills.Scott signed the package (SB 522, SB 524, SB 526 and SB 528) during a ceremony in the Capitol’s Cabinet meeting room that included sheriffs, prosecutors, lawmakers, sexual-assault victims and victims’ family members. Scott and other speakers said the bills will make Florida’s children safer. Read more.
Republicans maneuver and go on the attack in CD 19: With three weeks to go until the primary, Republican candidates running in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., are turning up the heat and expanding their outreach efforts. The team of Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, went after primary rival businessman Curt Clawson on Monday night, insisting he can’t be trusted. “A recent newspaper investigation by the Naples Daily News has revealed that the true business background of Curt Clawson is cause for concern,” the Benacquisto team insisted. “Under the leadership of Curt Clawson, Hayes Lemmerz, a Michigan-based wheel-making company was cited for several safety problems including one in which a worker was fatally injured during an explosion. Read more.
Craft brewers up in arms over beer bills: The fate of Florida’s craft brewing industry remains up in the air as a series of controversial bills progress through House and Senate committees this week.The push for 64-ounce growlers, or refillable beer containers, has been a priority among brewers across the state. Under current Florida law, brewers can sell beer in quart- and gallon-sized growlers, but not the half gallon.The proposed legislation would allow 64-ounce growlers, but would place regulations on how breweries currently operate, limiting their ability to sell beer directly to the public.The legislation aims to retain the three-tiered alcohol sales system, preventing a brewer from becoming a retailer and cutting out the middleman — the distributor. Read more.
Sarah Palin will host a “backyard barbecue” fundraiser for Lizbeth Benacquisto
Naysayers listen up: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker ticket ‘a winning formula’
by Barney Bishop
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