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  1. Florida Politics

Florida Senate approves bill to create an online voter registration

Published Apr. 27, 2015

The Florida Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a bill that requires the state to create an online voter registration application by 2017.

The 34 to 3 vote sends the bill to the House, where passage is also expected, despite strong opposition from Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

To underscore bipartisan support for online voter registration, the Senate's Republican leadership left a Democratic senator as the bill's sponsor. The bill (SB 228) is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. Three Republican senators voted no.

Detzner has spoken in opposition to the bill at three legislative stops, twice in the Senate and once in the House, which raises the obvious question of whether Scott would veto it if it gets to his desk.

Scott has not stated a position. But in February, when he dropped an appeal of a federal court ruling that said a 2012 noncitizen voter purge was illegal, Scott issued this statement: "Our goal continues to be 100 percent participation by eligible voters and zero percent fraud. Florida voters deserve an election system they can be proud of."

The Senate bill requires Detzner to send an implementation plan to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2016, and appropriates $1.8 million for the project, which must be fully implemented by Oct. 1, 2017.

Medical pot plan

Lawmakers have revived their plans to quicken the pace of making certain strains of medical marijuana available to Floridians.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, filed an amendment to his medical marijuana bill, giving new life to legislation that had stalled. Lawmakers postponed a vote on the amendment Monday, but Bradley said a solution is "workable," even if a "difficult road to hoe."

The amended bill (SB 7066) would allow cannabis that's low in high-causing THC but beneficial for pain reduction to be sold in Florida, bypassing a regulatory logjam. It also raises the maximum TCH levels allowed from 0.8 percent to 15 percent.

"I promised those families that I would fight to the end, and we still have a few days left in session," Bradley said Monday, referring to the relatives of patients and especially children who could benefit from the drug, called Charlotte's Web.

Climate doubts

With Marco Rubio in California for fundraising Monday and Tuesday, an environmental group is seeking to call attention to the presidential candidate's doubts about man's contribution to climate change.

"Rubio and his fellow Republican science-deniers are wrong. We know that we don't have to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy—and California serves as a model for the nation of how we can address climate change and prosper while doing it," NextGen Climate said in a release, offering to "meet" with Rubio and educate him.

Times staff writers Michael Auslen and Alex Leary contributed.

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