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Sen. Siplin calls on Scott to appoint special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridopolos also says “no” to a special committee on the use of the “stand your ground” law.

“The Senate President feels that Governor Scott is currently taking all of the appropriate steps to address the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin. Additionally, the Senate President is confident that the circumstances surrounding this shooting will be closely examined by lawmakers, and if the Senate concludes that laws need to be revised they will be addressed in the future,” Haridopolos’s spokeswoman Lyndsey Cruley said in an e-mail.

State Sen. Gary Siplin and a coalition of other black lawmakers are asking Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate last month’s shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer near Orlando.

Trayvon Martin was killed last month by George Zimmerman, whom police identified as white but whose family says is Hispanic, in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26. Zimmerman, who has not been charged with any crime, has said he shot the high school student in self-defense after a confrontation.

The shooting, now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and local authorities, has sparked an international furor with civil rights leaders demanding Zimmerman’s arrest and a probe into selective prosecution of white-on-black crime.

Siplin, an Orlando attorney whose district neighbors Sanford, said the community is plagued by a “plantation” mentality and asked Scott to appoint a special prosecutor to quell racial tension.

“In my community today, they’re very upset. They’re very excited. They’re ready to ignite,” Siplin, a Democrat and a laywer, said at a press conference in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.
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Florida House keeps it brief, shines spotlight on FSU b-ballers

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida House members straggled back to Tallahassee after just four days off for a brief kick-off to an “extraordinary” special session followed by an update from their lawyer about the Senate’s faulty legislative maps.

The Florida Supreme Court signed off on the House’s newly drawn maps but rejected eight of the Senate’s proposed 40 districts, meaning the upper chamber will have to do the heavy lifting for the next 10 days.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, told happy House members they won’t have to return to the Capitol next week but to be prepared to come back on March 26-28 to finalize the Senate’s new plan.

The House’s redistricting lawyer George Meros will give the redistricting committee an update on what the court found wrong with the Senate maps this afternoon.

House Redistricting Committee Chairman Will Weatherford said he’s working with his Senate counterpart Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and trusts the Senate to abide by the court’s directions on how to fix the maps.

“I am confident in the Senate’s ability,” incoming House Speaker Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said. “We’re working with them. We have a good conversation going with them. We’re showing deference to them but certainly we have opinions about how the Senate maps should look…. But I think the court gave some pretty specific recommendations. It’s my understanding that they’re taking those recommendations seriously.”

A visit from Florida State University basketball coach Leonard Hamilton provided the highlight of the 11-minute floor session. Hamilton stuck around for photos with members after being introduced by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, the “Seminole Caucus” cheerleader-in-chief.

The Seminoles won the ACC championship this week, and Hamilton, in his tenth year as head coach at FSU, was recently named the ACC coach of the year.

“Today we proudly send our Seminoles to Nashville for the first rounds of the NCAA tournament and wish them the best against St. Bonaventure, wherever that is,” Patronis said.

Rep. Mack Bernard, D-West Palm Beach, also took a moment on the floor to give his legislative aide Jacquet a shout-out. Jacquet yesterday defeated three other candidates to win a seat on the Delray Beach City Commission.

Senate redistricting plan rejected by court; House proposal OK’d

Friday, March 9th, 2012 by John Kennedy

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Legislature’s plan for redrawing Senate districts was unconstitutional — a decision that will bring lawmakers back into a special redistricting session later this month.

Justices upheld the House maps. But the Senate plan was ruled lacking in the way senators drew minority districts and relied on “communities of interest,” in its determination of compactness, required under the constitutional amendments 5 and 6.

“We recognize that the Senate did not have the benefit of our opinion when drawing its plan. However, it is clear from a facial review of the Senate plan that the pick and choose method for existing boundaries was not balanced,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the majority.

The court unanimously endorsed the House plan but rejected the Senate’s in a 5-2 decision. Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justice Ricky Polston said they thought the majority overreached in ruling the Senate plan was flawed.

The court also didn’t accept how senators had districts renumbered to affect which two-year election cycle they fall in; this would insure that most incumbents could serve as many as 10 years in the chamber, a provision also seized on by justices. Senators are normally limited to two four-year terms.

