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16 posts from May 2, 2014

May 02, 2014

Department of Ag: Database doesn't track 30-year nurseryman for marijuana bill

The last-minute amendment tucked into the House marijuana bill is getting some opposition in the Senate, where Democrats want to strip it from the bill when it's up for final passage in that chamber today.

The provision requires that nurseries with inventories of over 400,000 plants and who have been operating in Florida for 30 years are the only ones who qualify to be distributors of medical marijuana. It was amended to the bill with no discussion by Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which tracks nursery registration, has a database that only dates back to 1988. They told the Herald/Times they are going through their paper records to come up with a list to see who qualifies. Meanwhile, here's what the database shows: 

* 30 nurseries with an inventory of over 400,000 that have been in business 26 years or longer.

* 33 nurseries with an inventory of over 400,000 that have been in business 20-25 years.

* 34 nurseries with an inventory of over 400,000 that have been in business 1-20 years.

So who qualifies? Caldwell said he has been told there are 35 nurseries who fit the requirements. DACS said it will try to get a list by the end of the day.

Diaz de la Portilla removes Public Health Trust language from trauma bill

South Florida observers were baffled when a Central Florida lawmaker proposed bill language that would strip the Miami-Dade County Commission of its authority to oversee labor agreements between Jackson Health System and its labor unions.

The provision was tucked into HB 7113 by Rep. John Wood, of Winter Haven. It met opposition from Jackson, the Miami-Dade Public Health Trust, Miami-Dade County and the healthcare employees union. 

Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah, tried removing the language on the House floor last month, but couldn't muster the votes. A half-dozen lawmakers from Miami-Dade voted to keep the provision, including Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, who sits on the Public Health Trust.

On Thursday, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, succeeded in removing the provision from HB 7113 by amending the bill on the floor.

The proposal is expected to receive a vote in the Senate Friday. It would still need to return to the House for final passage.

Rick Scott goes to China: "I'll sign" low-THC medical-marijuana bill


Since taking office, Gov. Rick Scott has just said no to illegal drug use.

The goverrnor pushed for and signed a measure cracking down on so-called "pill mills" his first year and he has been an opponent of a popular medical-marijuana proposal that voters will decide in November.

But last night, Scott said yes to a narrowly crafted low-THC bill aimed at helping people with severe epilepsy, particularly children. The bill is nicknamed "Charlotte's Web" after the strain of marijuana that, some parents say, helps their kids better than anything else.

"If this passes, I'm going to sign it," Scott said.

It was a Nixon-goes-to-China moment for the Republican. Whether this means he'll tepidly endorse the medical-marijuana ballot amendment, which goes much farther than this proposal, is unlikely.

But it's an election year. And in facing Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, Scott has the luxury of running for re-election in a race where flip-floppery isn't a killer. After all, Crist leads Scott in most polls.

Here's today's story by Mary Ellen Klas on Charlotte's Web. The Senate should pass it today, the last day of session.

MDC bill passes Senate, but remains a long shot in House

It's the final day of the legislative session -- and the last shot for a bill that would allow Miami-Dade voters to tax themselves to benefit Miami Dade College.

The proposal would steer more than $1 billion to Miami Dade College for maintenance and construction.

The Senate version of the bill (SB 66) by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, passed by a 38-1 vote Thursday. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was the lone opponent.

Still, it remains a long shot in the House.

The House bill (HB 113) won the support of three committees before the session even started. But its chances of becoming law were all but dashed after Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón told the Miami Herald's Editorial Board that four Miami-Dade lawmakers were blocking the proposal.

Padrón's remarks included sharp criticism of Rep. José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, who is set to become speaker of the House in four years. Miami-Dade lawmakers were so infuriated that they demanded an apology.

The college contends that it needs the money for technology upgrades and to repair aging facilities. But like last year, their bill might die without receiving a hearing on the House floor.


Rubio, Senate Foreign Relations Committee announce hearings into Venezuela's political crisis

From a press release:

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today announced a hearing for Thursday, May 8 at 10 a.m. EDT to discuss the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela and the Maduro regime’s violent repression of peaceful demonstrations. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson will testify on the first panel. The second panel will consist of Moises Naím, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division; and Patrick Duddy, a former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a committee member, welcomed this announcement. Rubio is an original sponsor of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which authorizes sanctions on people involved in serious human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela.
“The political crisis in Venezuela deserves more attention, and I’m pleased the Senate will focus on it next week,” said Rubio. “It is equally important for the United States to take action against individuals ordering or committing human rights violations in Venezuela, and I hope the Senate will soon adopt through the sanctions legislation I and others have introduced.
“Next week’s hearing is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Nicolás Maduro regime’s oppression and failures, along with the human toll it has had on the Venezuelan people,” added Rubio. “I thank Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Member Bob Corker for scheduling this important hearing.”

Today in Tallahassee: Five Things To Know

TALLAHASSEE It's the last day of the Florida Legislative session and it will be a long one. Dozens of bills remain unresolved, including a handful of high profile bills that are priority projects for the Republican leadership and Gov. Rick Scott. They will be the top five withings to watch:

* The House is expected to take up a bill to overhaul the state's child welfare laws early in the day and send it to the governor.
* A bill to allow for the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition will gets its expected final vote in the Florida House, as will a bill to allow a noncitizen to be granted a law license is expected to get approval in the Florida Senate. 
* The Senate may make one last try to pass a House priority bill to expand the number of students who qualify for private school vouchers.
* An bill to toughen disclosure rules for local officials gets a vote in the Senate.
* And the only bill legislators are required to finish all year -- the state $77 billion budget -- may be the last bill of the day. The vote is expected around 8:35 p.m., when the 72-hour clock runs out on the required review period.