Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Mike Fasano’

Prison privatization study dies on close vote

Monday, February 13th, 2012 by Dara Kam

With a 21-19 vote, a sharply divided Senate rejected an amendment that would have done away with a sweeping prison privatization effort, but doubts remain over whether GOP leaders =have the support to pass the outsourcing on its own.

After nearly two-and-a-half hours of questions and heated intra-partisan debate, Sen. Mike Fasano failed to muster enough votes for his amendment that would have stripped the controversial bill (SB 2038) and replaced it with a cost-benefit analysis. Eight Republicans joined 11 Democrats in voting for the measure.

Monday’s actions leave Senate President Mike Haridopolos and other GOP leaders poised to bring up the bill tomorrow. But it’s unclear whether Monday’s vote indicates that Haridopolos, who twice yanked the bill from the floor because it appeared Fasano had the votes to pass his amendment, has enough support for his bill that would die on a tie vote.

Critics of the privatization include Sen. Paula Dockery, who Monday morning released data provided by the Department of Corrections showing that just four of the seven private prisons currently operating in the state are cheaper to run that similar public institutions.

But Senate budget chief JD Alexander insisted the proposal – that would outsource all DOC operations, including more than two dozen prisons and work camps, in an 18-county region in the southern portion of the state – would have to save at least 7 percent, or $16.5 million annually, of the $232.3 million the state now spends on Region IV.

“You can’t get more information than we have. It’s going to be disputed any way you go. The only way you get better information is you privatize a region and find out exactly what the savings are,” Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said, urging a “no vote” on Fasano’s amendment.

Fasano later took umbrage at criticism from incoming Senate President Don Gaetz over the Fasano faction’s refusal to agree to take up a late-filed amendment. Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, kicked Fasano off as chairman of a budget committee because of his public objections to the privatization.

“Just because I disapproved of a policy I was removed as a chairman. Is that process? All this is is a study. Why are we so afraid of a study?” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

Fasano also disputed proponents’ arguments that many of the 3,800 state workers who would be impacted by the privatization could find jobs elsewhere within the system or be hired by the private vendors because the department is shutting down nearly a dozen work camps or prisons.

“Let’s not play those games. That’s not going to happen. People are going to be without a job. Veterans are going to be without a job,” Fasano said.

Prison privatization going down on Tuesday?

Friday, February 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Sen. Mike Fasano insists he and opponents of a sweeping prison privatization measure slated for a Senate vote on Tuesday still have enough votes to kill the bill.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos yesterday put the bill on Monday’s calendar after twice yanking it from the floor because Fasano had enough support to strip the privatization effort and replace it with a year-long study of the outsourcing’s cost-effectiveness.

Haridopolos said he intends to have an up-or-down vote on the measure, one of his priorities also being pushed by Gov. Rick Scott, on Tuesday, and hinted he may have the support to pass it although the vote will be close.

But Fasano this morning said nothing’s changed, and he and eight other Republicans along with 11 Democrats – Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando is the lone hold-out – will vote against the measure, meaning the bill (SB 2038) could die on a 20-20 tie vote.

“I have spoken to the eight Republicans that have said they opposed the bill and they are still firmly opposing the bill,” said the veteran New Port Richey Republican, a veteran lawmaker and outspoken critic of the plan to privatize more than two dozen prisons and other Department of Corrections operations – the largest prison privatization plan in the country – in an 18-county region in the southern portion of the state. Haridopolos kicked Fasano off as chairman of the budget committee that oversees prison spending in retaliation for his opposition to the privatization.

The tie vote assumes that the Fasano coalition sticks together and that all members show up for the vote on Tuesday.

Partisan scuffle over privatization and tax breaks yields hot air and jerked knees

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich got the last word in a partisan flame war with Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner over firing prison workers vs. closing a corporate tax loophole.

Rich launched the skirmish when she fired off a statement accusing Senate President Mike Haridopolos of ignoring her proposal that would net $500 million a year by putting an end to the “water’s edge” tax break multi-state corporations receive but companies based only in Florida do not.