“Adopting a renumbering system that significantly advantages incumbents by increasing the length of time that they may serve by two years most assuredly favors incumbents,” justices wrote. “Further, purposefully manipulating the numbering of the districts in order to allow incumbents to serve in excess of eight years would also appear to frustrate the intent of the voters when the term limits amendment was adopted.”

House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, announced to the full House Thursday morning that the maps drawn by House members was accepted by the court. That drew a lengthy, standing ovation from representatives.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, later added the caveat about the Senate plan, telling lawmakers they would be returning soon for a special session.

The Florida Democratic Party, which challenged the maps as drawn to assure continued Republican dominance, praised the justices’ ruling — although they rejected many of the party’s arguments.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Florida.” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. “This ruling confirms what we had anticipated, that the Senate map violated Fair Districts. We applaud the court for stepping in to implement the will of the voters of Florida. We look forward to getting down to the business of drawing maps that comply with the expectations of the people, as expressed in these constitutional amendments.”

Special session on PIP?

Monday, March 5th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, insurers, chiropractors, masseuses, acupuncturists and consumer advocates are just some of the “special interests” trying to have a say in a personal injury protection overhaul.

And with the House and Senate still far apart in their proposed solutions and just four days left until the legislative session wraps up, Senate President Mike Haridopolos would not rule out the possibility of a special session on the issue.

The Florida House passed a bill to loosen the grip of massage therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists last week, keeping alive one of Scott’s top legislative priorities. The Senate version, among other differences, puts fewer time restrictions on treatment but also largely shuts the door on massage therapy and acupuncture.

Stuart Republican Sen. Joe Negron, leading the charge on PIP reform in his chamber, called the differences reconcilable.

But Haridopolos said he’s not sure he’s got the votes to get the proposal out of his chamber at all.

“All I can do right now is try to figure out how it can pass in the Senate. I know the House has been on a little bit different glide path,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said, calling Negron’s bill “outstanding.”

“Overall, the fraud component has been handled in a thoughtful manner,” Haridopolos said. “I do support where he stands on massage and acupuncture but I’ve got to get it off this floor.”

Haridopolos said he’d be willing to come back in a special session on the matter, especially because he’s expecting lawmakers will have to come back to Tallahassee anyway to redraw legislative maps. The Senate President is expecting the Supreme Court to reject at least in part the new legislative districts. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said he does not want to hold a special session on PIP.

“I’m willing to come back. I think it’s an important issue. It’s not just the justice issue of eradicating fraud. It’s also a financial issue to a lot of families because they’re paying too much for auto insurance. So if we needed to have a special session, you won’t see me object at all,” Haridopolos said.

Will free market economics convince Gov. Scott to raise tuition?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 by Dara Kam

House Speaker Dean Cannon used a free-market argument will persuade Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on a proposal allowing the University of Florida and Florida State University to charge higher tuitions than the state’s nine other public universities.

Scott said he does not want a tuition hike for university students and their parents, but Cannon said he hopes to get Scott on board with the proposal already agreed to by House and Senate leaders.

“I think it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between the cost of gasoline or the cost of your utility bill where you’re actually paying for something and then you get a degree for it which enables you to make money,” Cannon told reporters this evening.

He said it’s important to draw a distinction between the state’s universities because “the value of a degree from FSU is probably different in terms of real earning capacity than the value of a degree from New College,” and launched into a free-market idea businessman Scott might like.

“Market rates on tuition, at least for our top-tier universities, is a good idea,” Cannon said. “The governor, I hope, would be supportive of the notion of letting the market drive the tuition at least at our premier universities and avoiding government price controls and pricing unlike products the same.”

Cannon would not weigh in on whether a controversial separation of the University of South Florida Polytechnic from the University of South Florida, pushed by Senate budget chief JD Alexander, was a good idea.

“I don’t want the debate over USF/Poly or any position I may take on it to distract from the greater goal of driving a discussion about better overall system governance. We’ll sort of cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.

Earlier today, Scott said he does not believe the state is ready for a twelfth university.

“I’m being very cautious about trying to add liabilities to the state. So can we afford a twelfth university? I want to make sure we can afford it,” Scott said, adding he is concerned about accreditation for the university.

