Florida Five: Al Sharpton coming to Sarasota, Nationals’ spring training hits political roadblock

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

alsharptonAl Sharpton coming to Sarasota – One of the nation’s most well known, and controversial, civil rights activists the Rev. Al Sharpton Jr. is coming to Sarasota. Sharpton, also a television and radio personality, is scheduled to give a keynote address to the Howard Club of Southwest Florida’s 10th annual scholarship luncheon on March 28. “We’ve had some successful luncheons in the past, but we wanted to step out this year and get a real A-lister,” said Clarence Rogers, president of the Howard Club, which works to raise money to help high school students in southwest Florida attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. Read more

Nationals’ spring training hopes in Palm Beach County have another hurdle – The Nationals’ search for a future spring training home has been filled with more roadblocks than victories. But the Nationals’ recent progress in Palm Beach County has brought more optimism than ever. Earlier this month, the Nationals secured another incremental triumph, as the mayor of West Palm Beach, home to the most viable site in Palm Beach County, declared the city was open to negotiating with the county about a needed land swap. The sense of optimism was tempered some this week when, according to a South Florida Sun-Sentinel report, the proposed spring training site will require state approval to mitigate water pollution concerns. Read more

Florida Gov. Scott Proposes Nearly $77 Billion Budget – Flush with a significant budget surplus, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday called on legislators to slash taxes, boost spending on schools, while also spending more on the state’s troubled prisons system. Many of the key recommendations in Scott’s nearly $77 billion proposal had been released over the last few weeks – and reflected much of what the Republican promised during his hard-fought bitter re-election campaign. Scott, however, put a point of emphasis on his call for another substantial round of tax cuts, which would total nearly $700 million when fully put into place. They include a cut in taxes charged on cellphones and cable television bills as well as exempting college textbooks from state and local sales taxes. Read more

Rick Scott hears superintendents’ testing concerns – Gov. Rick Scott did more than just unveil his budget recommendations on Wednesday. He met with nine superintendents and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. The meeting gave the superintendents a chance to express their concerns about the state’s new tests. The issues aren’t new: The superintendents want to see a temporary freeze on school grades, elimination of end-of-course exams for each subject and grade, and a change in how the state ties teacher evaluations to test scores. Superintendents also expressed ongoing concerns about having the technology and training for computer-based testing. Read more

Florida legislative leaders outline joint priorities for 2015 – Following a tradition established by their predecessors, Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli on Wednesday outlined their list of joint priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, was quick to note that he and Gardiner, R-Orlando, are “good friends” who represent the same region. “We’re going to be working very closely on the issues that are not only important to those around the state, but to those [who] elected us,” he said. There were no real surprises on their joint agenda. Read more

More Florida drama: Treasure hunter arrested in Florida after 2 years on run

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