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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Authors of medical pot propose vastly expanding market to sick patients

Promising to give another option to sick patients in Florida, the authors of the state's existing medical marijuana bill filed legislation Wednesday to allow high potency strains of cannabis to be cultivated and sold for non-smoking purposes for a potentially vast new audience -- those diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Under the bill filed by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, two physicians would determine that a patient is at the end of life and the patient would then be eligible for marijuana with unlimited levels of THC, expanding the existing law that legalizes only non-euphoric strains of marijuana. 

"We're offering this because people who want to die without being jacked up with opiates or who are in excruciating pain are visiting their legislators, their making phone calls, their sending emails and it's working,'' Gaetz said. 

The law would expand the "Right to Try" legislation passed last year which allows terminally ill patients to access experimental and potentially life-saving—treatments more easily.  …

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Florida Supreme Court will hear challenge to state's ban on openly carrying guns

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Fort Pierce man's constitutional challenge to Florida's ban on openly carried weapons.

The agreement from the court came in a notice filed late Tuesday, the same day a House committee advanced a proposal to allow Floridians with concealed-carry permits to openly carry their weapons in public. Florida has prohibited open-carrying of firearms since the late 1980s.

Dale Lee Norman was arrested in 2012 while openly carrying a firearm; he had it in a holster in public view, according to court records. He was found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor after a jury trial in St. Lucie County. On appeal, he challenged the constitutionality of Florida's law, citing the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision.

Supreme Court Justices gave Norman until Oct. 26 to file his brief with the court. Oral arguments haven't yet been scheduled.

Read the Supreme Court's order.

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Cream and sugar? How Jeb and Marco take their coffee

Jeb Bush takes his coffee with "fake sugar and fake milk." Marco Rubio goes black, because "it makes life easier."

So we learn from Skimm, which has been interviewing presidential candidates and throwing in some lighter questions.


Jeb: I’m paleo but I’d have a cheat meal the first day: tacos al carbon.

Marco: Something Tex-Mex. I love Tex-Mex. I like enchiladas of every kind.


Jeb: Never. I’m so good at this, I wake up a minute before the alarm goes off.

Marco: I don’t, actually. I’m pretty good about that. I usually don’t even wake up with an alarm clock.

Skimm Jeb. / Skimm Marco.

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Alan Grayson files ethics complaint over GOP Benghazi committee

Rep. Alan Grayson filed an ethics complaint today against two top House Republicans over the creation of the Benghazi committee that has dogged Hillary Clinton.

“Representative Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy have violated federal law and House rules by using funds appropriated to the Select Committee on Benghazi to oppose the Presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” reads Grayson’s complaint.

Grayson, a Democratic candidate for Senate, got national attention this morning on CNN. The complaint was first reported by Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald. The issue blew up after McCarthy, a front-runner to replace Speaker John Boehner, went on Fox News and tied the Benghazi probe to Clinton's standing in polls. Numerous Republicans have criticized McCarthy, who has tried to walk back his remarks.

“Rep. McCarthy has made it clear that the Select Committee on Benghazi is not political and only focused on getting to the truth," a spokesman said in a statement Wednesday.

From the complaint: …

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Jeb Bush has more than $7 million in TV ads already

Jeb Bush remains the top spender on TV ads. This week alone his team has dropped nearly $2 million in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The latest numbers from NBC’s First Read:

Team Bush: $7.3 million ($6.9 million from Right to Rise, $440,000 from campaign)
Team Kasich: $5.4 million (all in New Hampshire)
Team Rubio: $4.7 million (all from the Conservative Solutions Project 501c4)
Team Clinton: $4.6 million (all from campaign)
Team Christie: $3.3 million (all in NH -- $2.9 million from Super PAC, $400,000 from campaign)
Team Jindal: $2.3 million (all in Iowa)

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Fla poll: Donald Trump 28%, Carson 16%, Rubio 14%, Bush 12%

Donald Trump has twice as much Republican support in Florida as Sunshine State favorites Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows.

The reality star has risen to 28 percent support from 21 percent in Quinnipiac's last Florida support, followed by retired surgeon Ben Carson with 16 percent, Rubio with 14 percent, and Bush 12 percent, Carly Fiorina with 7 percent, and Ted Cruz with 6 percent., No other candidate was over 2 percent and 10 percent were undecided.