Cannon ‘skeptical’ about casinos

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Despite the lure of big bucks in a bleak budget year, House Speaker Dean Cannon is dubious about a proposal to allow up to three Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida.

“I remain very skeptical,” Cannon, R-Winter Park, told a gathering of reporters and editors at the Associated Press Florida Legislative Planning Session this morning.

Cannon said he remains “philosophically opposed to the expansion of gaming in the state.” His counterpart, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, has pledged that the Senate will have an up-or-down vote on the measure (SB 710, HB 487).

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, released their “destination resort” proposal last week. The plan, in its preliminary stages, also creates a statewide gaming commission.

Yesterday, a coalition of faith groups came out in opposition to the proposal, naming its defeat their top priority during the legislative session that ends early in March.

Cannon said he’s aware of a potential deal being crafted by lawmakers that would allow the from one to three casinos in South Florida in exchange for shutting down unregulated Internet cafes. But, he said, “I’ve yet to see a concrete plan to accomplish it.”

Cannon also said he would not pursue a plan to split up the Florida Supreme Court, an idea he pushed but later abandoned during the session this spring.

Dereg debacle nets lobbyist lineup

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Just two days before the legislative session was supposed to end, the two professions at the center of a deregulation bill started girding up for what ultimately proved to be a sine die train wreck.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association, already represented by Nick Iarossi – a rising star on the Tallahassee lobbying scene – and his associate Chris Schoonover, added seven more prominent lobbyists to its team: Sarah Bascom (already doing PR for the group), Louis Betz, Michael Corcoran, Chris Floyd, Yolanda Jackson, Ron LaFace Jr. and Gerald Wester.

On the opposite side: interior designers, the profession the Florida House wanted to deregulate to the chagrin of thousands of interior designers and universities with specialty graduate programs. Tallahassee powerhouse Ron Book and his entourage began representing the Interior Designs Association Foundation back in February. But on May 5, the foundation also enlisted the aid of some of the Capitol’s most influential lobbyists: former RPOF lobbyist Rich Heffley, Brecht Heuchan, Guy Spearman, Sean Pittman and Missy Timmins.

In the end, those latest to the game won out.

In a stunning rebuke to GOP leadership, the Senate killed the dereg bill – keeping regulation of interior designers – late Friday afternoon on what was supposed to be the session’s last day, setting off the vendetta-laden denouement to what might have otherwise been a collegial hanky drop but devolved into public remonstrations from House Speaker Dean Cannon and a bleary-eyed Senate President Mike Haridopolos in the wee hours of the morning Saturday.

Session ends with hard feelings after major meltdown

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Lawmakers approved a $69.7 billion spending plan and quietly ended the 2011 legislative session at 3:35 a.m. without any pomp and circumstance.

Instead, the 60-day session ended with Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon publicly rebuking each other over with Haridopolos accusing Cannon of playing “silly games” and Cannon claiming to “take the high road” by rejecting a controversial Senate tax break.

Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, called his members back after 2 a.m. this morning to take up a tax-break proposal that includes a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers after the House stripped out a tax break for at least one greyhound dog track in Senate Rules Chairman John Thrasher’s district.

Haridopolos apologized for asking them to return about an hour after he sent them home and instructed them the session would reconvene at 10 a.m.

Shortly before Haridopolos recalled the Senate, Cannon gaveled down the House without passing two claims bills that were Haridopolos priorities. Eric Brody was set to get $12 million from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for an accident more than a decade ago that left him severely disabled, and William Dillon was slated to get less than $1 million after being wrongfully imprisoned for nearly three decades for a crime he didn’t commit.

“They should have been served today by this legislature. Politics got in the way today and I’m embarrassed,” he said.
Gov. Rick Scott left the building around midnight as the legislative session devolved into chaos. Scott had been scheduled to participate in the ceremonial white hanky drop but instead went home to bed because he had a busy schedule this weekend, his spokesman Brian Burgess said.

The House approved the budget shortly before 2 a.m., about two-and-a-half hours after the Senate and following some very hard feelings between the two chambers.

The House then took up the disputed tax break bill (CS/SB 7203).

