Florida Five: Sarah Palin campaigns for fellow ‘mama grizzly,’ Senate passes ‘warning shot’ bill

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

Will Weatherford says state pension deal is possible: As the Florida Legislature concluded the 30th day out of its 60-day annual session today, House Speaker Will Weatherford said he is pleased with the progress that lawmakers are making. The House and Senate are poised to approve their versions of a $75 billion state budget by the end of the week… Weatherford said he is optimistic that lawmakers can reach an agreement on a plan to revamp the state pension fund for public workers, including school employees and county workers. Read more

palin-swfSarah Palin campaigns for fellow ‘mama grizzly’ Benacquisto: Calling her a “mama grizzly” who will protect Southwest Florida, Republican political power Sarah Palin backed congressional candidate Lizbeth Benacquisto on Thursday, breezing through Southwest Florida for a private fundraiser. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, 2008 vice presidential nominee and Republican firebrand, served up barbecue and a side of support for Benacquisto, one of four GOP candidates running in the April 22 special election for a vacated U.S. House of Representatives seat. Read more

Latvala predicts immigrant tuition bill will be heard on the Senate floor: A controversial bill that would allow some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities will be heard in the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee next week, Subcommittee Chairman Bill Galvano said Thursday. The news came as a relief to Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican sponsoring the proposal. “I have been certain all along that I had enough votes on the floor of the Senate to pass the bill, but I haven’t been real sure whether I was going to get each of the committee chairman that I needed to hear the bill to do that,” Latvala said. Read more

Senate Passes ‘Warning Shot’ Bill: A “warning shot” bill to grant immunity to Florida gun owners who point their defensive handgun at an attacker was approved Thursday by the Florida Senate, 32-7. After a year of headlines involving widespread media coverage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, guns have been a hot topic during the  2014 legislative session. SB 448, proposed by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, was inspired by the case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun near her estranged husband during an altercation. Read More

State officials announce more arrests in continuing crackdown on Internet cafés: The Illegal Gaming Task Force served search warrants today in five Florida counties targeting internet cafés owned by Ivan Vega and Peter Miller. Along with today’s operation, Vega was also arrested on a warrant from an earlier investigation conducted by State Attorney Willie Meggs of the 2nd Judicial Circuit. Vega was charged with keeping a gambling house, manufacture, sale, possession of coin operated devices, lottery, and plays at games of chance. Read more

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