Posts Tagged ‘Greg Steube’

Bills allowing overnight stays in ambulatory surgery centers, direct primary care agreements ready for House floor

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The House Health and Human Services Committee sent bills that would allow direct primary care agreements and overnight stays in ambulatory surgery centers to the House floor Thursday
HB 161 would allow patients and their physicians to enter into direct primary care agreements, an alternative to traditional health care plans.
Under such agreements, patients pay a flat fee to have all their primary care needs taken care of by a primary care doctor.
The bill was filed by the Health Innovation Subcommittee, with Reps. Daniel Burgess and Mike Miller serving as sponsors.
The House Health and Human Services Committee cleared the bill during its Thursday meeting, making HB 161 ready for the House floor.
The bill previously had been referred to the Health Care Appropriations Committee, though that assignment was removed before the 2017 Legislative Session kicked off last week.
The Senate version of the bill, SB 240 by Sen. Tom Lee, still has two committee stops left before its ready for a vote by the full Senate.
That bill has already cleared the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the Health Policy Committee with unanimous votes
The House Health and Human Services Committee also cleared HB 145, by Republican Reps. Paul Renner and Heather Fitzenhagen, which would allow patients to stay up to 24 hours in ambulatory surgery centers, a type of medical facility dedicated to less complicated, generally elective surgeries.
Current law forbids overnight stays in ASCs.
The House bill would also allow for recovery care centers, a different type of non-hospital medical facility where patients would be allowed to stay up to 72 hours.
The bill previously passed through the chamber’s Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and the Health Innovation Subcommittee.
The Senate version of the bill, SB 222 by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, has the same provision relating to ASCs, but the recovery care center portion of the bill was removed when it cleared the Health

Vote on this story -->>>

Bill allowing overnight ambulatory surgery stay clears Senate committee

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

A bill allowing patients to stay overnight in ambulatory surgery centers cleared its first Senate committee Tuesday with a 4-1 vote.
SB 222 by Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube would allow patients to stay up to 24 hours at ASCs, a type of medical facility dedicated to less complicated, generally elective surgeries.
ASCs don’t provide primary care or diagnostics and generally require patients to be referred in by a physician once they have decided that surgery is part of their treatment plan.
Current law explicitly forbids patients staying overnight in ASCs.
The bill also contained provisions that would allow “recovery care centers,” a different type of facility where patients can stay up to three days.
That section of the bill was removed through an amendment before pasing the Senate Health Policy Committee.
The bill’s next stop is in the Community Affairs Committtee.
The House version of the bill, HB 145 by Republican Reps. Paul Renner and Heather Fitzenhagen, contains the same provisions on ASCs and also still has the provision allowing recovery care centers.
It cleared the Health Innovation Subcommitttee last month and the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session.
It now must clear the Human Services Committee to make it to the House floor.

 
The post Bill allowing overnight ambulatory surgery stay clears Senate committee appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Senate Rules panel temporarily postpones prejudgment interest bill

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

A Senate bill that would allow plaintiffs to recover prejudgment interest on noneconomic claims, including pain and suffering, was suddenly postponed during its final review panel Thursday.
Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, moved to yank the bill (SB 334) from consideration during its public comment period before the Rules Committee.
When done during a hearing, such a move suggests a lawmaker has counted votes and determined a measure isn’t going to pass.
The bill is being pushed by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube. A companion bill is in the House.
Business interests largely oppose the proposal because they fear it will increase the cost of doing business; the state’s trial lawyers are in favor.
“Prejudgment interest is the interest on a judgment which is calculated from the date of the injury or loss until a final judgment is entered for the plaintiff,” a bill analysis says.
Current law provides for prejudgment interest only on economic claims, or tangible financial losses, or when both sides bargained for it in a contract.
The post Senate Rules panel temporarily postpones prejudgment interest bill appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Controversial public records bill clears second Senate panel

Monday, March 6th, 2017

A bill giving judges some discretion over whether to award attorney’s fees in public records cases cleared its second committee hearing Monday, but not before being amended in an attempt to alleviate opponents concerns.
The bill (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, aims to give judges discretion in whether they should award fees to the plaintiff and requires request be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees.
The committee amended the bill Tuesday to add provisions that allow the court to consider “if the request to inspect or copy the public record was made in bad faith or was made to harass the agency or to cause a violation … and if the responsible agency responded in good faith to request to inspect or copy the records.”
“What I’m trying to do is come to the middle as it relates to the opponents,” said Steube.
Opponents of the proposal have argued it puts up a financial barrier that could deter legitimate record requesters from filing suit and would essentially require records requests be made in writing.
But the amendment did not appear to alleviate concerns. Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, spoke out in opposition of the bill.
Still, public records advocates acknowledged something needs to be done. But some, Rich Templin with the AFL-CIO, and said they worried the “legislation goes far too far.”
“We have a real problem, and I know you are trying to address it,” said Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat. “We have to get it right. I know you’re trying, but I don’t think you’re there yet. I can’t support the bill at this time.”
Sen. Jeff Clemens voted in favor of the bill, saying he record of voting against public records exemptions, but represents a community where bogus public records requests

Vote on this story -->>>

Bill to allow law enforcement officers who wear body cameras to review footage advances in Florida Senate committee