But the House remained angered by the Senate’s killing a pair of professional deregulation bills earlier in the night — with House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, saying that move broke an agreement between the two chambers.

“In light of the Senate’s inability to meet that obligation, I’ve decided that our chamber would take the high road…and send it all to the Senate tonight, and leave no ambiguity,” Cannon said.

The House took up the tax-break bill, voted to remove the Jacksonville track provision, repackaged the measure as HB 143 and sent it back to the Senate. With the budget behind them, and the tax-break package structured to their liking, Cannon and House members adjourned at 2:07 a.m., Saturday.

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Pill mill bill back on track

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

With less than 12 hours to go, lawmakers are now close to sealing a deal further cracking down on pill mills.

The final deal will include a ban on doctors dispensing powerful narcotics with no exemption for workers’ compensation physicians, no cap on the amount of doses pharmacies can dispense – a major sticking point for Sen. Mike Fasano, shepherding the bill in the Senate. It does include Attorney General Pam Bondi’s proposed language stiffening penalties against rogue pain management clinics and doctors. It will also ban pharmaceutical companies from contributing to the private foundation that pays for the state’s prescription drug database.

Limiting the amount of highly addictive pain drugs that get on the street has become a priority of Gov. Rick Scott, who testified before Congress on the issue last month touting his plan to track the drugs from the wholesaler to the pharmacy to the doctor. Scott had to give up on capping the dosage amounts after cancer hospitals and hospices complained the limits would keep them from being able to treat patients in chronic pain.

Procedurally, the Senate will take up the House’s bill (HB 7095), put the compromise language on it, and send it back to the House for a final vote before 10:16 p.m. That’s the earliest lawmakers can vote on the budget, the only thing they’re constitutionally required to do during the 60-day legislative session, and they are expected to call it quits shortly after. Gov. Rick Scott plans to join House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos for the traditional sine die hankie drop.

Senate passes watered-down courts amendment

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House and Senate reached a compromise on one of House Speaker Dean Cannon’s priorities that would have split the Supreme Court.

Instead, the proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 7111) would give lawmakers more control over court rules, require Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appoints to the high court and allow the Florida House to scrutinize judicial complaints.

What the bill doesn’t do – split the court in two and set a fixed amount of funding – permitted its passage by a 28-11 vote Tuesday evening.

Cannon’s accepted the deal, his spokeswoman said.

“The Speaker will consider the proposed Court Reform Amendment a win with or without the Supreme Court component. It does not appear that the Senate will go as far as the House in terms of bold reform, but Speaker Cannon believes in all of the policy and is proud of the debate that was initiated,” Cannon, R-Winter Park, spokeswoman Katie Betta said in an e-mail.

Senate plans to strip Cannon’s court overhaul, send it back

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate may “the most conservative Senate ever,” as President Mike Haridopolos boasted at the onset of the legislative session.

But it’s apparently not conservative enough to pass House Speaker Dean Cannon’s sweeping overhaul of the Supreme Court that would, among other things, split the court in two.

As the clock winds down until lawmakers sine die on Friday, the Senate plan today is to remove at least that part of the proposed constitutional amendment, keep the provision allowing the legislature to have control over the court’s rules and send it back to the House for another vote.

“Our members have felt pretty strongly about splitting up the Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, said. “What you’re going to see is an option sent back to the House.”

Senate GOP leaders (who have a 28-12 majority) won’t say out loud that they don’t have the 24 votes needed to pass the proposed constitutional amendment.

But Gardiner, whose job is to count votes and corral the GOP caucus, conceded the speaker’s priority measure wouldn’t pass as is.

“You never count out votes until you sine die but I do think there’s a strong sense amongst our members about the Supreme Court piece,” Gardiner said.

House, Senate coming together on pill mills

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A rewrite of the House’s plan to shut down pill mills brings the chamber closer to the Senate, bringing a standoff between GOP legislative leaders closer to resolution.

The House’s latest plan, which will be voted on by the budget committee this morning, keeps the current pill mill regulations, maintains the prescription drug database House Speaker Dean Cannon and Gov. Rick Scott previously wanted to scrap, and limits the amount of narcotic prescription doses pharmacies can dispense. Senate President Mike Haridopolos has refused to back down from his support for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, now underway after two years in limbo.

