Dana Young Archives - Page 6 of 30 - Florida Politics

Treat medical marijuana “like medicine,” advocates say

The right way to put the new constitutional amendment on medical marijuana into effect is to “treat (it) like medicine,” supporters said Tuesday. 

The Senate Health Policy committee held its first workshop for the 2017 Legislative Session on medical cannabis implementation.

“The states that have done it poorly, with a lack of regulation, allowed folks to market and advertise the notion of getting high,” said Ben Pollara, who leads Florida for Care, the organization advocating for “a strong, well-regulated medical marijuana system.”

“The average recreational marijuana user is not what this is about,” he told lawmakers. “It has to be treated, at every step of the way, with the seriousness that we treat medicine and other health care decisions. There needs to be clear restrictions put in place.”

Pollara is in favor of childproof packaging for medicinal marijuana, for instance.

Lawmakers now are faced with creating a regulatory system for the dispensing of marijuana to thousands of patients who now qualify for it in Florida. The amendment technically goes into effect on Jan. 3 but the Legislature first must create that structure.

“We’ll continue having conversations with the stakeholders,” said committee chair Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, after the workshop. “No decisions have been made yet regarding specific legislation … but this is a topic we’re taking very seriously.”

Voters approved the initiative by 71 percent, well over the required 60 percent needed. That was two years after it missed passage by roughly 2 ½ percent.

In Florida, the “non-euphoric” version already has been approved for children with severe seizures and muscle spasms and is regulated by the Department of Health.

The state later passed a law allowing terminally ill patients to use a stronger form of marijuana during their final days.

The amendment now grants a state constitutional right to marijuana to people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician. It defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.

Those in law enforcement and addiction treatment, while saying they respected the “will of the voters,” warned lawmakers to allow for a good amount of local control.

“We are not here to be obstructionist; we want to be honest brokers,” said Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr. “But we want to address the concerns that will come up … This is a herculean task.”

He suggested prohibiting selling marijuana as candy or cookies, likely to entice children, and to require tamper-proof ID cards for marijuana users. Adkinson also said the state should give leeway to towns and cities to zone for marijuana dispensaries.

But state Sen. Bobby Powell, a Riviera Beach Democrat, said he was concerned some areas would “zone out” medical marijuana entirely from their communities.

Ellen Snelling, chairwoman of the Tampa Alcohol Coalition and member of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, added that marijuana isn’t harmless, telling the panel of her teenage daughter’s decline into drug use after trying pot.

Snelling argued for strict rules and regulations: “Don’t let Florida become California, where anyone can get a medical pot card.”

But Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, one of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensing organizations, said she and others in the business in Florida are “all about product quality and patient safety.” Trulieve operates a retail marijuana store in northeast Tallahassee.

And Rivers said she expects business to only grow.

Her company now can serve 72,500 patients, she said. After an upcoming expansion, Trulieve will be able to accommodate up to 650,000 patients with 20 milligrams of cannabis a day.

Dr. Mark Hashim, a pain specialist in Hudson, disagreed with the Health Department’s proposed rule banning telemedicine to prescribe marijuana. It’s been described as “allowing doctors and patients to connect virtually, rather than face-to-face.”

He said it would help those in rural areas or simply too sick to get to a doctor: “I don’t see a reason why we are disallowing this.”

Implementation of medical marijuana amendment brings together unlikely allies

With establishment lobbyists now representing it, the medical marijuana cause appears to have become—grab your pearls—respectable.

Florida for Care, the nonprofit organization that is advocating for “well-regulated” medicinal pot in the state, has hired Brecht Heuchan and The Mayernick Group to advocate for its interests.

Heuchan, who says he voted against the medical marijuana constitutional amendment this November, has worked for Gov. Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work PAC. He’ll lobby the executive agencies.

“I didn’t want Florida to be like California but my vote was an ignorant one, as it turns out,” he said. “The amendment … will change thousands and thousands of Floridians’ lives and this can be done in a responsible way.”

The Mayernicks, GOP loyalists and experts in appropriations, have the legislative end.

Florida voters approved the initiative by 71 percent, well over the required 60 percent needed. That was two years after it missed passage by roughly 2 ½ percent.

“It’s rare you get to work on an issue that helps people cope with their medical condition and is supported by an overwhelming mandate of the voters,” Frank Mayernick said.

