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Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writer

Stephen Nohlgren

Stephen writes about the Tampa Bay Rays' quest for a new baseball stadium, aging and other topics.

Phone: (727) 893-8442, or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8442

Email: nohlgren@tampabay.com

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  1. Sen. Jeff Brandes on medical marijuana bill: 'We are in legislative purgatory'

    Blog

    Non-euphoric pot may nudge forward in the Legislature this year, but the window for a full-fledged medical marijuana system has all but slammed shut.

    A bill by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would allow broad use of medical marijuana has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Neither has a companion House bill, and by House rules, the deadline for that is Tuesday. Nor has leadership in either chamber shown any signs of making marijuana a high priority....

  2. Sen. Jeff Brandes on medical marijuana bill: 'We are in legislative purgatory'

    Blog

    Non-euphoric pot may nudge forward in the Legislature this year, but the window for a full-fledged medical marijuana system has all but slammed shut.

    A bill by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would allow broad use of medical marijuana has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Neither has a companion House bill, and by House rules, the deadline for that is Tuesday. Nor has leadership in either chamber shown any signs of making marijuana a high priority....

  3. Door shuts in Tallahassee on full-fledged medical marijuana

    State Roundup

    Noneuphoric pot may nudge forward in the Florida Legislature this year, but the window for a full-fledged medical marijuana system has all but slammed shut.

    A bill by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, which would allow broad use of medical marijuana, has not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Neither has a companion House bill sponsored by Reps. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and John Wood, R-Winter Haven. The deadline for that is today. The Republican leadership in neither chamber made passage of a medical marijuana plan a high priority, despite a statewide November ballot measure that won 58 percent of voters' approval....

    Frances Sansone of Brooksville holds a poster in support of medical marijuana while campaigning for Amend-ment 2 in November. The vote was 2 percent short of the 60 percent it needed.
  4. Smoking out a solution before '16

    Perspective

    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....

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  5. Tampa Bay Rays raise minimum worker pay to $10 an hour

    Business

    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....

    Usher Eddie Madden scans the crowd during the Tampa Bay Rays’ home opener against the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. 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.
  6. Big Tobacco settles about 400 smokers' lawsuits for $100 million

    Civil

    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....

  7. Rays owner vows stadium search by 2022, with or without St. Pete's okay

    News

    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....

    Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says he’ll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022, even without permission from the city.
  8. Two paths in St. Pete on new Rays stadium

    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....

  9. Trop site holds promise for area even if the Rays move outside Pinellas

    Growth

    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....

    The Rays employ about 300 people year-round, adding 1,000 on game days. New development could bring more year-round jobs.
  10. What is Tropicana Field worth if Tampa Bay Rays leave? That depends

    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....

    The sale of the Tropicana Field property would include stadium demolition and environmental cleanup.
  11. Sheriffs come out against Florida medical marijuana bill

    Legislature

    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 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. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2014)]
  12. Law enforcement officials back medical marijuana legislation

    Legislature

    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....

    Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, above, shares his view that the Legislature should take the lead in developing a tightly controlled medical marijuana system.
  13. Same-sex marriage in Florida enables same-sex divorce

    Politics

    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.''...

    Mariama Changamire Shaw listens during a court hearing on the granting of a divorce she sought from Keiba Lynn Shaw in March in Tampa. A judge rejected the divorce petition.
  14. United for Care starts new effort to legalize medical marijuana in Florida

    Elections

    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....

    Attorney John Morgan is sponsoring the proposal again.
  15. Analysis: Why sharing with the Rays could be key to a winning deal on Tropicana Field

    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....

    Council member Karl Nurse raised a question that grabbed attention.