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Florida’s first Lottery chief to DeSantis: Axe the warning!

Tennessee Education Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove, who was Florida’s first Lottery secretary, is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a controversial measure that would require Lottery tickets and promotions to carry a warning that the games may be addictive.

The warnings could cause a $61 million hit to education in Florida, and could have a major impact on lottery sales nationally, according to Hargrove, who’s also the president of the World Lottery Association.

The Florida bill (HB 629) would require warnings to take up 10 percent of the space on the front of a ticket. Retailers also have to post warnings wherever the tickets are sold.

House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, pushed the proposal.

“The bottom line is, what’s important for people to know is that (the) Lottery, unlike other types of things that we consider possibly habitual or dangerous, is carried out by the state and does nothing to warn people of its habitual nature,” the speaker told reporters earlier this month.

Hargrove said she’s not aware of any other state that requires a warning to take up 10 percent of the front of the ticket, and warned that the warning message will have a “substantial negative impact” not only on the Florida Lottery but on the industry as a whole.

The warning “interferes” with bar codes on the tickets, cautioned Hargrove, who repeatedly referred to the “good causes” supported by state lotteries in her letter to the governor.

And the warning will have a “substantial negative impact on the aesthetics of the ticket,” the 36-year Lottery veteran warned.

“The play area of the ticket is the core of the appeal of these games to the consumer. Reducing the play area of the ticket will reduce the entertainment and play value of the instant game,” she predicted.

Retailers may not want to sell the instant scratch-off games “due to the negative image this warning message conveys about addiction,” Hargrove added.

The warnings could lead to a $235 million reduction in Lottery sales, which would result in a $61 million hit to education. In addition, retailers would lose about $14.1 million in commissions.

Hargrove also said she’s worried that Florida’s warnings could spread to other states.

“Our industry would not want Florida to set in motion a trend in legislatures that ultimately leads to a reduction in dollars for lottery beneficiaries, including college scholarships, pre-K funding, healthcare funding, programs that support senior citizens and state budgets,” she wrote.

‘Homeless encampment’ headed to Broward? Thanks, President Trump!

After learning that “the federal government will be sending hundreds of migrants to Broward County to alleviate the highly publicized problems at the U.S. Mexico border,” Broward Mayor Mark Bogen suggested the immigrants may be better off at one of President Donald Trump’s hotels.

Broward County officials issued a press release Thursday, chiding the Trump administration for what could be an influx of hundreds of undocumented immigrants into a region sorely lacking in affordable housing.

The threat from Trump follows the Republican-dominated Legislature’s passage last month of one of the nation’s strictest bans on “sanctuary cities.”

According to the press release, “hundreds of immigrants will be arriving in Broward County on a weekly basis without designated shelters or funding to house them, feed them, and keep them safe.”

Broward Mayor Mark Bogen called the situation “a humanitarian crisis,”  and pledged the county will “do everything possible to help these people.”

“If the President will not provide us with financial assistance to house and feed these people, he will be creating a homeless encampment,” the mayor added.

If the county can’t find the resources to house the migrants, Bogan suggested “we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well.”

Here’s the rest of the release:

Mayor Bogen says a sudden influx of immigrants will further strain Broward County’s social services and will cause further harm to immigrants who will be left here with no money, housing or basic knowledge of the area. Broward County will reach out to all charities, non-profits, businesses and other resources to try to help the migrants who will be arriving here.

“This is irresponsible policy.  To bring hundreds of people here every week without providing the necessary resources to house and feed them is inhumane. Although our Commission has not had the chance to address this issue, in my opinion, the people that we can’t find shelter for and will become homeless, I would suggest, that we bring them to the Trump hotels and ask the President to open his heart and home as well,” said Mayor Mark Bogen.

Broward County is not a sanctuary city and the Florida Senate recently passed a controversial bill banning such cities in the state.  President Trump has threatened to send people who illegally cross the border to communities that are considered immigrant friendly.