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Legislation that would allow law enforcement officers to review video taken from body cameras before writing a report or before providing a statement about an incident in which they were involved advanced in a Florida Senate committee on Monday.
Sarasota Republican Greg Steube‘s bill (SB 624) calls for the law enforcement agencies in Florida that currently use body cameras to produce “certain parameters” about the technology, such as the situation that the bill contemplates.
“If there is something where they have to give testimony or they have to do a report and they have to give a statement on, it allows the officer the opportunity to review that footage before he makes that statement,” Steube told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
“What we’re trying to get to is situations where an officer may have had multiple conversations or maybe there was multiple incidents that happened at a traffic stop,” explained Matt Puckett, executive director with the Florida Police Benevolent Association. “The officer has the ability in some cases to pull that footage up right on his or her screen in the car, to make sure to write the details in the report.”
The PRA head said the ability for officers to look back at their video of a recent exchange with a citizen would instead be for “minor issues,” and not in a criminal case where use of force is employed. He mentioned how an officer could write down the wrong color of a shirt for example. “Those little things trip up cases,” he said. “Their technicalities, but they can really destroy a case.”
St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes asked several questions expressing concerns about how an officer could alter their statements based on the footage. Puckett insisted that a case involving a shooting would be “heavily investigated.”
Brandes also worried aloud that an officer could have the tape erased if it showed

Vote on this story -->>>

Veterans group releases priorities ahead of 2017 Legislative Session

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Veterans advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America announced its priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session, including support for bills that would help veterans by giving them tax breaks and helping them hold down jobs after leaving the military.
“Florida should welcome veterans and military families, instead of pushing them away with burdensome taxes and regulations that put special interests first,” CVA Director Diego Echeverri said in a statement. “When veterans or service members hang up their uniforms, our state government should make their transition into civilian life as easy as possible.”
“This year, Concerned Veterans for America will work tirelessly to support measures that would ease burdens and expand opportunities for the military community here in the Sunshine State,” he continued. “We look forward to working with elected officials on both sides of the aisle to get these important pro-veteran measures across the finish line in 2017.”
CVA said it was backing a proposal by Rep. Paul Renner and Sen. Jeff Brandes that would make it easier for service members and their spouses to hold down jobs after they relocate by waiving certain licensing requirements some occupations. Neither the House version, SB 615, or the Senate version, SB 1272, has been heard in committee.
The group also favors Renner’s HB 487, which would give veterans and their families a break certain business and property taxes. The bill hasn’t been heard in committee, nor has its Senate companion, SB 330 by Sen. Greg Steube.
CVA also said it was on board with the plan to eliminate Enterprise Florida, which it says “hands out taxpayer funds to a few, large benefiting companies at the expense of many hardworking Floridians.”
The post Veterans group releases priorities ahead of 2017 Legislative Session appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Controversial public records bill to go before its second committee Monday

Monday, March 6th, 2017

A bill that would give judges discretion in whether to award attorney’s fees in public records cases is set to go before the Senate Community Affairs Committee Monday.
Current law allows winners of public records lawsuits to collect attorney fees, but SB 80 would give judges discretion in whether or not they award fees to the plaintiff and would require requests to be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees.
Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, the bill’s sponsor, and other proponents say there has been a swath of insincere public records requests where the true aim was to file suit and collect the fees.
According to staff analysis for the bill, the practice has affected the town of Gulf Stream and Union County, which was able to avoid paying attorney fees due to the request coming in from a suspicious email.
In that case, the First District Court of Appeal said there was evidence the plaintiff, Consumer Rights LLC, was engaged in a “scheme that was designed to generate fees,” though the court didn’t rule on the allegation.
While there are cases of frivolous public records lawsuits, opponents of Steube’s bill argue that it will put up a financial barrier that will deter legitimate record requesters from filing suit and would essentially require records requests to be made in writing.
Earlier this month, the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 4-3 in favor of the bill. If it clears the Community Affairs Committee, the bill’s next stop is the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The post Controversial public records bill to go before its second committee Monday appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Greg Steube files illegal immigration criminalization measure

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Anyone ordered out of the country and later found in Florida could be charged with a crime under legislation filed Wednesday in the Florida Senate.
The bill (SB 1358), sponsored by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube, would create a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.
The proposal would apply to anyone who “is denied admission to, is excluded, deported, or removed from, or who departs the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding and thereafter enters or is at any time found in the state.”
It creates an exception for those who can show that the federal government “consents to his or her admission or the person can establish that federal law does not require advance consent,” the bill says.
A voicemail seeking comment from Steube was left Wednesday.
Now, being in the country unlawfully is not a crime under federal law unless someone is deported and then returns without authorization, said Mark Schlakman, senior program director with the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.
Questions of its constitutionality aside, he said, its “practical implication … would disproportionately burden Florida taxpayers for what would otherwise be a federal responsibility,” he said.
Stuebe, a former House member and first-term senator, already has filed a number of controversial bills for the 2017 Legislative Session, including gun- and public records-related measures.
He also filed a bill (SB 82) that would undo a 2014 state law granting in-state tuition to undocumented immigrant students, known as DREAMers. It stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, federal legislation that has not been passed.
DREAMers are children who entered the U.S. illegally but allowed to stay under an Obama administration initiative called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The post Greg Steube files illegal immigration criminalization measure appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Craft beer debate includes … Chance the Rapper?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Craft brewers can thank Chance the Rapper for getting this year’s beer bill over its first legislative hurdle.
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday cleared the measure (SB 554) on a 6-3 vote. Democrats Perry Thurston and Randolph Bracy joined Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto in opposing the bill.  
But Oscar Braynon, the chamber’s Democratic Leader, said he would support the legislation because of the example of the 23-year-old Chicago-based rap star.
The measure would allow smaller craft brewers to distribute their own beer. It would create an exception to Florida’s “three-tier system” born after Prohibition, which requires separation of alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers to avoid price-fixing.
Braynon explained that Chance, who won three Grammy Awards this year, first independently distributed his own music before getting “multimillion-dollar offers for distribution deals.”
The bill “would allow small brewers to do just what Chance the Rapper did,” Braynon said. “So I’m going to give this (bill) a chance—thanks to Chance the Rapper.”
(Chance, however, may be staying independent, according to The New York Post; he’s allegedly turning down $5 million-$10 million offers from record labels.)
The measure, sponsored by Tampa Republican and craft beer advocate Dana Young, only applies to those who produce 7,000 kegs or less a year, which she called the “smallest of the small” craft beermakers who are “not on the radar of distributors.”
Still, 7,000 kegs—at 15.5 gallons each—equals 868,000 pints of beer.
Lobbyists for “Big Beer” concerns rejected arguments there is a shortage of distributors for small brewers and added that the bill would further chip away at the state’s three-tier system.
Thurston agreed: “We are looking at a dismantling” of that, adding Chance “gave his music away … for free” at first to gain a following.
But Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, looked confused. “I’ve never heard of Chance the Rapper,”