“If the Senate President is serious about reportedly fighting ‘like hell to try to find some savings,’ he needs to redirect the Senate’s aim to where the confirmed savings can be found,” Rich, D-Weston, said.

Senate budget chief JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, estimates the state could save at least $16.5 million a year with a prison privatization measure that would outsource Department of Corrections operations in an 18-county region in southern Florida. The embattled proposal is now on hold in the Senate and prompted Haridopolos to eject Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, as chairman of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee for his public vilification of the plan.

Gardiner accused Rich of employing a “knee-jerk, Democratic reaction” of raising taxes on already struggling Florida families and businesses. The Orlando Republican said the savings from the outsourcing would be better spent on education or health care in a time when lawmakers are fighting to close a $1.4 billion budget hole.

“It is irresponsible to trivialize a significant, multimillion-dollar savings,” Gardiner shot back in a statement. “It is my hope that we will soon see more solution-oriented language from the senator and less hot air.”

Rich didn’t leave it at that. She blamed her GOP counterpart of more “of the strong-armed tactics the Republican leadership is currently deploying to ram through” the privatization proposal.

“When a member of the Republican leadership deliberately distorts my words advocating for corporations to finally pull their own weight as a “knee jerk reaction” of “raising taxes” on Floridians, his so-called ‘response’ is not only wrong, but patently false. He’s correct, we ‘don’t need bills that raise taxes,’” Rich responded.

Rich’s proposal (SB 1590), which has not yet been heard in committee, levels the playing field for in and out-of-state businesses, she argued.

“Given the events Floridians have watched unfold this week – the inability to muster the votes to layoff thousands of corrections officers from their jobs, the punishment of a Republican Senator rightly critical of the prison privatization scheme, and now the accusation that Democrats want to raise taxes because the GOP so fears my legislation that could spare Floridians from the additional loss of critical services already cut to the bone – Senator Gardiner would do well to admit the real agenda behind their ‘teachers versus corrections officers’ privatization drive,” Rich said.

Senate president Haridopolos strips anti-privatization Fasano of committee chairmanship

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

In a rare use of political muscle, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has stripped Sen. Mike Fasano – a fierce opponent of prison privatization – of his post as chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice budget committee.

Haridopolos kicked Fasano off the committee after putting on hold for the second day a troubled prison privatization measure splitting the GOP caucus despite the support of the senate president and Gov. Rick Scott. Scott today called several Republican senators opposed to the measure (SB 2038) into his office to try to convince them to get behind the measure that would outsource all Department of Corrections operations in the 18-county region in the southern portion of the state.

“I just felt I had lost confidence in him to fill that mission” as chairman of the committee in charge of spending on prisons and other criminal justice operations, Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters late this afternoon.

Fasano said he met with Haridopolos briefly after the Senate session broke this afternoon and was told he would no longer be chairman. The meeting lasted two minutes at the most, Fasano said.

“Unfortunately, this is about the special interests of Tallahassee. This is a perfect example of when they don’t get their way, and leadership doesn’t get their way, they start firing people, or they start removing legislators from their chairmanships,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

Taking over for Fasano will be Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Sen. Jim Norman will assume her role as chairman of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.

UPDATE: Senate prez Haridopolos gives prison privatization bill another committee stop

Friday, January 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ spokeswoman Lyndsey Cruley issued a correction to the privatization bill committee stops. Haridopolos is giving the bill (SB 2038) reviving last year’s privatization of more than two dozen prisons another hearing in the budget committee – NOT the bill that would allow lawmakers to privatize state functions without public input until after contracts are signed.

Bowing to pressure from prison privatization critics including Sen. Mike Fasano, Senate President Mike Haridopolos has put the brakes – sort of – on a fast-tracked bill that would outsource all prison operations in an 18-county region south of Polk County to the Florida Keys.

