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News Service Of Florida

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

Justices weigh police ‘stand your ground’ defense

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office this week urged the Florida Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that allowed a police officer to use the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law after being charged with manslaughter in an on-duty shooting.

Bondi’s office, in a 22-page brief filed Monday, argued that Broward County sheriff’s deputy Peter Peraza was not legally entitled to claim immunity under “stand your ground” in the 2013 shooting death of Jermaine McBean. Instead, the brief argued, officers can seek a more-limited type of immunity under another part of state law.

The Supreme Court agreed in February to take up the case, after Bondi’s office appealed a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal. That ruling upheld a circuit judge’s decision that Peraza was entitled to immunity from prosecution under “stand your ground” and that his use of force was justifiable.

The legal battle stems from an incident in which Peraza received a report of a man walking down a street openly carrying a gun. Peraza and another officer pursued the man and ordered him to stop and drop the weapon, the appeals-court ruling said. The man did not drop the weapon, leading Peraza to fatally shoot him. The weapon turned out to be an air rifle.

Peraza was indicted on a charge of manslaughter with a firearm but successfully used a “stand your ground” defense. Under the law, a circuit judge held a pre-trial evidentiary hearing before siding with the deputy’s arguments.

“The circuit court found that the officer’s account of the incident was consistent with the other credible witnesses’ testimony and the physical evidence,” the appeals court ruling said, summarizing the decision. “The (circuit) court then found, by the greater weight of the evidence, that the man (McBean) ignored repeated warnings to stop and drop the weapon, turned towards the officers, and pointed his weapon at the officers, causing the officer (Peraza) to be in fear for his life and the lives of others, prompting the officer to shoot at the man, resulting in the man’s death.”

The controversial “stand your ground” law says people are justified in using deadly force and do not have a “duty to retreat” if they believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. When the defense is successfully raised in pre-trial hearings, defendants are granted immunity from prosecution.

But in the brief filed Monday, Bondi’s office argued that police incidents are subject to another part of state law that can provide what is known as “qualified” immunity. Under such a scenario, the officer would not receive a pre-trial hearing that could lead to dismissal but would be able to raise self-defense arguments at trial, according to the appeals court ruling.

Bondi’s office said police officers have never had a duty to retreat and that the “stand your ground” law granted the “average citizen the right to stand his or her ground.”

“It makes no sense to apply this statute to officers who have always had the right to stand their ground,” the brief said. “Thus, permitting an officer, to elect an absolute immunity over qualified immunity bypasses the statute specifically designed for this scenario and renders (the law dealing with qualified immunity) meaningless.”

But Peraza’s attorneys, in a document filed at the Supreme Court in January, said the laws “coexist.” They wrote that a police officer could raise a “stand your ground” defense in a pre-trial hearing and, if unsuccessful, make arguments under the qualified-immunity law at trial.

“This case needs to be examined through the practical realities of policing,” Peraza’s attorneys wrote. “To follow the petitioner’s (attorney general’s) argument would allow an average citizen to assert immunity whereas a law enforcement officer who took an oath to uphold the law, to serve and protect, and whose duty entails running toward danger rather than from it, would not be able to avail him or herself of such a defense.”

Uber goes to Supreme Court in records dispute

A subsidiary of Uber Technologies has gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a dispute about whether Broward County needs to release records about the number of passengers picked up by Uber drivers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The subsidiary, Rasier-DC, LLC, filed a notice last week that it was appealing a January ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal, according to information posted Wednesday on the Supreme Court website. As is common, the Uber subsidiary did not detail its arguments in the notice.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruling came after a company that operates Yellow Cab in the area filed a public-records lawsuit requesting records submitted by the Uber subsidiary to the county as part of a licensing agreement.

A panel of the appeals court upheld a circuit judge’s ruling that part of the information is not covered by trade-secret protections and should be public. That information includes numbers of pickups and money paid to the county as a usage fee.

“In short, the total number of pickups and the fees paid to Broward County do not meet the definition of trade secrets under (parts of state law),” the appeals-court ruling said. “Nothing indicates the fees or total pickups provide an advantage to Yellow Cab or that Uber derives independent economic value from keeping that information secret.” The appeals court on March 1 turned down a request for a rehearing.