Vote on this story -->>>

Flood insurance, HMO liability legislation clear Senate committee

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

A Senate committee approved bills Tuesday that would encourage Florida insurers to write flood insurance as an alternative to expensive federal coverage, and would allow patients to sue HMOs for declining to cover doctors’ treatment recommendations in bad faith.
“Why shouldn’t the HMOs be held liable for the decisions they make and the doctors aren’t making, and people are dying? I just don’t think that’s equitable,” said Sen. Greg Steube, the Sarasota Republican behind SB 262, the HMO bill.
Existing law exempts HMOs from liability for treatment decisions by doctors with whom them contract to treat patients.
“What other businesses are prohibited by law from being sued from decisions they make that actually kill people?” Steube said following the committee’s 6-3 vote to approve his bill.
The measure would repeal legal protections for HMOs for vicarious liability for medical negligence unless the doctor is an employee. It also would create a cause of action for bad-faith refusal to provide a treatment recommended by a doctor.
Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat and a trial attorney from Broward County, said he entered the law after the mother of the best man at his wedding died after being denied a new treatment for the fatal side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“I just do not believe a good-faith argument can be made that in a situation like that, an HMO cannot be held liable,” Farmer said.
Representatives of a number of medical professional organizations endorsed the bill, while insurance and business interests warned it would inflate coats for insurance companies and the state, through Medicaid and Medicare.
Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, expressed sympathy with those qualms.
“It’s going to increase costs to the state and policyholders,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Brandes sponsored the flood insurance bill — SB 420.
Existing law allows insurers to offer flood policies through 2019 without having to wait for the Office

Vote on this story -->>>

Impressive roster of GOP state leaders lineup for Ed Hooper Tallahassee fundraiser

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper is assembling an impressive number of high-profile state lawmakers for a Tallahassee reception next month. Hooper, a former state representative, is seeking the open Senate District 16 seat currently held by Jack Latvala.
Hooper’s campaign fundraiser will be Monday, March 6, from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Governors Club, 202 South Adams Street.
The host committee reads like a Who’s Who of GOP state leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and nearly all the Pinellas County/Hillsborough delegation: Sens. Latvala, Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson, Dana Young and Jeff Brandes.
Republican senators from beyond the Tampa Bay area will be there, too: Lizbeth Benacquisto, George Gainer, Denise Grimsley, Frank Artiles, Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Travis Hutson, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Robert Bradley, Doug Broxson, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel and Greg Steube.
The House will also be well represented, with Larry Ahern, Ben Albritton, Chris Latvala and Kathleen Peters.
A former Clearwater firefighter who served four terms in the House before term limits forced him out, Hooper ran for Pinellas County Commission in 2014, losing to Democrat Pat Gerard after a contentious campaign.
The post Impressive roster of GOP state leaders lineup for Ed Hooper Tallahassee fundraiser appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Is tobacco bond cap repeal already dead for 2017 Session?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Legislation that would repeal the limit on the amount of money tobacco companies have to put up as appellate bonds could well be dead for the 2017 Legislative Session, which doesn’t even start till March 7. 
Legislative committees have already been meeting on bills, including HB 6011 and SB 100, which would kill the “bond cap” for tobacco companies that want to appeal judgments against them by former smokers.
But both bills were “temporarily postponed” in recent weeks, often a sign the bill sponsors don’t quite have the votes needed for passage lined up.
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who sits on the committee, and state Rep. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, filed the measures for their respective chambers.
Now, Senate Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Travis Hutson has told POLITICO’s Matt Dixon on Monday the legislation isn’t a “priority,” and he’s “not sure if it is coming back up.”
“It was a timing issue,” Hutson told our reporter Jim Rosica of the “TP” in his committee. “I had it up with the ‘whiskey and Wheaties’ bill and we just ran out of time.”
Asked whether he will call the bond cap repeal back up for a hearing, Hutson said, “I don’t know yet. I have other stuff on my table … We have a lot of other bills that will take a lot of time, but if I can bring it back up, I will. I just have to find the time.”
That said, it looks like a loss for the state’s trial lawyers who backed the cap repeal. They said it would force settlements and end decades-long litigation over plaintiffs’ claims of irreversible illness or early death from smoking.
Tobacco companies said a repeal would be unfair because, without a cap, bonds would fall under the “150 percent of judgment” rule. With some verdicts in the billions of dollars, bonds could be unreasonably large under that standard, they said.
The tipping point seemed