But a bill that would give lawmakers the ability to outsource state functions without any public input until after the deals are done is still slated to be heard only in the Rules Committee that gave the measure a preliminary nod earlier this week.

Originally slated to be heard only in the Senate Rules Committee before being sent to the floor for a chamber vote, Haridopolos is now asking the Budget Committee to sign off on the bill (SB 2038) as well.

Fasano, chairman of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, asked Haridopolos to give committees like his more up-to-speed on privatization the chance to scrutinize the proposal.

“These bills deal with potential changes to policy of such a magnitude that they should not have originated in a procedural committee such as the Rules Committee. However, they were and have now been referred back to that very same committee with no further referrals. Only your office would know why that decision was made.

In my opinion a subject as complex as prison privatization should have been referred to the substantive committees that oversee this subject matter (i.e. Criminal Justice, Governmental Oversight and Accountability and Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations). The Senate has a rich history as a deliberative body that examines and allows for full vetting of proposed policy changes both major and minor. I respectfully request that if these bills are acted upon favorably by the Rules Committee on January 23, 2012 that you pull them back into your office and refer them to at least the three substantive and appropriations committees I have suggested,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wrote to Haridopolos today.

Shortly after Fasano released his request, Haridopolos issued a memo defending the process in which the prison privatization was vetted last year and announcing additional committee stop for the privatization bill on Wednesday.

“After hearing questions and concerns from my fellow Senators in the Senate Committee on Rules regarding Senate Bill 2036, I have decided to proceed in an abundance of caution,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, wrote.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ruled lawmakers illegally included the privatization of the 18-country region of correctional operations in southern Florida in the budget instead of in a stand-alone bill. The privatization measure would take care of that problem, Rules Chairman John Thrasher said.

Haridopolos insists that although the prison outsourcing never was included in a bill, it was debated throughout the session at various committees and includes a timeline of the discussions in his memo.

“With that in mind, I believe that this additional committee reference will ensure a thoughtful debate on prison privatization, and I am hopeful that this will alleviate any concerns my fellow Senators may have,” he wrote.

Long-awaited prescription drug database up and running

Monday, October 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

After nearly a decade, Florida doctors can now check out their patients’ prescription drug history in an online database aimed at curbing “doctor-shopping” and other illicit pain pill abuses.

The Elecronic – Florida Online Reporting of Conrolled Substances Evaluation (E-FORCSE) went live today after narrowly escaping being killed earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott and other high-ranking GOP lawmakers.

Last month, all of the state’s 4,000 pharmacists and dispensing pracitioners began entering information about controlled substances, including highly addictive pain medication such as oxycontin and hydrocodone, into the database, as required by a law passed by lawmakers this spring.

After today, doctors can tap into the database to view their patients’ prescription drug history and view when and where they filled their prescription and who wrote it. Law enforcement officials will be able to access the database to investigate drug-related crimes.

Supporters of the system, including Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Surgeon General Frank Farmer, hope doctors use the database even though they aren’t required to. Bondi was instrumental in getting lawmakers to reach an agreement over the database this spring.

The Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association are asking their members to participate.

“The prescription database is perhaps the single most important patient safety program to launch in recent memory,” Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said in a statement. Fasano has tried for nearly a decade to get the database up-and-running. Lawmakers were so skittish about the database they forbade the use of state money to create and operate it. The Prescription Drug Program Monitoring Foundation, the non-profit organization footing the bill for the system, and the state have received $800,000 in federal grants for the database.

“After many years and many obstacles to overcome, the database is going live at a time when it is needed most. Although we will never know the number of lives that will be saved, we will know that many lives will not be lost as long as the database is consulted by every doctor every time he or she considers writing a controlled substance prescription,” Fasano said.

Haridopolos agrees to CFO Atwater’s request for public meeting on SBA investment

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos has agreed to call in State Board of Administration executive director Ash Williams to answer questions about a $125 million investment after Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Haridopolos’ predecessor, asked for the public meeting.

