Friday, January 19, 2018
Politics

Senate may halt trauma center 'train' bill

House members found enough to like in a massive health care bill — including provisions to end a lengthy trauma center battle — that the measure was approved 74-42 on Friday. But HB 7113 may have a hard time gaining approval in the Senate in its current form.

Senators are talking about peeling off unpopular portions of the legislative "train" or ignoring the nearly 100-page bill altogether. In addition to the trauma center fix, HB 7113 combined about a dozen health care topics such as regulations for virtual doctor visits and independence for highly trained nurses.

Senators will determine which parts of the bill are worth keeping, Senate President Don Gaetz said Friday.

"If a majority of the Senate feels that there is an issue that is a) germane and b) is well enough understood by the Senate so that we can cast an informed vote, then they may agree to include another germane issue," Gaetz said.

The Senate is scheduled to debate its version of the "trauma drama" legislation, SB 1276, on Monday. Unlike the House bill, the Senate proposal deals with trauma centers and trauma centers only. It would allow three disputed HCA-owned centers to remain in operation, create a one-year $15,000 cap on trauma activation fees and a one-year moratorium on new centers.

The fee limitations were added after a Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed hospitals across the state were charging huge fees to trauma patients even when they needed little more than first aid.

Prison-time pay?

A former farmworker who spent 21 years in prison after he was convicted of killing his seven children is a step closer to getting more than $1 million from the state of Florida.

The Florida House on Friday unanimously voted for a bill that would let James Richardson qualify for $50,000 for every year he spent in prison.

Richardson was convicted in 1968 of poisoning the lunch of his children with an insecticide. Authorities at the time insisted he killed his children in order to obtain a life insurance payment.

But the conviction was set aside after it was reinvestigated by then-Miami-Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno.

Legislators in 2008 passed a law that allowed people who were wrongfully incarcerated to apply for payment. But Richardson's claim was turned down.

Residency rule

The Senate passed a bill that seeks to ensure lawmakers actually live in the districts they represent.

The bill passed unanimously Friday spells out the definition of a primary home to make sure lawmakers don't list an address in their district as being their home when they actually live somewhere else.

State law already requires lawmakers live in their district, but questions were raised last year about whether about a half-dozen lawmakers were flouting the law.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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