Florida Five: Gov. Scott orders less testing in schools, Lobbyist’s daughter eyes state Senate seat

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

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Gov. Scott orders less testing in state’s public schools – Florida Gov. Rick Scott is suspending a test given to the state’s 11th graders. Scott said Wednesday he will issue an executive order that will suspend one of the standardized tests given to students. Scott said he is making the move in anticipation of the Florida Legislature permanently eliminating the test. Scott is issuing the order after Education Commissioner Pam Stewart completed an investigation into the number of tests given by school districts. Stewart is calling for a reduction in the number of tests. Read more

As Lauren Book hints at run, some question if her charity could become political tool – As she climbed the hill leading to Florida’s State Capitol last spring, Lauren Book broke from a walk into a run. The 29-year-old blonde with a pink ribbon wrapped around her ponytail raised both arms in the air and flashed a huge smile as she crossed the finish line. Her father, Ron Book, perhaps the most influential lobbyist in Florida, trotted beside her in running shorts.  Lauren had walked 1,500 miles, having started in Key West 42 days earlier on a mission to bring attention to childhood sexual abuse. Read more

Bread, milk, eggs – vodka? Liquor in grocery stores bill gets panel’s OK – Florida shoppers could soon pick up a bottle of vodka or other hard liquors at the grocery store after tossing staples such as milk and eggs into their cart. A Florida House panel Wednesday approved a measure allowing grocery stores and large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target to sell liquor in their stores. It’s part of a larger bill allowing craft beer breweries to sell their wares more freely. Under current law, stores with a majority of sales coming from spirits must be separate from stores selling other general goods. Read more

Tobacco industry re-ignites litigation fight with Florida’s trial lawyers – The powerful cigarette industry re-ignited Florida’s tobacco wars Wednesday with a one-sentence bill that would strip away the right of thousands of Florida victims from collecting millions in damages. The proposal by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, would retroactively apply a 1999 cap on punitive damages to “all civil actions in which judgment has not been entered.” It is aimed at snubbing 4,500 smokers and their families who have sued cigarette makers but are still awaiting trial over claims that the industry deceived them about the dangerous and addictive properties of cigarettes. Read more

Court upholds Florida law banning open carry of guns – An appeals court has upheld a Florida law banning people from openly carrying firearms purely for self-defense purposes. A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal issued the ruling Wednesday in the case of Dale Norman. Norman challenged the law on constitutional grounds after his 2012 arrest in Fort Pierce on a misdemeanor charge for openly carrying a handgun in a holster. The judges found that the Florida Legislature can enact restrictions on how guns may be carried outside the home without violating the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Read more

2016 Watch: NRCC going after Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy in Florida

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