“The generally more energized Republican party members, who backed former Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio when they ran for office in the Sunshine State, are deserting the establishment candidates for the outsiders – specifically Trump and Carson,” said Quinnipiac's Peter Brown.

Still, 29 percent of Republicans said the "definitely will NOT" vote for Trump.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads with 43 percent, with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden at 19 percent each and 13 percent undecided.  Only 13 percent would not vote for Clinton.  

In general election matchups: …

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Hillary Clinton sends copy of her book to Bush, Rubio

Hillary Clinton meets with people during a signing for her book, "Hard Choices" at a Barnes & Noble in 2014 in New York City.

Getty Images

Hillary Clinton meets with people during a signing for her book, "Hard Choices" at a Barnes & Noble in 2014 in New York City.

Donald Trump isn't the only candidate who can send a gift to a rival.

This evening we learn Hillary Clinton sent a copy of her book, Hard Choices, to Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and the other major GOP presidential candidates. It follows the last debate in which Carly Fiorina got mileage out of this line: "If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton."

The book came with a letter from Clinton, according to an aide.

I understand that you and your fellow Republican candidates for president were questioning my record of accomplishments at your last debate, so I thought you might enjoy reading my book, Hard Choices.

From working to restore America’s standing in the world to bringing crippling sanctions to Iran to negotiating a ceasefire in Gaza, please enjoy all 596 pages of my time as secretary of state. With 15 candidates in the race, you’ve got enough people for a book club!

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Gov. Rick Scott authorizes first execution since January

Gov. Rick Scott has authorized the execution of Jerry Correll, a man convicted in the stabbing deaths of four people in 1985, and the first death warrant the governor has signed in nine months.

The execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 29.

Originally, Correll's execution was scheduled for Feb. 26 until the Florida Supreme Court postponed it, pending a federal case over one of the lethal injection drugs used in Florida and other states.

"Without a stay of execution in this case, Florida risks the unconstitutional execution of Correll, for which there is no remedy," Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote in a February order postponing the execution. "In contrast, a stay pending determination of the issue in the United States Supreme Court will not prejudice the State and, more importantly, will ensure that Florida does not risk an unconstitutional execution."

Last week, the Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution, writing that Correll had exhausted his appeals and that the case in the U.S. Supreme Court had not deemed the drug midazolam to be "cruel and unusual punishment."

Download execution letter from Gov. Scott here.


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Rubio criticizes government regulation of Uber, Airbnb

NEW YORK (Associated Press) -- Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is warning of too much government meddling with Internet-based "on-demand companies."

Speaking Tuesday in New York, the Florida senator praised Uber and Airbnb. He says such "disruptive" companies and the people who work for them are unfairly burdened by government regulation.

He decried the federal government as "out of touch" with Americans who want a high-tech, service economy.

Rubio delivered his speech to a group of tech enthusiasts in New York City and he criticized local efforts to cap ride-sharing giant Uber and Airbnb, which helps people rent out their dwellings.

Rubio praised Germany as creating a new tax classification for independent contractors who work for a single company.

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Citing fraud 'crisis,' Scott's jobs guru wants to create police unit

Gov. Rick Scott's jobs guru, Jesse Panuccio, wants more money from the Legislature to create a police unit in his Department of Economic Opportunity to fight what he calls a "crisis" in unemployment assistance fraud in Florida. DEO's budget proposal includes $3.5 million for fraud prevention and detection including a "fraud criminal investigation unit" with three sworn officers and three investigators to start.

Testifying before a legislative panel Tuesday, Panuccio described "organized criminal enterprises" committing rampant identity theft to steal jobless benefits intended for others and that the problem is most severe in South Florida. DEO used a federal grant to create an anti-fraud initiative that Panuccio said found about 130,000 fraudulent claims in nearly a two-year period, but "the fraud keeps coming." The U.S. Attorney in Miami has been fighting the problem for years, and it's also a serious problem in several other states. …

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John Kasich, Rick Santorum join Sunshine Summit lineup

Florida Republicans are filling out their presidential candidate lineup for next month's Sunshine Summit in Orlando. Today's additions are Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

“We welcome Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rick Santorum to the lineup of presidential candidates speaking at the Sunshine Summit in Orlando. Our Party has remained committed to empowering the grassroots by bring candidates to Florida. As we continue to announce more candidates, the current 10 confirmed presidential participants will help build excitement for Florida’s grassroots leaders and volunteers in what will be this year’s premier presidential event in Florida.”