Atwater, a North Palm Beach banker, asked Haridopolos on Thursday to bring Williams in to satisfy Sen. Mike Fasano’s demands for information about an investment earlier this year in hedge fund Starboard Value and Opportunity. Williams gave Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a bill for more than $10,000 in response to a public records request for documents regarding the investment, which was in the works for more than two years before the investment was made in April.

“It is my deep belief that you and the other members of the legislature, elected to represent the interests of Floridians, should have full and open access to information wherever it might reside throughout government, including the SBA,” Atwater wrote in a letter to the senate president.

Atwater also said Fasano should not be charged to review the documents and that he trusts Fasano to keep any confidential information in the records private. On Monday, Fasano asked Haridopolos to subpoena Williams and the documents or to order him to appear before a Senate committee to explain the investment and the public records charges.

“Being that the CFO is a champion of transparency and given his expertise in this realm, I plan to take his recommendation and hold a meeting that will be open to the public and ask the Director of the SBA, Ash Williams, and his staff to be available to answer any questions that the public or my fellow legislators may have about the investment, as well as the public records request,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said in a statement late Thursday. “Like CFO Atwater, it is my hope that this meeting will alleviate any questions that lawmakers or the public may have regarding this investment and the SBA, and the IAC may continue to conduct business.”

(more…)

Bondi slams SBA chief for $10K public records bill

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Pam Bondi took State Board of Administration executive director Ash Williams to task after Williams gave a state senator a bill for more than $10,000 for a public records request.

Appearing before the Florida Cabinet this morning, Williams defended the charges, saying the request was unprecedented in its breadth and depth. Williams told state Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who made the public records request, it would take 300 man-hours and more than seven weeks to produce the 6,000 documents Fasano is seeking.

Williams told the Cabinet that estimate was, if anything, a low-ball.

But Bondi, a former state prosecutor who also served as the Tampa state attorney’s spokeswoman, said she’s “lost sleep over the bill” and that her office charged much less for a public records request resulting in more than 25,000 pages of documents. She ordered Williams to provide an explanation for why the request would take so much time and cost so much.

“If you’re going to charge that amount for documents, you need to give a very detailed breakdown as to why you are charging that much, the hours involved,” Bondi said after the meeting. “If it’s a cost that large, you have to better break it down and justify it. It very well may cost that. I’d just like to see a better breakdown. I mean, that’s a lot of money.”

After receiving the bill, Fasano asked Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, to subpoena the documents or order Williams to appear before a committee.

Williams told the Cabinet Tuesday morning the agency would be obligated to provide the information if ordered and that the SBA previously has given lawmakers un-redacted information on the condition that it remains confidential.

Fasano last month began seeking the information from the SBA related to a $125 million state pension fund investment in a hedge fund called Starboard Value and Opportunity.

UPDATE: Senator seeks subpoena for SBA documents related to pension investments after getting $10K bill

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

After getting a bill for more than $10,000 from the State Board of Administration, state Sen. Mike Fasano is asking Senate President Mike Haridopolos to subpoena the documents from the Cabinet agency regarding a $125 million investment in the state pension fund earlier this year.

Fasano is seeking public records demonstrating the “due diligence” the SBA used before it invested $125 million in Starboard Value and Opportunity, a hedge fund spin-off of Ramius LLC. Ramius’s president is a former client of SBA executive director Ash Williams. Williams told Fasano it would cost $10,750.13 for 360 hours of staff time and possibly take months to produce the documents.

An SBA spokesman said the investment – which took more than two years to research, negotiate and complete – was already in the works before Williams came to work for the SBA in July 2008 and neither the agency nor Williams has done anything wrong.

But on Friday, Fasano wrote a letter asking Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, to use his legislative authority to subpoena the documents or order Williams to appear before a committee to explain the investment.

In his letter, Fasano said the SBA’s estimated cost of the records is “chilling to the concept of governmental transparency” and sets a dangerous precedent.

