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Lawmakers Prepare For Familiar Health Battles

Health care has been a hot-button policy issue for years in the Florida Legislature, and it’s starting to look like the session scheduled to start on Jan. 12 will be no different.
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Credit Marty Sohl / Metropolitain Opera via Associated Press

I'm in the third row, watching the New York Metropolitan Opera perform Giuseppe Verdi's  Il Travatore. It's a pretty good view. I could see the anguish in a character's face as she sings an aria about an angry mob burning a woman alive. That event ignites the classic opera's flames of revenge -- flames that can only be doused with blood. 

But I wasn't watching the performance at New York's Lincoln Center. I was a little over 1,000 miles away, in an auditorium at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. 

Five Questions for Bob Buckhorn on Governor's Race

8 hours ago

Will he or won't he? In his downtown office plastered with pictures drawn by his two daughters, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will only say that he's considering a bid for governor in 2018. But Buckhorn is less reticent on other topics, including the state's gun laws, his beloved city on the river and what fellow Democrats need to do to get back in the game.

The nail in the coffin of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's hopes of being the next speaker was opposition from the House Freedom Caucus. The rogue conservative group of about 30 members instead wants it to be Florida Rep. Daniel Webster.

But Webster might not even be coming back to the House in 2017, thanks to a redrawing of his congressional district that might make it unwinnable for the GOP.

Visit Tampa Bay photo

Tampa Bay is experiencing a tourism boom, with a 13 percent increase in outside visitors. New figures show the industry brought in $329 million in taxes during the last year alone.  With $30 million being brought in from outside profits during the last fiscal year, the city is reaping the benefits of its many facelift projects.

No one knows who will lead House Republicans next, but for now, chaos reigns among the House GOP. Rep. Kevin McCarthy shocked Washington on Thursday when he dropped out of the race for speaker of the House.

If you aren't watching Capitol Hill closely, you might not know what the big deal is, or why the GOP is having such a hard time picking a speaker. Here's a quick rundown of what's going on.

In a stunning turn of events, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has withdrawn from the race to become the next speaker of the House.

McCarthy was the favorite ahead of Thursday's closed-door vote by House Republicans. He was in a three-way race for the top spot in the House with Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Daniel Webster, R-Fla.

The state needs to spend another $50 million next year cleaning and preserving Florida’s polluted freshwater springs. That’s what a top regulator told a Senate panel Wednesday.

The Florida Senate will likely jettison the Confederate battle flag from the chamber's official seal.

The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday voted unanimously to revise the Senate seal that now contains the battle flag along with four others that have flown in Florida. The entire Senate will vote on the change during the annual session that starts in January.

The Confederate flag would be replaced with the Florida state flag.

In addition to polling attitudes about marijuana, the survey of 1,173 Florida voters found that some of the Republicans who want to succeed Sen. Marco Rubio would lose in a general election to either of their major Democratic rivals. On the marijuana issue, a group called Floridians For Freedom has begun gathering petitions asking voters to legalize the drug by state constitutional amendment. At the same time, a group called United for Care is trying for the second time to legalize medical marijuana via constitutional amendment.

Adrian Wyllie resigned as chairman of the state Libertarian Party to protest Invictus’ candidacy last week, detailing his decision in a Facebook post and alleging Invictus wants to lead a civil war in the country, recruit neo-Nazis to the party and supported a eugenics program. “Clearly, this man is the absolute antitheses of a Libertarian. Violent Fascist and Neo-Nazi ideologies are completely incompatible with Libertarian values,” Wyllie’s post states. According to the Associated Press, Invictus admitted to sacrificing a goat in the Mojave Desert as part of a pagan ritual two years ago.


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