TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers are inching closer to an agreement on medical marijuana after more than 70 percent of voters declared they wanted to allow patients with debilitating conditions to use the drug.
On Friday, the Florida House made sweeping changes to its legislation (HB 1397), addressing concerns raised by activists that the bill initially proposed by Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, made it too difficult for doctors to recommend cannabis to patients and limited access....
04/28/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — A Hillsborough County board that regulates taxis and waged a years-long war against Uber is on track to be abolished by the state Legislature.
Decried by opponents as unnecessary and out-of-date, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been at the center of controversy over ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. It approved a ban on their operation within county boundaries and tried to regulate them like taxicab companies....
04/26/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Some low-income people who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their health care under legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday.
Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn't apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida's Medicaid enrollment....
04/20/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Welfare recipients in Florida would face tougher penalties for failing to meet work requirements and some food stamp recipients could become ineligible if lawmakers in the Florida House have their way.
The chamber passed a set of changes to Florida's welfare laws Wednesday by an 82-38 vote with three Democrats joining Republicans in support. It's a move supporters say is supposed to help people who receive cash assistance from the state to find good jobs and discourage reliance on government....
04/19/17 State Roundup
Years of fighting among local governments, the Legislature and ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft could soon come to an end.
Lawmakers have sent to Gov. Rick Scott legislation that would prohibit local government from regulating the companies. Instead, the companies would need to meet statewide insurance and background check standards only.
The vote was unanimous in the House and nearly so in the Senate....
04/18/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — For four decades, hospitals wanting to expand or open new facilities have had to get the state to agree there's a need for more health care in their community.
It's a rule that Republicans in the Florida House say creates unnecessary burdens on the free market. This week, they'll be passing a bill to repeal it.
But opponents of the repeal worry that allowing hospitals to build beds wherever they want will encourage health facilities to build in wealthy areas, leaving poor communities with limited options and safety net hospitals strapped for cash....
04/17/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — After a gunman opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub last summer, the most seriously injured victims were rushed a half-mile to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
There, doctors and nurses in Florida's busiest trauma center sprang into action, treating nearly four dozen patients from the nation's deadliest mass shooting. They had practiced repeatedly for such an occasion....
04/13/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — An anti-drug group opposed to medical marijuana is helping craft Florida laws on pot's expanded use — a cause its founders tried and failed to defeat during last year's elections.
The St. Petersburg-based Drug Free America Foundation is one of several anti-drug groups tied to conservative financiers Mel and Betty Sembler that opposed constitutional amendments legalizing medical marijuana in 2014 and 2016. The Semblers, who founded Drug Free America, gave $1 million for a political committee called Drug Free Florida, which fought against last year's amendment that provided greater access to the drug....
04/12/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — The federal government agreed on Wednesday to renew a state program that repays hospitals for care they provide to the uninsured, a move that could offset state cuts to hospitals and bridge a gap in the state budget.
Gov. Rick Scott announced that the Trump administration would allow a $1.5 billion Low Income Pool in next year's state budget. That pot of money, which includes local tax dollars and federal matching money, was set to expire. It has been part of broader negotiations between the state and federal governments over Florida's Medicaid program....
04/09/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — When voters made California the first state to allow medical marijuana in 1996, the rules were so lax, anyone with a doctor's recommendation could grow their own cannabis.
Not until next year will the Golden State start to regulate its growers. State ID cards are voluntary for patients, making it impossible to track everyone who is legally using medical cannabis there....
04/06/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Medicaid recipients in Florida could soon have to meet work requirements and pay a premium to stay in the government-funded health care program.
The Florida House is moving ahead with a plan to force able-bodied Medicaid recipients to prove they are employed, participating in job training or searching for work to receive benefits, the same requirements the state puts on welfare recipients. The House also wants to require most Medicaid recipients to pay $10 or $15 a month, depending on their income....
04/05/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — It took just seconds for the Florida House to vote unanimously to overrule local governments' regulation of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
By a unanimous vote Wednesday, the chamber approved the bill (HB 221), which sets statewide requirements for insurance and background checks on those companies. There was no debate, nor were there significant opening or closing remarks by the bill's sponsor, Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor....
04/03/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott took 21 first-degree murder cases away from Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala after she said she would not seek the death penalty in any cases.
"Each of these cases I am reassigning represents a horrific loss of life," Scott said in a statement Monday. "The families who tragically lost someone deserve a state attorney who will take the time to review every individual fact and circumstance before making such an impactful decision."...
03/30/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — When Richard Corcoran was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House in November, he laid out his vision for health care.
"Let us show Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country how well the people would benefit from a free-market, consumer-driven health care system," said Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.
On Thursday, the Florida House took steps toward the future Corcoran wants, passing two components of a free-market health agenda the chamber has pushed in recent years:...
03/28/17 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — A powerful Florida House Republican said Tuesday he'll consider revising his plan for medical pot after drawing criticism from marijuana supporters.
House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who's shepherding the lower chamber's bill (HB 1397) to expand the distribution of voter-approved medical marijuana, said he's willing to compromise to ensure the Legislature puts something into law....