Corrine Brown appeal focuses on dismissed juror

Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s attempt to get out of federal prison hinges on an ex-juror who said the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty of charges related to a charity scam.

Brown’s attorney filed a 64-page brief Monday in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the Jacksonville Democrat’s conviction should be tossed out because the juror was improperly dismissed from the case due to his religious statements.

“The record in this case supports only one conclusion: that this juror was basing his verdict on his view of the sufficiency of the evidence, after prayerful consideration and as he saw it, in his mind, guidance from the Holy Spirit,” Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, wrote in the brief. “Whether he should or should not have depended on any guidance from the Holy Spirit does not resolve the matter in favor of his dismissal, because the well established law in this and other circuits is that so long as there is any reasonable possibility that the juror is basing his view on the sufficiency of the evidence, he may not be dismissed. Dismissal requires substantial evidence that the juror is engaged in willful misconduct.”

But in a December court document, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, who sentenced Brown to five years in prison, rejected arguments that he improperly dismissed the juror.

“In essence, the court (judge) dismissed a juror who it found was unable to follow the law,” Corrigan wrote Dec. 20. “The court applied the governing legal standard to the facts, finding beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no substantial possibility that the juror was able to base his decision only on the evidence and the law as the court had instructed.”

Brown, a former 12-term congresswoman, was convicted in May on 18 felony counts related to her role in using contributions to the One Door for Education charity for personal expenses and events.

In sentencing Brown on Dec. 4, Corrigan issued a 25-page order that said the One Door for Education charity, which was originally established to help children, was “operated as a criminal enterprise” by Brown, her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, and the charity’s founder, Carla Wiley.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January rejected Brown’s request to stay out of prison while she appeals the conviction. She is serving the sentence at the Coleman federal correctional institution in Sumter County, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website.

The brief filed Monday said the issue about the dismissed juror’s religious statements started after the jury had started deliberating. Another juror informed the court that she had concerns about the man, identified in the brief as “juror number 13.”

Corrigan questioned the juror before deciding to replace him with an alternate juror. The jury subsequently found Brown guilty of the charges.

Brown, 71, long an influential figure in Jacksonville, represented a congressional district that stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando. She lost a re-election bid in 2016 after the district’s boundaries had been substantially redrawn and as she faced the criminal charges.

State seeks changes in Medicaid program

For the third time in less than a year, Florida is asking the federal government to amend a sweeping Medicaid “waiver,” including seeking permission to add community mental-health providers to the list of those able to participate in a supplemental Medicaid funding program.

“We think this is a great thing to do,” said Melanie Brown-Woofter, interim president and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health. She noted that, if approved, the change could result in a projected $15.7 million increase in funding for community receiving facilities that treat patients for mental-health and substance-abuse disorders, including opioid addictions.

But under federal law, the state can’t submit proposed amendments without first allowing the public to comment. To that end, state Agency for Health Care Administration officials are holding a meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the agency’s Tampa office.

Along with the change dealing with funding for mental-health providers, the state also wants permission to trim from 90 to 30 the number of days that Medicaid will retroactively cover beneficiaries’ health-care bills before they become eligible for Medicaid. Florida wants that change — which would only impact non-pregnant women 21 and older — to become effective July 1. If approved, the state would save about $38 million in general-revenue dollars and $98.4 million in combined state and federal funds.

Florida also is seeking to modify an existing policy on hospital ownership to recognize health-care facilities with regional perinatal care centers to tap into supplemental funds. The change would benefit Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg.

The supplemental funding issues deal with the Low Income Pool program, which provides additional funds to hospitals that serve large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. The program is comprised of funds from Florida and the federal government. But Florida doesn’t use state tax dollars for its required match. Instead, the state calls on local governments and local health-care taxing districts to provide “intergovernmental transfers” to fund the program.

Florida lawmakers agreed to direct $19.8 million in the coming year toward community central receiving systems, with a requirement of 50 percent local match, or about $10 million, Brown-Woofter told the News Service of Florida.

