House Speaker Dean Cannon outlined his priorities for the first week of session in a news conference on Monday. Among them: pill mills, courts, illegal immigration, Medicaid, and unemployment compensation.
Cannon said a House bill will propose splitting the Supreme Court into two bodies: A five-member court for criminal cases and a five-member court for civil cases. The two bodies would replace the current seven-member court. Cannon didn't offer specifics on how that would be accomplished, but he hoped that proposal would get wide support. Cannon also wants to require 60 percent voter approval to retain appeals court judges, saying under the current system an appointment to the court amounts to a lifetime of service. The bill also would make files in investigations of judicial conduct public record.
Cannon acknowledged he has been criticized for his attacks on the court, but said, "As policy makers the legislature has both the right and responsibility to take a look at what is working in our state and what is not working."
Cannon also said the House will introduce a "Florida-style" -- as opposed to "Arizona-style" -- immigration law.
The illegal immigration bill, he said, would allow law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of someone who is the subject of a criminal investigation, but not during a routine traffic stop. The bill also will require using e-Verify to confirm immigration status of all public employees by Jan. 1, 2012, and for private companies with more than 100 employees after Jan. 1, 2013.
And finally, Cannon said the House would introduce legislation to repeal the prescription drug monitoring database, which will set up a fight with the Senate, where President Mike Haridopolos is vigorously supporting the database.
Cannon said the database is "short sighted" because it tracks the problem, not the solution. Cannon proposes allowing prescription drugs to be distributed only in pharmacies, rather than in clinics.
"We must change the way we address providers and the supply rather than tracking what's supplied to people who are already addicted," Cannon said. "Banning doctor direct sale is the only way to do it."