Gruters, horses brag on session; Eskamani gets angry

Subtlety apparently wasn’t the goal in videos featuring lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle, pushed out after the 2019 legislative session wrapped.

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who’s also the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, got a majestic, campaign-style video featuring a lot of horses and a basso voiceover.

Meanwhile, Orlando Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani, Florida’s answer to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, went her own route.

Eskamani recruited her twin sister, Ida, to act as her “Anger Interpreter” in a video inspired by comedy duo Key and Peele’s ‘Luther the anger translator.’

In a follow-up tweet, Eskamani, who’s known throughout the Capitol for what seems to be a perpetual smile, made it clear that the video was all in good fun.

“Want to make sure y’all know that we made this video with nothing but love & gratitude for our colleagues and to the legislative process. I do my best to always present as my authentic self, and w/out laughter we have nothing.  ❤️”

For those not in the know, Luther made a political splash in 2015, when he gave some assistance to then-President Barack Obama during the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

So, you don’t have to look it up, here’s the Obama version.

 

By Jim Turner and The Dara.

Too much winning for ‘Governor Ron?’

DSC_2851-SPresident Donald Trump told a crowd Wednesday that his brand of “winning” may have been too much for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As he was wrapping up an approximately 90-minute speech during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Trump recalled DeSantis coming at some unspecified time to see him in the White House.

“Governor Ron, he’d say, ‘President please,’ in the Oval Office, ‘please we’re winning too much, we’re not used to this Mr. President, we’re not used to this,’ ” Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial race helped boost the former congressman to victory, said.

“ ‘For years and years, we’ve been losers, we’ve been losing Mr. President,’ ” Trump continued to quote DeSantis. “ ‘Now we’re winning, the people of Florida can’t stand winning so much. Can you maybe pull it back a little bit Mr. President?’ ”

“And I said, ‘No I can’t Ron, I’m sorry,’ ” Trump said.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Ferré, helped to translate Trump’s remarks.

“The President was using good humor to say that Governor DeSantis is taking great care of Florida,” she said in an email.
By Jim Turner.

Stew ’em if ya got ’em? Denver hearts magic mushrooms

Because Colorado.

The mile-high city just got higher after Denver voters gave the thumbs-up to a proposal effectively decriminalizing magic mushrooms.

Denver will now become the first city in the nation to give the nod to psilocybin mushrooms, which can cause users to trip their brains out but which studies now show can be useful in treating depression.

Voters narrowly approved the measure by less than 2,000 votes. The Denver Post reports that some ballots have yet to be counted, but they’re not expected to change the results, which will be certified on May 16.

From the Post:

“It’s been one hell of a 21 and a half hours,” Initiative 301 campaign manager Kevin Matthews said. “If these results hold, this is an example of the absurd comedy of the great metaphor. Against all odds, we prevailed. This is what happens when a small team of dedicated and passionate people unite under a single idea to create change.”

The proposal requires the po-po to treat possession of psychedelic shrooms as their lowest priority. It’s similar to an initiative that paved the way for the legalization of pot.

Again, from the Post:

“Our victory here is a clear signal to the rest of the country that we’re ready for a broader conversation around psilocybin and its potential benefits,” said Matthews, a 33-year-old stay-at-home dad.

Whaaat? Big Pharma asks DeSantis to veto Canadian drug importation plan

Move over Don Quixote. Here comes PhRMA President and  Chief Executive Officer Stephen J. Ubl tilting at windmills.

Ubl, head of the officially known as the Pharmaceutical  Manufacturing and Research Association, sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, politely congratulating the Republican governor on hitting the milestone of his first 100 days in office.

“I look forward to working alongside you to ensure Floridians have access to affordable medicines and hope you will not hesitate to call upon me if I can ever be of assistance,” Ubl wrote.

Then Ubl asks DeSantis for what seems impossible — a veto of HB 19, the  Canadian drug importation program. Getting Canadian drugs into Florida is DeSantis’ top health care priority, and is also a priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva.