Now the work lies in how the amendment will work in practice.

State Sen. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, will hold a workshop next Tuesday in her Senate Health Policy committee on “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions,” a Senate schedule shows.

“There are many competing interests on the implementation (of medical marijuana),” lobbyist Tracy Mayernick said.

“We will be advocating for reasonable implementation that allows for adequate access, patient safety and affordability to the expanded patient population as well as a strong regulatory structure that meets the needs of law enforcement and communities across Florida.”

Just as important, cannabis as medicine is about to become big, even huge, business. 

A recent report says Florida will rack up over $1 billion in medical marijuana sales in the next three years. Soon, the Sunshine State could be behind only California in the size of its medical pot revenues.

It’s used as a “critical therapy by millions of patients to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, and more,” according to Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access.

Here, the amendment grants a right to people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things.

In Florida, the “non-euphoric” version is already approved for children with severe seizures and muscle spasms. The state later passed a law allowing terminally ill patients to use a stronger form of marijuana during their final days.

Florida and other states have operated under a kind of salutary neglect when it comes to marijuana, the sale of which is still a federal crime.

The Obama administration has directed federal prosecutors not to charge those, particularly “the seriously ill and their caregivers,” who distribute and use medical marijuana under a state law.

President-elect Donald Trump “has said he supports medical marijuana and that states should handle the question of whether to legalize,” according to TIME magazine.

“I think there’s an axis between the message the voters sent, the desire of the legislature to regulate this law in a lowercase ‘c’-conservative way, and the wants of the nascent medical marijuana industry,” Heuchan said.

“I agreed to join Florida for Care because they’re taking an approach to implementation that acknowledges this balancing act, and are seeking to be productive and reasonable in the process.”


Ed. Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that John Morgan chairs Florida for Care. Morgan chairs United for Care, a separate entity.

Dana Young, Randy Fine, others file to run for re-election in 2018

Count them in for 2018.

Dozens of state lawmakers have already filed to run for the state House and Senate in 2018. For some, their decision comes before their first bills get a hearing. Others have their eye on the higher office as they embark on their final term in the House.

State elections records show more than 50 members of the House and Senate have filed to run in two years. While many of those are incumbents who faced little-to-no opposition in 2016, many just came off hard-fought battles to secure their spot in the Florida Legislature.

Sen. Dana Young is one of those. Young, a Tampa Republican, filed to run for re-election in Senate District 18 on Dec. 2. While the former House Majority Leader easily won her seat over Democrat Bob Buesing, it was far from an easy campaign. Buesing and Joe Redner, an independent candidate, attacked Young over her voting record.

Senate President Joe Negron announced last week that Young will serve as the chairwoman of the Senate’s Health Care Policy committee during the 2016-18 Legislative Session. She’ll also serve as the vice chairwoman of the Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee.

Records show Sen. Debbie Mayfield, a Vero Beach Republican, filed to run for re-election in Senate District 17 on Dec. 1. Mayfield defeated former Rep. Ritch Workman, a Melbourne Republican and the former chairman of the House Rules committee, in one of the nastiest primary elections of the cycle.

Mayfield will serve as the vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee during the 2016-18 Legislative Session. She’s also scored a spot on the general government appropriations subcommittee, and the environmental and natural resources appropriations subcommittee.

Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, also filed to run for re-election in Senate District 8 on Dec. 1. Perry defeated Democrat Rod Smith in the November general election. He’ll serve as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

And while Rep. Manny Diaz still has two years left in his House career, he’s already eyeing his next step. The Hialeah Republican filed to run in Senate District 36 on Nov. 21. He’s hoping to replace Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, who can’t run again in 2018 because of term limits.

In the Florida House, Reps. Randy Fine, Emily Slosberg, Tom Leek, Amber Mariano, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Chris Latvala, and Kathleen Peters are among those who have filed for re-election.

Fine, a Brevard County Republican, is one of at least three House members believed to be in the running for House Speaker in 2022-24, after winning his House District 53 seat earlier in November.

Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat and daughter of former Rep. Irv Slosberg, filed to run for re-election in House District 91; while Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, filed to run again in House District 25. Both are freshmen lawmakers, as are Mariano, a Hudson Republican and the youngest member of the Florida House, and Smith, an Orlando Democrat.