If the federal government approves the proposed changes, she said, the $10 million in local match could draw down another $15.7 million in so-called LIP funding. Brown-Woofter said the increased funding could either be used to enhance treatment services or to increase the number of community central receiving systems in the state.

Rules surrounding LIP funding have changed in recent years, making it less lucrative for hospitals to participate, and the state hasn’t been able to collect enough local match money to fully fund the program.

The Donald Trump administration last year authorized a $1.5 billion LIP program when it approved what is known as Florida’s Medicaid “1115 waiver,” but the state only collected enough money from counties for a $730.6 million program this year.

Brown-Woofter said she spoke with hospital groups before lobbying the Legislature about community receiving facilities being made eligible for LIP money.

“They said go for it,” Brown-Woofter told the News Service.

The Trump Administration in August 2017 extended the waiver through June 30, 2022. The waiver allows the state to run its mandatory Medicaid managed-care program, as well as the Low Income Pool.

Before the final waiver was approved, the Agency or Health Care Administration had already submitted an amendment requesting it be altered to require people with cystic fibrosis and brain and spinal cord injuries to enroll in the Medicaid managed care program. A second amendment was submitted in September to require people with AIDS to enroll in the mandatory managed-care program.

Prior to the waiver, the state cared for those people through smaller Medicaid waiver programs.

In addition to the Tampa meeting, state Medicaid officials will hold a meeting April 3 in Tallahassee. Moreover, the state has been soliciting public input on the proposed changes since March 21.

As of Tuesday, AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said the state had received 45 comments from the public regarding the proposed changes.

Superintendents: Money may not cover school resource officers

A new report from Florida’s school superintendents warns that despite a nearly $100 million increase in funding, there may not be enough money to post an armed school resource officer at each school in the state.

In reacting to the shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, the Legislature passed a new budget and related bills that boosted funding for resource officers by $97.5 million to $162 million in the upcoming academic year.

But a report from the Florida Association of District School Superintendents said school districts might not be able to meet the goal of posting at least one safety officer at each of Florida’s more than 3,500 elementary, middle and high schools. The report was part of a State Board of Education agenda for a meeting Tuesday in LaBelle but was not discussed.

“We appreciate the legislative appropriations, but many districts will have difficulty meeting the requirement to establish or assign one (or) more safe-school officers at each school facility,” the report said.

The superintendents also said a lack of funding for law-enforcement officers may put pressure on districts to use the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program,” which would allow school employees, including some teachers, to bring guns to school if they are specially trained and deputized by sheriffs.

But noting the opposition to the guardian program in many districts and communities, the superintendents said much of the $67 million for that initiative may go unspent. They asked the Board of Education for support in shifting some of those funds to the school resource officer program.

“Superintendents request that you support and recommend that these unspent dollars be used in districts for additional school resource officers or other school safety measures,” the report said.

In a recent interview with The News Service of Florida, Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, said lawmakers may considering using the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to shift some of the guardian funds into other safety measures if the money goes unspent, although it was too early to make that determination.

The superintendents also raised concerns about a provision in the new school-safety law that will require “active shooter” and “hostage situations” drills in the schools.

“Superintendents support these drills, but they must be accomplished with minimal disruption to teaching and learning and in a manner that does not unnecessarily frighten students, particularly elementary students,” the report said.

The superintendents said they would work with the Department of Education on other school-safety initiatives, including establishing a state Safe Schools Office, developing a school security-risk assessment tool and implementing the guardian program.

The report also offered some recommendations on implementing a new $69 million mental-health services program, which has been a top priority for the school superintendents for some time.

But the report warned that some school districts could face budget cuts in the coming year because the bulk of increased spending in the new education budget is targeted toward the school safety and mental health issues in the wake of the Broward County shooting.

The superintendents noted that the “base student allocation,” the primary source for general operational activities, only increased by 47 cents per student statewide, a fraction of the overall funding increase of $101.50 per student.

“With only a 47-cent increase in the BSA, superintendents will be forced to cut their budgets — cuts that will impact students, schools and communities that are served,” the report said.