Vote on this story -->>>

Bill would let House impeach prosecutors, public defenders

Monday, February 13th, 2017

State Sen. Greg Steube wants to add prosecutors and public defenders to the list of officials that the House of Representatives can impeach.
The Sarasota Republican’s measure (SJR 904), filed Monday, would require a constitutional amendment that has to be passed by 60 percent of voters statewide.
The state constitution now authorizes the House to impeach the “governor, lieutenant governor, members of the cabinet, justices of the supreme court, judges of district courts of appeal, judges of circuit courts, and judges of county courts” for any “misdemeanor in office.”
Steube’s proposal would add “state attorneys and public defenders.” As with other officials, the Senate would have to put the impeached prosecutor or PD on trial.
The amendment would apply “to state attorneys and public defenders who hold office on or after the effective date” of the new language.
After years of no impeachment activity, state Rep. Larry Metz, the Yalaha Republican who chairs the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, told committee members last month he had been quietly looking into articles of impeachment against a Jacksonville judge.
Metz said it was his idea to pursue impeaching Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey III, for which Speaker Richard Corcoran gave his OK.
Hulsey, who eventually resigned from the bench, faced judicial misconduct charges over several improper comments, all of which he denied.
Neither Steube nor Metz could be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Both Buddy Jacobs, longtime lobbyist and general counsel for the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and Nancy Daniels, spokeswoman for the Florida Public Defender Association, were out of the office Monday.
Daniels was the elected Public Defender for the state’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, based in Tallahassee, for nearly three decades.
The post Bill would let House impeach prosecutors, public defenders appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Tobacco bond repealer is again postponed, this time in House

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

A House bill (HB 6011) that would repeal the cap on the amount of money tobacco companies have to put up as appellate bonds was “temporarily postponed” Thursday.
With its Senate companion (SB 100) also indefinitely put off, the proposal’s fate is uncertain for the 2017 Legislative Session. The House version was slated to be heard in the Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee, records show.
Tobacco companies are required to put up bonds before they appeal unfavorable damages awarded to former smokers, but the state places limits on how much those bonds are.
Tobacco companies say a repeal would be unfair because, without a cap, bonds would fall under the “150 percent of judgment” rule.
With some verdicts in the billions of dollars, bonds could be unreasonably large under that standard, they say.
The state’s trial lawyers back the cap repeal, saying it will force settlements and end decades-long litigation over plaintiffs’ claims of irreversible illness or early death from smoking.
A CSX Transportation spokesman previously told a Senate panel that a repeal of the tobacco companies’ bond cap would be an “erosion of reasonable tort reform” taken by the state in recent years.
Bob O’Malley said it could lead to “repeal of the general bond cap, (which) would be a disaster for businesses.”
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who sits on the committee, and state Rep. Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, filed the measures for their respective chambers.
 
The post Tobacco bond repealer is again postponed, this time in House appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Bill benefiting craft distilleries clears Senate Regulated Industries

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee OK’d a bill benefiting Florida’s craft distilleries, clearing a path for distillers to get their product to more people.
The bill (SB 166) increases the amount of booze a distillery can product and still be considered “craft” to 250,000 gallons, up from 75,000; removes the limit on how many bottles distillers can sell to consumers, even though bottles can’t be bigger than 1.75 liters; and allows distillers to sell their liquor not just in an on-site gift shop, but also in “one other approved sales room located in the same county as the distillery’s production building.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, also allows distillers to bypass the three-tier system of separate alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers put in place after Prohibition.
The proposal says a “designated Florida Craft Distillery may transfer … distilled spirits produced at such … distillery … out of its federal bonded space or unbonded space at its licensed premise or storage areas to its vendor’s licensed premises or approved sales room.”
While representatives for distributors argued that clause could lead to distillers bypassing distributors all together, committee staff said the language does not allow for product to be delivered by mail, only by vehicle from one site to another.
Supporters of the measure said it will help their business, giving them more opportunity to grow. Sen. Travis Hutson, the committee’s chairman, said he has been at the St. Augustine Distillery when “someone (from New York) tries to buy a third bottle or a fourth bottle and they say you can’t.”
“This allows a little more parity,” said Hutson, who presented the bill for Steube, who was absent Wednesday.
The bill passed 5-4. It now heads to the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
The post Bill benefiting craft distilleries clears Senate Regulated Industries appeared first on Florida

