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Education, gambling bills take center stage in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — Slots and tots will be on the minds of lawmakers Thursday as both chambers handle bills that will shape the future of the education system and gambling in the state.

The House is expected to vote on a number of education bills that have proven controversial. One ties teacher pay to student performance. Another would ask voters to scale back the constitutional class size amendment.

In addition, the House's select gaming committee will review the billion-dollar gambling deal negotiated between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe. A Senate bill sponsored by Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, clarifies that the agreements in 2007 and 2009 between Crist and the tribe are null and void.

The agreement gives the tribe the exclusive right to house popular card games like blackjack and baccarat at five of its seven casinos. It also gives the tribe exclusive operation of Class III, Las Vegas-style slot machines at its four casinos outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The tribe in return will give the state $1 billion over five years, as well as 10 percent of its revenue for the 15 years that follow.

The chambers want to move quickly on ratifying the agreement, which was finalized on Friday, as the new influx of cash could help plug the $3.2 billion deficit the state is facing.

Another bill blazing through committees bans the sale of bongs and other drug paraphernalia in stores that do not have a license to sell tobacco. If approved in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the bong bill would go to the Senate floor.

Education, gambling bills take center stage in Tallahassee 04/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 11:23am]
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