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TALLAHASSEE — Lawmakers agreed to a budget outline on Friday that deals a body blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s top policy priorities, a move that will no doubt tempt the governor to wield a heavy veto pen. The spending plan agreed to by the House and Senate’s top budget-writers includes no money for a $250 million pot of economic incentive money that has been pushed for hard by the Scott administration and Enterprise Florida, the state’s private-public economic development arm that Scott chairs. The Senate included the $250 million in its proposed spending plan, but the House did not. Senate budget chief Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said that he agreed to lose the funding to help reach a middle ground with the House. “We both came off the floor in very different places, as we worked through those against the clock because it's clear if we were going to get out on time and get back home, something was going to have to give,” Lee said. Read more in POLITICO 
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The Republican establishment has finally fallen in love with Marco Rubio, but it may be too late. With Donald Trump trouncing the competition in Tuesday's night's Nevada caucuses and dramatically expanding his reach into voter groups thought to be leaning toward Rubio, lawmakers and party operatives are tripping over themselves to back the Florida senator's presidential bid. During the past 72 hours, Rubio has racked up more than 20 endorsements from high-profile Republican leaders such as Bob Dole, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Prominent megadonors like Joe Craft and political operatives including the Koch brothers' political guru Marc Short have also jumped on board. Read more in POLITICO 
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On Monday, Rick Scott said he wasn’t ready to endorse in Florida’s presidential primary election on March 15, but there are those who believe he might be leaning towards Donald Trump. That speculation was sparked last month, when Scott penned an op-ed in USA Today, a column in which he wrote very favorably about the New York City billionaire real estate developer. “I know Donald Trump personally, and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely. But I don’t think his ability to give the most interesting interviews or speeches is the only thing that has him leading in the polls. I think he is capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy.” The quiet speculation broke out into the open on Tuesday, when The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza listed Scott on a short-list of possible running mates that Trump might be contemplating as he continues to roll through the Republican primary and caucus calendar. Read more at FLORIDA POLITICS
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Jeb Bush, unable to muster enthusiasm for his presidential bid beyond the family network that helped him raise a record $160 million, is suspending his campaign following a disappointing finish in South Carolina. The decision follows a string of underwhelming primary finishes for the former Florida governor, including in New Hampshire where he invested heavily and bet on a massive ground organization but still finished behind Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Read more POLITICO
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Rep. Alan Grayson is “unethical.” Rep. Patrick Murphy is a “lickspittle pillock.” With each incongruously mentioning Valentine's Day, the two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate traded insults on Sunday, as Grayson’s campaign continued to reel from allegations of impropriety over an offshore hedge fund run by Grayson that is the subject of an ongoing House ethics investigation.  Grayson has denied wrongdoing and described the complaints against him as politically motivated. Read more in POLITICO
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MANCHESTER, N.H. – Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has staked his flagging presidential bid on a strong performance in this first-in-the-nation primary state, called Monday for New Hampshire voters to “reset” the race.  “The reset has started as of tonight,” Bush said, adding, “Next Tuesday, we’re going to surprise the world.” Having already written off a solid showing in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Bush set up what could be the last stand for the man once presumed to be the dominant Republican in the contest. Bush has wagered much of what is left of his comeback prospects on a strong performance in the Feb. 9 primary. Read more by Boston Globe's Jim O'Sullivan   
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Jacksonville’s bid for authority to enact a half-cent sales tax for its massive pension debt will trigger debate in the state Legislature over what kind of strings — if any — lawmakers will attach to the tax in terms of altering or eliminating pension plans for future city employees. As it stands, the pension legislation leaves an array of retirement options on the table for Jacksonville — future hires could go into 401(k) style plans, or be moved into the Florida Retirement System, or even go into new local pension plans that would be separate from current plans that cover existing employees and retirees. Read more at The Florida Times-Union
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Gov. Rick Scott issued a non-endorsement endorsement of Donald Trump by penning a Wednesday op-ed in USA Today in which he lauded the GOP presidential frontrunner for bucking the Republican “establishment.” “I won the governor’s race in 2010 and many outsiders — some businesspeople — continue to shock the political establishment by coming into elected office from careers outside of politics,” Scott wrote in the piece, headlined “Donald Trump has America's pulse: Rick Scott.” “I know Donald Trump personally,” Scott continued, “and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely.” Scott’s praise of Trump as a candidate marks a turnaround from June, when the New York billionaire and part-time Florida resident was frozen out of the economic forum the governor hosted in Orlando with other likely Republican presidential contenders at the time. Insiders said Trump was fuming. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — House Majority Leader Dana Young said Tuesday she will run for state Senate, a move that was widely expected after a new set of state Senate maps were implemented as part of a redistricting lawsuit. The Tampa Republican plans to run for the now-open Senate District 18, which includes half of her House seat’s current population. “Assuming the Florida Supreme Court approves the redistricting plan, I intend to run for the Florida Senate in the newly-created Senate District 18, which contains vast portions of my current House district,” she told POLITICO Florida. “This would be the best way for me to continue to serve the citizens of Tampa and Hillsborough County.” In anticipation of a Senate run, she had a big fundraising month in December, bringing in more than $170,000. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — Republican Party of Florida executive director Brad Herold is leaving to become campaign manager for the Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a move that caps a difficult year for the party. “Working for the Republican Party of Florida has been a great experience, and I want to thank Blaise for the opportunity,” said Herold, who will officially leave the party before the end of the month. RPOF is not yet announcing Herold's replacement or whether there will be an interim executive director. Read more in POLITICO
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