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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Republican a deputy whip no more



Update: Grant's office confirmed he had a "constructive conversation" with Cannon earlier this week but declined to discuss the details. Majority whip Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg, raised the issue of the Moffitt funding, saying that Tampa Bay Republicans made a difficult decision in voting to do away with the cancer research funding next year but are gearing up for negotiations with the Senate. "When you go to conference you've got to support the team position," he said.

Rep. James Grant, a Republican freshman from Tampa, was a deputy majority whip. Now he is not.

Why exactly Grant no longer holds the position as of Monday is unclear. House Speaker Dean Cannon “does not comment on internal administration decisions,” spokeswoman Katie Betta said. Grant, who was appointed a deputy majority whip in March, could not be immediately reached.

Last Thursday, Grant was one of only two House Republicans to vote against a bill that would take $50 million from cancer research programs --  including $10 million for H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa - and use it to help cover the state's Medicaid bill.

The $50 million comes from a portion of the $1 tax on a pack of cigarettes. Lawmakers justified adding that charge in 2009 in part by using it for cancer research programs.

The subcommittee bill led by Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, repeals the law that funded programs at Moffitt, the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program ($20 million) and the William G. Bankhead Jr. and David Coley Cancer Research Program ($20 million). Democrats rallied against the bill, calling it a “breach of trust.”

Grant is also the lead House sponsor on a bill that would increase the portion of another pot of cigarette tax revenue that Moffitt receives. The plan is to use that money - an extra $10 million on top of $5 million Moffitt now gets - to help finance construction of research and clinic space at a 30-acre campus off Fowler Avenue.

That bill has yet to make it to a committee agenda. A Senate version has passed its committees and is now in appropriations.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:30pm]


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