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Florida Legislative Session 2018

Legislative update: Pharmacists bill DOA, House refuses fracking, Nazis rule on free speech

Florida Legislative Session 2018

I’m going to use this post for Legislative Update snippets. If anything is pertinent to our area we can write a post. This way everyone has a general idea of whats going on.

Tallahassee, Fla (TreasureCoast.com)

January 9: Legislative sessions opens.

Here is a link to “Find your legislators.”

Here is Mary Higgens at “Awake the State!”

Week 1

Senate President Joe Negron started the 2018 legislative session  by promising to crack down on sexual harassment in the Florida Capitol.

The 2018 session of the Florida Legislature starts today and nursing homes are on the firing line. The Florida Health Care Association represents most of them.  Chief lobbyist Bob Asztalos  says they’re playing defense after the deaths of 14 people at a south Florida home after Hurricane Irma.

Asztalos says trial lawyers are trying to profit from the tragedy by pushing new laws that make it easier for patients to sue. But the nursing homes are also trying to use it to their advantage by asking lawmakers for a 50 million dollar increase this year.


LAWMAKERS HAVE FILED NEARLY 300 BILLS. ONLY ABOUT TEN PERCENT OF THEM WILL REACH GOVERNOR SCOTT’S DESK. KEY ISSUES INCLUDE EDUCATION FUNDING, TAX CUTS, THE ENVIRONMENT, HEALTHCARE AND PREPARING FOR FUTURE MEGA STORMS LIKE HURRICANE IRMA.  

Help could be coming for those looking for a way to stop telemarketing calls. Tallahassee state Representative Loranne Ausley filed a bill that would crack down on telemarketers who violate the state’s Do Not Call law. Her bill would include robo calls and those using deceptive caller IDs.

If you’re a victim of identity theft or a data breach, the first thing you’re supposed to do is put a freeze on your credit reports. But Florida law says credit agencies can charge for that… even if it was their fault. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says that has to change.

Putnam is supporting a bill that eliminates that ten dollar fee. It passed unanimously during its first committee vote in the state legislature.

Greyhounds

The annual battle over greyhound racing is underway in the Florida Legislature. The House Gaming Committee has approved a ban on the use of anabolic steroids on the dogs… much to the dismay of Jeff Kottkamp with the Florida Greyhound Association.

But Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith says dog breeders use that same excuse to oppose bills having anything to do with protecting greyhounds

Florida is one of only five states where greyhounds are still racing  

January 15th,2018

A new bill going through the Florida Legislature is attempting to address the stigma about mental health among college students. The bill is being pushed by Jon Carter, a student at FAU. Carter is the Governmental Relations Director for FAU’s student government.

Emory University reports that there are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses every year. A few years ago Carter lost a friend to suicide, and the event rattled the entire campus

Carter is working with Representative Emily Slosberg to have an official Florida mental health awareness week. During that week, there would be programs and presentations at state universities to encourage students to get help if needed, and emphasize that there is no harm in asking for help.

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The Florida Senate passed a sweeping proposal that will provide Florida College Students with a big break on tuition. If passed, the bill would give top performing high school students with a big break on tuition. If passed, the bill would give top performing high school students who attend a state college between 75 and  100 of tuition costs. The bill also calls for programs to help the state universities attract and keep facility members.

January 17

Florida pharmacist’s may be able to diagnose and treat the Flu

The flu is now at epidemic levels in the United States. It’s widespread in 49 states and 20 children have died so far this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even postponed its discussion on nuclear preparedness to host a lecture about this year’s flu season.  Health experts believe the flu season is about to get worse here in South Florida.

As flu season heats up, a bill is now moving through Tallahassee that would give pharmacists the ability to diagnose the flu. If it becomes law, people could go to the corner drugstore instead of the doctors office. Norbert Graber is a local pharmacist who supports the bill.

If it becomes law, it would give pharmacists the ability to diagnose the flu and strep throat, as well as begin treatment. Graber and other proponents for the bill say this will free up room and appointments in doctors offices. It will also give people easier access to medicine which could be — in extreme cases — the difference between life and death. He believes it could save lives, but some doctors say they’re the only ones who should be diagnosing anything.

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Janet Cruz is one of the sponsors of a bill that requires animal shelters to adopt procedures that help return lost dogs or cats to their owners after a natural disaster. It also extends the deadline for euthanizing animals so people have more time to track down missing pets.

Jan 19

Senator Daphne Campbell and Representative Emily Slosberg Declare Jewish American Heritage Week in the State of Florida

Tallahassee, FL –Senator Daphne Campbell (D-Miami) and Representative Emily Slosberg (D-Delray Beach) have filed a resolution declaring the week of February 12th as Jewish American Heritage week in Florida. The resolution will recognize the rich history and culture in which Jewish Americans have contributed to North America and the State of Florida.

“There are approximately 654,860 Jewish Americans residing in the State of Florida,” stated Representative Emily Slosberg. “Jewish Americans have made contributions to our communities, academic institutions, civic organizations and businesses. It is my honor to join Senator Campbell and recognize these accomplishments during Jewish American Heritage Week in the Florida House.

