Rouson's drug paraphernalia bill is passed
Sitting in Palm Beach County rehab, Darryl Rouson scribbled in his diary that one day he'd do anything to help people fight the crack addiction that he struggled with. Now a state representative, the St. Petersburg Democrat got his wish. His bill, which will halt the sale of bongs, water pipes and other drug paraphernalia except at stores that sell mostly tobacco products, cleared the House and is headed to Gov. Charlie Crist's desk. "I'm not proud of my journey from addiction to recovery," Rouson said, "but I'm no longer embarrassed by it."
Possible Crist veto 'a smart move'
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, laid out the reasons Gov. Charlie Crist might veto the budget as he leaves the Republican primary to run for the U.S. Senate: "For political reasons and policy reasons, it's a smart move. It keeps him up on television and the media. It keeps the spotlight on him. Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek have to spend millions to get their name out. He gets all the media exposure here." Won't it look too political? Saunders: "There are good reasons to veto the budget. The budget will cost thousands of jobs, hurts nursing homes, hurts the developmentally disabled; it misspends Medicaid money on special member projects instead of on Medicaid. What does he gain by signing it — the friendship of the Republican legislators who hate his guts? They attack him personally and then they're shocked he vetoes their stuff."
Condo bill survives delegation fights
A massive condo relief bill is headed to Gov. Crist's desk after clearing its final hurdle in the House chamber. Its passage came after public infighting within South Florida's legislative delegation, with some members hoping to add more elements to the bill. Among other things, the 100-plus-page bill allows condo owners to opt out of buying insurance for their individual units — though they would still have to pay for building insurance — if the condo association agrees, prevents owners who don't pay their dues from using communal areas, delays a state mandate for condos to upgrade fire sprinkler systems and reduces fees that investors would have to pay when buying units in bulk. Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, continued his push to add on a provision allowing the state to investigate complaints of corrupt condo association managers. The provision was supported by the majority of the House's members, but didn't meet the two-thirds threshold to amend the bill. Bill sponsor Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, successfully held off any changes.
Speaker given motorcycling swag
After a 15-minute slide show of pictures from the session, House members presented Speaker Larry Cretul with a sweet red motorcycle and all of the accompanying gear: jackets for him and his wife, a motorcycle license plate reading "speaker" and a helmet signed by all the House members. Only they didn't give Cretul the bike. It was just a prop to add ambience to the presentation. He's already got a motorcycle: a "Screaming Eagle" that he bought on eBay.
Times/Herald staff writers Lee Logan, Cristina Silva and Robert Samuels