MOST FLORIDIANS FAVOR medical marijuana of some kind. A flamboyant Orlando lawyer, children with seizures and a presidential election have seen to that.
What type of system Florida might adopt — and when — remains a moving target.
Attorney John Morgan's United for Care group has launched another constitutional amendment campaign for 2016, after falling just shy last year of the 60 percent required for passage....
During baseball season, St. Petersburg resident Claude McKenzie heads for sections 302 and 304 at Tropicana Field, where he works as a "fan host" for the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It's not the type of job you can really live on, but it offers socialization and a good time. It makes me feel special," said McKenzie, 55, who also holds down a day job at a nearby hotel.
Still, McKenzie was happy to hear Thursday that he is about to receive a jump in pay. The Rays are joining the likes of Wal-Mart, T.J. Maxx and other service industry employers and raising their minimum wage to $10 an hour....
The nation's three largest tobacco companies have agreed to pay $100 million to settle roughly 400 lawsuits filed in federal court by Floridians who contended that smoking damaged their health or killed a loved one.
The settlement does not affect federal cases that have already gone to trial or are on appeal. It also doesn't affect more than 2,000 cases still wending their way though state courts. Those cases could prove far more costly to the tobacco companies if plaintiffs ultimately prevail....
ST. PETERSBURG — As hundreds of Tampa Bay Rays fans flooded Tropicana Field's plastic turf Saturday, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he'll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022 — with or without permission from St. Petersburg.
For five years, city officials have blocked his request for a regionwide hunt for a new ballpark — most recently at a tense City Council meeting in December....
02/19/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — If nothing else, a City Council workshop Thursday confirmed that St. Petersburg's approach to the Tampa Bay Rays is running on two distinct paths.
Council members, hoping to keep the team in town, kicked around ideas for financing a new stadium — but just in St. Petersburg.
Neither the Rays nor Mayor Rick Kriseman attended the meeting. They are still trying to negotiate terms for letting the team search for stadium sites anywhere in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties....
The Tampa Bay Rays boost St. Petersburg's economy with every pitch at Tropicana Field.
Beer guys hawking Budweisers pocket some of the proceeds. Visiting teams stay at the Vinoy Renaissance hotel. Evan Longoria's Venetian Isles landscaper claims a slice of his $100 million contract.
St. Petersburg residents have cited this economic impact while opposing Mayor Rick Kriseman's plans to let the Rays explore new stadium sites in Tampa....
02/06/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — If the Tampa Bay Rays leave Tropicana Field, how much would the property sell for?
That multimillion-dollar question has arisen as the Rays push to explore new stadium sites before their lease expires in 2027. City Council members — already leery of losing the team to Tampa — worry that the Trop contract could give the Rays a big slice of redevelopment revenue on their way out of town....
Florida's sheriffs — including Pinellas County's Bob Gualtieri — announced on Tuesday that they oppose a medical marijuana bill being pushed by a leading Republican lawmaker.
The Florida Sheriff's Association voted 38-2 to oppose the legislation, which would allow state-regulated dispensaries for patients with a wide variety of conditions.
The sheriffs also released "core legislative principles" that any Florida medical pot bill must follow to garner their support. Those included disallowing general pain as a qualifying diagnosis, as well as smoked marijuana — both allowed under Senate Bill 528 filed by Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican....
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, a key opponent to Florida's medical marijuana amendment, says he could support a new legislative push to legalize pot for patients. And he's not alone in the law enforcement community.
Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday that he supports a bill introduced Monday by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would allow a variety of patients to use a number of different marijuana strains....
Hundreds of jubilant same-sex couples made history Tuesday, lining up all over Florida to exchange vows after a federal judge overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
That same day in Miami, Jennifer Scott, 47, went to court for the flip side of that judicial ruling: Now Florida also must let gay and lesbian couples divorce.
It was "a very liberating moment," Scott said. "It let all the angst, frustration and anxiety that was lying under the surface for six years finally be released.''...
The medical marijuana fight is back on.
Attorney John Morgan's United for Care group has submitted a new constitutional amendment to the Florida Division of Elections that could go to voters as early as the 2016 general election.
United for Care's first proposed medical marijuana system gained 58 percent of the vote in November — two points shy of the 60 percent required to amend Florida's Constitution. That's close enough to make another effort worthwhile, said campaign director Ben Pollara....
12/26/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — City Council member Karl Nurse's question seemed so simple: If the Tampa Bay Rays plan to move to Tampa, why should the team benefit if St. Petersburg starts redeveloping Tropicana Field?
Nurse says he never intended to scuttle a deal to let the Rays embark on a regional stadium search. But when Rays president Brian Auld gave a blunt response to the question this month, Nurse's colleagues got their backs up and voted the deal down....
ST. PETERSBURG — A day after the City Council slammed the stadium door on the Tampa Bay Rays, two main players made pointed overtures toward reconciliation.
"Despite the tally last night there seems to be good momentum toward reaching an agreement,'' Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said Friday, referring to the council's 5-3 vote against a plan to let the team explore stadium sites in Hillsborough County....
12/18/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The stadium standoff continues. Baseball's uncertain future in Tampa Bay has grown more complicated and — if possible — more testy.
The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday rejected an agreement negotiated by Mayor Rick Kriseman that would have given the Tampa Bay Rays three years to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
Council members got their backs up when Rays president Brian Auld refused to yield an iota on development rights on Tropicana Field and other issues....
12/10/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A day after announcing what he called an unprecedented agreement to let the Tampa Bay Rays look for stadium sites in Hillsborough County, Mayor Rick Kriseman asked the City Council on Wednesday to delay a vote on the deal for a week.
A vigorous lobbying effort by Kriseman and Rays executives fell short of persuading uneasy council members to support the complex deal right away. ...