During this time, we celebrate and honor the invaluable contributions of Jewish Americans. The resolution pays tribute to the unique cultures, customs, and dynamic heritage that derived from Jewish Americans.”

Jewish American Heritage Week will be observed in Florida, February 12-16, 2018


A resolution moving through the Florida House would declare pornography a health risk. The House Health & Human Services Committee overwhelmingly approved the resolution Thursday. It states the need for education, research and policy changes to protect Floridians from pornography. Republican Rep. Ross Spano is sponsoring the resolution. He told the committee that pornography is readily available to children through smartphones and exposure to explicit material is harming them. Spano is also a candidate for attorney general. After the meeting, he said he isn’t sure what policy changes the state should make, but said acknowledging the problem is a first step.

Jan 22,2018

From the Florida Conservation Coalition is continuing to watch the Florida Legislature as it advances environmental legislation. Here are some highlights from last week:

Land Acquisition Trust Fund / Water and Land Conservation Amendment

Senator Bradley’s bill dedicating $50 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for the St. Johns River and the Keystone Heights Lake Region, SB 204, was supported by the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now ready to be voted on by the full Senate. This bill would also increase annual funding for springs to $75 million. SB 204 has no House Companion.

Clean Water Act

The House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee filed HB 7043, which is identical to Senator Simmons’ SB 1402. These bills would begin the process of delegating federal permitting authority, under the Clean Water Act, for certain pollution discharges to the state of Florida.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has stated that if it is granted this permitting authority, it does not intend to charge additional fees for permit applications under its new program. DEP will not receive any additional funding from the federal government to administer the program.

SB 1402 is scheduled to be considered in the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, the 1st of 3 committee stops, this afternoon.

Offshore Drilling

The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee passed SR 550, a state resolution in support of indefinitely extending the current federal moratorium on oil and gas drilling within certain parts of the Gulf of Mexico. The companion bill to SR 550, HR 319, has also passed its first committee. SR 550 has two remaining committee stops and HR 319 has one.


Jan 24,2018- Tallahassee, FL  Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) & Representative Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) will hold a press conference today at 1:30pm to discuss their cancer prevention legislation. Senator Rodriguez has filed SB 1558 and Representative Mercado has filed HB 1343. Known as the Women’s Cancer Prevention Act, the bills aim to add the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to those that are required for school entry.

The legislation has the support of the Young Adult Cancer Alliance, Moffitt Cancer Center, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and The Florida Society of Clinical Oncology.

 


Jan 25, 2018

The Criminal Justice committee in the Florida House approves two of the NRA’s favorite bills. One would allow concealed carry of firearms in churches. Representative Julio Gonzalez says current law does not allow parishioners to defend themselves from a shooter

The second bill allows concealed carry by teachers and principals. Melissa Franklin has two kids in school and says guns are the last thing they need.

Both bills passed easily in the House committee, but it’s a longshot because a senate committee has already voted them down


A proposed bill would strengthen Florida’s ban on texting while driving to make it a “primary” offense rather than a “secondary” offense. A primary offense means police would be able to stop drivers for texting behind the wheel. The proposed bill would also require race and ethnicity to be recorded by police officers when ticketing drivers for texting while driving. Supporters believe the data collection will help determine if minorities are disproportionately ticketed for texting while driving. The proposal has now cleared three Senate panels. It must get approved by one more committee before it can go to the full Senate. There is also a version of the bill in the House.

Representative Jared Moskowitz Files Florida Orca Protection Act 


Tallahassee, FL – Representative Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs) has filed HB 1305, which if signed into law would prohibit the captivity of any orca for the purposes of entertainment and bar the breeding of orcas or harvesting of DNA for artificial insemination purposes.

“The conditions that captive orcas inhabit is reprehensible and it’s past due that we take a stand for the proper and humane treatment of these animals,” declared Representative Jared Moskowitz. “Frankly, this legislation is simple, it only codifies Sea World’s current plan and prevents other corporations from going into this business to exploit and abuse innocent animals. It’s unacceptable that Sea World (now partially owned by a Chinese corporation) would attempt to block a commonsense rule protecting the well-being of orcas, a rule that they were supposedly committed to honoring internally.”

The bill also bans the export, transport, move, or sale of an orca located in the state to another state or country unless authorized by federal law or if the transfer is to a facility in North America which meets standards equivalent to or more stringent than those provided under the United States Animal Welfare Act.

Captivity adversely affects the lives of orcas and studies have found that when captive, these animals have a mortality rate 2.5 times higher than those living in the wild. HB 1305 would make the policy shift announced by SeaWorld in 2016, phasing out the killer whale show, into state law.

Tallahassee, FL – Tomorrow, Representative David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) and Senator Victor M. Torres, Jr. (D-Orlando) will be holding a press conference to garner support for HB 1385 and SB 1872, the Healthy Florida Program.

The Healthy Florida Program creates a comprehensive single-payer health coverage system aimed at improving the quality of health care for Floridians. The bill sponsors will be joined by the Progressive Caucus Chairman – Representative Carlos Smith (D-Orlando) and other supporters.

