Florida Five: Rick Scott’s next political move, Affordable housing funds spared

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

Rick Scott wins
Photo credit: Scott McIntyre/Staff NaplesNews.com

Gov. Rick Scott eyeing run for U.S. Senate — in 2018 – You might have seen Gov. Rick Scott recently talking to you in a TV ad — “We are expanding our industries, investing in our ports, making a record commitment to you, devoting more resources to education” — and wondered if he’s running for office again. That’s the plan, but not right away. Scott, 62, has told several top Republican fundraisers that he’s interested in running for U.S. Senate. It would be in 2018, when Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson’s third term ends, rather than in 2016, when a potentially open U.S. Senate seat is enticing plenty of politicians and Scott will still be in the middle of his second term. Read more

Senate backs down on cuts to housing funds – Affordable housing programs won’t take a hit to boost funding for the environment, under a change Wednesday to the Senate’s approach to meeting the demands of a new land-and-water constitutional amendment. The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously removed a controversial reduction in money for housing programs that had been included in a series of bills (SB 576, SB 578, SB 580, SB 582, SB 584, and SB 586) revamping trust funds to handle the voter-approved initiative known as Amendment 1. Read more

Seminole Tribe makes its case for extending the table-games provision with the state of Florida – Representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida visited the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board this week to make their case on an extension of the five-year table-game provision of the tribe’s compact with the state. The arrangement has given the state of Florida $1 billion in the past five years in exchange for allowing the tribe to offer house-banked card games like black jack and baacarat, a competitive advantage over the pari-mutuels that by law can only offer poker and slots. Read more

Florida House passes bill to limit public school testing – The number of standardized tests given to public school students would be reduced under a bill passed by the Florida House. The House passed the bill 115-0 on Wednesday. A similar measure is moving in the Senate. Some Democrats complained the bill doesn’t make enough changes, but they still voted for the legislation. There have been problems with the rollout of the new test being given to students this year. The House bill eliminates the test given to 11th graders. Gov. Rick Scott suspended the test this year. The legislation also prohibits final exams in classes where students take an end of course test. Read more

Senate panel neuters grocery store booze bill – Senators on Wednesday watered down a bill that would’ve allowed whiskey to be sold in the same space as Wheat Thins. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee approved new language for a bill (SB 468), which now allows for big-box retailers like Publix and Wal-Mart to put a door between their main store and an attached liquor store. Under current law, a separate entrance is required to sell hard alcohol. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, was intended to balance convenience for customers with a desire to keep hard liquor out of grocery aisles, a cause supported by many lawmakers, including Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, who wrote the amendment. Read more

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