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DeSantis Pins Blame on Sheriff for Shootings

March 1, 2019 - 9:30am
Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is accusing suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel of being responsible for the deaths of 17 students and faculty members at a Parkland high school and five other victims of a mass shooting at an airport, according to documents filed this week with the Florida Senate.

The allegations against Israel, whose suspension was one of DeSantis’ first actions after the Republican governor took office in January, were included in what is known as a “bill of particulars” as Israel tries to get his job back.

Lawmakers Move Cautiously on Medical Marijuana

February 27, 2019 - 9:00am

(This is part of a series of stories advancing the 2019 legislative session)

Baby steps.

Florida policymakers readily admit that’s the approach they’ve taken when it comes to dealing with pot, both before and after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

Even a new governor --- and with him, an administration that’s no longer hostile to the concept of cannabis as a cure --- might not change that, at least during the legislative session that begins March 5.

Weekly Roundup: A Sobering Reminder

February 23, 2019 - 8:15am
Carlos Guillermo Smith

Hate crimes are real. Just ask state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Chicago’s police chief is accusing “Empire” star Jussie Smollett of using the “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career” by paying two men to stage an attack on him last month.

The allegations concerning Smollett, who is black and gay, sparked an international avalanche of commentary and ignited concerns that reports of the bogus attack could have a chilling effect on victims of hate-related violence.

Weekly Roundup: Ganja, Guns and Money

February 9, 2019 - 7:00am

He insists he wasn’t trying to get the parents of two victims of the Parkland school massacre booted out of a congressional committee this week.

But Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chief advisers, made international news after video of a confrontation between the Panhandle Republican and two dads went viral.

House Balks at Total Repeal of Pot-Smoking Ban

February 7, 2019 - 6:00am

Florida House leaders have rolled out a proposal that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, but only after going through what one critic called a “bureaucratic mess of red tape.”

The House proposal, released Tuesday afternoon, would require doctors get the approval of a “case review panel” before they could order smokable marijuana for patients.

Under a Senate plan approved by a key committee Monday, patients would have to see two doctors before being allowed to smoke, adding to out-of-pocket costs.

Revamped Supreme Court Rejects Minimum Wage Case

February 6, 2019 - 6:00am

In the first major demonstration of an ideological shift on the revamped Florida Supreme Court, justices Tuesday refused to consider an appeal in a Miami Beach minimum-wage lawsuit that a former liberal-leaning majority of the court had scheduled to hear next month.

The move by the now-conservative majority was a victory for business groups who have fought an ordinance that Miami Beach passed in 2016 to raise the minimum wage locally. The Supreme Court effectively let stand lower-court decisions that blocked the ordinance.

Judge Rejects Cap on Marijuana Dispensaries

February 5, 2019 - 8:30am

Siding with Florida’s largest cannabis operator, a circuit judge for the second time struck down a law capping the number of dispensaries medical marijuana businesses can run.

The limit on the number of retail storefronts was included in a 2017 law aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

But Quincy-based Trulieve challenged the provision, arguing the restriction “arbitrarily impairs product availability and safety” and “unfairly penalizes” pot providers.

Weekly Roundup: Spreading the (Budget) Love

February 2, 2019 - 7:30am

Showing no signs of taming a ferocious debut as Florida’s chief of state, Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off February with a $91.3 billion spending plan padded with a little something for everyone.

The governor’s budget proposal --- the largest in state history --- boosts funding for public schools, pumps money into water projects and trims taxes.

For those whose eyes glaze over when they encounter the words “budget,” DeSantis provided plenty of other fodder this week.

Speaker Oliva Up on Free-Market, Down on Smokable Medical Marijuana

February 1, 2019 - 9:00am

He’s not calling it a cartel, as Gov. Ron DeSantis did.

But House Speaker José Oliva acknowledged this week that the state’s “vertically integrated” medical marijuana system --- which requires operators to grow, process and dispense cannabis and related products --- “isn’t terribly free market.”

“I couldn’t possibly be a defender of free markets and call that structure a free market,” the Miami Lakes Republican, who made his fortune in the cigar business, told reporters Wednesday at an Associated Press event at the Capitol.

DeSantis Still on Board with Ending Medical Marijuana Smoking Ban

January 30, 2019 - 9:30am

Gov. Ron DeSantis still wants to eliminate Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana, but he’s walked back his opposition to a state system that resulted in what the new governor this month called a cannabis “cartel.”

Speaking to reporters following Tuesday’s state Cabinet meeting, DeSantis reiterated his insistence that the Legislature do away with the smoking prohibition, saying it “ran afoul” of a 2016 voter-approved constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.

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