Florida Five: Rep. Patrick Murphy announces US Senate run, Gov. Scott rejects gas tax increase

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

Rep. Patrick Murphy
Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democrat Patrick Murphy announces run for U.S. Senate – South Florida Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy has declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Florida in 2016. “It just boils down to where I think being in the U.S. Senate, we can really have a great impact,” Murphy told SaintPetersBlog late Sunday afternoon by phone, giving his first interview after declaring that he is a candidate for office. Murphy becomes the first official entrant from either party to announce his intentions for the seat currently occupied by Marco Rubio. Read more

Gov. Rick Scott and DOT reject talk of gas tax increase despite transportation deficit – Florida’s transportation system operates at a deficit with coffers so barren it will borrow to pay for almost all of its $9.1 billion in road and bridge obligations over the next year. Making matters worse is that Florida could lose about $2 billion next year if a key federal transportation funding program isn’t extended this year. Even if it is renewed, the program’s long term prospects look bleak. One possible remedy? Hiking the federal gas tax for the first time in 22 years to send additional money to the states, a long-dormant idea that has shown faint signs of life as gas prices have dropped to record lows. Read more

In Florida’s “beer war,” the growler appears to be winning – After a two-year political and public relations battle, Florida’s craft beer fans may soon be able to leave their local brewery with the preferred half-gallon refillable jug of the microbrew they love and retire their “Free the growler” T-shirts. The Florida Legislature appears poised to pass a bill that would legalize 64-ounce refillable beer jugs or “growlers,” which are legal in every other state. Florida already allows quart and gallon growlers, but the popular half-gallon became a pawn in a battle over the complex laws regulating brewing and sale of beer. Read more

Florida is focus of 2016 Bush plan—The political apparatus surrounding former Gov. Jeb Bush, determined to avoid embarrassment in a state that has vexed his party and family in national elections, is plotting a vast operation aimed at turning Florida into a bulwark for his presidential campaign, according to dozens of interviews. The confidential plan, code-named ‘Homeland Security’, seeks to try to neutralise two potentially grave but homegrown threats to Bush’s long-anticipated run for president: the likely challenge from a charismatic young Republican senator from Miami, Marco Rubio, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination himself, and a demographic drift within Florida that could doom Bush there in a fall campaign against a Democrat. Read more

Florida NRA leader launches campaign against campus police for opposing campus gun carry bill – Florida NRA leader Marion Hammer is accusing campus police chiefs from Florida’s public universities of using tax dollars to lobby because they spoke in Tallahassee against a bill allowing guns on campuses. Police chiefs from several Florida campuses appeared in legislative committee meetings in Tallahassee in uniform this week and opposed the bill during public comment periods. In a memo, Hammer asked NRA members to send emails to state officials objecting to what she called tax-funded lobbying. Read more

BONUS: New Yorkers find fountain of youth with stickball league in South Florida

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