Vote on this story -->>>

Darryl Rouson, Jeff Brandes driver’s license suspension bill advances in Senate

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation to reduce the number of driver’s licenses suspended annually in Florida.
The bipartisan bill (SB 302), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes and Democrat Darryl Rouson, would end the suspension of licenses for non-driving-related offenses.
If passed, it could dramatically reduce a large number of suspensions taking place statewide each year.
Right now, one can lose driving privileges in Florida over a number of nondriving offenses: truancy, writing graffiti, theft, vandalism, writing worthless checks and a minor’s possession of tobacco.
“It has a huge impact on public safety,” Rouson told his colleagues on the committee. “It’s costly and we know that three-fourths of the suspended, revoked drivers still drive. So it’s a public safety matter.”
“We don’t want to continue the self-perpetuating cycles of financial hardship that lead to revocations and other things,” he added.
The bill also modifies current law relating to debt collection for unpaid fees or fines, and clearly establishes the right of a defendant in financial hardship to use community service as an alternative method of payment. It also eliminates the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent offense for driving on a license suspended because of a defendant’s financial hardship.
Brandes sponsored a similar bill in the Senate last year, as did Rouson in the House, along with Tampa’s Dana Young and Sarasota’s Greg Steube.
Like Rouson, Young and Steube each advanced to the Senate after last November’s election.
The post Darryl Rouson, Jeff Brandes driver’s license suspension bill advances in Senate appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Public records bill barely gets out of first committee

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

A bill that would give judges discretion to award attorney fees in public records lawsuits squeaked out of its first review panel Tuesday.
The Senate’s Governmental Oversight and Accountability cleared the bill (SB 80) by a 4-3 vote. It goes next to the Community Affairs Committee.
The measure changes the word “shall” to “may” regarding courts awarding legal fees when an “agency (has) unlawfully refused to permit a public record … to be inspected or copied.”
It would also require a “complainant (to) provide written notice of the public records request to the agency’s custodian of public records at least 5 business days before” suing. Records requests are not normally mandated to be in writing.
The idea is to cut down on the number of “frivolous” lawsuits at taxpayer expense by eliminating guaranteed attorney fees in cases where public officials made an honest mistake, say bill advocates, including the Florida League of Cities.
Open government watchdogs, such as the First Amendment Foundation, have countered that the bill would instead chill legitimate actions against local governments and state agencies that unreasonably refuse to respond to record requests.
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican and lawyer who is sponsoring the proposal, backed a version of the bill last session when he was a state representative. It passed the Senate unanimously but died in the House.
A House companion (HB 163) would require judges to make specific findings before they can award attorney fees in public records lawsuits.
It would require a judge to determine that a public agency “unlawfully refused to permit a public record to be inspected or copied” and that the complainant “provided written notice identifying the public record request to the agency’s custodian … at least five business days before filing the civil action.”
That bill also says attorney fees can’t be awarded if the court finds “the request to inspect or copy the public record was made primarily to harass the

Vote on this story -->>>

Denise Grimsley running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Denise Grimsley has made it official, announcing she filed to run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.
Grimsley, who told FloridaPolitics.com in January she was eyeing a run, filed her statement of candidacy with the Division of Elections. She is vying to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who can’t run again because of term limits.
“Florida has many challenges in our agriculture industry, yet we have so many more exciting opportunities,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for a smart statewide water policy, we will protect our environment and blessed Florida resources, and we will pursue expansion of the over two million jobs Florida agriculture provides our state. I offer my broad life experience and an optimistic vision to achieve so much for our state.”
A fifth generation Floridian, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012. Grimsley was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012. She ran unopposed in 2016 and easily won re-election. She served as the Senate’s deputy Majority Leader from 2014-16.
Grimsley served as vice president and chief operating officer of her family business, Grimsley Oil Company. She’s also been involved in the citrus and ranching industry, and is a member of the Peace River Valley and Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.
A registered nurse, Grimsley has been certified in trauma and pediatric advanced life support. She is currently a hospital administrator for Florida Hospital Wauchula and Lake Placid.
“We are the sum of our experiences, and I offer my candidacy to continue the principles of conservative public service I have followed in my career, both in the private sector and in the Florida Legislature,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Serving on the Cabinet as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services would be a tremendous

Vote on this story -->>>

Legislative hopefuls file to run in 2018, 2020

Friday, January 13th, 2017

More lawmakers are gearing up for a re-election bid.
State elections records show dozens of members of the state House and Senate have filed to run for re-election in 2018, and several more are looking ahead to 2020.
Sen. Greg Steube is one of those lawmakers who is starting to think about his next race. The Sarasota Republican filed to run for re-election in Senate District 23 on Jan. 10. Steube replaced Sen. Nancy Detert, winning the seat after a hard-fought Republican primary last year.
When it comes to 2018, House members are staking their claim on their seats for another two years.
Rep. Ramon Alexander filed to run for re-election on Jan. 6. The Tallahassee Democrat currently represents House District 8. And Alexander isn’t the only freshman thinking about the future.
Rep. Ralph Massulo filed to run for re-election in House District 34. The Lecanto Republican filed to run for re-election on Jan. 9. Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, filed to run for re-election in House District 73 on Jan. 5.
Gruters filing is notable because some Florida campaign watchers have questioned whether he leave office once President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office later this month. Gruters was an early supporter of the New York Republican, and there has been some speculation that he will take a job within the Trump administration.
Rep. Ross Spano, a Dover Republican, filed to run for re-election in House District 59 on Jan. 4; while Rep. Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican representing House District 111, filed to run again on Jan. 11.
It’s not just incumbents getting an early start on 2018. Democrat David Poulin, who challenged Rep. Ben Albritton in 2016, filed to run in House District 56. Albritton can’t run again in 2018 because of term limits. Andy Warrener, a no party affiliation candidate, filed

