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Session snapshot

By Times staff and wire reports
Published March 16, 2007


vote likely next week on state's primary date

House lawmakers are poised to approve a plan to move Florida's 2008 presidential primary from March to as early as January, with Republicans and Democrats in favor of making the state more relevant despite threats from the national parties. During floor debate Thursday, lawmakers asked mainly informational questions that set the stage for a vote next week. The Senate, however, is still grappling with choosing a date and has not yet moved the bill out of committee. That chamber has discussed moving the primary to Feb. 19. House lawmakers want the primary to be held Feb. 5, 2008, or seven days after New Hampshire holds its primary, whichever comes first. The national parties have threatened to take away some of the delegates the state parties send to the nominating conventions.

Setting sights on future Gatorades

Hoping to duplicate the commercial success of university creations like the University of Florida's Gatorade, a Senate higher education committee wants to establish a nonprofit program that helps Florida's 11 universities market and commercialize what they develop on campus.

It's unclear how much the state would be asked to put into the grant program, but, according to the proposed legislation discussed Thursday, universities could apply for grants of between $50,000 and $250,000. They would use the money to secure patents, establish startup companies and attract private investment.

"We've had discussion after discussion after discussion about how we can build an economic paradigm in Florida," said Republican Sen. Jeremy Ring, a South Florida entrepreneur. "This is a giant step toward ... a marriage between a true business plan and an academic plan."

Argenziano, PSC fuel speculation

Sen. Nancy Argenziano's roller coaster ride as a nominee for a Public Service Commission seat has given rise to speculation that the resurrection of her candidacy was a political deal. The talk is it was cooked up by Republican senators who want her out of the Senate, or by Gov. Charlie Crist, who wants to put Argenziano on the PSC so she can give utilities fits.

"No, I haven't," Crist said when asked if he'd discussed it with Senate leaders. "But I'm encouraged by what I see." Asked if he would pick Argenziano if he gets the chance, Crist said: "If I have a chance. I don't want to get the cart before the horse on this. I'm limited by the names that are presented to me.

"I think she's a very earnest public servant, and I think she's proven herself to be a consumer advocate. That means a lot to me, particularly as it relates to this appointment."

On the agenda for next week

A compromise over a contentious teacher performance pay program is headed for a floor vote in the Senate next week after the legislation received final committee approval there Thursday. An identical House bill (HB 7021) is set for a Policy and Budget Council vote there Friday before it, too, goes to the floor, also likely next week.

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[Last modified March 16, 2007, 00:49:47]

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