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Earlier than usual session will be dominated by partisan rifts

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The Florida Legislature convenes Tuesday for an unusual and unpredictable 60-day session that will be dominated by two highly partisan subjects: the redrawing of political districts and yet another round of budget-cutting.

As lawmakers pack their bags for the next two months, they are adding sweaters and heavy coats to ward off the biting chill of a January in North Florida. The Constitution requires that a reapportionment session must begin in January, not in March as it usually does.

Beyond redistricting and the budget, legislators are expected to search anew for a way to curb rampant fraud in the state’s no-fault car insurance system; debate the creation of three new casino gambling resorts; and consider applying the sales tax to online consumer purchases of books, clothing and other items.

Gov. Rick Scott wants legislators to find another $1 billion for public schools, even in a year when they must close a projected budget shortfall of up to $2 billion. Story here.

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