Vote on this story -->>>

Greg Steube files fireworks legalization bill

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Sis-boom-bah: state Sen. Greg Steube has filed legislation to legalize consumer fireworks in Florida.
Steube, the Sarasota Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed his bill (SB 324) Tuesday.
The legislation appears to be identical to a bill (HB 4005) filed for the 2014 Legislative Session by then-state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican. That bill died in committee, records show.
Similar to Gaetz’s effort, Steube’s bill would repeal the prohibition on selling fireworks to the general public.
It also would remove requirements for testing and approval of sparklers and relieve those who make and sell sparklers from having to register with the state.
Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here. 
Retail sales are allowed only because of a 60-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. It allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”
Anyone who has bought fireworks from a roadside tent over the years may remember signing a form acknowledging the buyer falls under an agricultural, fisheries or other exemption.
Fireworks can also be used for “signal purposes or illumination” of a railroad or quarry, “for signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports, or for use by military organizations.”
Enforcement is up to local police and fire agencies, and case law says fireworks vendors aren’t responsible for verifying buyers actually intend to chase off egrets or light up a track meet.
As recently as 2016, only three states have outright bans on consumer fireworks: Delaware, Maine, and New Jersey, according to the American Pyrotechnic Association.
The post Greg Steube files fireworks legalization bill appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Rick Scott is non-committal whether he would sign a bill allowing Floridians to carry guns in airport terminals

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Rick Scott says he doesn’t have an opinion on whether or not he’d support a law that would allow licensed gun owners to carry guns in airport terminals.
The question came to him on Tuesday, four days after 26-year-old Army Veteran Esteban Santiago, who is accused of killing five people at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday after he recovered his gun that he had picked in his suitcase and then retrieved at the baggage claim area.
A proposal by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube that would allow a licensed gun owner to carry a gun in airports throughout the state is on the agenda for the Florida Legislature when they begin their session in March. The Steube bill (SB 140) does more than just allow for guns in airports – it would also allow the 1.7 million concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college campuses and in government meetings as well as carry openly in public.
“We’re in the middle of an investigation, and I’m looking forward to what happens at the end of that investigation,” Scott told reporters in New Tampa on Tuesday morning. “Right now my goal is to mourn with those who lost their lives, for those who are still in the hospital, and there will be time for politics once we finish this.”
Scott was asked twice more about the bill by reporters who wanted to get his general sense of the bill. He initially responded by again repeating the fact that there is an ongoing investigation into Santiago, as well as an ongoing manhunt for Markeith Lloyd, who Orlando Police say killed Master Sgt. Debra Clayton as she tried to confront him outside a Walmart.
“So my goal is to just finish these,” Scott said, referring to both cases.
But a television reporter asked again straight up – would he support the Steube bill if

Vote on this story -->>>

Jeff Brandes’ legislation would reform why state suspends driver’s licenses

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Republican state Senator Jeff Brandes is once again filing a bill that would prevent Floridians from having their driver’s licenses suspended for a reason unrelated to a driving violation.
The legislation would reduce the number of offenses for which license suspension is prescribed and prohibit suspensions for those who show in court an inability to pay fines and fees.
Brandes introduced a similar bill during last year’s session that didn’t make its way out of the the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said he did so after reading reports showing that more than 1.2 million driver’s license suspensions occur annually in Florida.
A study conducted in 2014 said that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suspended 1.3 million driver’s licenses in fiscal year 2012-13, and 167,000 were for non-driving reasons, such as failure to pay fines or court fees or child support.
An August, 2015 report in the Miami Herald found that 77 percent of all license suspensions in Florida between 2012 and 2015 occurred because of a failure to pay fees.
A similar bill was proposed in the ouse last year by St. Petersburg Democrat Daryl Rouson and was co-sponsored by Republicans Dana Young from Tampa and Sarasota’s Greg Steube. All three of those members have moved on to the Senate this year, presupposing there could be support for the bill there.
The bill will likely have a negative impact on local tax collectors and clerks of court who retain a portion of revenues from certain driver’s license sanctions when issuing reinstatements, in addition to other fees retained by them associated with license suspensions and revocations. That was an issue with the bill last year.
The post Jeff Brandes’ legislation would reform why state suspends driver’s licenses appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Cyndi Stevenson ‘excited’ to carry craft distillery bill in House

Friday, December 30th, 2016

St. Johns County Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson spoke to FloridaPolitics.com Friday about the House version of a bill she filed to relax restrictions on craft distillers.
Current rules, Stevenson said, have “long past served any purpose.”
Among the highlights of the legislation: increasing production caps from 75,000 to 250,000 gallons; allowing for off-site distribution points; and removing limits on how many bottles a consumer could buy in a given year.
Stevenson told us she’s “really excited to carry this bill” in the House.
As a customer of the St. Augustine Distillery, whose co-founder and CEO helms the Florida Craft Distillers Guild, Stevenson has gotten a unique perspective on the myriad benefits of the craft liquor industry.
Specifically, Stevenson says the distillery has been a “great story for Northeast Florida” and has been the “most gratifying economic development effort that [she’s] ever been involved with.”
During our extended conversation, Stevenson noted that distilleries and distributors are “starting to understand that they can coexist,” with the recent relaxing of restrictions on craft distilleries not appreciably impacting business operations of the bigger players in the industry.
“The distillery is their showroom,” Stevenson said, yet distribution would still continue through normal channels.
The revised distribution model that is proposed in the bill carried by Stevenson in the House and Sen. Greg Steube in the Senate would allow smaller players in the industry to sell their product independently of markups that are often the case when third-party vendors sell the merchandise.
For Stevenson, it’s a question of free enterprise and local control leading to benefits for the community at large.
The St. Augustine Distillery, Stevenson said, renovated an “old building [and] lifted up an area that had been blighted for years.”
As well, the business has created jobs for people, and has provided a draw for tourists.
Stevenson says that this bill would do for craft distilleries what

