Senator Jeff Brandes

Lynn Hatter / WFSU News

Medical marijuana supporters gathered at the Capitol Tuesday in a show of support for legalization. They’re championing a bill by Rep. Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) that he says would allow doctors to be the decision makers on who qualifies for medical marijuana and who doesn’t.

House Minority Leader Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach)
State of Florida

Florida’s sheriffs have come out in opposition to a Republican proposal to expand medical marijuana.  But Sen. Jeff Brandes’ (R-St. Petersburg) bill is getting a favorable reception from the minority party. 

A medical marijuana initiative nearly passed on last November’s ballot, and the response from voters has prompted Republican lawmakers like Sen. Brandes to put the issue on the agenda for the upcoming session.  Democrats have filed proposals for years, and House Minority leader Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) says he’s glad the move is gaining a foothold.

Trouble could be brewing again between a group of Sheriffs and a huge gun rights organization over a controversial gun bill that failed last year.

Lawmakers have tried and failed for years, but perhaps 2015 is the year medical marijuana comes to Florida.
Scott Beale via Flickr

Florida has a low-THC marijuana law on the books and narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment allowing broader medical use last year.  But Florida lawmakers are gearing up for further debate in the coming session.

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) filed a medical marijuana bill Monday, expanding on last year’s so-called Charlotte’s Web law.  Brandes says it also addresses perceived shortcomings in the unsuccessful Amendment 2, but it’s important for the issue to go before the Legislature rather than be decided through the initiative process.

Florida Channel

Governor Rick Scott signed a record budget of about $77 billion into law Monday.

Scott Signs Budget

This year’s budget is 3.5 percent higher than last year's and includes a boost in money for schools, child welfare and projects to battle water pollution. But, Scott says that’s not the only thing.

“It’s a budget that the most important thing is we cut $500 million in taxes. I looked at every line to say are we getting a return for the taxpayers. Is it good for the citizens,” said Scott, speaking to reporters Monday.

A record budget of $77 billion as well as several other bills were recently delivered to the Governor’s desk. And, as Governor Rick Scott looks to veto multiple budget turkeys from the state budget, there’s also one measure Scott has definitely promised to veto: a bill that could allow for the raising of speed limits on certain Florida highways.

MGN Online

A measure that could have allowed for speed limits to be raised as high as 75 miles per hour on certain Florida highways is no longer in play.

While he admits there are times he’d like to go faster, Governor Rick Scott says he decided to listen to the advice of opponents to the measure and veto the bill.

The president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association says he’s offended by comments made by the National Rifle Association’s Marion Hammer over a gun bill that died this legislative Session. It’s a measure that would have allowed people to legally carry a firearm without a concealed weapons permit during a mandatory evacuation.

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A couple of NRA-backed priorities died in the Florida Senate Thursday. The issues centered around one bill that that would allow people to legally carry a concealed weapon without a permit during a mandatory evacuation and another issue relating to tweaking Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

Emergency Concealed Carry Bill

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The Florida Senate teed up several measures Wednesday, unanimously passed a number of measures, and sent some over to the Governor for his signature. That includes a bill addressing juvenile life sentencing, a pair of gun-related measures, and another increasing speed limits.

Speed Limit Bill

About 50 bills got teed up for a vote Wednesday, including a bipartisan bill allowing Florida Department of Transportation officials to change the speed limits on certain highways.

Uber Jacksonville website

  On Friday, a controversial measure regulating chauffeured limousines is scheduled to go before its final House committee. The so-called “Uber bill” is aimed at paving the way for a car service app to roll into Florida’s large cities more easily.

More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition titled “Move Florida Forward.” Car service technology company Uber created the lobbying tool to collect support for legislation prohibiting local governments from enacting restrictions it says are keeping its cars out of those areas.

MGN Online

A bill allowing people to carry a concealed gun without a permit during a declared state of emergency narrowly passed a Senate panel Tuesday. It’s a controversial issue that’s been stalled in the same committee for a couple weeks.

It was the third time’s the charm when St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes presented his bill before the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security Committee.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

A controversial gun measure that’s currently stalled in the Senate is now heading to the House floor. The bill aims to allow someone to legally carry a firearm during a mandatory evacuation without a permit.

Senate Bill Stalled

St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes is the Senate sponsor of this particular measure.

Fringehog / Flickr Creative Commons

Discussion of a Senate bill aiming to abolish all red light cameras in Florida was postponed Wednesday after several amendments  failed to pass the Transportation Committee.

The bill is similar to Rep. Frank Artiles’ (Rep-Miami) House bill, which has been the subject of controversy since its filing in early January. After failing to abolish red light cameras in a bill in last year’s session, Artiles added amendments to cut fines for red light runners caught on camera and establish alternate methods of preventing red light running.

R.Benk / WFSU-News

Almost a year after Florida’s Lieutenant Governor resigned amid a racketeering scandal involving a supposed veteran’s charity, new charity rules have gone from talking points to ink on paper. The state’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam presented the 52-page proposal Wednesday while trying to quell conservative fears of over regulation.

Azri Adnan

Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would clear the way for Floridians to shoot off more fireworks.

Danny Carpenter owns his own company, D and D Fireworks.  But since he’s open for just a few weeks in the summer and a couple days around New Year’s, he spends the rest of his time selling something else.

When it comes to local pension plans experts say the numbers don’t add up. Now some lawmakers are trying to promote some “truth in advertising” as they say, but the effort has raised concerns about how to strike a balance between fulfilling obligations while not further harming an already shaky situation.

A bill has cleared its first stop in the Florida Legislature that would block law enforcement officers from seizing personal electronic devices, like cell phones, without a search warrant. But, opponents say moving the bill forward is a bit premature, while the very same matter is being looked at in the courts.

Under Florida law, law enforcement officers are allowed to search the property of a person who has been arrested without a search warrant.