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Florida Independent

It was a working weekend for state lawmakers, and they'll likely be even busier this week.  The House and Senate are still trying to hammer together a single balanced budget before the legislative session ends Friday.

Among the issues still unresolved -- funding cuts to state universities and the creation of the state's 12th university, Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland.

Lawmakers must agree on the budget numbers by Tuesday evening to allow for a constitutionally-required three-day cooling off period before a final vote.  The session is scheduled to end this Friday

It looks like Senate budget chairman JD Alexander of Lake Wales might win his battle for an independent Florida Polytechnic in Polk County.

Now, Martin Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times has a story that implies Alexander might be getting another big project for his home county: funding for a new expressway.

It's $35 million, and although faithful readers of the Polk County papers might have known it was in the budget,  this story came as a surprise to many folks.

Tampa City Council is to decide today on spending around $4 million to equip police with additional safety equipment aimed at controlling crowds at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

In an interview with WUSF, former Sen. George LeMieux is standing behind his decision to attack Rep. Connie Mack as the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics.

The Republican Senate primary campaign in Florida has heated up fast, after information about Connie Mack IV's legal troubles -- including fistfights and financial woes -- was published in the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

Now, LeMieux's campiagn is using that information in "Two and a Half Macks" -- an animated ad on the internet.

NPR has a great story about politicians getting in trouble with musicians for using their music without permission. Anyone remember President Reagan using Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."?

Turns out, whether politicians can use the music depends on when and where they play it. Big convention center with a blanket policy, you're probably OK. Moose Lodge in Sheboygan, probably not.

And then, there was Gov. Charlie Crist, whose campaign used David Byrne's "Road to Nowhere" on a commercial attacking now-Senator Marco Rubio.

That didn't end well:

We've known for a while that the Florida House was willing to spend money to save Hillsborough Correctional Institution (HCI). And now, the Senate has put up money for HCI as well.

Still unanswered is whether Gov. Rick Scott will keep the popular women's prison open.

Have you ever wondered how a seemingly popular bill dies anyway? That's what WLRN's Rick Stone explores in this story about a group of domestic violence victims and their quest in Tallahassee.

It's February 7, 2012 -- the midpoint of the legislative session -- and the Sisterhood of Survivors has come to the Florida capital for the first committee hearing on their bill.

It would allow domestic abuse victims who are being stalked at work to quit their jobs and still qualify for unemployment compensation.

Bay News 9

A federal grand jury in Tampa is investigating Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan, according to a story today in the New York Times.

The Times cites several unnamed sources in revealing the grand jury inquiry.

It’s part of an FBI  and IRS investigation into whether Buchanan took part in a scheme to reimburse people who contributed to his campaign.

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