Florida Five: Court orders secret evidence released, Committee to probe gaming

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

Florida court orders release of secret evidence – The Florida Supreme Court, in a blunt and highly critical ruling, on Thursday ordered the release of hundreds of pages of emails and documents that could expose the role that Republican consultants played in drawing new congressional districts. The Gainesville-based team of consultants, whose legal bills were paid by the Republican Party of Florida, have tried to keep the documents secret during an ongoing legal challenge to the state’s congressional map. State legislators were forced to alter that map after a judge ruled this summer two congressional districts were improperly drawn to aid the GOP. The state’s high court ruled that Pat Bainter and his firm Data Targeting had engaged in “gamesmanship” and had waited until the last moment to assert that releasing the documents would violate their First Amendment rights. Read more

gamblingState committee examines Florida’s share of the gaming industry – The closing of Dania Casino & Jai-Alai’s gaming operation is expected to cost the state an estimated $3 million in tax revenue, a state committee reported on Thursday. The Revenue Estimating Conference looked at money received from slot machines and Indian gaming in one of its three meetings of the year — the last gaming forecast meeting was in July. Gaming revenues grow about 1.5 percent per year, said Amy Baker, coordinator of the state Office of Economic & Demographic Research. The forecast is slightly lower for the upcoming year because of the loss of the Dania Beach gambling. The state revenue from slot machines is an estimated $181.7 million though figures were adjusted slightly at Thursday’s meeting and the final numbers aren’t yet available. While jai-alai games are continuing at the longtime Dania Beach facility until Dec. 30th, the slots have already been shut down. The casino has announced that it would close for at least a year for a $50 million renovation. Read more

Taylor’s critique of Pafford doesn’t add up, Democratic leaders say – Rep. Dwayne Taylor of Daytona Beach continued his campaign this week to unseat Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm as Florida House minority leader by writing a letter to members that said the Democratic party had failed to raise adequate money in 2014. That shortfall in money led to Democrats losing six seats in the House, relegating them to a 39-81 disadvantage with Republicans in the lower chamber, Taylor said. “Any criticism of the epic calamity of the current leadership’s strategy is met with poor excuses and accusations of ‘Monday morning quarterbacking,’” Taylor wrote. “To that I say, when a football team loses, an effective coach never proclaims that his team lost because his opponent had more money or higher paid players. Read more

Florida insurance commissioner rejects 3.3% comp rate cut for 5.2% decrease – The Florida insurance commissioner on Wednesday rejected a 3.3% overall decrease in state workers compensation rates and ordered the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. to re-file an overall rate cut of 5.2%. Boca Raton, Florida-based NCCI’s filing contained an “excessive and unsupported” increase in the underwriting profit and contingency provision, and has been disapproved by Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said in a statement. According to the statement, the re-filing should include a negative 2% annual trend for indemnity costs and a positive 0.5% annual trend for medical costs. NCCI proposed the 3.3% decrease in workers comp rates for 2015 in September after proposing a 2.5% rate cut in August. Read more

Coin toss may decide Florida election – Long lines, late results and a reputation for narrow margins of victory — there’s no place like Florida during election season. With the high-profile governor’s race safely in the books, it seems as though the state escaped major election controversies. That would be true, unless you live in Mount Dora, where a local election could soon be decided by a coin toss. Yes, a coin toss. According to election results, as of 1 p.m. Monday, a race for a city council seat was tied. Read more

Bonus for football fans: Florida State at No. 3 in latest College Football Playoff rankings smells of the political rather than rational

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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