The strike-all amendment on the bill (HB 7095), which will be introduced this morning, also prohibits doctors from dispensing all Schedule II and III medications. Those include highly addictive oxycodone and hydrocodone.

And the proposal also requires all doctors and health care practitioners except those treating chronic, non-cancer patients to register with the state before they can prescribe controlled substances. The Senate’s plan does not include the limitations on doctors.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who supports the House revision, is expected to testify before the committee at 10:30.

Confusing amendments could still get on the ballot

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

GOP House leaders hatched a new plan to keep the Florida Supreme Court from scrapping the legislature’s proposed constitutional amendments from the ballot.

The new plan (HB 1261) is the latest salvo in House Speaker Dean Cannon’s battle with the high court, which last year removed three proposed constitutional amendments the legislature attempted to put on the ballot. Cannon released his latest plan to overhaul the Supreme Court earlier today.

The latest proposal would require that the full text of a proposed amendment goes on the ballot even if the court rules the ballot summaries are misleading, confusing or defective. Court challenges about the summaries would have to be filed within 30 days after the amendments are filed with the secretary of state.

A House committee is expected to vote on the measure tomorrow.

Uterus uproar? Silly, House Speaker says

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon said there’s nothing to a Democrat’s accusations that he was scolded for saying ‘uterus’ on the House floor during debate last week.

State Rep. Scott Randolph’s suggestion that his wife should “incorporate her uterus” to keep government out of it went national this week with his appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show.

The to-do prompted a fashion craze in the Capitol this week – women (and men) are sporting pink buttons bearing the word ‘UTERUS’ on them.

Randolph said he was chastised by GOP leaders for saying ‘uterus’ on the floor.

“That is silly,” Cannon, R-Winter Park, told reporters this morning. Cannon said he hasn’t spoken with Randolph, D-Orlando, in weeks.

The Speaker said he never banned the use of the word ‘uterus’ and went on to bash Randolph, who used the term during debate on a union bill.

“One of the reasons why he is probably one of the least effective members of the Democratic caucus is he substitutes things that have provocative value or shock value rather than making a policy argument,” Cannon said. “Not only have I not spoken to him, not reprimanded him, nor had any conversation with him, we haven’t banned the word uterus from the floor.”

Randolph, also a lawyer, disagreed.

“I think I’m the most effective at calling out their radical agenda,” Randolph said. “A Legislature that is bought and sold by the Florida Chamber of Commerce will not let us pass bills that effectively protect the middle-class and effectively protect women from their radical agenda.”

House Speaker revamps Supreme Court overhaul

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

House Speaker Dean Cannon’s latest overhaul of the Florida Supreme Court would retain a single court but divide it into two divisions – criminal and civil – and increase the number of judges from seven to 10.

Cannon made the concessions after taking into consideration objections from the Florida Bar and judges, he said at a press conference this morning.

The GOP leader has wrangled with the high court since it killed three constitutional amendments pushed last year by the Republican Legislature.

Cannon, a Winter Park lawyer, said he’s trying to foster an environment in which “the branches can have an appropriate discourse” but which reaffirms the legislature as “the policy-making branch.”

Cannon also backed off his earlier plan to revamp the way judges are selected for the bench. Cannon’s originally wanted to scrap the Judicial Nominating Commissions, the governor-appointed panel that give the names for prospective Supreme Court judges to the governor, who makes the appointments. Cannon’s latest plan would allow Gov. Rick Scott to select new members to the panel.

And Cannon’s reversed his position on opening up complaints about judges. Instead of opening up the records to everyone, Cannon wants to make it easier for the House, which has the authority to impeach judges, to get the records. The records would then be open to the public after impeachment proceedings begin.

(more…)

Inter-GOP schism over early FL primary heats up

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

GOP leaders in South Carolina and Iowa are pushing national Republican leaders to yank next year’s convention from the Sunshine State unless lawmakers change the presidential preference primary date.

South Carolina GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd sent a letter to members of the Republican National Committee this morning saying Florida is “thumbing its nose” at the committee’s rules, Politico http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/52303.html today.

