State Capital Briefs: Thursday, November 16, 2017
STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (LUNCH EDITION): THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2017
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

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HOUSE MEMBERS SEEK MONEY FOR HUNDREDS OF PROJECTS
House members have filed nearly 400 proposals, worth more than $673 million, for local and regional projects to be considered during the 2018 legislative session. And while House leaders have put a priority on proposals geared toward hurricane relief and projects that prepare for future disasters, many of the requests don't appear to fit those parameters. The House, unlike the Senate, requires members to file separate bills for proposed spending projects. The proposal (HB 2437) with the largest price tag, $34 million, is for a building at the Lake Nona Campus of Valencia College, filed by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando. Next highest, a $30 million proposal (HB 2733) filed by Rep. Clovis Watson, D-Alachua, is for utilities at the University of Florida. Overall, Republicans had submitted 274 projects worth a combined $499.2 million as of Thursday morning. Democrats had 108 proposals on file worth a combined $173.8 million. One proposal (HB 2135), seeking $580,320 for the Marion County Southeastern Livestock Pavilion, is sponsored by Republican Rep. Stan McClain of Belleview and Watson, a Democrat.

DEATH SENTENCE OVERTURNED IN MURDER OF 82-YEAR-OLD
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a Death Row inmate convicted in the 1997 stabbing death of an 82-year-old man during a robbery in a Jacksonville apartment. Justices unanimously found that a lawyer for Raymond Morrison Jr. had provided inadequate representation during the original sentencing phase of Morrison's case. Justices said the lawyer failed to properly investigate Morrison's mental health and social background, potential mitigating factors that could have affected a jury's decision to recommend the death sentence. “It is apparent from the record that trial counsel performed almost no investigation of Morrison's mental health and social background in preparation for the penalty phase in Morrison's case,” Thursday's opinion said. Morrison was convicted in the January 1997 murder of Albert Dwelle, whose body was body was found by the Meals on Wheels food service. Dwelle, who was disabled, died of two knife wounds to the throat. While vacating the death sentence and ordering a new sentencing hearing, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Morrison's conviction in the murder.

LAWMAKERS SEEK TO BAR VENEZUELA INVESTMENTS
A House panel Thursday approved a bill that would bar state investments in companies doing business with the government of Venezuela. The House Oversight, Transparency and Administration Subcommittee backed the proposal (HB 359), sponsored by Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, and Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah. The bill is similar to a measure approved in August by state Cabinet members who, acting as the State Board of Administration, oversee the Florida Retirement System. Nunez told the House panel that lawmakers need to “stand with the people of Venezuela,” amid abuses by the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. “As a state, we cannot and should not prop up the Maduro regime, which inflicts misery on its people,” Nunez said. The bill needs approval from two more committees before it can go to the House floor during the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. Similar bills (SB 70 and SB 538) have been filed in the Senate.


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11/16/2017

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