The day that was in Florida politics — March 16

day in review

It was a day of announcements at the state Capitol. Morning broke with former legislator Joe Scarborough announcing that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is selling his Tallahassee house. Details here.

Rubio had purchased a three-bedroom/two bath house with fellow lawmaker David Rivera in 2005. It has been a bit of a headache for Rubio: The two were unable to unload it when the Great Recession created a housing glut, and they had left Tallahassee for new jobs in Washington. A bank had started foreclosure proceedings after it didn’t receive mortgage payments for several months.

Matt Gaetz started the week talking about the unsolved mystery that is the Charlotte’s Web law. Gaetz, Rob Bradley and Aaron Bean wonder how the legislature can inject itself into the rule-making process without creating more delays in getting medicinal oil to sick children.

In separate interviews all three used the same words to describe the legal challenges preventing implementation of the 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. They are “frustrated,” their frustration is “enhanced,” and they sense an “appetite” for legislative action to free the law from a web of legal challenges so the pot can be planted, the oil processed, and epileptic children provided relief. There’s more here.

Bradley expects to have an agenda item for a Regulated Industries Committee meeting within three weeks.

“Sooner than that,” Bean said as he hurried up a stairwell between committee meetings. “People are frustrated.”

Bean chairs the Health Policy Committee

Not enough has been said about the apparent disconnect between Florida government and residents. Two ballot initiatives illustrate the different perspectives voters and lawmakers seem to have. While 57% of voters approved of a medicinal marijuana proposal, lawmakers are unable to get a much more limited proposal implemented. And while 77% voters supported Amendment 1 — a water and land conservation funding initiative — there’s a budding debate among lawmakers and supporters about just what  conservation is.

So it was with interest I read Monday a Times/Herald Capitol bureau story showing that no-party affiliated and minor party registration combined are the second largest voting bloc in 11 counties — surpassing the Republican Party in five and the Democratic Party in six.

Still more interesting is that while a growing segment of the population may be giving up on the two major parties (NPAs and minor party affiliation now at 26% statewide) people are not giving up on the process.

A political action committee called Floridians for Solar Choice has nearly enough signatures to trigger a state Supreme Court review of a solar-energy ballot initiative. As Mitch Perry reports, the group needs fewer than 2,000 more signatures to get the Justices to review its proposal.

The Seminole Tribe hired a polling company that found that Florida voters really, really, like the compact giving the Tribe exclusivity to Las Vegas-style gambling. There’s more here. A portion of the compact expires in July. Gov. Rick Scott has been trying to negotiate an extension. Senate President Andy Gardiner is willing to allow it to expire.

Finally Monday, Charlie Crist announced he won’t be a candidate in 2016. The former governor who had floated a trial balloon last week about a possible senatorial candidacy made the announcement on Facebook. More is here.

James Call


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