“It is a disgrace that the SBA could merely set a price tag on information that it does not want the public to see. Florida’s Government in the Sunshine laws are a protection that prevent secret deals and other behaviors from being hidden from public view. Circumventing these laws by slapping a price label on the requested material must not be tolerated. Not only will it damage access to information for the legislature, the greater danger is that it will damage access to information for Floridians as a whole,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wrote.

(more…)

Senate passes pill mill crackdown, sends to House

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Senate unanimously approved a compromise aimed at stripping Florida of its dubious distinction as the “pill mill capital” of the nation as Attorney General Pam Bondi looked on from the dais and two of Gov. Rick Scott’s top aides watched from the public gallery.

The package, a deal reached in the waning hours of the legislative session wrapping up tonight, bans doctors from dispensing highly addictive narcotics and heightens penalties against rogue pain clinics.

“Florida will no longer be known as the pill mill capital of the world,” said the bill sponsor Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “It will come to an end in the state of Florida.”

Fasano credited Bondi, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and his wife Stephanie, a doctor seated beside Bondi as the vote was taken, for insisting on keeping the state’s prescription drug database over the objections of House Speaker Dean Cannon and Scott.

The measure also requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be written on Department of Health-approved prescription pads or electronically, onsite inspections of pharmacies and a mandatory buy-back period for doctors no longer able to dispense the drugs to get rid of them.

The measure goes back to the House for final approval before it heads to the governor, whose aides said he supports it.

Pill mill bill on life support?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

GOP legislative leaders are in a standoff on a pill mill crackdown with less than 36 hours left until the session is expected to end.

Sen. Mike Fasano, the Senate’s pill mill bill sponsor, said he could not get House counterpart Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, to agree to a compromise proposal incorporating much of Schenck’s plan, including a ban on doctors dispensing narcotics and imposing new permitting restrictions on pharmacies.

Fasano also agreed to ban pharmaceutical companies from contributing to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, something Gov. Rick Scott has insisted on. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has offered $1 million to the foundation responsible for paying for the database.

But Schenck sent back a dozen components he wanted in the bill, including a cap on the amount of doses of highly addictive medications that pharmacies can dole out, Fasano said.

Fasano won’t agree to the dosage caps because, he said, they are few below what hospices and pharmacies catering to cancer hospitals need to treat patients in chronic pain.

Instead, Fasano is returning to his original plan to strip the House bill, approved 116-1 last month, and put on Attorney General Pam Bondi’s language tightening penalties on rogue doctors and clinics and reducing the number of days dispensers have to report information to the prescription drug database from 14 to 7 days.

But Scott and House leaders, including Speaker Dean Cannon, have insisted on a comprehensive plan that would include restrictions on wholesalers, pharmacies and doctors to curb the illicit prescription drug market in Florida that some say has been responsible for a national prescription drug addiction crisis.

“We’ve made an offer to them but they’re thus far reluctant to accept it. So my goal is at a minimum to get the language that would enhance the penalties, go after unscrupulous doctors, unscrupulous pill mill owners, all of the AG language along with reducing the requirement of reporting to the PDMP form 14 days to 7 days,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said. “Right now that’s what I’d like to do but nothing’s definite.”

Read more of the differences between Schenck and Fasano after the jump.
(more…)

Pill mill bill deal imminent

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

House and Senate leaders are close to reaching agreement on a pill mill crack-down package, according to Sen. Mike Fasano, the Senate sponsor.

“We’re almost there,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Tuesday evening.

The final bill will likely do away with the House’s cap on the number of doses pharmacies can dispense of highly addictive pain medications, including oxycodone; include the House’s prohibition on using pharmaceutical manufacturers’ money to pay for the state’s drug database; and include a compromise on the House’s ban on physicians dispensing powerful pain medications.

The deal now would exempt physicians who perform surgery in their offices from the dispensation ban, including those who use local anesthesia, Fasano said.

