Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to overturn Florida’s ban on smoking medical marijuana say the state’s arguments are “backward.”
Their attorney, Jon Mills, last week filed an opposition to a motion for summary judgment, set to be heard before Wednesday’s scheduled trial before Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers. Summary judgments allow parties to win a case without a trial. If Gievers decides not to grant summary judgment, she’ll hear the case without a jury.
Lawmakers approved and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law implementing legislation for the 2016 constitutional amendment on medicinal cannabis, but that law does not allow medicinal marijuana to be smoked. Mills says the amendment’s definition of marijuana implicitly includes the smokable kind.
The amendment “does not ‘require’ the Legislature to act to enable patients to seek treatment. The constitution itself specifically authorizes patients with debilitating medical conditions to seek treatment in consultation with a physician,” Mills’ filing says. The ban on smoking conflicts with that; therefore it’s unconstitutional, he says.
And “by incorporating a specific definition into the constitution, the electorate precluded modification of that definition,” Mills added. Voters approved the amendment by 71 percent.
But the plain language of the amendment “refutes” Mills’ contention, Senior Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby countered in a subsequent filing.
“Nowhere does the text … state that smoking must be permitted,” she wrote. “Nor did the ballot title or summary — which, under Florida law, is the information universally made available to voters about the amendment — indicate a smoking requirement. The Legislature’s exclusion of smoking as a permissible form of medical use, therefore, cannot be said to be in conflict with the amendment.”
John Morgan, of Morgan & Morgan law firm fame, bankrolled the amendment and is behind the current lawsuit, which seeks a declaratory judgment that the smoking ban runs counter to the amendment’s language.
The plaintiffs include the Florida for Care organization and patients Levy County’s Diana Dodson, a cancer patient; and Manatee County’s Cathy Jordan, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease. The named defendant is the Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
“Donald Trump’s improved standing, energized GOP voters worry Democrats” via Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post
“Mike Pence is trying to control Republican politics. True aides aren’t happy.” via Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times
“Marco Rubio criticizes Trump’s about-face on Chinese company ZTE” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
“How the congressional baseball shooting didn’t become the deadliest political assassination in American history” via Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa of BuzzFeed News
“#MeToo in the statehouse: At least 16 men are gone, but the harassment culture isn’t” via Jen Fifeld of Stateline
“Adam Putnam says Florida must fix talent gap to keep jobs” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press
“Sean Shaw clears $300K on hand for Attorney General bid” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics
“Court upholds ‘Stand Your Ground’ shift” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida
“Advocates, lawmakers scramble to restore funding for DOC re-entry programs” via John Haughey of Florida Watchdog
Quote of the Day
“One need only look to the harassment suffered by some of the Parkland shooting survivors to appreciate the vitriol that has infected public discourse about the Second Amendment.” — U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, regarding the NRA’s case against the state’s new gun and school safety law.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Elections Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.
Florida TaxWatch will hold a news conference to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would make permanent a limit on increases in property-tax assessments for non-homestead property. The proposal, which was placed on the November ballot by the Legislature, will appear as Amendment 2. That’s at 10 a.m., Florida Press Center, 336 East College St., Tallahassee.
A funeral service will be held for Highlands County Deputy William Gentry, who was fatally shot in the line of duty. Gov. Rick Scott is expected to attend the funeral. That’s at 11 a.m., Highlands News-Sun Center, 781 Magnolia Ave., Sebring.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine speaks with members of the St. Petersburg chapter of AFSCME District 37 West Coast Retirees at their annual picnic. That’s at 1:30 p.m., War Veterans Memorial Park, 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.
Duke Energy Florida will hold a public meeting in Polk County about plans to build a new transmission substation at the utility’s Osprey Energy Center and two 230-kilovolt transmission lines. The transmission lines would extend from the Osprey power plant to the utility’s Kathleen substation and Haines City East substation. Duke said the routes of the lines have not been determined. That’s at 4 p.m., Nora Mayo Hall, 500 Third St. N.W., Winter Haven.
Susie Busch-Transou, co-owner of Tri-Eagle Sales, and Cathy Steen, the chief operating officer of Grayton Beer Co., will speak during a “Women in Beer” event held as part of American Craft Beer Week. That’s at 5 p.m., Hearth & Soul, 1410 Market St., D1, Tallahassee.
A fundraising event is scheduled for Tommy Gregory, a Republican running in House District 73 in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, will not run again in the district because he is seeking a Senate seat. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court, Sarasota.
The Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee and local Democratic clubs will hold a debate for candidates in Congressional District 27. Democrats hope to pick up the seat, which is open because of the upcoming retirement of longtime Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. That’s at 6 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 7701 S.W. 76th Ave., Miami.
The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer-service hearing on a proposed rate increase in Monroe County for K W Resort Utilities Corp. That’s at 6 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.
Republicans Greg Steube and Julio Gonzalez, who seek to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, are expected to take part in a NOVA Republican Club forum in Sarasota County. Steube is a state senator, while Gonzalez is a state House member. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Nokomis Community Center, 234 Nippino Trail, Nokomis.
Levine will also attend the screening of a new documentary, Political Animals, about the 2012 Pets Trust initiative and will speak briefly afterward at a roundtable discussion. That’s at 7:30 p.m., Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.
State lobbyists face a Tuesday night deadline for filing reports outlining their compensation from Jan. 1 through March 31. The period included the annual legislative session.