Mariano will run for re-election in House District 36, while Smith will run for re-election in House District 49.

Latvala, a Clearwater Republican and son of Sen. Jack Latvala, will seek a third term representing House District 67. First elected in 2012, Peters, a Treasure Island Republican, has filed to run for her final term representing House District 69.

Personnel note: Sydney Ridley joins Southern Strategy Group

Sydney Ridley, former right-hand woman to lawmaker Dana Young, is joining Southern Strategy Group‘s Tampa office. 

The top-tier lobbying firm announced the move Monday.

“Sydney represents the future of the lobbying business,” said Seth McKeel, managing partner of SSG’s Tampa Bay office and a former House member. “She’s sharp, respected, energetic, and she’s very excited about delivering for our clients – a perfect fit for our team.”

The two had been talking about Ridley joining the firm “for a little while and the timing prior to session seemed right so we pulled the trigger and couldn’t be more excited,” McKeel said.

Ridley, 28, will be part of the team traveling back and forth between Tampa Bay and Tallahassee working on behalf of clients as the 2017 legislative session cranks up, he added.

“She understands Tampa Bay, the players in the market, and, importantly, the politics of the region,” McKeel said. “Political leaders in our region have grown to know, love and trust Sydney so we felt it was really a perfect fit.”

Ridley had been a legislative aide to Young, now a state senator, when she served in the House, rising to Republican leader there. She also worked on Young’s Senate campaign.

“She is a very talented, hard-working individual and I am confident she will be successful in this new endeavor,” Young told FloridaPolitics.com.

Ridley, a graduate of the University of Virginia, also has worked on the campaigns of Mike Prendergast for Congress, Jeff Brandes for Florida Senate, and Dorothy Hukill for Florida Senate.

Ridley most recently had been heading government and regulatory affairs for Frontier Communications’ Florida operations.

Hillsborough legislative delegation to meet December 16

With Tallahassee a four-hour drive away, the annual meeting of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation to be held in two weeks in Tampa could very possibly be the only time local residents can address their state representative(s).

That meeting will take place on Friday, December 16 at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water Street, from 9 a.m. to 3.p.m.

The Delegation consists of 13 members of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives that represent all or parts of Hillsborough County. Senators Dana Young, Bill Galvano, Darryl Rouson will join Brandon area state Senator Tom Lee , who serves this year as the current Chair of the Delegation.

House members include Jake Raburn, Dan Raulerson, Sean Shaw, Ross Spano, Jackie Toledo, Janet Cruz, Shawn Harrison, Jamie Grant and Wengay Newton.

The annual meeting is an opportunity for the general public to interact with and voice any concerns or opinions to their elected officials prior to the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. It’s also when lawmakers will propose so-called “local bills”

Public testimony will be limited to three minutes per speaker. The deadline to submit a request to speak is 5 p.m. on Friday, December 9, which you can access from this page. Additional speaker request forms will be available at the meeting.

Dana Young to chair Health Care policy committee

Dana Young has been named as chair of Health Care policy in the Florida state Senate. The South Tampa Republican, who was elected to the Legislature’s upper chamber earlier this month in SD 18, will also serve as Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education

Senate President Joe Negron handed out such assignments to his charges in the Senate on Tuesday for the 2017 and 2018 sessions.

Other Hillsborough County area senators who learned that they would chair committees include Bill Galvano, who will chair the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education

Senator Galvano previously served as Majority Leader to the Florida Senate during the 2014-2016 legislative term, and has also served as the Chair of Education Appropriations in the past. He represents District 21, which encompasses all of Manatee County, as well as a portion of Hillsborough County.

“I appreciate the confidence President Negron has placed in me by appointing me Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education,” said Galvano.  “I look forward to delivering a higher education budget that truly meets the needs of the people of Florida; a budget that will elevate our university system to the highest level of excellence.”

Darryl Rouson, who narrowly defeated fellow Democrat Ed Narain in the Tampa/St. Pete District SD 19 race, will serve as Vice Chair of the Transportation Committee.

And Brandon’s Tom Lee heads Community Affairs.

Darryl Rouson and Dana Young set to start new careers in Florida Senate

At Tuesday’s Organization Session in Tallahassee, all forty state Senators elected earlier this month will take their oath in office.

