Gov. Rick Scott removes Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office

Gov. Rick Scott removes Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office

By David Smiley (Tampa Bay Times) – Gov. Rick Scott suspended Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes from office Friday, citing malfeasance and incompetence on the heels of a tumultuous recount during which the governor also accused the embattled supervisor of elections fraud. Scott signed an executive order late Friday afternoon removing Snipes from office. To back his decision, he listed a litany of well-publicized problems, including the misplacement of thousands of ballots during the recount, a missed state deadline to file results and the inadvertent mixing of invalid ballots with valid ones. Read...
Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate runoff

Hyde-Smith wins Mississippi Senate runoff

By James Arkin (Politico) – JACKSON, Miss. — Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has won Mississippi’s Senate runoff, defeating Democrat Mike Espy after drawing intense scrutiny for comments during the four-week runoff campaign. Hyde-Smith had 54 percent of the vote to Espy’s 46 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting after the Associated Press called the race. The result means Republicans will hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate next year, and it makes Hyde-Smith the first woman elected to represent Mississippi in the Senate. She will have to run for reelection to a full term in 2020, after being appointed to fill Thad Cochran’s seat earlier this year. Read...
Cotton wields sex offender report to tank prisons bill

Cotton wields sex offender report to tank prisons bill

By Burgess Everett (Politico) – GOP Sen. Tom Cotton is locked in an awkward fight with fellow Republicans over their push to change federal prison sentencing guidelines. And now he has a new attack line intended to make his rivals squirm: warnings that sex offenders could get off easy. A new Justice Department analysis — conducted at Cotton’s request — found that the Senate’s bipartisan sentencing and prison reform bill could make people convicted of some sex crimes eligible for early release. And though President Donald Trump supports the bill, Cotton says the DOJ confirmation underpins his argument that convicts of certain sex-related crimes could accrue credits making them eligible for supervised release or “pre-release” to a halfway house.  Read...
Florida Democrats eye climate change, gun legislation, infrastructure bill with new House majority

Florida Democrats eye climate change, gun legislation, infrastructure bill with new House majority

By Steve Contorno (Tampa Bay Times) – Florida Democrats in Washington could only watch when the Republican Congress decided against new gun legislation after a shooter killed 17 students and staff at a Parkland high school last year. Nor could they force action to combat rising sea levels off Florida’s coastlines. That will change come January. After gaining 38 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including two in Florida, Democrats will control the lower chamber for the first time since 2011. Read...
Deal signs off on bills from special session

Deal signs off on bills from special session

Georgia lawmakers met in special session last week, and walked away Saturday morning with a hurricane relief package, a tax credit for certain taxpayers within Southwest Georgia’s timber industry who incurred significant expenses due to Hurricane Michael and suspension of the collection of the state’s 4 percent sales and use tax on jet fuel through the end of FY 2019. “The work of the General Assembly this week will help the families, businesses, farmers and communities that were most severely impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “By providing roughly $270 million to help our neighbors in Southwest Georgia, the appropriations in this amended budget will provide critical support for devastated communities, including those most heavily dependent on agriculture and the timber industry. I appreciate the General Assembly working together diligently and quickly to see that this relief funding will be delivered to those in need as rapidly as possible, as the rebuilding process is just beginning for some of Georgia’s citizens. I thank the leadership of both chambers and legislators from all over the state for coming together this week to support those most heavily impacted by this natural disaster.” On Saturday morning, at the close of the special session, Gov. Deal signed legislation (HB 1EX) which amends the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Act to provide roughly $270 million in emergency funding for state agencies and local governments in areas most heavily impacted by Hurricane Michael. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 162-1 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0. The Governor also signed HB 4EX, which allows timberland owners...
Nelson concedes to put end to bitter Florida Senate race

Nelson concedes to put end to bitter Florida Senate race

By Matt Dixon (Politico) – TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will be the next senator from Florida after two rounds of recounts finalized his razor-thin victory over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, who called the governor to concede Sunday. Nelson’s political career now comes to a likely end after four decades in various elected posts. Scott’s lead after the Nov. 6 general election was just over 12,000 votes, a number that shrank to roughly 10,000 after a machine and hand recount. Always trailing by a thin margin, the Nelson campaign had filed a stream of lawsuits that it predicted would produce thousands of additional votes for the three-term senator. Read...