The House already passed its version (HB 7095). The Senate could vote on Fasano’s bill (SB 818), make the changes, and send it back to the House as early as tomorrow.

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…)

Gaetz smack down on prop insurance bill

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Sen. Don Gaetz went after Gary Farmer during the trial lawyer’s appearance before the budget committee taking testimony on an omnibus property insurance bill.

Farmer spoke in support of Sen. Mike Fasano’s amendment that would require insurers to pay for replacement cost no matter how the property owner spends the money. Sometimes banks hold on to the funds without releasing them within 90 days, Farmer argued, setting Gaetz off.

Gaetz demanded the names of the banks and how often it happens.

“A lot of us sit on bank boards and know better,” Gaetz, R-Niceville, said.

A flustered Farmer who could not immediately provide the information, but Fasano was prepared.

He read from a constituent’s letter who could not get her mortgage holder to release funds for repairs she had on her home despite numerous attempts.

The amendment passed.

Senate pill mill bill sails through committee

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Senate committee this morning unanimously approved a measure strengthening the state’s yet-to-be-implemented prescription drug database and creating harsher penalties for pill mills, one of Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s top priorities.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee also stripped out a measure that would have created made it easier for doctors to prescribe tamper-proof narcotics that prevent drug addicts from crushing the pills to snort or inject the pain meds. Most generic drug manufacturers wanted that out of the bill because no generic drugs yet come in tamper-proof form.

Bondi urged the committee to pass the bill (SB 818) to make it easier for her and other prosecutors to crack down on rogue pain management clinics and doctors.

Bondi said she’s “never seen anything like” the illicit pain medication epidemic in her 20 years as a prosecutor in Tampa and stressed the need for the prescription drug database opposed by Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon. A House committee recently approved a measure that would repeal the database created by lawmakers two years ago. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, is refusing to back down from his support for the database.

“It’s unreal. It’s everywhere you go,” she said. “We need a comprehensive plan. We need the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.”

Bondi said drug dealers thwarted by a prescription drug database in their state are flocking to the Sunshine State to purchase drugs and sell them in Appalachia.

Sen. Mike Fasano, the bill’s sponsor, also pushed the committee to sign off on his proposal.

“There’s not a person in this room today…that hasn’t been affected by this epidemic,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

Drug database repeal DOA in Senate

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos is refusing to back down from his insistence that the state’s prescription drug database get up and running despite opposition from Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

A House committee last week passed a bill repealing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program lawmakers created two years ago but yet to be implemented. A separate bill would also scrap all of the oversight of the pill mills.

“How do I say this nicely. We have a law on the books. It’s a database. If we choose not to fund it with taxpayer dollars, whatever happens there, we have secured private sector dollars,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said when asked if he supports the House’s elimination of pill mill regulation. I understand how laws are passed and it has to pass both chambers. We are not going to adjust the database. We believe it’s a very good idea. I strongly believe that we have to get a handle on this…We have no interest whatsoever of scrapping that database.”

Haridopolos said he tapped his “good friend” Sen. Mike Fasano, an ardent supporter of the database who sponsored much of the legislation cracking down on pill mills, to negotiate with the House on the issue.

“We’re the pill mill capitol of the world probably. We need to stop it. We have a device that other states have used successfully…I’m very comfortable with where we’re at,” Haridopolos said.

UPDATE: Can guv kill drug database donation?

Friday, March 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Scott’s spokesman Brian Hughes said his boss never tried to return the $1 million donation to the private, non-profit Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Foundation.
“If the senator wanted an answer to his question, he should have called us,” Hughes said.
Scott “never communicated any opinion” about the grant to Purdue or the foundation, Hughes said.
“The decision is up to the foundation,” he said.

Does Gov. Rick Scott have the authority to reject a $1 million donation to a private foundation created by lawmakers to create the prescription drug database the governor opposes?

