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Aaron Bean sees Session as Tiger Woods did the Masters

Sen. Bean has teamed with Gov. DeSantis on the Canadian drug bill.

State Sen. Aaron Bean was characteristically upbeat when we talked to him early last week, but cagey about firm predictions on how well things are going.

He said that would be the “equivalent of asking Tiger Woods after the third round how he feels (about the Masters).”

In other words, there’s a lot of ball to be played, on a number of fields.

And much of it was played in recent days.

For example, the movement on Certificates of Need: An issue that presents daylight between the House and the Senate.

The House legislation (HB 21) would eliminate the practice altogether, a move hailed by conservative think tanks such as the James Madison Institute.

The Senate version, says Bean, “may not look like the House version.”

One sticking point for Bean that appears doomed after the Thursday Appropriations Committee is carving out protections for hospitals.

Hospitals like UF Health, Jacksonville’s sole safety-net hospital and the location of Sen. Bean’s day job, struggle with revenue streams.

And a potential erosion of the CON process would create more challenges, especially regarding profitable care, such as cardiac operations.

The Senator found out in the Appropriations Committee on Thursday how quickly the Senate would move toward the House position.

“I’m still reeling from the big changes we have made,” Bean said in committee, yet to no avail.

Another issue to be hashed out is proposed THC caps on smokable medical cannabis. Currently, there is no such cap but there is momentum in the House for a 10 percent limit.

Bean, who has urged caution throughout the process, recognizes that the state’s medical cannabis program is still “learning to walk.”

While he’s not philosophically opposed to the cap, he does question the practicability of the timing.

“It’s late in the Session to have this discussion,” Bean said.

Asked about other legislative priorities, the Senator spotlighted his work for “DNA freedom,” a reference to  SB 258, a measure that would prevent genetic tests from being used in life insurance underwriting.

Bean also noted his work on trying to establish a program to import pharmaceuticals from Canada.

“You can’t turn on the TV without seeing an ad,” Bean said, regarding industry resistance to the bill, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Indeed, those ads target state Senators. The ones in Bean’s market name him, urging people to call the Senator and agitate against the bill.

In Senate Appropriations Thursday, Bean also had to push the import drug bill through, with skeptical questions from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Though the international program that the House wants may be a non-starter for the federal government, which is opposed to drug imports, Bean said the Canadian program was ready to go.

“We mirror the same track and trace … safety assurances … bond requirements,” Bean said in committee.

Purity of pills will be monitored, with samples from shipments providing the assurance.

Bean is hopeful that increased competition will decrease prices for consumers, and “give the whole state a chance to have less expensive drugs.”

Bean’s bill was drummed in committee by conservative groups, such as Americans for Tax Reform, which called it “socialized medicine” from the Bernie Sanders playbook.

We asked Bean to elaborate on these issues Friday, but he was unavailable for comment.

Like virtually every legislator, Bean also extolled the Governor when asked.

“I have an excellent relationship with him. He comes from a lawmaker’s perspective … has [a] unique insight into the (legislative process),” the Senator said.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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