Who: Representative David Richardson

Senator Victor M. Torres, Jr.

Chairman of the Progressive Caucus – Representative Carlos Smith

What: Press Conference for the Healthy Florida Program

When: Thursday, January 25, 11:00am


Representative Kristin Jacobs’ HB 53 Passes Florida House Unanimously

Tallahassee, FL – Yesterday, the Florida House unanimously passed HB 53 by Representative Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek) to establish the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area. If enacted, HB 53 will designate the sovereign submerged lands and state waters offshore of Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties from the St. Lucie Inlet in the north to the northern boundary of the Biscayne National Park in the south.

“Our oceans and reefs know no political boundaries as evidenced by the bill’s 20 co-sponsors from both parties and unanimous support from the Florida House,” said Representative Kristin Jacobs.

This designation along the North Florida Reef Tract allows the area to be bracketed for water quality monitoring. A serious coral disease epidemic began in 2014 and is continuing to spread along the world famous Florida Reef Tract that extends from the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys north to Martin County. In the last three years, 21 of the 35 coral species off Florida’s coastline have died.

Last year, the legislature appropriated $1 million for water quality monitoring to study the impacts to the near shore environment. Currently, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee recommendation as well as the Department of Environmental Protection and the Governor’s budget requests all include continuing funding for the next fiscal year at $1 million.

“The epidemic is unique since it involves multiple diseases and affects several species of coral, some listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act,” said Representative Kristin Jacobs. “Aside from its natural beauty, our reef is also vital to our coastal protection and economic vitality.”

Together, these four counties represent one-third of the state’s population, the highest density coastal population, resulting in substantial pressure on the reef system. This reef tract generates over $6 Billion to the state, supporting tourism, commercial fishing, recreational fishing and diving, and providing valuable protection to the coasts during storms.

The bill now awaits passage on the Senate floor.


January 31, 2018

More free speech for speakers… less for hecklers… a committee in the Florida House passes a bill that forbids state colleges and universities from putting controversial speakers in free speech zones… Naples representative Bob Rommel explains…

But Kara Gross with the ACLU says the “Campus Free Expression Act” steps on the rights of those who disagree with controversial speakers…

The bill allows anyone speaking on campus to sue if student protests disrupt their speech. Had it been law this year, the ACLU says, white nationalist Richard Spencer would have been able to sue the university of Florida, because he got heckled during his appearance on campus.

Florida Could Issue Gun Permits with Incomplete Background Checks

FLORIDA COULD ISSUE GUN PERMITS WITH INCOMPLETE BACKGROUND CHECKS

Tallahassee, FL – Some Florida lawmakers want to rewrite the state’s concealed weapons law. They want people to get gun licenses even when their criminal background checks are incomplete. Supporters of gun restrictions are calling the potential change “dangerous and absurd.” 


Feb 7

A BILL THAT WOULD HAVE LET PHARMACISTS TEST AND TREAT FOR THE FLU OR STREP INFECTIONS DIED YESTERDAY IN A STATE SENATE COMMITTEE MEETING, AFTER COMPLAINTS FROM DOCTORS THAT PATIENTS WOULD SKIP DOCTOR’S VISITS. SENATOR JEFF BRANDES – A REPUBLICAN FROM ST. PETERSBURG – SPONSORED THE BILL THAT WOULD HAVE LET PHARMACISTS GIVE PEOPLE A BASIC SWAB TEST FOR FLU OR STREP THROAT AND PRESCRIBE TREATMENTS LIKE TAMIFLU – WITHOUT THE PATIENT SEEING A DOCTOR. DOCTORS SAID THAT IT WOULD LEAVE SOME PATIENTS AT RISK IF THEY HAD COMPLICATIONS THAT A PHARMACIST COULD NOT TREAT.  

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A UNANIMOUS VOTE TO BAN FRACKING BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION COMMITTEE IN THE FLORIDA SENATE. OPPONENTS SAY IT’S A THREAT TO THE WATER SUPPLY AND GAIL DICKERT WITH THE FLORIDA FEDERATION OF GARDEN CLUBS SAYS FRACKING IS A DANGER TO PUBLIC HEALTH

THE FRACKING BAN HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH VOTES TO PASS THE FLORIDA SENATE BUT HOUSE LEADERS REFUSE TO SCHEDULE ANY SORT OF A HEARING OR PUBLIC VOTE.  


The Education Committee in the Florida Senate approves a bill to ban “free speech zones” at state college and universities. Senator Dennis Baxley says the entire campus is supposed to be a free speech zon

The United Faculty of Florida and the ACLU oppose the bill because it would allow controversial speakers to sue the college or university if students disrupt their presentation  


Feb 8

The House Education Committee in Tallahassee says the words “In God we trust” should be emblazoned on every public school Florida. Representative Kimberly Daniels says kids need to be reminded every day

The bill passed unanimously in two house committees and is ready for a floor vote. The Senate version has been referred to 3 separate committees and is still waiting on its first hearing

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