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Senate approves higher tuition for 3 schools

Published April 28, 2007



By a 28-10 vote, the Senate on Friday embraced a tiered tuition system that would generate tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue for the University of Florida, Florida State University, and the University of South Florida. Tampa Bay Sens. Ronda Storms, Arthenia Joyner, Charlie Justice and Victor Crist were among those voting against the bill, which allows the three schools to charge undergraduates 30 to 40 percent more than the base rate now charged by all 11 state universities. The House is scheduled to vote on the legislation next week. Then the bill meets its true test when it goes to the governor's desk. Gov. Charlie Crist has been saying that he will not support any budget or legislation that raises the cost of higher education.

House approves funds for Crotzer

A St. Petersburg man is a step closer to being compensated with $1.25-million from the state for spending nearly a quarter-century in prison for two rapes and a robbery he did not commit. Alan Crotzer watched from the spectator gallery Friday as the House voted unanimously to pay him $50, 000 for each of the 24 years he sat in prison. He then walked out into the hallway and fought back tears. Crotzer's fight isn't over - the measure still needs approval from the Senate, where the bill is being blocked. Gov. Charlie Crist, however, supports the compensation measure. "I think that's fair - it may not be enough to be honest with you, " Crist said Friday. "I can't imagine being in jail for one year when you did absolutely nothing wrong."

Ingoldsby award now goes to House

The Senate voted 31-6 to pay $1.3-million to the family of Brooke Ingoldsby, the 8-year-old Pinellas County girl who was killed crossing a street in 2005 when a substitute school bus driver dropped her off on the wrong side of the road. All Tampa Bay lawmakers voted for the relief. The six opposed, including Lakeland Sen. Paula Dockery, are Republicans. The Pinellas school district already has agreed to pay $1.2-million. A companion bill is headed for a floor vote in the House.

Polk power plant bill clears Senate

Polk County is closer to having a $1.5-billion coal gasification plant. Senators followed House members' lead and signed off on a bill that allows Tampa Electric to charge its customers for the costs of construction prior to its startup. Without a legislative exception, state rules don't allow utilities to add the costs for design, licensing, construction and interest to customers' bills until a plant begins operation. Coal gasification technology enables power plants to siphon off harmful carbon emissions so they don't enter the atmosphere.

House debates break for Lightning

The House debated a bill that would give the Tampa Bay Lightning an annual $2-million sales tax break for 30 years. The proposal, sponsored by Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa, originally extended the break to nine sports franchises. It was narrowed to only the Lightning and the Orlando Magic. The money would be earmarked for capital improvements at the teams' facilities, including the St. Pete Times Forum. Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, introduced an amendment that would offer the benefit only to teams that finished in the top 25 percent of their league. The amendment got laughs, but not support.

[Last modified April 28, 2007, 01:18:37]

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