Both senators representing Hillsborough County, Darryl Rouson and Dana Young, are new to the job, though not to the Legislature.

Young returns to Tallahassee having fulfilled her goal of advancing into the Senate after six years in the Florida House.

The newly created state Senate District 18 she now represents includes more than half of the same boundaries of her House District 60 seat, and she was more than ready to began campaigning for it once she declared she was in the running back in January, staving off any other GOP hopefuls (such as Sandy Murman, who flirted with the notion of challenging her in primary before opting to run for re-election to her County Commission seat).

Although Young won the seat earlier this month with relative ease over Democrat Bob Buesing, it was anything but an easy campaign. Buesing and independent Joe Redner tore into Young’s voting record, with the liberal activist group Florida Strong and other environmental groups slamming Young’s vote on fracking during the 2016 legislative session.

Young had insisted that her vote for a fracking bill in the House last session was actually a vote against fracking, but her opponents disagreed and went after her hard on the subject.

To clear up any ambiguity, Young announced last week in Orlando that she will soon draw up a bill that will ban fracking outright in the Sunshine State.

The statement earned her plaudits from Florida Conservation Voters, a group that strongly backed Buesing in the election.

“Florida Conservation Voters applauds Senator Dana Young for her commitment to sponsor a true statewide fracking ban,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director, Florida Conservation Voters. “Our quality of life and economy depend on a healthy environment – especially in the Tampa Bay area. I’m glad that Senator Young recognizes that there is no place for fracking anywhere in Florida – our drinking water and Florida’s remarkable rivers, springs, and natural areas are too precious to risk.”

The other state Senator representing Hillsborough County is Democrat Darryl Rouson from District 18, which encompasses parts of downtown Tampa, with the majority of the district located in Pinellas County. Rouson defeated Tampa representative Ed Narain by less than 100 votes back in the August primary, essentially winning the race then in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.

On November 8, Rouson defeated Republican John Houman by a 67%-33% margin. He now moves to the Senate after serving eight years representing Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties in House District 70.

Barack Obama goes below .500 in his picks for Florida House and Senate seats

With his legacy on the line, Barack Obama went all out during this just-concluded election season to not only get Hillary Clinton elected, but also more than 150 down ballot races for state Senate and House in states across the country, including 13 Democrats on the ballot in Florida.

With one House race so close there is a recount going on, the president’s record on those picks in Florida stands at 5-7.

Though a former state senator himself in Illinois, Obama had never previously endorsed in state Legislature races as president before this year. His first batch of any state legislative endorsements came in Florida on Oct. 21, and he actually cut an ad for state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who ultimately ended up defeating GOP incumbent Miguel Diaz de la Portilla in Senate District 37.

Another Obama pick, former state representative Linda Stewart, defeated Republican Dean Ascher in the newly created Senate District 13 seat.

However, Obama’s other three Senate picks went down to defeat: Rod Smith to Keith Perry in the newly drawn SD 8 district; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to GOP incumbent Anitere Flores in HD 39; and Bob Buesing, who lost by seven percentage points to House District 60 Rep. Dana Young in the newly created SD 18 seat in Hillsborough County.

In the House, Obama has a chance of going .500 in his eight picks, if Democrat Robert Asencio can continue to hold onto his narrow lead over Republican David Rivera in the House District 118 recount going on this week inside the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office.

Other Democrats backed  by Obama who won last week were Ben Diamond in Pinellas County’s House District 68; Nick Duran in HD 112; and U.S. Army veteran Daisy Baez over Republican John Courier in a close matchup in the HD 114, 51 percent to 49 percent.

The four Democrats who lost were Beth Tuura in House District 47, who lost out to GOP incumbent Mike Miller. Tampa attorney Rena Frazier lost by nine points to GOP incumbent Ross Spano in HD 59; Lisa Montelione lost to GOP incumbent Shawn Harrison in HD 63, 51 percent to 49 percent ; and attorney Ivette Gonzalez Petrovich lost out GOP incumbent Manny Diaz in the House District 103 race.

Obama also backed Patrick Murphy for Senate and Charlie Crist, Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings in congressional races, cutting TV ads for Crist and Patrick Murphy.