Vote on this story -->>>

Blaise Ingoglia touts support from state senators in Florida GOP chair re-election bid

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Nearly a dozen state senators are throwing their support behind Blaise Ingoglia’s bid to keep his job as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
The Spring Hill Republican announced Wednesday the support of 10 state senators, including former Majority Leader Bill Galvano and former House Majority Leader and newly elected Sen. Dana Young.
“Over this past election cycle, there has been a lot of rhetoric from the Florida Democrat Party, the media and those who wanted the grassroots to fail, by trying to give the appearance that the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Senate have not been unified in our shared goals,” said Ingoglia, the current chairman of the Florida GOP and a state representative “Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that I, as well as the RPOF, have a great working relationship with our Florida Senators and their leadership. Florida Senators have attended all our major events, donated and helped raise money to help us succeed.”
In an email to state executive committee members, Ingoglia said he was committed to working “collaboratively with the Florida Senate, the Florida House, our Congressional delegation, the Governor and the cabinet to advance our shared goals of making Florida the best state in the nation.”
Aside from Galvano and Young, Ingoglia was endorsed by:
— Sen. Kelli Stargel
— Sen. Rob Bradley
— Sen. Frank Artiles
— Sen. Dennis Baxley
— Sen. Travis Hutson
— Sen. Debbie Mayfield
— Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, and
— Sen. Greg Steube.
Ingoglia was elected chairman in 2015, after Republican activists rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairman. He previously served as the vice chairman on the state party.
Ingoglia will face Christian Ziegler, a Sarasota Republican committeeman, in the race to serve as the RPOF chair.
Ziegler, 33, announced his candidacy in November.
 
The post Blaise Ingoglia touts support from state senators in Florida GOP chair re-election bid appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Booze bill would benefit craft distillers

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Florida’s craft distilleries got an early Christmas gift in legislation submitted Wednesday.
The bill (SB 166), filed by Republican state Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota, would change state law to craft distillers’ benefit. He filed similar legislation when he was a House member.
One proposal expands how much booze they can produce and still be considered “craft,” raising the limit from 75,000 gallons per year to 250,000 gallons.
The bill reduces distilleries’ state license tax from $4,000 to $1,000, provided “it is distilling and bottling all of its products in containers approved for sale.”
It repeals limits on how many bottles distillers can sell directly to consumers, though it maintains a limit on bottles being no bigger than 1.75 liters.
The measure also lets them sell their liquor not only in an on-site gift shop but also at “one other approved sales room located in the same county as the distillery’s production building.”
Most notably, the plain language of the legislation appears to allow distillers to bypass the three-tier system of separate alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers set in place after Prohibition.
The bill would allow a distiller to “transfer … spirits … out of its federal bonded space or nonbonded space at its licensed premises or storage areas to its vendor’s licensed premises or approved sales room.”
Distributors and liquor stores have opposed measure to loosen restrictions, saying it would cut into their business.
Until 2013, distillers couldn’t sell any of their product to customers. That year, lawmakers approved a change to state law allowing two bottles to be sold to an individual customer yearly.
The law was changed again to two bottles annually per customer of each brand of liquor that a distiller makes. If a craft distiller produces only one type of liquor, however, four can be sold.
Philip McDaniel, CEO and co-founder of St. Augustine Distillery Co., and founding president of the Florida Craft Distillers Guild, said he was not involved with the bill’s drafting.
“It looks like

Vote on this story -->>>

Trial bar allies turn guns on ratings council in workers’ comp hearing

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

As debate opened Tuesday over Florida’s 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums, trial attorneys on the Florida Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee targeted the group that proposes insurance rates for carriers in the state.
Sens. Greg Steube and Gary Farmer Jr., both attorneys, endeavored to shift the focus from attorney fees — widely blamed for rising workers’ comp rates — and onto the need for carriers to compete rather than charge common rates.
“I support a competitive marketplace,” committee member Greg Steube said following the hearing. “That’s one of the things the committee and the Legislature should look at.”
Chairwoman Anitere Flores, herself an attorney, said the issue was “definitely on the table” during what she hopes would be a thorough look at the situation.
“It seems that the NCCI and rate-making portion is something that had not been really discussed in previous workers’ compensation reforms,” Flores said.
Committee members Steube, Randolph Bracy and Debbie Mayfield had trial lawyer support in their recent campaigns. Farmer is a past president of the Florida Justice Association, representing trial attorneys.
NCCI is the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The group operates around the country, but Florida is one of just a few states in which it proposes rates on behalf of all carriers to state regulators — in Florida’s case, the Office of Insurance Regulation.
That office relied on NCCI data in developing the rate increase that began to take effect on Dec. 1. Businesses will absorb the higher premiums as they file for new or renewed policies during the next year.
The 1st District Court of Appeal has allowed that increase to take effect pending litigation over whether NCCI and the insurance office violated Florida’s open-government laws by closing its internal deliberations and documents to the public.
NCCI cited its inability to discuss that open court case in declining to

Vote on this story -->>>

Senate Bill would eliminate tobacco companies’ discounted appeals

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

The Florida Legislature will consider legislation that would make it more expensive for tobacco companies to appeal verdicts in liability cases filed by smokers made sick or injured by their products.
SB 100, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, contains just two lines:
“Section 569.23, Florida Statutes, is repealed.” And “This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.”
That section, enacted in 2009, caps the amount tobacco companies must post when appealing trial court verdicts against them. Supporters argued at the time that the provision would protect the companies’ ability to make payments to the states under the massive 1999 liability verdict against them.
Steube is one of four members of the nine-member Judiciary Committee who won backing this year from the Florida Justice Association, which represents trial lawyers in the state.
The post Senate Bill would eliminate tobacco companies’ discounted appeals appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Florida Senate bill would strengthen fentanyl trafficking penalties

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

With the opioid epidemic unceasing in the Sunshine State, a bill in the Florida Senate would tighten penalties against trafficking in fentanyl and synthetic drugs.
Senate Bill 150, introduced by GOP Sen. Greg Steube from Sarasota, would also impose penalties related to selling, manufacturing, or delivering fentanyl and synthetic drugs “performed within a dwelling.”
This would be a felony charge, with a mandatory minimum of three years in prison.
Those who possess and deal fentanyl and similar synthetic drugs that lead to death in a user will be guilty of a felony in the third degree.
Fentanyl “trafficking” is broadly defined in this legislation, ranging from amounts from four grams to 30 kilograms.
While all infractions would be classified as felonies in the first degree,  there is a sliding scale of infraction.
Someone trafficking in 4 to 14 grams would incur a $50,000 fine and a mandatory minimum term of three years in prison.
Those with anywhere from 28 grams to 30 kilograms of fentanyl would incur a $500,000 fine and a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years.
Those who have brought over 30 kilograms of fentanyl will be subject to life in prison.
Synthetic drugs receive a similar graduated structure of penalties, with those traffickers with between 250 and 500 grams getting the mandatory minimum of three years and a $25,000 fine, and those with 30 or more kilograms getting 25 years and a $750,000 fine.

The post Florida Senate bill would strengthen fentanyl trafficking penalties appeared first on Florida Politics.

Vote on this story -->>>

Trial lawyers must be very happy with Florida Senate committee assignments

Friday, December 9th, 2016

It will come as no surprise that trial lawyers are looking to shoot the moon this Legislative Session.
They already made a power play during the 2016 election cycle. The Florida Justice Association, through its political committee Florida Justice PAC, spent $4.5 million since the beginning of 2015, much of which went to candidates or affiliated committees.
The group was also involved in two dozen state House and Senate primary races this year; and all but one of those candidates — Dwight Bullard, who lost his Senate District 40 race to Frank Artiles — were sworn into office last month.
But if you need more evidence of the clout plaintiffs’ attorneys are angling for, look no further than the make-up of the 2016-18 Senate committees.
While conventional wisdom tells us trial attorneys won’t get jilted under Senate President Joe Negron (an attorney) and House Speaker Richard Corcoran (ditto), the appointments to several key Senate committees appears to have already given trial attorneys — and their interests — a leg up.
Need an example? Take a look at the Banking and Insurance committee.
Chaired by Sen. Anitere Flores, the nine-person committee has four members for whom the Florida Justice PAC played Daddy Warbucks during the primaries. One of those members? Gary Farmer, the former president of the Florida Justice Association, which prides itself on “upholding the civil justice system and fighting for consumer rights,” which sounds like a tossed-off Morgan and Morgan slogan.
Farmer wears those trial lawyer credentials like a badge of honor. On the “About Gary” section of his campaign site, Farmer says he “spent almost his entire career fighting for the rights of consumers, fair and just compensation, and the protection of the civil justice system and full access to courts.” And as he points out, he’s made a career of representing patients and consumers

Vote on this story -->>>

Rick Scott declines to comment on proposal to repeal immigration bill he signed in 2014

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Rick Scott is declining to comment on a proposal filed for the 2017 Florida Legislative Session that would repeal a major immigration policy change that he signed into law two years ago.
Last week, Sarasota state Senator Greg Steube filed a bill (SB 82) that would repeal legislation approved by the GOP-led Legislature in 2014 that offers lower in-state tuition rates in Florida state colleges and universities for undocumented immigrants. Passage of that bill was uncertain until the end of that year’s session, but was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala.
“I haven’t seen it,” Scott told this reporter about the bill as he took questions after hosting a press conference at the Florida Highway Patrol offices in Tampa on Monday.
“I think there are about 2,000 bill that are being proposed during the session, so as I go through the process if they get to my desk, I’ll review,” he added. “I need to look at the bill.”
The legislation is a political power keg, as are most items concerning immigration. Scott campaigned as a tough on immigration candidate in 2010 when first running for governor, getting behind what was then known as an “Arizona style” immigration proposal that asked suspects stopped by the authorities for proof of their citizenship, similar in nature to the conversion SB 1070 immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona.
“We need to come up with an immigration policy that works for the country,’’ Scott told the Miami Herald back in late 2010. “If you’re stopped in our state — no different than if you’re asked for your ID — you should be able to be asked if you’re legal or not,” he told the Miami Herald.
But the Legislature failed to pass that proposal, along with other major immigration bills in the spring of 2011, including a much discussed E-Verify bill that

Vote on this story -->>>

THE MIAMI METROPOLIS -your source for news, music, sports, movies, restaurants, reviews, weather, travel, arts, tech and events in Miami