The Buzz on Florida politics

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Latest Buzz on Florida politics

WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t on any vote-guessing lists over the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, but the Republican says he wants to know how it affects Florida before officially saying yes.

“I’ve got to see some of the details, how it impacts Florida,” Rubio told reporters on Tuesday. “But by and large, returning the power to the states is something (I want) it to lead to. I don’t think you can design a one-size-fits-all system on virtually anything for a country of this size and diversity.”

Block grants are a central feature of the new legislation, which could come up for a vote next week, a last attempt for Republicans to kill off Obamacare any time soon.

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Four days after the owners of a Hollywood nursing home released a detailed time line casting blame for the deaths of nine elders on Florida health administrators and a local utility, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration issued a time line of its own — declaring that the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills “failed to do their basic duty to protect life.”

The time line, and a release of 159 pages of records, fueled an ongoing finger-pointing war between the nursing home and Scott, who was himself a healthcare executive before running for office.

As the parties fought, the death toll rose: Late Tuesday, the Hollywood Police Department reported that a ninth resident from the nursing home, identified as 93-year-old Carlos Canal, had died.

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Jeb Bush and Donald Trump gave speeches just 0.7 miles apart today. But they might as well have been standing on different planets.

Trump, the reality television star billionaire-turned-president gave a speech unlike any the United Nations had ever seen from a United States president — at one point referring to the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un as “Rocket Man.”

Meanwhile, the former Florida Governor-turned GOP presidential frontrunner-turned Donald Trump punching bag delivered a foreign policy speech at the United Against Nuclear Iran conference seemingly right out of the conservative foreign policy orthodox.

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s select committee on Hurricane Irma won’t meet for three weeks. But questions about it flew quickly on Tuesday, and Senate President Joe Negron immediately rejected Corcoran’s call for a ban on hometown spending in lawmakers’ districts.

Corcoran announced formation of the 21-member panel, chaired by Rep. Jeannette Nuñez, R-Miami. It includes 14 Republicans and seven Democrats, most of them from counties hit hardest by the storm.

Corcoran, a free-market conservative who supports less regulation -- especially in health care -- floated ideas that would invite more regulation, such as underground utilities or forcing fuel companies to store reserves of fuel to get to gas stations more quickly.

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Sen. Bill Nelson has filed a bill that would create a Health and Human Services committee on seniors and disasters.

The bill, announced in a Tuesday release, has bipartisan support, Nelson said in a Tuesday release. Its co-sponsors fellow Floridian and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

“This bill will require the head of HHS to appoint a panel of experts to provide our state and local leaders with the guidance they need to make sure such a tragedy never happens again,” Nelson said in the release.

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Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg urged Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday to form a statewide oversight commission to review how state and local disaster managers, utilities, medical facilities and others responded to Hurricane Irma.

“I ask that you form a commission to review any after action reports created by state and local EOCs, utilities, state agencies, medical facilities, or other critical service providers, and to evaluate and oversee recovery projects,” Brandes wrote to Scott Tuesday. “This would ensure that state and county needs are triaged and met in a manner that leverages every disaster relief dollar, and that the assessments of the response and recovery actions taken by both public and private entities become best practices to prepare for future events.

“Establishment of similar oversight commissions consisting of representatives of state agencies, counties, cities, utilities, and other public and private parties is an established best practice that has been used to efficiently facilitate long-term recovery from disasters like the Deepwater Horizon and Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina,” Brandes wrote.

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Beyond the Buzz

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Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday that Florida has joined a number of other states seeking marketing information from opioid makers.

“The demands seek additional information about potentially unlawful practices in the distribution, marketing and sale of opioids. The demands are the result of an ongoing, coordinated multistate effort by 41 states. Florida is one of six states leading the widespread investigation,” reads a news release from Bondi‘s office.

“Florida citizens continue to become addicted to opioids and die daily—meanwhile, prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and the medical profession all point fingers at each other as the cause of this national crisis,” Bondi said. “This far-reaching multistate investigation is designed to get the answers we need as quickly as possible. The industry must do the right thing. If they do not, we are prepared to litigate.”

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WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson mentioned his name six times in a single speech.

“Senator Rubio and I have been together quite a bit this past week as Florida has not only encountered a hurricane that was quite unusual in that it basically affected almost all of the state of Florida,” Nelson began an address Monday on the Senate floor.

There are some places that both Senator Rubio and I have gotten personally involved in asking FEMA to come in ... Then Senator Rubio and I were up in the Jacksonville area ... Senator Rubio and I then went the next day and we ended up in a citrus grove ... And so it made Senator Rubio and me all the more determined that we are going to try to pass an amendment to the tax code that would give the citrus growers ... Senator Rubio and I in that grove, seeing all of that crop lost ...

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TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida House Tuesday will announce the formation of a new Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness to analyze how the state handled Irma and to find areas of improvement.

The committee will study whether protections for residents of nursing homes, group homes and ALFs should be strengthened, as well as a review of the Florida building code and ways to improve storage of food, water and fuel in advance of a menacing storm. 

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, also called on all legislators -- including all 40 senators -- to forget the usual hometown projects in next year’s budget and to steer all discretionary spending toward hurricane recovery and mitigation efforts.

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WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday obliquely criticized Gov. Rick Scott over the deaths of eight residents of a South Florida nursing home.

In a speech from the Senate floor, Nelson spoke of a “great, great tragedy” and referenced the phone calls nursing home officials made directly to Scott as the crisis mounted. (Scott has said all calls were sent to the proper place.)

“Why there is not a requirement that every nursing home or assisted living facility, an ALF, have a generator, not only for power, for things like lights, but have a generator capacity that will run air conditioning units, why there is not a requirement for that in Florida I think is going to be the subject of great debate and I hoping changing that requirement in the state of Florida because eight people died. Eight people died in a nursing home right across the street from a major hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Eight frail elderly from ages 70 to 99, eight needless deaths as a result -- we will know -- a criminal investigation is under way.

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State Sen. Daphne Campbell wants her constituents to know that she had something to do with them getting power back on in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Florida Power & Light wants those same customers to know something else about Campbell’s claim: “She is mistaken. This is absurd.”

According to text messages obtained by RiseNews, an online publication in Miami, Campbell not only tried to use her contacts with FPL lobbyist John Holley to get power restored to her district, but also sought special treatment for her family.

Keep reading   4 min. read