12/11/13 State Roundup
The interim chief of Florida's troubled child welfare agency will be leaving the department to take a job with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office — but not until the end of the legislative session, during which lawmakers will decide how they can repair a system in turmoil.
"The session is so important to put things in place for the future," said Esther Jacobo, a five-year veteran of the Department of Children & Families. "I'm grateful I can stay on."...
Interim Department of Children & Families Secretary Esther Jacobo has agreed to stay in the job through the end of the 2014 legislative session, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday. She’ll be continuing in the post at a time when the department is trying to correct flaws that helped lead to the deaths of 40 children under state care.
Jacobo, Miami’s top DCF administrator, took over the post in July, after former DCF Secretary David Wilkins resigned amid the scandal over the deaths of four children who had a history of involvement with child abuse investigators during a six-week period, caalogued in stories by The Miami Herald....
A top official for the Florida Department of Children & Families told senators at a hearing Tuesday that the state was no longer relying on a “promise” from parents that they would do right by their children, a practice that left some members of the Children, Families & Elder Affairs Committee shaking their heads.
In a domestic violence case, for instance, “we would get the mom to promise that if she and her boyfriend, whoever, engaged in domestic violence that she would leave,” said Stephen Pennypacker, DCF’s new assistant secretary for programs. “That’s not a safety plan. That’s a prescription for disaster … So we don’t do that anymore.”...
The Florida Panthers hockey team could be the first major sports team linked to a destination casino if legislators permit an expansion of gambling, proponents said Monday after a meeting of the Senate Committee on Gaming.
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is partnering with Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corporation on its proposal for a hotel, spa and casino with 50,000 square feet for meeting space on the land adjacent to the BB & T Center in the city of Sunrise. Broward County owns the land....
12/08/13 State Roundup
As he gears up to run against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is making an issue of renewable energy.
On a recent edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show, Crist touted alternative energy as a way to attract new industries and new jobs to Florida.
"We're the Sunshine State, and we're hardly doing any solar energy production," Crist told host Ed Schultz. "We should be the global leader in solar energy."...
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Supreme Court justices held a one-hour, sometimes testy hearing Thursday on a proposed medical marijuana amendment to determine the constitutionality of ballot language.
"Misleading" language is one of the primary complaints from Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has asked the court for an advisory opinion on the amendment proposed by People United for Medical Marijuana. In her brief, Bondi states that the amendment "hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless 'other conditions' specified by any physician."...
Florida Supreme Court justices on Thursday peppered the attorney for the group backing a proposed medical marijuana amendment with lots of questions on several issues concerning the language and intent of the amendment during an hour-long hearing.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, legislative leaders and other opponents have raised numerous objections to the proposed state constitutional amendment, which People United for Medical Marijuana wants to put on the 2014 ballot if the group can get the 683,149 signatures it needs by early next year....
In his election bid, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist is making an issue of renewable energy. He touted alternative energy as a way to attract new industries and new jobs to Florida on the Nov. 18, 2013, edition of MSNBC’sThe Ed Show.
"We’re the Sunshine State, and we’re hardly doing any solar energy production," Crist told host Ed Schultz. "We should be the global leader in solar energy."...
Tampa Bay Times reporter becomes Board of Governors spokeswoman
Tampa Bay Times reporter Brittany Davis has been hired as the new director of communications for the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system. She starts her new job Dec. 11th just as there's a change of leadership in the university system, with Marshall Criser III becoming chancellor Jan. 6....
New member appointed to board overseeing oil spill disaster funds
Attorney General Pam Bondi has appointed Dr. Pamela J. Dana to the board of directors for Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., which is now charged with creating and administering the recovery fund for disproportionately affected counties impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
Eight counties that were most affected by the disaster are slated to receive the biggest amount from civil fines resulting from the oil spill, though 23 counties will receive a portion of the money....
State's first Insurance Consumer Advocate back on the job
Steve Burgess, who was the state's first Insurance Consumer Advocate in 1990, has returned to the position for a third time.
Burgess, 65, of Tallahassee, became the first insurance consumer advocate when he was appointed by then-Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher. Burgess held the position until 1997 when he was involved in a showdown with then-Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson. Burgess returned to the position from 2004 to 2007 when Gallagher, then CEO, put him back in the job....
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz filed a brief to the Supreme Court Friday afternoon opposing a proposed medical marijuana constitutional amendment on Friday afternoon, stating it’s “misleading and inaccurate rhetoric.”
Their objections largely mirror arguments by Attorney General Pam Bondi, who also filed her brief against the amendment late Friday afternoon. She said the proposal “hides the fact that the Amendment would make Florida one of the most lenient medical-marijuana states, allowing use for limitless ‘other conditions’ specified by any physician.”...
Florida House Reps. Joe Saunders and Holly Raschein are once again pushing a bill that bans discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians in the workplace.Their efforts this year jive with a move in the U.S. Senate to pass a similar law, which state supporters called "fortuitous."
Also fortuitous: In his first tweet since declaring his candidacy for governor, Democrat Charlie Crist took advantage of the opportunity to support gay rights -- “Thanks to GOP @HollyRaschein & Dem @RepJoeSaunders for their bipartisan bill to end LGBT discrimination in workforce. I’ll sign it!”...
11/05/13 State Roundup
Legalizing medical marijuana could cost Florida in excess of $1.1 million each year, but any other financial or tax impact of offering the drug to the seriously ill is unclear, according to a state economic panel.
The Office of Economic and Demographic Research's Financial Impact Estimating Conference finished its analysis of the medical marijuana ballot initiative Monday and concluded that "increased costs from this amendment to state and local governments cannot be determined."...
Legalizing medical marijuana could cost the state in excess of $1.1 million to operate each year, but any other financial or tax impact of offering the drug to the seriously ill is still unclear, according to a state economic panel.
The Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s Financial Impact Estimating Conference finished its analysis of the medical marijuana ballot initiative on Monday and concluded that “increased costs from this amendment to state and local governments cannot be determined.”...