Mitch Perry Report 3.4.14: The state legislative session begins with opposition rallies across the state

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The 2014 regular session of the Florida Legislature begins this morning. Tax cuts, gambling, school vouchers and reining in retirement benefits for public employees are among the biggest topics to be debated over the next 60 days.

Raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid or repealing parts of Stand Your Ground? Not happening.

Governor Scott kicks off his re-election campaign, er, addresses the Legislature and the public at 11 a.m. in his State of the State address. We're told he will emphasize the $500 million in tax cuts he's already been touting, $400 million of which would come from a rollback of what Floridians pay when they register their cars each year. That breaks down to around $25 for most motorists.

While the governor is doing his thing (with House Minority Leader Perry Thurston offering the Democratic rebuttal), a series of rallies will be held across the state in opposition to the Rick Scott/Will Weatherford/Don Gaetz agenda.

The Awake the State rally in Tampa will take place in Ybor City's Centennial Park beginning at 4 p.m. According to organizer Tim Heberlein, the rally will consist of a broad coalition of progressive organizations that "support a Florida that works for everyone, not just Governor Rick Scott’s allies."

In other news...we're just a week from Election Day in the CD13 race in Pinellas County. Yesterday a Latino landscaper spoke with reporters in support of Alex Sink. Although not a huge event, the fact is that the Republicans have had a field day with Sink's inartfully expressed comments about undocumented immigrants last week, and no one had picked up the slack until yesterday.

Another Super PAC is spending loads of money in the CD13 race, this time the group Friends of Democracy, which is paying for radio ads talking up Alex Sink and talking down David Jolly.

While the three candidates in that congressional race are attempting to succeed the late Bill Young, Bill Young II announced yesterday he's going to get into the political game via his candidacy for House District 68, currently occupied by Democrat Dwight Dudley.

And there is increasing talk that politicians in Tampa and Hillsborough County want to reconfigure operations at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Agency (HART). That's all fine and dandy, you could say, except for the fact that such talk could impede the search for a new CEO to replace the retiring Phillip Hale. That's why HART board members yesterday appeared convinced that they will make an interim selection within the next couple of months before they undergo a nationwide search for their next leader.

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