“Simply put, if Florida does not respect the process by which our primary calendar was set, the RNC should not be bound to the process by which the convention site was selected,” Floyd wrote.

Iowa
GOP Chairman Matt Strawn sent out a statement backing up Floyd.

Florida’s 2012 primary is currently set for Jan. 31, a violation of both parties’ rules requiring the primary to be held no earlier than in March.

Florida GOP leaders aren’t backing down. They say they’re doing what they can to ensure that Florida plays an integral role in the selection of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Get over it, Senate President Mike Haridopolos suggested in a statement. The Merritt Island Republican and U.S. Senate candidate wants the Sunshine State to be fifth in the primary lineup, after New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.

Read Haridopolos’ and House Speaker Dean Cannon’s reactions after the jump.
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House cuts Supremes staff attorneys in half

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Dara Kam

It’s no secret House Speaker Dean Cannon is no fan of the Florida Supreme Court. He’s pushing a proposal that would split the court into two and require Senate confirmation of justices, appointed by the governor.

Now, Cannon, R-Winter Park, is going after the seven judges’ staff attorneys.

The House budget cuts the number of attorneys by nearly half – from 30 to 14, a savings of about $1.1 million.

Supreme Court staff say the proposed cuts will slow down the court’s ability to hear cases.

The House also doesn’t include any money for the Innocence Commission, a priority of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. The commission is investigating wrongful convictions in Florida. The Senate’s allocated just under $250,000 for the project.

And the House’s spending plan is also missing the $3.6 million the Senate spends to reduce court caseloads statewide.

House big-box pill mill bill a no-go in the Senate

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House’s latest proposal that would give retailers like Walgreens and CVS exclusive rights to dispense highly addictive pain medications is a no-go in the Senate, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Wednesday afternoon.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure (HB 7095) this morning by a 12-6 vote, deepening the divide between the two chambers’ leaders over how best to crack down on pill mills.

Haridopolos insists on getting the state’s prescription drug database up and running despite his House counterpart Speaker Dean Cannon’s push to have it repealed.

The House’s latest plan to limit distribution of the narcotics by prohibiting doctors from being able to dispense them likely won’t go anywhere in the Senate, said Haridopolos, whose wife is a doctor.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for that one. We’re not even going in that direction,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said this afternoon at his weekly briefing with reporters.

House pill mill bill gives big pharmacies a boost

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House gave retail pharmacies a boost this morning in its approach to reining in pill mills by going after rogue distributors.

Rep. Robert Schenck, sponsor of the bill (HB 7095), offered an amendment that would limit dispensation of narcotics to pharmacies that are publicly traded, have more than $100 million of taxable assets in Florida or have been in operation continuously for at least a decade.

The measure would also require the use of tamper-proof prescription pads or electronic prescribing for all controlled substances.

Schenck’s amendment, approved by the House Judiciary Committee this morning, also goes a bit easier on dispensing docs than his previous proposal which would have banned them from dispensing virtually any medications. Under Schenck’s new plan, only the pharmacies could dole out Schedule II and III drugs. Schedule II drugs iclude highly addictive narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine. Schedule 3 drugs include sedatives and steroid compounds. (more…)

Cannon finds some extra cash for schools, courts

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 by John Kennedy

A day after House budget committees squawked about how paltry allocations from Speaker Dean Cannon were forcing  deep program chopping, the Winter Park Republican reshuffled the books.

Cannon found another $75 million to scatter among schools, higher education and the justice budget panels –maybe easing back on some of the axe-wielding. Cannon said he and House budget chair Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, decided to distribute the legislative lagniappe after seeing how budget subcommittees had done the right thing and focused on statewide spending issues.

On Wednesday, Justice Appropriations Chair Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, bemoaned the cutting his panel was doing.

Wholesale spending cuts would eliminate one-quarter of the state’s more than 2,800 judicial assistants, leaving judges to do much of their own research, scheduling and brief-writing, to save $13.6 million. Judicial salaries also would be scaled-back, letting the state pocket another $11.4 million.

Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, said the proposed cuts threatened the legal rights of Floridians.

“We are going to wind up with an umpire who can’t see the strike zone,” Grant said of the burden also being put on judges.

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