March 19, 2019

House panel clears bill to help stop recycling from ending up in the trash

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LILY OPPENHEIMER / WLRN

 

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday that, among other things, would require municipalities to address contamination of recyclable materials.

HB 771, put forward by Palm City Republican Rep. Toby Overdorf, passed unanimously.

Many municipalities currently have single-stream recycling programs in place, which means all recyclable material is placed in a single container. This method increases the potential for contamination and rejection of recyclable material, resulting in the disposal of recyclables into landfills. Counties and municipalities can contract recycling programs out to private companies but are currently not required to address contamination of recyclable materials.

The bill doesn’t mandate that local governments do a contract in a particular way and doesn’t restrict the type of items being recycled, Overdorf said.

“This would hopefully reduce the amount of material that is going into the landfills by having the local governments basically be responsible for ensuring that the clientele that’s using the recycling is providing clean, recycled materials,” he said. “In other words, they aren’t contaminated so it allows for the waste companies to have more material going to recycling rather than the landfills. “

Recyclable material gets contaminated when residents put materials that are not recyclable into bins, like plastic bags, styrofoam peanuts and other thin plastics. While facilities are equipped to handle some of these materials, excessive contamination can undermine the recycling process. According to the bill analysis, some local governments have contamination rates reaching more than 30 to 40 percent by weight.

Contamination can happen if a greasy pizza box leaks onto other previously clean, recyclable materials. And when plastic bags get recycled, they clog up the sorting machines and stall production at the plants. 

Miami-Dade County has one of the lowest recycle rates in the state. According to Florida Department of Environmental Protection, just 18 percent of total collected waste gets recycled. Broward and Palm Beach Counties recycle 33 and 45 percent of their waste.

The Florida League of Cities says they support the bill.

The bill would require that municipalities address the contamination in contracts with both residential recycling collectors and recovered materials processing facilities. The contracts would have to define the term “contaminated recyclable material” and include strategy to reduce the amount of contaminated material being collected.

“It would be a negotiation between the recycling hauler as well as the local governments and what they choose to have,” Overdorf added. “I imagine there would be a give and take between the two entities and it would work that way.”

A New York Times report this week highlighted the issue, pointing out how plastics and papers from dozens of American cities and towns are being dumped in landfills after a rule change in China stopped recycling most “foreign garbage.” The Times reported that about one-third of America’s 66 million tons of annual recycling is exported. The majority of those exports once went to China.

The bill passed unanimously in the House Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee last week, and will go on to the State Affairs Committee

Counties in the state are already required to have programs that with a goal of recycling 75

percent of recyclable solid waste by 2020. Recycling programs have to recycle a significant portion of newspaper, cans, glass, bottles, cardboard, office paper and yard trash.

February 27, 2019

Miami Beach Rep. files first bills to legalize recreational pot

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Associated Press

Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco made the first go at legalizing recreational marijuana in Florida Tuesday, filing two separate bills that would legalize personal pot use and create an excise tax on the drug.

HB 1117, co-sponsored by Orlando Democrat Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, would make recreational marijuana legal. The bill specifies that only those 21 or older could purchase the drug in no more than 2.5 ounces at a time and restricts smoking the drug to private places only. If someone were to smoke in public, according to the bill, they would face a $100 penalty.

In the 58-page bill, Grieco and Smith also addresses the highly criticized vertical integration model, which by law requires medical marijuana treatment facilities to grow, process, market and sell their own goods. The bill says if passed, retail stores could buy, sell or deliver marijuana from another marijuana cultivation facility.

The bill also mandates that 5 percent of the recreational marijuana revenues be given to the Department of Health to provide grants for peer-reviewed research on marijuana's beneficial uses and safety.

HB 1119, which Grieco filed separately, creates an excise tax to charge growers $50 an ounce for marijuana that is sold or transferred from a marijuana cultivation facility. It also caps the application fee for a marijuana establishment license at $5,000.

Considering the amount of pushback medical marijuana bills have already faced this session, these bills will likely face an uphill battle. House Speaker José Oliva has openly criticized smoking medicinal marijuana, and said efforts to legalize it was just “some cover” for getting access to recreational use.

