05/24/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — A former Tampa police officer convicted in 1980 of murdering a security guard was again denied parole at a hearing Wednesday where Attorney General Pam Bondi said his release could have put her at risk.
Bondi, a career prosecutor who years ago as a member of the Hillsborough state attorney's office urged parole commissioners to keep Charles Norman, 67, behind bars, continues to advocate publicly against his release. ...
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam wants state lawmakers to come back to Tallahassee in a special session to finish the work on medical marijuana that they started but didn't finish earlier this month.
"I think that it's important for the elected officials to have done their job during the regular session," he said Tuesday. "Since they didn't, I think a special session is in order."...
Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she's not considering a run for another public office.
In early April, Bondi's fundraising engine started back up, bringing in more than $82,000 to her political committee, called Justice for All. It raised questions about the aspirations of a Republican attorney general who can't seek reelection and who has already declared she would not run for governor in 2018....
State lawmakers’ effort to put voter-passed medical marijuana into effect in Florida fell apart over a disagreement on whether to cap the number of dispensaries each cannabis grower could open. It’s an issue that could be a boon for one of the state’s largest licensed growers.
Surterra, one of Florida’s largest medical marijuana growers, is banking on opening 55 dispensaries in the next five years as part of a plan to bring in more than $138 million in sales by 2021, according to a confidential pitch deck put together by a potential investor and obtained by the Times/Herald....
While neither legislative leadership nor Gov. Rick Scott have convened a special session on medical marijuana, Sen. Darryl Rouson on Wednesday asked lawmakers to call for one themselves.
Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, joins a chorus of lawmakers who have publicly called for a special session. But he's taking it one step further, asking his colleagues in the Legislature to call a special session themselves, something that hasn't happened in recent memory....
05/16/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — As differences over pot shop restrictions burned a medical marijuana bill to ashes in Tallahassee, one of Florida's largest legal cannabis operators courted millions of dollars from new investors and touted a lucrative plan to open dozens of storefronts around the state.
A private equity firm's confidential pitch deck obtained by the Miami Herald shows that only days ago Surterra Florida was seeking investors to buy a $10 million minority stake while also arguing against limits on the number of retail outlets any licensed operator can open. Some potential investors were lured with projections that show Surterra grossing $138 million in sales by 2021 thanks largely to the operation of 55 retail outlets — nearly four times the cap desired by the Florida Senate....
Lawmakers left Tallahassee last week without accomplishing an agenda item that has been at the forefront for years: They passed no legislation restricting abortions or targeting abortion clinics.
It’s the first time in eight regular sessions of the Legislature — since 2010 — that abortion bills haven’t passed.
A bill (HB 19) that would have allowed women to sue their doctors within 10 years of an abortion if they develop an injury or “emotional distress” cleared a few House committees but never moved in the Senate. Lawmakers also passed over a bill (HB 203) banning abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization....
05/15/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — As support builds for lawmakers to return to the state Capitol to pass medical marijuana language, two of the three men who could call a special session have been quiet about their plans.
Action from either Gov. Rick Scott or Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, could bring lawmakers back to Tallahassee. On Monday, Scott continued to repeat a non-answer his office has put forward since calls for a special session on medical marijuana began May 6....
Gov. Rick Scott is going to need a new chief of staff.
Kim McDougal, a career state worker who has served as the governor's chief of staff since April 2016, will leave the governor's office July 1.
A Monday afternoon announcement says she will "transition" out and plans on "pursuing opportunities in the private sector," though it was not clear what those opportunities might be. A replacement has not yet been announced....
05/14/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — It was an emotional peak in the long legislative session: Lawmakers — black, white, Hispanic — stood in somber solidarity in a Capitol rotunda to formally say Florida was sorry for what happened seven decades ago to four black men who were victims in one of state's most racist episodes.
What few knew at that moment of unity on the morning of April 18 was that just 13 hours before, a state senator had cursed at a black female lawmaker using a sexist remark and a racial slur directed at other legislators....
It was an emotional peak in the long legislative session: Lawmakers — black, white, Hispanic — stood in somber solidarity in a Capitol rotunda to formally say the state of Florida was sorry for what it did seven decades ago to four black men who were victims in one of the most racist episodes in state history....
House Speaker Richard Corcoran is joining the ranks of those calling for a special session to pass medical marijuana legislation after lawmakers failed to reach agreement on the issue last Friday.
"I think there should be a special session on medical marijuana," Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, told the Times/Herald on Wednesday.
Last Friday, lawmakers hit an end-of-session deadline without finishing a deal to implement Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of voters' support in the November election. Since then, activists including United for Care chairman John Morgan and Florida for Care executive director Ben Pollara, the men behind the medical marijuana campaign....
05/09/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed into law a plan to build a 78 billion gallon reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee and a measure that will stop local governments from regulating ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
They were among 11 pieces of legislation Scott signed the day after lawmakers ended a legislative session in which many of his priorities were not funded or were ignored....
After the Legislature failed to pass a medical marijuana bill, Senate President Joe Negron said late Monday night that he would consider calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee in special session.
"We’ll confer with the House and with the governor and then make a decision on whether that’s something we should do," Negron, R-Stuart, told reporters following the end of the legislative session Monday. "I think the Legislature does have a responsibility to be involved in that implementation, so I think that’s an option we’ll look at."...
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, one of his allies in the Florida House, to the state appellate court.
Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, was a frontrunner for speaker of the House in 2020-22, but last year, Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, secured the votes necessary. Sprowls is an ally of Speaker Richard Corcoran....