12/02/16 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Medical marijuana's implementation is turning out to be a slow burn.
More than 6 million Floridians voted in November to allow patients with conditions like cancer and HIV to use marijuana — nearly 2 million more than President-elect Donald Trump's state total.
But such overwhelming support for the state constitutional amendment has not translated into urgency in the capital....
12/02/16 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Pam Bondi would bring personal loyalty to Donald Trump's future administration — and political baggage, too.
Her meeting today with the president-elect at Trump Tower, ostensibly to discuss a high-level federal post, is the latest milepost in her stunning rise from local Tampa prosecutor to state attorney general to possible White House insider.
Six years ago, Bondi told a campaign rally of tea party activists at a park in St. Augustine what kind of an attorney general she would be....
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, rumored to be in the running for a job in Donald Trump's administration, is scheduled to meet with the president-elect Friday.
Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller announced the scheduled meeting in a Thursday morning conference call, according to reporters who were on the call....
As lawmakers grapple with implementing medical marijuana in Florida, a powerful senator is pushing for the state to set up a pot research program at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, is working on legislation establishing Florida's first major cannabis research center at Moffit, focusing on the drug's potential benefits for cancer patients. He wants to put money in the state budget to start the program, as well....
The steady trickle of political appointments by President-elect Donald Trump over the last month has so far not included one Floridian who is seen as very likely to win a top federal job: Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Speculating about Bondi's next career move has become a favorite parlor game in Tallahassee. A lot of ideas have been thrown around: White House drug czar, a nod to her first-term crackdown on so-called pill mills; assistant attorney general; U.S. trade representative. She was even seen as a potential U.S. attorney general until Trump tapped Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama for the job....
Since March, when it was clear the Senate would not confirm him as state surgeon general, Dr. John Armstrong has continued to cash a paycheck while on medical leave as deputy secretary of health.
On Nov. 21, he finally left the Department of Health....
After two years of their proposals stalling in the Florida Senate, gun-rights advocates are in a prime position for big wins next year.
This week, Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, proposed the first pro-gun measure for the upcoming legislative session, which convenes March 7.
The bill (HB 6001) would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns in airport terminals. Guns are not allowed past the security checkpoint, and state law currently bans them in terminals except as checked baggage. ...
Winner of the week
Florida Republicans. Floridians are winning gigs in the next administration. This week, Trump named billionaire investor and Palm Beach neighbor Wilbur Ross commerce secretary. Surgeon Ben Carson is likely for Housing and Urban Development head. And buzz continues over Attorney General Pam Bondi and outgoing congressmen John Mica and Jeff Miller....
11/22/16 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — As the Florida Legislature elected its leaders and organized for the upcoming term Tuesday, all manner of dignitaries came to take part.
Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater sat in the front rows of the state House and Senate chambers. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made a rare trip to Tallahassee, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera made the trek from his home in Miami, though he had no obligation to do so....
The first thing Richard Corcoran did after being officially elected speaker of the Florida House was excoriate lobbyists, criticize the teacher’s union and call out judges for “putting power over principle.”
In a sweeping speech, the Land O’Lakes Republican set the stage for the next two years when he will lead the 120-member chamber: New ethics rules, a budget process that has Tallahassee lobbyists on edge and Corcoran’s devotion to his own conservative ideology....
It's a big day in the Capitol as the state House and Senate elect leaders and organize for the 2017-2018 term -- big enough that Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the Florida Cabinet are on hand.
But one member of the Cabinet isn't here: Attorney General Pam Bondi.
She is working. Bondi called in to a meeting of the Elections Canvassing Commission with Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater....
After what she termed an “unusual and unpredictable” election cycle that gave Democrats just two additional seats in the House, Leader Janet Cruz rallied members of the minority party Monday.
Cruz, of Tampa, was unanimously elected by Democrats to lead their caucus. She is the first Hispanic woman named leader.
She told the story of her family. Immigrant great-grandparents, a single mother who worked in a gypsum plant and Cruz’s own teenage pregnancy....
Sen. Marco Rubio does not want to talk about the 2018 race for U.S. Senate.
Fresh off re-election, he's safe in his seat for six years, but Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson is up for election next year. And it appears likely Gov. Rick Scott could challenge Nelson for the seat.
Nelson and Rubio have a close relationship as the sitting senators from Florida, despite their differing party labels. So asked Monday by the Associated Press' Gary Fineout whether Scott should throw his hat in the ring, Rubio bristled....
This week, Democrats have been talking about trial lawyer John Morgan launching a run for governor.
Today, the man himself weighed in: Morgan is thinking about it.
"It is either extremely flattering that so many people put such faith in me, or sad that people have so little faith in the typical politicians of both parties who are expected to seek the office," he wrote in a long post on Medium. "Before I go down this road any further I need a lot of time to think about it."...
A former governor is joining the calls for Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan to run for governor in 2018.
Congressman and former Gov. Charlie Crist tells the Times/Herald that Morgan, who bankrolled this year's medical marijuana amendment, would be "outstanding" as governor.
"He would be a populist with a tremendous heart, a great sense of what's important to people and his fellow man and he would be a great governor," Crist said. "I don't have any idea if he has any interest, but I hope he does."...