Judge orders new system for restoring rights

A federal judge permanently blocked Florida’s “fatally flawed” process of restoring voting rights, giving Gov. Rick Scott and the Board of Executive Clemency a month to come up with a new system of providing ex-felons the right to vote.

In Tuesday’s order, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker repeatedly chided Scott and the state clemency board — comprised of Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — for the current restoration process and for threatening to scrap the system altogether after the judge last month struck down the process as unconstitutional.

Walker, siding with the voting-rights group Fair Elections Legal Network, last month found that the state’s clemency system is arbitrary and violated First Amendment rights and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

In his Feb. 1 order, Walker asked both sides to propose a new method to restore voting rights to ex-felons, who now must wait five or seven years after their sentences are complete to apply to have their rights restored in a process Walker said gives “unfettered discretion” to the board.

In a brief filed last month, attorneys for the state argued that Florida could permanently do away with the restoration of civil rights, sparking a rebuke from Walker in Tuesday’s order.

“This court is not the Vote-Restoration Czar. It does not pick and choose who may receive the right to vote and who may not,” Walker began Tuesday’s 22-page order.

Walker accused the state of choosing to “essentially repackage the current scheme” that would allow Scott and the clemency board “to do, as the governor described, ‘whatever we want’ in denying voting rights to hundreds of thousands of their constituents.”

“This will not do,” Walker wrote.

On the other side, the plaintiffs asked Walker to restore the right to vote to former felons who had completed their sentences and had already gone through a five- or seven-year waiting period.

“But such relief is beyond the scope of this court’s authority,” Walker wrote, adding that “any perceived policy weaknesses” regarding the restoration of voting rights can be cured through ballot initiatives or legislative acts.

While Walker did not lay out a new process or establish new time limits, the judge ordered the board to move forward with time constraints “that are meaningful, specific, and expeditious.”

“Absent extraordinary circumstances, this court cannot conceive of any reason why an applicant at any point must wait more than one election cycle after she becomes eligible to apply for restoration,” the judge wrote.

Scott was instrumental in establishing the more onerous restoration-of-rights process almost immediately after he took office in 2011.

Scott spokesman John Tupps said Tuesday it is up to “officials elected by Floridians, not judges … to determine Florida’s clemency process for convicted felons.”

“This is outlined in Florida’s Constitution and has been in place for more than a century and under multiple gubernatorial administrations,” Tupps said in a statement. “The governor continues to stand with victims of crime. He believes that people who have been convicted of felony offenses including crimes like murder, violence against children and domestic violence, should demonstrate that they can live a life free of crime while being accountable to our communities.”

Walker’s order found that the restoration-of-rights portion of Florida’s Constitution, along with the executive clemency rights-restoration process, run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

Relying on a footnoted quote from legendary screen character Rocky Balboa, Walker mocked the defendants, writing that they claimed “the current scheme is all sunshine and rainbows.”

And Walker invoked history as a lesson in the significance of “free association and free expression to choose public officials” to represent people and advance public policy.

“These interests are why Americans launched a revolution against perceived unfettered discretion in the hands of one high-ranking official, King George III,” Walker wrote.

Walker also cautioned that there is a risk that the clemency board “may engage in viewpoint discrimination through seemingly neutral rationales” such as traffic citations or a “perceived lack of remorse” that “serve as impermissible” masks for censorship.

“Therefore, the board must promulgate specific standards and neutral criteria to direct its decision-making,” Walker ordered.

The standards and criteria “cannot be merely advisory, a Potemkin village for anyone closely reviewing the scheme,” the judge elaborated, instructing the board not to rely “on whims, passing emotions or perceptions.”

“Establishing safeguards against viewpoint discrimination should be the board’s paramount goal following this order,” Walker instructed.

Scott and the clemency board “balk at injunctive relief” partly because of “a presumption of regularity,” Walker wrote.

“This argument boils down to ‘trust us — we got this,’ ” he wrote.

Walker also took note of “problems of potential abuse,” especially when clemency board members — who are statewide elected officials and who may be running for re-election or another office — “have a personal stake in shaping the electorate to their perceived benefit.”

“Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people,” Walker wrote, quoting from a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“Florida’s current scheme inverts that important democratic mechanism. It cannot do so anymore,” the judge wrote.

Walker ordered the clemency board to devise a constitutionally sound program with “specific, neutral criteria that excise the risk — and, of course, the actual practice of — any impermissible discrimination, such as race, gender, religion or viewpoint.”

Walker did not specify any particular process or criteria, but ordered that “Florida’s corrected scheme cannot be byzantine or burdensome.”

Walker also rejected arguments that the clemency board can’t handle what could be hundreds of thousands of applications for rights restoration.

“It is no excuse that the board lacks resources to abide by the federal Constitution’s requirements. If the board pursues policies that sever hundreds of thousands of Floridians from the franchise and, at the appropriate time, hundreds of thousands of Floridians want their voting rights back, the board must shoulder the burden of its policies’ consequences,” Walker wrote. “They cannot continue to shrug off restoration applications indefinitely.”

Walker also chastised Scott and the board for threatening to put an end to the rights-restoration process.

Even though he found that the state’s “arbitrary slow drip” of restoring rights violates the U.S. Constitution, “that does not mean defendants can shut off the spigot of voting rights with a wrench, yank it from the plumbing, and throw the whole apparatus into the Gulf of Mexico,” Walker wrote.

“Having lost their ability to re-enfranchise citizens at a snail’s pace guided by absolutely nothing, Defendants threats to arbitrarily and completely end the vote-restoration scheme is tantamount to picking up one’s marbles and going home,” he scolded.

State battles Southwest Florida wildfires

With the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying drought conditions and increased fire dangers are expected to continue for the “foreseeable future,” crews were fighting 41 wildfires Tuesday morning across the state — including major blazes in Southwest Florida.

“Florida’s wildland firefighters are prepared to battle increasingly hazardous wildfires across the state, but it’s imperative that Floridians are cautious with fire to help protect Florida’s residents, natural resources and wildland firefighters,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose department includes the Florida Forest Service, said in a prepared statement.

The largest fire, totaling 16,794 acres in Collier County, was 50 percent contained, according to the department.

The second-largest fire, totaling 2,800 acres in Hendry County, also was 50 percent contained, as was a 450-acre fire in Polk County.

State appeals greyhound drug testing decision

For the second time in less than three months, state regulators are appealing a judge’s decision in a battle about drug-testing procedures for racing greyhounds.

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation last week filed a notice of appeal at the 1st District Court of Appeal after Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stevenson on March 7 found that two drug-testing rules were invalid. Stevenson sided with greyhound trainers Charles McClellan and Natasha Nemeth, who face the possibility of license revocation after urine tests showed metabolites of cocaine in racing dogs.

Stevenson agreed with the trainers that drug-testing rules did not adequately carry out state law.

“Because the … rules regarding allowable medications for greyhounds and penalties for drug violations in greyhounds do not provide the standards demanded by the statute, they are vague, they fail to establish adequate standards for agency decisions, and they vest in the agency unbridled discretion to bring actions against licensees,” Stevenson wrote in a 53-page order.

As is common, the notice of appeal filed last week did not detail the arguments that the department will make.

The department also filed an appeal in January after Stevenson ruled against it on another issue in the case. That ruling dealt with the state’s use of drug-testing protocols that had been earlier struck down. That appeal remains pending, an online docket shows.

Proposal targets politicians’ naming powers

Floridians could be asked later this year to prevent state and local elected officials from naming buildings and other facilities after themselves.

A proposed constitutional amendment advanced last week by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission would prohibit city, county and state lawmakers from naming taxpayer-funded structures after currently elected officials. The proposal also would require stand-alone bills when facilities are named after former elected officials.

Critics contend the proposal is a solution in search of a problem.

But Constitution Revision Commission member John Stemberger, an Orlando lawyer, called his proposal (Proposal 37) a “small” way to improve the public perception of lawmakers.

“I think the public’s stomach turns when we name projects after ourselves as public officials,” Stemberger said of his proposal, which the commission approved in a 20-13 vote. “When we name projects, be they scholarships or whatever it is, after members who are in leadership, I think it raises ethical issues. It forces the members of that legislative body to make a decision as to whether they’re going to oppose leadership or do something that leadership wants.”

The proposal was one of 25 to survive a round of voting last week by the commission, which gathers every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state Constitution.

Stemberger’s proposal remains subject to a final vote by the commission. If it ultimately appears on the November ballot, it would need 60 percent approval from voters to pass.

State lawmakers each year consider numerous naming proposals for such things as roads.

Stemberger’s proposal advanced before Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Friday a measure (HB 382) that names 38 roads and bridges across the state after 41 people and families, along with a portion of Interstate 75 in Collier County as the “Submarine Veterans Memorial Highway.”

The bill also applies the name “Nona and Popa Road” to a section of the San Juan Street Extension in Anastasia State Park in St. Johns County to honor grandmothers and grandfathers who take their grandchildren to state parks.

All the individuals honored in the bill, including former state Sen. Greg Evers, a Baker Republican who died Aug. 22 when his truck ran off a road, are dead.

House leaders had removed two names from the bill, refusing to include the names of living people before voting.

Stemberger said he didn’t want his proposal to require people to be dead before they can be honored.

“You’re not really not honoring that person, then everything becomes a memorial,” Stemberger said. “I think this is a good practice, I think it just needs to be done in a way that is above reproach.”

As for why the measure is needed, Stemberger said Jacksonville in 2005 spent $9,000 on a granite obelisk honoring community “legends,” which included the likeness of then-City Councilwoman Pat Lockett-Felder. The inscription under Lockett-Felder’s name read, “Still Working for the People.”

Constitution Revision Commission member Chris Smith, a former Democratic state senator from Fort Lauderdale, said the proposal steps on legislative and local decision-making, when the commission should be focused on bigger issues that impact the “rights of people.”

“This seems to be a local personal beef making it to the Constitution,” Smith said. “If Jacksonville wants to name every park after every commissioner, fine, that’s Jacksonville’s problem. Let Jacksonville do that. That’s their problem. But don’t tell Riviera Beach that they have to do this. Don’t tell Fort Lauderdale that they have to do this. Don’t tell Niceville that they have to do this.”

Commissioner Arthenia Joyner, a former Democratic state senator from Tampa, said she couldn’t remember any speakers calling for the proposal at public hearings the commission held across the state.

But Commissioner Tom Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa, said the proposal is an opportunity to send a message about how government operates.

“This concept establishes a value in our state, a guiding principle, that we believe you should wait to name these monuments to your public service after yourself, or to have your colleagues do the same,” Lee said. “I don’t see any real damage that’s done from that. I like the idea myself. I’ve seen how some of these naming things get done. The quid pro quos that take place, that result in bills passing, sometimes don’t always result in the best naming of things.”

Rick Scott gets final batch of Session bills

Proposals to regulate airboat operators and to make it easier to order alcohol online were among a final batch of bills from the 2018 Legislative Session that have landed on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

Lawmakers passed a measure (HB 1211), called “Ellie’s Law,” that would require commercial airboat operators to take a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission course and complete a course in first aid that includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The measure is named after Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg, 22, who died last May after being thrown from an airboat on an Everglades tour. Goldenberg was with her family celebrating her graduation from the University of Miami.

Another bill (HB 667) would allow Floridians to use smartphone apps to order beer, wine and liquor. The state already allows such sales to be made by phone or mail order.

Also, among 33 bills sent to Scott on Monday was a measure (HB 961) about branded glassware in establishments that sell beer. The measure is opposed by craft brewers that contend it would allow larger competitors to flood the market with company-branded glassware in exchange for free advertising at bars and restaurants. Supporters of the bill argued that the change would allow small businesses to save on the cost of glassware.

Scott has 15 days to act on the 33 measures, which were among the 195 bills the House and Senate passed during the 2018 Session.

As of Monday, Scott had signed 156 bills into law.

Among the other measures now before Scott is a bill (HB 55) that would allow people to use credit cards to make payments for background checks on firearm purchases. Also, a bill (HB 523) would make it a third-degree felony to trespass on airport property where signs are properly placed to tell people to stay off the grounds.

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