Florida Five: Latvala enters beer growler fray, County expects police body cameras in 2015

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

Florida growlers
Photo credit: WUFT.org

Jack Latvala orders another round in beer growler battle – It was one of the most spirited battles in the Legislature last year, pitting scrappy independent craft brewers against wealthy beer distributors intent on preserving their dwindling customer base. On Tuesday, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, renewed the fight, filing a bill that would give microbreweries what they have long craved: half-gallon “growler” containers. Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, plans to file an identical companion bill in the Florida House. Read more

Upheaval at FDLE: Bailey forced out, Swearingen interim leader – One week after addressing the governor and Cabinet, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday abruptly replaced Commissioner Gerald Bailey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with Rick Swearingen, director of the Capitol police. No explanation was given for Bailey’s departure and the news came as a shock to others in the law enforcement community. Bailey is a respected professional with a 35-year career in law enforcement who has been FDLE commissioner since 2006 when Jeb Bush was governor. A terse announcement from the governor’s office cited Swearingen’s interim appointment and thanked Bailey for his service to the state. Scott’s chief of staff, Melissa Sellers, declined to elaborate beyond the news release. Read more

What will Marco Rubio do? Jeb Bush’s 2016 announcement puts pressure on Rubio – Jeb Bush has complicated Marco Rubio’s political future. Or maybe not. It all depends on whom you ask. With former Florida Gov. Bush announcing Tuesday that he’s formally exploring a 2016 Republican presidential run, pressure is building on U.S. Sen. Rubio to decide whether he’ll campaign for the White House. Rubio, 43, once appeared a shoo-in contender for the presidency. But that was before the prospect of having to compete against the 61-year-old Bush, Rubio’s longtime mentor. “I’m trying to figure it out,” Rubio said last week when asked about his intentions. He made sure to say he considers Bush a “friend.” Read more

Florida legislators vow to get payment to abused child – Several influential South Florida legislators said Monday they will not let a legal technicality stand in the way of getting payments to the victim of one of the most horrific child abuse cases in state history. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she “won’t rest” until Victor Barahona and his new parents get the $3.75 million they are owed after he was found near death alongside his twin sister’s decomposing body after years of abuse warnings to the state went unheeded. The payment is part of a $5 million settlement agreed to by the Department of Children and Families in 2013, but Flores, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, face an uphill battle getting the money to the family. Read more

Demings: Orange deputies will be wearing body cameras in 2015 – Orange Sheriff Jerry Demings expects his deputies will be wearing body cameras in large numbers by spring. Demings appeared before the Orange County Commission to make a routine budget request on Tuesday, but Mayor Teresa Jacobs brought up the body-camera issue. The August shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., put national attention on the topic. Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, was not wearing a body camera. Witness accounts differed and Wilson was not indicted, sparking protests across the country. The point was reinforced locally when an Orange deputy shot an unarmed suspect earlier this month, leaving him in critical condition. Sgt. Robert McCarthy, a nine-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, has said he fired because he feared for his life. Read more

Bonus: Jeb watch 2016: Here’s what others are saying about the latest ‘announcement’

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