Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

Outspoken Darryl Rouson treads lightly on medical marijuana

This is awkward. State Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, the incoming Democratic leader of the Florida House overseeing all House campaigns in the 2014 cycle, is a passionate antidrug crusader who for years has been trying to make illegal in Florida the sale of glass pipes, bongs and other "utensils of death," as he calls them, commonly used to ingest pot and other drugs.

Rouson is also an attorney who works for John "For the People" Morgan, who is leading the campaign to legalize marijuana for sick Floridians.

The outspoken Rouson disagrees with Morgan on the issue but has been evading questions on the matter since Morgan jumped to the forefront of the medical marijuana campaign.

Rouson couldn't avoid it in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, but he did manage to tread lightly on a pet cause of his boss. Morgan's dad fought cancer and emphysema and found marijuana helped him.

"I'm not in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Let me say this about my boss: He has spent his life and part of his fortune trying to feed the homeless, trying to help the hungry, trying to bring relief to the suffering — people who have debilitating injuries or illnesses," Rouson said in the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. "While I might disagree with my boss' method at this moment, I can't disagree with the intent of his heart, and that is to bring relief to help suffering people."

Quote of the week

"It's a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it's not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we've had enough Bushes."

That's Barbara Bush, telling the Today show she does not want Jeb Bush to run for president (or, by implication, Hillary Rodham Clinton), even though, "He's by far the best-qualified man."

Push for immigration

Jeb Bush's top political strategist and former chief of staff, Sally Bradshaw, is helping lead a new political committee trying to sell the Senate Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill to conservatives. Americans for a Conservative Direction is funded by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and has a TV ad featuring Sen. Marco Rubio touting the "toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States" running in Florida and five other states (Texas, Utah, North Carolina, Iowa and Kentucky).

"Conservative leaders in Congress have put forward a bold plan with the toughest enforcement measures to secure our broken borders and hold those who have broken our laws accountable," said spokesman Rob Jesmer. "Americans for a Conservative Direction is committed to supporting this effort as Congress gets to work on the real solutions that will fix our broken immigration system, secure our borders and help grow our economy."

Rubio under attack

Rubio's leadership on immigration reform has included aggressive outreach and push-back against conservative skeptics and critics accusing him of supporting amnesty for undocumented immigrants. It's too soon to know how effective he's been, but Republican pollster Frank Luntz lamented to Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania last week that conservative talk radio hosts are ripping Rubio apart. The liberal Mother Jones outlet obtained surreptitiously recorded audio. From the transcript:

"And they get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it's really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It's only on the Republican side … (inaudible). (Democrats have) got every other source of news on their side. And so that is a lot of what's driving it. If you take — Marco Rubio's getting his a-- kicked. Who's my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He's getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He's trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn't the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him. That's what's causing this thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing coy," Luntz said.

Detert leaves legacy

State Sen. Nancy Detert , R-Venice, was surprised to find out there was an amendment to her bill to extend foster care until age 21, but she was brought to tears when she learned what it said. Thanks to Senate President Don Gaetz, the bill will be named the Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act.

"It's a legacy and I thank you for putting my name on it," Detert said, later adding that "Anyone who has heard these kids is their champion."

SB 1036, which passed the Senate 38-0, would give teens who currently "age out" of the system at 18 a "safety net" and allow them to stay in foster care until age 21.

Alex Leary and Rochelle Koff contributed to this week's Buzz.

Comments
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Published: 02/21/18
Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Published: 02/21/18
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Published: 02/21/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18