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Published Aug. 25, 2007

Tom Gallagher seems a man with few concerns. The former chief financial officer and Republican gubernatorial candidate has been seen all over Tallahassee in recent days, sporting a wide smile and a new beard. He appears happy, even if underemployed. Thursday morning Gallagher was at the corner of Monroe and College, wearing a blue polo, khakis, white tennis shoes and a Bluetooth earpiece. He opened the door to a brand-new silver Mercedes CLK 320 Cabriolet, dropped paperwork onto the seat, then popped a coin in the meter and walked off into the sunshine. "I'm enjoying life," Gallagher said. "I'm just enjoying life."

Legislators aim for featherweight title

Pork in government isn't a good thing. Neither are ham sandwiches and pork chops, says the chairman of the House's health care council. Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has challenged the chamber to see which member can lose the most weight by the end of the session. Weigh-ins will be held this week and during the final week in early May. Whoever loses the biggest percentage of body weight will be rewarded. The House is challenging the Senate to lighten the load as well. "We need to set an example for all Floridians," Bean said.

Panel decides that being last is best

A Senate committee talked about scheduling Florida's 2008 presidential primary Feb. 19, but decided to see what other states do first. The goal is to make Florida's primary relevant in the overall race, said Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, who chairs the Ethics and Elections Committee. Only Minnesota and Wisconsin currently have primaries scheduled on Feb. 19. But Florida's primary wouldn't be anywhere near the first in the nation by then - more like 34th, said Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, who sponsored the Senate proposal (SB 1010). Florida's presidential primary is now in early March, making it largely irrelevant in the selection process. A House bill (HB 537) would move the primary to either a week after New Hampshire's contest, currently slated for Jan. 22, or to Feb. 5, whichever comes first. However, many states are considering Feb. 5 for their primary elections.

More criminals may submit DNA

Anyone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor sex crime would have to submit DNA to the state under a bill passed unanimously by the House and sent to the Senate. The state keeps a DNA database for comparing with samples from crime scenes. Current law requires DNA samples from several types of criminals, including those convicted of murder, felony sex crimes, aggravated child abuse, burglary and robbery and various violent felonies. The measure (HB 697) expands that list to include any felony offense, certain misdemeanor sex crimes and crimes related to gang activity.


The property tax debate continues this morning in the House, with a workshop of proposed legislation in the Policy and Budget Council.