He pointed out that the drug is still illegal under federal law, and is still a concern because of its “highly marketable” quality.

The recreational use of marijuana is currently legal in 10 states, with New Jersey soon to be the 11th. In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana for adult use through the legislative process.

Grieco said even though he and Smith expect pushback on the bill, the language is "consistent with the will of the majority of Floridians." 

"We're going to see next year a majority of Floridians voting on this," Grieco said, referring to potential ballot initiatives. "Even if we get pushback, it continues the conversation. It’s a conversation that’s being had nationally. I expect some movement to be had federally, prior to the presidential election next year." 

In 2016, Grieco received $20,000 from marijuana entrepreneurs Rustin and Evan Kluge for a mayoral campaign fundraising operation the then-Miami Beach commissioner denied involvement with. That committee, called People for Better Leaders, raised more than $200,000 from Miami Beach developers, lobbyists, city vendors and residents in the run-up to the 2017 mayoral election.

"Rep. Smith and I worked tirelessly to try to get the bill language perfect to ensure access, protect local decision making and create a revenue-generating structure for the state," Grieco said.

Smith, who serves on the House Health Quality Subcommittee and has been vocal about legalizing smokeable medical marijuana, said he co-sponsored the bill because criminalizing adult use "just doesn't make any sense." 

"There’s no reason cannabis can’t be regulated in ways similar to alcohol," he said. "No one is dying from cannabis overdoses but they are getting arrested and being given criminal records for no good reason ... We expect that it’s always going to be a tough legislative route, but that’s not a reason to stop advocating for it." 

Gary Stein, of Clarity PAC, said while the bills do important work like move the program under-regulated industries and separate it from the medical program, it still has issues Stein says could be roadblocks.

Stein points out that the excise tax imposed “far too high” and that the term “recreational” is a misnomer. He also thinks the Legislature needs to fix the medical marijuana program before it can move in this direction.

“This is a good legislative start and a way to open the discussion for the future,” he said. “But we still have to fix the medical program before we can move in this direction. Other states have hurt their med programs by rushing to adult use, and we need to be cautious that it doesn’t happen here.”

February 21, 2019

House bill to repeal medical marijuana smoking ban advances

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GLEN STUBBE AP

As Sen. Jeff Brandes put it Wednesday, "The end is in sight, we’re not far.”

Both the House and Senate bills to repeal a ban on smokeable medical marijuana are hitting some of their final stops this week, bringing them one step closer to the chamber floors.

The House bill, brought by Rep. Ray Rodrigues and the Health and Human Services Committee, passed favorably in appropriations Thursday, including a strike-through that got rid of requirements for filters on medical marijuana cigarettes. The amendment also appropriates $1.5 million in recurring general revenue to fund a consortium to research the effects of medical marijuana.

Only Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Jacksonville Republican, voted no. 

“Bronchitis, lung issues, all these other things that are a big concern to me,” he said about the bill last week. 

The two bills have grown more similar through each committee stop, which Brandes said has helped the process. A key difference is that Senate version doesn't limit smoking to pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes and instead allows for a 35-day of whole-flower supply.

The House bill recommends the Board of Governors designate which state university will hold the consortium, a change from the bill's former language specifying the University of Florida. It also sets aside about $705,000 for three positions at the Office of Medical Marijuana Use and about $215,000 for technology upgrades to the medical marijuana registry.

Lawmakers in both chambers agree that more needs to be done to make access more affordable and accessible to patients across the state. But they say they plan to address that kind of legislation in the future, and are more focused now on getting smoking ban repeal bills to the Governor's desk by the deadline.

"I've been given assurance that future legislation that will be considered by this body will address cost and affordability concerns," said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat who voted yes on the bill. "Although this isn't perfect, it's hard for me to vote against it."

Rep Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said he thinks Rodrigues' bill will help patients, but that issues like vertical integration will need to be taken up in a future bill. Vertical integration is the part of the medical marijuana law that requires license holders to grow, process and sell their own product, as opposed to offering contracts to other vendors. 

"There are some things we need to do that aren't addressed in this bill, and don't need to be," he said. "Something needs to be done to break the logjam that is keeping the medicine from the people who need it."

Gov. Ron DeSantis in January tasked the Legislature with amending Florida law to allow smoking medical marijuana. If legislators don’t by the deadline, the governor said he will do so with litigation.

In 2016, about 71 percent of voting Floridians approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. While the 2017 bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott legalized access to the drug in pill, oil, edible and vape form, it made smoking it illegal. In addition to the ban on smoking, the law also capped the number of medical marijuana licenses and the number of dispensaries in the state.

The provision, which became known as the “smoking ban,” was challenged in circuit court in July 2017. In its complaint, People United for Medical Marijuana, Inc., argued the smoking ban altered the definition of “marijuana” and by banning smoking in public, implicitly authorized smoking marijuana in a private place.

In May 2018, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers declared the smoking ban unconstitutional, but the Department of Health appealed the ruling later that month.

After DeSantis announced his intent to drop the appeal should the Legislature not act to remove the smoking ban, both parties filed a motion to stay the appeal until March 2019.

January 30, 2019

Senate President calls for focus on rural Florida at AP planning session

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Senate President Bill Galvano outlined his top priorities and goals Wednesday, saying a key goal as the chamber’s new leader is to enhance infrastructure in rural Florida and empower senators from March 5 and beyond.

“As Senate President I have lots of discretion […] I will fulfill those duties to the best of ability but always keeping in mind the opportunities that exist when the Senators are empowered,” he said. “I’ve shared with them a vision that is important going forward in the future.”

Galvano, who created a new Committee on Infrastructure and Security this year, said much of the state's funding for infrastructure has focused on Florida's urban areas. This year, he hopes to focus on large portions of rural Florida that have suffered from impacts on farming. 

The Senate President tasked the new committee's chair, Sen. Tom Lee, with expediting the construction of three new corridors in rural areas of the state. The corridors include one from Polk County to Collier County, a Suncoast Parkway extension to Georgia and a northern turnpike connector.

He highlighted the "exodus and loss" to local economies, and that the state can't solely depend on Florida's coasts to support the state. 

"We need to have access to our rural communities and provide multipurpose right-of-ways so that prosperity can return there," he said. 

Here are some of the other topics the Senate president addressed at the Associated Press’ Legislative Day:

Red tide

Of the myriad issues coming through Senate committees, Galvano said agriculture is high on his list in considering Florida’s future, as well as addressing red tide.

The Bradenton Republican said he hopes the Senate looks toward more solutions to mitigate red tide issues plaguing animals and the tourism industry on the west coast.

One specific collaboration he mentioned was working with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota as a “clearinghouse for real scientific information” to address the problem.

Amendment 4

The Legislature is tasked with implementing Amendment 4, or the constitutional amendment that passed this fall to restores voting rights for felons who have completed their sentences and paid off any restitution.

Galvano said writing implementing legislation is not necessary, and that the legislative process should not be an obstacle for new voters who hope to take advantage of the constitutional amendment.

“I think it’s worthy of us to look and language — not implementing but supplementing language,” he said.

Medical marijuana

Two weeks ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the Legislature to change Florida law to allow smoking medical marijuana. If lawmakers don’t comply by mid March, he’ll drop the state’s appeal of a court decision that says banning it violates a constitutional amendment.

Two bills to reverse the smoking ban have already been filed in the Senate and Galvano said he is confident the Legislature will get something to the Governor’s desk by March 15.

Galvano said he also expects to see bills filed to address marijuana vertical integration, which requires medical marijuana companies to grow, manufacture, sell and market their own product. The system has been widely criticized from both those in the medical marijuana community and the Governor himself. 

“Right now, we are with the Governor,” he said. “Smoking is the issue we are going to address first and foremost.”

Fracking

When it comes to banning fracking — an item the Governor called for repeatedly during his campaign — Galvano said there are bills being drafted in his chamber, but did not expand. 

“It’s an issue that will definitely come up and go through the session,” he said.

School safety

Galvano said the program created last year to arm school staff — called the “guardian” program — is something he will continue to support.

He added that there is more work to do on school safety and that he plans to take seriously recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which was created in 2018 after the fatal shooting at the high school last February.

Gaming

The Senate President said this year, he hopes his chamber will make moves to regulate sports betting in the state. 

Since Amendment 3 passed on the 2018 ballot, expanding gambling options in Florida now requires a statewide vote.

“It’s an activity that’s occurring but we are not collecting revenue,” he said.

January 23, 2019

Right to grow veggies in the front yard takes root in the House

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Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts stand in front of their home at 53 NE 106th St., Miami Shores, Florida, in November 2013, when the couple maintained a front-yard vegetable garden. Walter Michot Miami Herald file

The House tended to the “vegetable garden bill” for the first time Wednesday, as the bill made it through the first of three stops on its way through the Legislature.

Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff presented her amended version of bill to the House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, which prohibits a county or municipality from regulating vegetable, fruit and herb gardens on residential properties and voids any existing ordinance of that nature.

The bill passed with dozens of questions, but only one “no vote.”

At the beginning of the month, the Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously backed the measure, which was first filed by Sen. Rob Bradley. The Senate passed the Fleming Island Republican’s bill during the 2018 session, but the clock ran out and a House version was never filed.

The vegetable garden proposal stems from a legal dispute about a Miami Shores ordinance that banned the gardens from being planted in front yards. Village residents Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll kept a garden, and were charged $50 in daily fines.

They eventually had to dig up their 17-year-old garden, which they kept because their backyard didn’t get enough sun to support their beets, kale, tomatoes and Asian cabbage. The couple sued, and in November 2017, an appeals court upheld a ruling that they do not have the right to keep a vegetable garden in their front yard. They appealed the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, which declined to grant review.

“They were trying to have a healthier living situation and provide their family with vegetable and fruits,” Fetterhoff said. “This is a property rights issue. It’s not a home rule issue.”

The DeLand Republican added that limitations also curb possibilities for reducing food deserts, supporting the long-suffering bee community and teaching children about how vegetables grow.

The bill does not include rules set by homeowners associations and does not affect other properties like schools and churches.

The main opponent to both vegetable garden bills is the Florida League of Cities. The group’s legislative counsel, David Cruz, argues that each city in Florida is unique, and much of the unique aesthetic is brought about through code enforcement. That’s why Coral Gables looks different from Perry, Florida, he said.

“There’s the ability at the local level to come up with solutions,” he said. “We’re not against vegetable gardens. Our members are not against vegetable gardens. But local solution could be crafted.”

Cruz said bills like this one preempt local laws, and gave the example of a 2013 Orlando ordinance that allows residents to use 60 percent of their front yard as a vegetable garden.

“This bill would void that ordinance,” he said. “It would undo the good work of a city to compromise on this issue.”

Rep. Anna Eskamani was the only member of the subcommittee to vote down on the bill. Home rule is her “north star,” she said, and the smallest level of government understands their community best.

“We worked together at the local level to pass an ordinance that did the people good,” the Orlando Democrat said. “City officials and county officials should bring this up at town halls, on Facebook, talk to their constituents. If there’s a rumbling that folks want this, make it happen on a local level.

She said she would support a bill with amendments that provide clarity on what constitutes a vegetable garden and give local power to defining its size and aesthetic.

“I think the legislature can do its part to help smooth the process out,” she said. “But does it have to rip away ordinances that are already in place across 67 counties? That’s something I don’t subscribe to.”

Fetterhoff said she plans to keep working on the bill as it moves through the process, but fundamentally believes the vegetable garden restrictions in places like Miami Shores step on citizens’ constitutional rights.

“I really feel that private property rights need to be protected,” she said. “When cities start to step on those rights, then we need to step up for the citizens of Florida.”

The bill will be heard in the House Commerce Committee and State Affairs Committee, but the dates have not yet been set. 

January 09, 2019

FAU researcher to Senators: Address septic systems over Everglades reservoir

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Should addressing Florida’s septic systems take precedence in addressing water quality issues?

A presentation made to the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee told lawmakers “yes.”

Brian Lapointe, a researcher from Florida Atlantic University presented for nearly an hour to the committee Wednesday, explaining how septic systems provide primary treatment and are not designed to remove nutrients, bacteria, viruses or pharmaceuticals.

After a long presentation of historical data and a video funded by the Florida Chamber (which initially opposed the Everglades reservoir), Lapointe made the point that a group within the Department of Environmental Protection needs to build a plan to combat septic systems from dumping huge nutrient loads into the waterways.

Lapointe said the Everglades reservoir is “a distraction”  from the real problem of septic tanks, and added that curtailing toxic blue-green algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers by sending Lake Okeechobee water south is a bad decision.

“We need a Manhattan Project,” he said. “We need to go to war against blue-green algae. We have to build a state master plan.”

Sen. Ben Albritton, a citrus grower, agreed with Lapointe and blamed newspapers for spreading “misinformation” about how the blooms spread and grow. The Wauchula Republican said farmers are falsely blamed for contaminating the water, and that the public needs to understand the real truth.

“It seems to me that this septic system problem is a bigger and bigger piece of the pie of where the nitrogen is coming from,” he said.

Sen. José Javier Rodríguez expressed concern about his native South Florida, and how it’s more important to send higher quality than a higher quantity of water south to the Everglades from the lake.

But Lapoint said it cleaning water “doesn’t make sense.”

“We have to protect Lake O,” he said. “We have to focus on the source of the water, clean it there and store it there. That’s common sense to me.”

Julie Wraithmell, the executive director of Audubon Florida, called Lapointe’s presentation “completely disingenuous.”

She pointed out how his charts that suggest water flows have increased to the Everglades over time start in the 1940s, which is after the Everglades were drained. She also said the presentation didn’t show how little water the Everglades is getting in dry season flows, which is when the most damage occurs. 

Wraithmell also added that she was “flummoxed” by the idea of blaming septic systems for the majority of nutrient dumps.

“There is no smoking gun for our water quality issues and no silver bullet,” she said. “It’s unfortunate because while it’s part of the science, it’s not all of the science, and for decision-makers to make good decisions, they need all the information."

January 08, 2019

DeSantis to Florida lawmakers: 'I respect the power of the legislative branch'

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Governor Ron DeSantis told lawmakers Tuesday afternoon that he looks forward to working with a legislature that exercises its power, suggesting Congressional lawmakers aren't sufficiently empowered. 

After DeSantis and the rest of the cabinet were sworn in Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers gathered on the fourth floor of the capitol for a luncheon in celebration. 
 
Addressing the group of legislators, the former Congressman said his main frustration with Congress was how weak the legislature was there, and how "they do not exercise the authority that was granted to them in the constitution." 
 
"The average member did not have much of a voice," he said. 
 
DeSantis, who canceled his inaugural parade in order to "get right to work" said the first order of business is to baptize his son, "knock that out," and then hit the ground running.
 
The Governor then presented House Speaker José Oliva and Senate President Bill Galvano with a framed version of the flag that flew over the capitol as they were sworn into office. 
 
"I am someone who thinks the government is better when the legislative branch exercises the power granted to them in the constitution," he said. 

June 01, 2018

Gwen Graham would end private prisons and decriminalize pot possession

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Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.

Gwen Graham would phase out private prisons in Florida and decriminalize the personal possession of marijuana if elected governor, according to a nine-point plan her campaign laid out today.

"For too long, the politicians in Tallahassee have ignored the inequity and pervasive prejudice in Florida’s criminal justice system," Graham said in a statement. "While they’ve failed to act, Floridians have been hurt by mass incarceration, increasing costs and devastating cuts."

Graham, one of four Democrats running for governor, laid out proposals that she thinks can pass in Florida's Republican-dominated Legislature, where some Republicans have led the charge for criminal justice reform - with mixed success.

Graham said she supports reforming the bail bond system, which keep poor people who can't afford to pay bail in jail longer. Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced in May that prosecutors in her office would no longer seek bail for low-level offenders, one option that Graham says she is considering.

Some of her other ideas include:

  • Pay raises for prison guards.
  • Require state attorneys to get the opinion of a panel of in-house prosecutors before seeking the death penalty.
  • Reduce sentencing for nonviolent drug possession.
  • Restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

Graham said her first priority is "upholding the will of the people" and making medical marijuana accessible to those who need it. But she also believes that possession of marijuana in small amounts should not have a criminal penalty.

Some Florida counties have changed their ordinances so that being caught with small amounts of marijuana results in a civil fine, rather than an arrest.

"Florida should embrace the principle that no young person should go to jail or have their lives ruined over an incident of marijuana use — we can and should decriminalize," she said in a statement.

Her ideas were endorsed by former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, state Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, Leon County Public Defender Nancy Daniels and the state's largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association.

“We believe Graham’s plan to better support officers, close the state’s private prisons, and expand rehabilitation programs will make Florida safer," PBA executive director Matt Puckett said in a statement.

Her ideas didn't go quite as far as Orlando businessman Chris King's, who is trailing in the polls. King wants to eliminate the death penalty in Florida and legalize marijuana completely.

Graham's plan prompted King campaign spokesman Avery Jaffe to take a shot at her, calling it "half-hearted" and "lame."

February 26, 2018

GOP Congress returns after Parkland, under pressure to move on guns

US NEWS FLA-SCHOOLSHOOTING-OPENHOUSE 7 MI

@alextdaugherty

When Congress left town after the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a gun control movement led by Broward County students hadn’t yet captured the nation’s attention.

But lawmakers are now back in Washington after a 10-day break, and they’re under pressure to do something from media-savvy students who have so far forced the Florida legislature to offer a $500 million school safety package and driven President Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio to change their stance on some gun policies.

But moving forward in a Republican-controlled Congress will be a tall order, and voting on any piece of legislation in the House of Representatives this week will be tougher since Republican leadership canceled votes on Wednesday and Thursday to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham, who will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda for two days.

Plus, House leaders argue that they’ve already passed legislation related to mental health funding, tweaking the reporting process by federal and state authorities to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and bump stocks.

“The House has acted and leaders believe it’s the Senate’s turn to act,” a senior Republican House aide said.

The measure that tweaks the background check system, which has wide support from Democrats and Republicans, and directs the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review bump stocks was attached to a bill that also allows concealed carry permits obtained in one state to be valid in another state, essentially transforming concealed carry permits into transferable documents like driver’s licenses. Democrats generally oppose expanding concealed carry permits across state lines, so they mostly opposed the bill even though it contained something they liked.

The legislative maneuvering on any bill related to guns decreases the chances of something becoming law, and there isn’t any gun bill up for a vote in the House this week, according to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s calendar.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there aren’t any plans now to fast-track gun-related bills in the upper chamber.

Read more here.

January 09, 2018

Negron: “The Florida Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment”

Senate President Joe Negron opened the 2018 Legislative Session by vowing to crack down on sexual harassment, saying the Senate has "zero tolerance for sexual harassment."

"I would like to begin today by addressing a very important issue that addresses not only the Florida senate, but also our counterparts in Congress, the entertainment industry, employers large and small across the country, and our culture in general," Negron said.

"Let me be clear: The Florida Senate has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or misconduct of any time against any employee or visitor," he said.

Allegations of sexual harassment have promised to overshadow the Legislature since last fall, when reports of sexual harassment against Negron's then-budget chair, Sen. Jack Latvala, surfaced.

In November, the Stuart Republican ordered an investigation into the allegations, which eventually led to Latvala's resignation.

He added that the Senate, led by Senate Rules Chair Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, is working to revise its administrative policies regarding harassment.

"I am committed to ensuring we all have a safe workplace environment to do the people's business," Negron said Tuesday.

Negron, is in his last session as Senate president, also emphasized expanding Bright Futures scholarships for college students and addressing the state's opioid crisis.

He also said he supported Scott's push for raises for state law enforcement, and that he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran's efforts toward "school choice."

"I don’t love my children enough to homeschool them," he quipped. "But I respect the decision of parents to homeschool theirs."

Negron