Already confirmed: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Donald Trump.  

The event is scheduled for Nov. 12-14 at Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel.

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After 'national embarrassment,' judge is suspended from bench

From The News Service of Florida:

In a rare move, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday immediately suspended a Brevard County judge who interrupted court proceedings last year to scuffle with an assistant public defender after threatening to "beat your ass" in a video that went viral. The court also gave Judge John C. Murphy until Oct. 26 to show why he should not be permanently removed from the bench.

A panel of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, which oversees judges, recommended in May that Murphy be given a four-month suspension without pay and a $50,000 fine, but the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of punishments against judges and lawyers.

Tuesday's order is the latest example of an increasingly stern Supreme Court that is more frequently seeking stiffer penalties against errant judges. It is the first time in recent history that the justices have removed a sitting judge from the bench while an inquiry was still pending.

Murphy, elected in 2006, gave public defender Andrew Weinstock a tongue-lashing during proceedings captured on a Viera courtroom camera last June. …

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Open-carry bill passes Florida House subcommittee

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, joined by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, speaks about his bill that would allow concealed-carry permit-holders to openly carry their weapons in Florida during a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

Kristen M. Clark / Miami Herald

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, joined by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, speaks about his bill that would allow concealed-carry permit-holders to openly carry their weapons in Florida during a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.

Gun owners in Florida with concealed-carry permits are one step closer to getting the right to openly carry those weapons in public, under legislation that cleared a House subcommittee today by a 8-4 vote.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who introduced HB 163, said it “restores and vindicates” Second Amendment rights and promotes public safety. But critics of the proposal said it should, at a minimum, include better training requirements and also better protect property owner’s rights if they don't want weapons in their homes or businesses.

Those who are in total opposition said an open-carry law in Florida would instill fear, rather than calm.

“When I am out at Starbucks and there’s a cop there with his gun, it’s intimidating and it’s scary,” said Shawn Bartelt, a retiree and mother of two teenagers from Orlando. “I do not want to walk around when I walk my dogs and know that somebody’s carrying a gun out there. … I don’t want my kids raised in a world where we’re being less civilized.”

Gaetz argued that fighting for gun-owners’ rights has the opposite effect, and he said federal crime statistics are on his side. …

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Study: Floridians don't want guns on campus, are split on Medicaid expansion

Floridians are pretty well split in agreement on a number of hot button issues — Medicaid expansion, Common Core and off-shore oil drilling. But as the Legislature prepares for a January legislative session and reelection campaigns not long after, they may want to think about areas of widespread agreement.

A massive statewide poll released Monday by University of South Florida researchers shows that more than seven in 10 adult Floridians want to allow police to wear body cameras, have stricter water quality regulations, continue banning concealed guns on college campuses.

It’s the first of four sets of data that will be released this month by USF and Nielsen in their annual Sunshine State Survey.

USF Professor Susan MacManus, who runs the survey, said Tuesday that elected officials and advocacy groups should pay attention to the data because it shows how Floridians’ opinions are changing over time.

“The diversity of people moving into this state is obviously moving opinions into a more liberal direction,” MacManus said. “You have to constantly be looking at changes in opinions.” …

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Rubio: 'My ambitions are not for me'

Marco Rubio continued to grab the spotlight with an appearance on NBC's Today and one of the first questions he faced was his absence in Washington. The presidential contender is on track to miss two consecutive weeks of votes in Washington and has the worst attendance record of any current senator.

While Rubio not long ago railed on the Senate floor, "If you don't want to vote on things, don't run for the Senate," he has been telling reporters lately that voting is not the most important part of the job.

"My ambitions are not for me. My ambitions are for my country and for Florida," Rubio told Matt Lauer this morning.

The interview also touches on the race for House speaker (Rubio takes a pass) and the Oregon shooting (Rubio says new gun laws won't help).

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