Florida Chamber feels its campaign investments paid off

When the campaigning finally ended, the Florida Chamber had invested $7.2 million in 113 television, radio, and digital ads in state races.

It had mailed 600,000 campaign fliers to voters; interviewed more than 200 candidates and endorsed 116.

The result was that 76 of 89 Florida Chamber-backed candidates won during the primary elections, and 74 of 77 candidates in Tuesday’s general election. The lobbying organization had targeted Florida races, not the presidential contest.

On Wednesday, the Chamber indulged in a victory lap.

“This campaign season, the American free enterprise system has been tested,” the business lobby said in “Florida’s Future: What the road looks like after Florida’s General Election,” a morning-after report containing the numbers above.

“Just as we predicted, trial lawyers, unions, and out-of-state billionaires with extreme agendas attempted to bankroll their candidates into office and exploit their special interest agendas,” the document said. “In fact, trial lawyers and union bosses plunged over $22 million into candidates set on making Florida less competitive.”

On election night, the Chamber watched two state legislative races in particular for clues to the overall outcome: Republican Keith Perry versus Democrat Rod Smith in Gainesville-centered Senate District 8, and House Republican Leader Dana Young versus Democrat Bob Buesing and two unaffiliated candidates in Tampa’s Senate District 18.

Perry won with 52.6 percent of the vote, and Young with 48.2 percent.

As Tallahassee prepares for the new Legislature to take office, Chamber executive vice president David Hart paid tribute to Gov. Rick Scott and took note of the national GOP surge.

“Six years ago, Florida provided an early example to the nation by electing an outsider as our governor with a business background. And that profile and commitment to cutting taxes, reducing regulatory burdens, paying down debt, investing in talent and infrastructure, and supporting free enterprise has created an environment that allowed private sector companies in Florida to produce over 1.2 million net new jobs since 2010,” Hart said.

“America has now taken a page from the Florida playbook.”

Mitch Perry Report for 11.9.16 — GOP dominance

Where do you begin? One of the biggest political upsets in U.S. history, to start with, in Donald J. Trump beating Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States of America.

Lots of analysis there, including about the Democratic nominee, who for the second time in eight years, thought she had the presidency in her grasp, only to lose out — forever.

What about closer to home? Although Florida Democrats have had huge disappointments in 2010 and 2014 across the board, at least they had 2006, 2008, and 2012. But not 2016.

Down went Patrick Murphy, early into the evening. Down went Clinton, officially losing the state before 10 p.m.

In Hillsborough County, a House District 63 seat that has gone back and forth between Shawn Harrison and a Democrat and Shawn Harrison went this time to … Shawn Harrison, and not Lisa Monteliione.

Ross Spano won over Rena Frazier in HD 59. And Jackie Toledo easily defeated David Singer in the battle for House District 60 in Hillsborough County.

Wipe out city.

Congratulations to Blaise Ingoglia, who from the time he became the RPOF Chairman in early 2015 vowed to turn Florida red, and did so last night.

The Florida Democrats led by Allison Tant and Scott Arceneaux? I really don’t know.

What about Washington? It’s now got the presidency, the House and the Senate. Oh, and the Supreme Court as well, now that Mitch McConnell‘s move to not make a move on replacing Antonin Scalia will pay off big time next year.

In other news …

It was not a good night for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. In addition to his girl, Hillary, losing in Florida, the mayor’s appeal for city voters to reject the charter amendment on allowing the city council to order internal audits won a smashing victory, 64-36 percent.

The upset of the night in Hillsborough County was Andrew Warren’s narrow victory over Mark Ober for state attorney.

It will be Jim Davison vs. Luis Viera in the special election in Tampa City Council District 7 race.

Charlie Crist defeated David Jolly in their CD 13 battle.

Donald Trump told Jack & Tedd on WFLA 970 yesterday morning he’d go quietly if he lost the election.

Now that he’s in the Senate for another six years, Marco Rubio waxes on how he can help make the political discourse a little more palatable in Washington.

Americans for Prosperity – Florida was one of over 50 groups who spent money in the Florida Senate race. In AFP’s case, they spent more than $2.5 million trying to bring down Patrick Murphy.

Bob Buckhorn was campaigning early yesterday against that charter amendment regarding the city council calling for their own internal audits of city departments.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons