State workers will have an additional holiday from work on Dec. 26th, Gov. Rick Scott announced in a letter to the Florida Department of Management Services Secretary on Friday, directing Craig Nichols to close all state buildings on that day, in addition to Dec. 25th.
The extra day off is "in recognition of the hard work of our state employees," Scott wrote in the letter....
While three secretaries of a major state agency have recently resigned, Gov. Rick Scott has announced the reappointment or promotion of three other administrators this week.
Elizabeth Dudek will continue to serve as the Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. Barbara Palmer has been reappointed as director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. And Mike Carroll has been appointed the permanent secretary of the Department of Children and Families after serving as the interim head for nearly eight months....
Florida is the ninth least charitable state, according to the personal finance site, WalletHub, which analyzed 2014's most and least charitable states.
WalletHub ranks the 10 most charitable states as Utah, South Dakota, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Maryland. The 10 states ranked at the bottom are New York, California, Florida, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Louisiana, Arizona, New Jersey, Kentucky, West Virginia and Nevada....
Violators of the statewide Do No Call List, problems at the gas pump and motor vehicle repair problems were the top three complaints received in November at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The majority of the 2,965 complaints received concerned the pesky calls consumers want to avoid.
The agriculture department added 12,396 telephone numbers to Florida's Do Not Call list in November -- bringing the number of consumers on the list to 737,000, compared to the 71,460 phone numbers on the statewide list in 2012....
Smart move: Ryan Smart started a new job on Monday as president of 1000 Friends of Florida, the state's advocacy organization for livable communities, working in the group's Tallahassee office.
Smart "will jump start our reinvigorated focus on managing our state's water resources, including our springs, and strengthening the resiliency of coastal infrastructure," 1000 Friends Chairman Tim Jackson said in a statement....
State Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, has been selected as the Democratic Floor Leader by House Democratic leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, and Democratic Leader pro tempore, Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville. Richardson will be the first openly gay representative in Florida history to serve in a leadership position in the Florida legislature, according to House Democrats. ...
An administrative law judge on Friday ordered the Florida Department of Health to start over and map out a new plan for growing, processing and selling a form of medical marijuana, known as Charlotte's Web.
Judge W. David Watkins of the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, rejected the idea of a controversial lottery to pick the nurseries that would grow the plants, a decision that could impact when the marijuana oil will be available to patients....
The closing of Dania Casino & Jai-Alai's gaming operation is expected to cost the state an estimated $3 million in tax revenue, a state committee reported on Thursday.
The Revenue Estimating Conference looked at money received from slot machines and Indian gaming in one of its three meetings of the year -- the last meeting was in July.
Gaming revenues grow about 1.5 percent per year, said Amy Baker, coordinator of the state Office of Economic & Demographic Research. The forecast is slightly lower for the upcoming year because of the loss of the Dania Beach gambling. The state revenue from slot machines is an estimated $181.7 million though figures were adjusted slightly at Thursday's meeting and the final numbers aren't yet available.
While jai-alai games are continuing at the longtime Dania Beach facility until Dec. 30th, the slots have already been shut down. The casino has announced that it would close for at least a year for a $50 million renovation. The Miami Herald reported in August the facility had the worst revenue performance in the South Florida gaming market....
Report: Florida's business tax climate 5th best in the country but TaxWatch says there's a need for reforms11/12/14 Blog
A new national report ranks Florida's business tax climate as fifth best in the nation, but it doesn't reflect the whole picture of the state's tax system, according to Florida TaxWatch.
"In a couple areas, it overstates the quality of Florida's tax structure," Kurt Wenner, vice president of Tax Research for Florida TaxWatch, said.
Florida's ranking was published in the 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index, an annual report that analyzes how tax structures compare across states....
Retired analyst for Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee back on the job
Carol Preston, who retired as chief legislative analyst for the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs the end of last year, has returned to the post.
Preston served for five years in the Senate and 14 years in the House before her retirement. At a December Senate meeting, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, paid tribute to Preston's work, saying the analyst "personally wrote most of the laws that we're dealing with and fixed the ones that needed fixing."...
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamone Springs, has been named by Senate President-Designate Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, as the new chair of the Senate Committee on Rules.
"David is a loyal advisor, a trusted confidante and good friend," Gardiner said in a press release. "With over three decades of experience practicing law and ten years of service in the state legislature, he is well-qualified to assume this critical leadership position. Throughout his years of public service, David has exhibited sound judgment and a fair-minded, reasonable and thoughtful approach to decision making that, I am confident, will be a great benefit to the Senate over the next two years."...
Looking ahead to the 2015 legislative session, Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce has hired a team of bipartisan political operatives to push for a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
President Obama's top 2012 Florida strategist, Ashley Walker, will be campaign manager of the coalition. She'll be joined by longtime Republican lobbyist Towson Fraser, who was communications director for former House Speaker Allan Bense; Ann Herberger, a Miami-based Republican fundraiser and an advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush; and Christina Johnson, a Tallahassee public relations executive who worked with the Republican Party of Florida and the Republican National Committee....
Voting is going "very smoothly" this morning, with all polls opening on time in the state's 6,222 precincts, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said at an elections briefing in Tallahassee.
While millions are expected to vote today, the number of early votes cast could be a record, he said. As of last night, 1.7 million Floridians voted by absentee ballot and 1.3 million voted in-person at the polls. By party, 655,020 Democrats and 791,324 Republicans voted by absentee ballot and 555,473 Democrats and 518,476 Republicans voted early in-person at the polls....
With less than a week until the election, supporters and opponents of Amendment 2, which would allow marijuana for medical use, are still waging a fierce battle to sway voters.
Amendment 2 advocates, United for Care, is blasting the latest salvo from the Drug Free Florida Committee. The political action committee on Wednesday launched a web ad featuring Polk County Sheriff Gray Judd....
The Sentencing Project has released a report showing that Florida has the highest felony disenfranchisement rate in the country, another issue dividing Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.
In 2011, Scott and the Cabinet imposed strict new barriers on felons who want to regain the right to vote, tossing out a streamlined policy adopted in 2007 by Crist and a different Cabinet. The discarded policy allowed tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders to regain their civil rights without a time-consuming application and hearing process. Murders and sex offenders were not eligible for faster review under the system approved by Crist and the Cabinet in 2007....