“When this bill is officially sent to your desk, I encourage you to consider vetoing it.,” Ubl wrote. “While your goal of lowering the costs of prescription medicines for Floridians is one I share, the biopharmaceutical industry has serious concerns with any proposal that could put patient safety at risk.”

Ubl outlines several alternatives to the Canadian drug importation program.

“First, we believe that patients should benefit from the more than $166 billion in rebates and discounts provided to insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, the government and other entities in the supply chain in 2018,” he wrote. “On average, 40 percent of the list price of medicines are given as rebates, but too often, patients never reap the benefits of these discounts. Ensuring they do is one step you can take to provide relief to the Floridians struggling to afford their medicines.”

The prescription drug importation program was a hotly contested issue during the 2019 session. DeSantis on Saturday joked that the proposal (HB 19) was a “stimulus” for Tallahassee lobbyists who were hired to kill the proposal.

DeSantis was in Washington on Monday discussing the plan, which requires federal approval, with President Donald Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar on the issue.

DeSantis hasn’t received the bill yet; once he does, the governor will have 15 days to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

“Usually people never want to touch prescription drugs because you see all the stuff coming down,” DeSantis told reporters Saturday, referring to an ad blitz blasting the drug importation plan. “But we said, let’s just do the right thing. Let’s hang in there, and that will be better for Florida. I think there was just a lot of opportunities to lead, and I took them, but then these guys in the Legislature took them as well, so that’s a good thing.”

By The News Service of Florida’s health care maven, Christine Sexton.

Congressional subcommittee chair: GOP take on Amendment 4 “an act of defiance”

A day after a congressional panel held a hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings filed legislation to make it easier for voters to fix signature mismatches.

Even if Congress doesn’t pass the South Florida Democrats’ federal legislation, the elections changes they’re proposing will almost certainly go into effect here in the Sunshine State.

Giving voters another chance and more time to fix their mismatched VBM signatures  is one of the provisions included in a an elections package (SB 7066) on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The proposal also includes the Republican-controlled Legislature’s controversial plan to carry out a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentences. Murderers and people convicted of felony sexual offenses are excluded from the “automatic” vote-restoration.

Under the provision included in the elections package, felons would have to pay all financial obligations — including restitution, fines and fees — before having their voting rights restored. Judges can waive the fees and fines, or order community service in lieu of payment.

“As this subcommittee continues to travel the country, I can think of no better place than here in Florida, a state that is no stranger to having its elections become the focus of national attention,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat who chairs the Committee on House Administrations Elections Subcommittee.

Fudge called Florida’s passage of Amendment 4, which more than 5 million voters supported, a “watershed moment for civil rights.”

Echoing other critics’ objections to the plan, the congresswoman blasted Florida lawmakers’ handling of Amendment 4, saying it amounts to a modern-day poll tax.

“They blatantly ignored the will of the Florida voters that approved the measure in a retroactive act of voter suppression. It is an act of defiance by this legislature,” she said.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was among the witnesses at yesterday’s hearing, which addressed issues related to the 2018 elections, such as faulty ballot design, rejection of VBM ballots and recount litigation.

A joint press release issued by Deutch and Hastings cites a report by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith, who found that 15 percent of vote-by-mail ballots submitted by Parkland voters aged 18 to 21 were nearly three times more likely to be rejected than those of voters in the same age group statewide.

Smith’s analysis found that 15 percent of the VBM ballots sent by the young Parkland voters were tossed. Students in Parkland launched a national voter registration effort following last year’s horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 students and staff dead and another 17 people injured.

Here’s more from the South Florida Dems’ press release:

The “Protecting American Votes Act” will require elections officials to make two attempts to notify voters when their ballots are rejected based on a signature mismatch—by mail in addition to either text, phone, or e-mail. It will also require states to provide at least ten days from the date of notice to cure the mismatch to verify their identity and ensure their vote is counted. Officials who review signatures will also be required to participate in formal training and provide a report to Congress detailing the number of ballots that are rejected and description of the notification and cure process the state uses to protect voters. These reforms reflect several of the changes the Florida legislature included in SB 7066 to reform its election laws.