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Tallahassee Roundup: Week 6

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BRADENTON – With just a few weeks to go, lawmakers are getting more and more bills to the floor. This week, Governor Scott signed a ban on Internet/Sweepstakes cafés casinos into law, a ban on texting while driving that had been given little chance of passing found new life, and the Senate showed signs of resistance to construction of a new nuclear plant. Meanwhile, Governor Scott indicated he was not open to higher campaign contribution limits.

The ban on the so-called “loophole casinos,” effectively closed a loophole that allowed gaming operations to use a law meant to cover sweepstakes style promotions in which businesses gave away a car or a TV, etc. to promote the sale of their product – ie. car dealerships. The law effectively closes that loophole and provides criminal punishment for violators.

The ban, which failed to get traction in previous years and was not expected to get very far this session, received a breath of life in the Senate and will be debated by the house next week. The measure is soft and riddled with exemptions, but considering how strong the opposition has been, any progress is promising. The measure is being driven by two local legislators, Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice) and Rep. Doug Holder (R-Siesta Key).

Lawmakers have been working to increase individual campaign contributions from $500 to $5,000, promising that they would close loopholes that are currently easily skirted, making the whole process more transparent. It's sort of a look they're giving this much anyway, let's stop making them jump through hoops to do it move.

Campaign finance reformers argue that accommodating those who game the system is not the right way to go and that the focus should be on getting rid of the mechanisms for special interests to get around rules that were designed to prevent wealthy interests from having too much influence. Governor Scott weighed in this week, signalling that he'd be unlikely to sign a bill that raised the limit.

The Florida Senate passed a bill this week calling for a "comprehensive review" as to whether a proposed Levy County nuclear plant is cost effective or even necessary. If passed into law, the PSC will have to perform a study for a nuclear plant that Duke Energy and its subsidiary Progress Energy Florida want to build on 5,000 acres of land north of Tampa., which was supposed to come online in 2016, but has been delayed for at least 8 years at 5 times the cost.


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