That’s what Sen. Mike Fasano, an ardent supporter of the yet-to-be-implemented Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, publicly asked Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander at a budget committee meeting this afternoon.

Fasano said he’s had no direct contact with Scott – “that’s no surprise,” he said -but had seen news reports that Scott was not interested in the $1 million Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the highly addictive pain pills Oxycontin, offered to give to the foundation created to pay for the drug database.

“Does the governor have the right to reject that money?” Fasano asked.

Alexander diplomatically dealt with Fasano’s inquiry.

“I’m not sure,” the Lake Wales Republican, who’s had his own differences with Scott about his sale of the state’s planes, replied. “I share your concern. I certainly voted for and supported the effort to rein in the prescription drug mills.”

A House committee, with House Speaker Dean Cannon’s blessing, approved a measure yesterday repealing the drug database law enforcement officials believe is crucial in cracking down on prescription drug abuse.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, piled on.

She asked the committee to find out how much the state is paying to prosecute and lock up drug dealers associated with pill mills.

Where’s the public records link on Public Service Commission site?

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Sen. Mike Fasano is demanding that a public records link be reinstalled on the Public Service Commission Web site.

The link disappeared after new chairman Art Graham took over the regulatory panel in January.

Fasano, a harsh critic of the PSC for years, wrote Graham a letter asking that the link to the public records requests and the agency’s responses go back online.

“Given the systemic problems over the past few years regarding the demonstrated lack of access to public records, the wrongful denial and unacceptable delays in providing such public records, and the questionable conduct of some who have served on the commission, this is not the time to remove the general public’s access to commission records,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wrote.

The PSC was embroiled in a BlackBerry scandal two years ago involving messages exchanged between the PSC and an FPL attorney that sparked a myriad of ethics complaints and an investigation that found no laws were broken.

T

Privatization dust-up: Was Fasano too mean to Scott’s peeps?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Fasano says he’s not sorry for being harsh with Gov. Rick Scott’s aides at a budget meeting last week.

Scott’s policy and budget staff skipped Fasano’s meeting this morning after Scott ordered them not to show up because of Fasano’s angry questioning about the governor’s plan to do away with more than 1,800 prison jobs.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander told reporters “an apology is in order” after saying Fasano’s treatment of Scott’s staff was “not ideal.”

Fasano said no mea culpa is forthcoming.

“Why would I apologize?” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

Scott’s staff should have been better prepared to answer his questions, Fasano said.

“I don’t know what it was,” he said of this morning’s snub. “I thought it was a bit childish.”

(more…)

Scott: ‘I don’t believe we should be doing’ drug database

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott said he scrapped Florida’s much-anticipated computer system aimed at curbing the sale of prescription drugs by pill mills because he doesn’t believe it’s something the state should do.

Scott said he’s backing instead Attorney General Pam Bondi’s announcement that she’s going to step up prosecutions of the pain clinics with a team led by former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat.

“What I’m focused on is the stuff Attorney General Bondi’s focused on -focus on the people that are doing the wrong things rather than just trying to create a database of everybody in the state,” Scott, a former health care executive, said this morning. “I’m focused on the things she’s working on.”

But Bondi, who ramped up her efforts after Scott axed his office of drug control and policy, said recently that the prescription drug database is one of the tolls that law enforcement officials – and doctors – need to stanch the flow of the highly addictive drugs from Florida, which she called the “epicenter” of the nation’s illicit drug activity.

Scott said the database hasn’t worked (it’s not up and running yet because of a bid dispute).

“And I don’t’ believe we ought to be doing it,” he said.

Scott’s decision to do away with the database, created by lawmakers two years ago, alarmed officials in Kentucky and other states who’ve seen an influx of prescription drugs from Florida. And it created shockwaves in the law enforcement community and among lawmakers who backed the program.

The database would crack down on “doctor-shopping” by allowing doctors to look up patients’ prescription records.

“Without this important program Florida will take a step back ten years or more into the past,” Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said of Scott’s decision.

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives