Well medical marijuana is moving forward:Efforts to legalize a specific strain of marijuana to help children with intractable epilepsy faced a new hurdle Monday as the governor’s chief medical advisor said he opposed the bill because it will allow untested drugs into the market, raising the specter that the governor may veto the bill.
“We must be wary of unintended consequences and remember that first we must do no harm,” said John Armstrong, the Florida Surgeon General and head of the Florida Department of Health. He told the House Judiciary Committee that the better approach would be to allow for research and testing of the marijuana extract under the federal system.
Armstrong then abruptly left the meeting and would not say if his statement was a signal from the governor that he might veto the bill it it reaches his desk. Gov. Rick Scott has refrained from endorsing or rejecting the bill in public.
The House sponsor, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, said he was confident that he will work with Armstrong to address his concerns about quality control and predicted the bill, which the committee substantially revised on Monday, will pass.
“We intend to send to the governor a medical cannabis bill, and I expect that he will support it,’’ Gaetz said after the meeting.
The committee approved the bill, HB 843, on a 15-3 vote, after adopting a substantial re-write. The changes will create a distribution system for marijuana extract that, once in place, could serve as the framework for the regulation of medical marijuana in the future. Voters will be asked in November to approve Amendment 2, the constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for debilitating medical conditions, and legislation that passes this session could limit its effect. - Miami Herald, 4/21/14
For the record, Scott's likely opponent, Charlie Crist (D. FL) is a strong supporter of medical marijuana. If Scott refuses to sign it, voters will be heading to the polls in big numbers to make it happen. Speaking of drugs:It's been a bi-partisan effort that has paid off for supporters of medical marijuana, as votes from both sides of the aisle push legislation through final committees in the House and the Senate.
"These parents aren't criminals for doing what they think is right for their kids," said House sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, just before the bill passed the Judiciary Committee Monday. Tuesday afternoon, the Senate's version passed the Appropriations Committee.
Next up, the bills will head to the floor. Legislators have 10 days to vote a version of the bill through before the end of session.
"I think the chances are strong that you are going to see a bill on the Governor's desk in the next few weeks," said Senator Jeff Brandes, a sponsor of the senate's version of the bill.
Governor Rick Scott then has 15 days to either sign or veto the bill or, it could become a law without his signature.
But, if the bill doesn't pass or is vetoed, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida is hardly off the table. An amendment will be on the ballot in November.
Sixty percent of voters must support it for it to pass come Election Day. If it does, it's back to work for the legislature, figuring out just how to regulate medical marijuana. - Bay News 9, 4/22/14
Ouch. Back to the voters, Scott knows he's in serious danger so he's resorting to this:The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Florida Gov. Rick Scott's petition to review a ruling that his random drug testing policy for state employees is unconstitutional, the latest in a series of legal battles facing the governor.
The decision leaves in place a May 2013 appeals court ruling against Scott's 2011 executive order making consent to suspicionless drug testing a condition of employment. A judge had previously concluded that the program, covering up to 85,000 state workers, violated Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did grant Scott some leeway, saying drug testing without suspicion could be used in "certain safety-sensitive categories of employees — for instance, employees who operate or pilot large vehicles, or law enforcement officers who carry firearms in the course of duty."
Lawyers are still arguing about which employees could be subjected to random tests. It could take months to sort out.
Scott pressed an appeal on the broader policy to the Supreme Court in January, ignoring a warning from U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro — who first ruled against the program in April 2012 — that there was "probably about zero" chance of success. - Tampa Bay Times, 4/21/14
For whatever reason, the video is on private but it's a sign Scott is nervous about re-election. And Crist has been out trashing him on the campaign trail:Gov. Rick Scott will start airing his 2014 campaign’s first Spanish-language TV commercial this week, an earlier-than-usual Hispanic-outreach effort that reflects Florida’s changing demographics as well as the depth of the Republican’s aggressive $6 million ad blitz.
No other Florida governor has advertised so heavily — especially in Spanish — nearly seven months before his election.
The ad’s title and message, “Oportunidad [opportunities],” jibes with two English-language positive spots Scott began running in mid-March. It’s all about jobs, which have increased on his watch.
“ Yo no soy un experto en la política, pero yo sé el valor de un trabajo,” Scott, looking into the camera, said in the new commercial (“I’m not an expert in politics, but I know how valuable a job is”).
The rest of the 30-second ad, voiced-over by a woman, tells Scott’s rags-to-riches story. - Miami Herald, 4/21/14
We have an excellent shot at beating Scott but of course Crist can win if our base comes out to vote:In a 30-minute luncheon speech laced with scorn for his successor, Crist addressed about 300 members of the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee, many with ties to his alma mater, Florida State. Ignoring the club's tradition of light frivolity, Crist was all business as he challenged the crowd to help him defeat Scott, who has said he will spend $100 million to win a second term.
"I need you to be with me and I don't need for you to be casual about it. Don't just give us a couple of bucks," Crist said. "We've got six months to go and the nightmare will be over, and you'll have somebody up there with a heart again."
Speaking with a higher degree of intensity and combativeness than in past campaigns, Crist ripped Scott for seeking $3.3 billion in cuts to schools in his first year in office, rejecting billions in federal money for high-speed rail and failing to persuade the Legislature to expand Medicaid.
And he reminded the crowd of the $1.7 billion fraud fine paid by the governor's former hospital company, Columbia/HCA.
"He stole from people, his company did, a ton," Crist said. "Made him a very wealthy man. Well, okay, I've got my record and you've got yours on ethics. … We're good. He's not."
Crist said Scott once invoked the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a deposition "so he wouldn't criminally implicate himself," and he said that every time Scott ducks a reporter's question, "he's essentially pleading the Fifth." - Tampa Bay Times, 4/22/14
If you want to donate and get involved with Crist's campaign, you can do so here:But for Crist to win, South Florida voters need to do something they haven't done in years: Vote in bigger numbers in a governor's race.
About a third of Florida's 4.6 million Democrats live in the three-county metropolis of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, a sprawling breadbasket of liberalism that proved critical in both of President Barack Obama's Florida victories.
But off-year or midterm races for governor are a different story.
Year after year, voters in the Democratic region are among the state's worst when it comes to showing up at the polls. It was most glaring in 2010 when Scott won office and statewide voter turnout was a meager 49 percent.
The turnout in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties was worse: about 41, 40 and 47 percent, respectively. If those three counties had voted at the state average, Democrat Alex Sink likely would have beaten Scott by nearly 250,000 votes statewide. Instead, Sink lost by 61,550 votes.
Crist vows that won't happen again.
On Saturday, Crist opened his first field office in Plantation, a Fort Lauderdale suburb in the center of the region.
In a sign of strong enthusiasm, about 300 people came to Crist's event, where veterans of Obama's campaign signed up volunteers and gathered email addresses and cellphone numbers in an effort to reactivate the president's re-election effort in a gubernatorial race. - Tampa Bay Times, 4/21/14