They’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye

 Florida has “glory days” ahead for space exploration, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — and GOP governor’s mansion wannabe — predicted Tuesday.

Putnam made the rosy pitch to a space-friendly crowd at the Florida Chamber of Commerce‘s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“The golden age for space for Florida, (not) because of our legacy in space, but because of the private sector investment, our golden age is in front of us, not behind us,” Putnam said at the event, held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

Pointing to an emerging billionaires’ space race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Putnam said residents on Florida’s Space Coast should expect hear the regular rumble of up to 60 launches a year.

More than that, Putnam says Florida will need skilled workers to handle the supply chain for businesses like Blue Origin, which plans to open a 750,000-square-foot rocket production facility south of Cape Canaveral by the end of the year. The company plans to start test launches from space leased at the cape (ouch!) by the end of the decade.

That’s where Florida’s military-friendly approach comes in, according to Putnam.

“It didn’t have to be in Florida,” Putnam said. “It could have been on the eastern shore of Maryland. It could have been Alaska. It could have been Texas. It could have been a lot of places. But Florida fought for it and won that increased investment. Military and defense spending in Florida is force multiplier for the private sector investments we’re seeing now.”

By Jim Turner.

Jeb Bush, Dr. Oz, urge Trump to deem opioid crisis a national emergency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and TV sensation Mehmet Oz, better known as “Dr. Oz,” are urging President Donald Trump to declare the opioid epidemic sweeping the country a national emergency.

Bush, Oz and a handful of advocates penned an op-ed for HuffPost, urging the president to heed the advice of the White House Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, created by Trump earlier this year.

“The declaration of a National Emergency would give this epidemic the full attention it deserves and allow states to access federal resources to act swiftly and definitively to save the lives of more than 33,000 Americans annually through evidence-based treatments and programs that have been proven to work,” Bush and the others wrote.

Jim Hood, CEO of Facing Addiction, was among those pleading with Trump to take action.

The non-profit organization has launched an online campaign asking people to sign a letter to Trump — who’ll get a briefing on the issue today from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and the members of the commission asking for a national emergency declaration.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican mulling a run for governor, will help host an event in Palm Beach County today focused on curbing deadly opioid abuse in Florida, one of the state’s hardest hit by what some advocates are calling a pandemic.

Florida Dems launch TV ad in St. Pete mayor’s race

The Florida Democratic Party is running a TV ad aimed at keeping St. Petersburg blue.

The mayoral race is a rock ’em, sock ’em battle not only between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat, and Republican Rick Baker, a former mayor who left office in 2010.

The November election is also viewed as a contest between state Dems and Republicans, and could foreshadow Democrats’ ability to score in legislative and statewide races next year.

The ad puts Baker on the “Extreme Team” alongside President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee backed by Baker. (Note the ominous clouds in the background while the Reds are on the field).

“Baker is weak, out of touch with our values,” a voice over proclaims.

In contrast, the ad links Kriseman, a former state representative who took over as mayor three years ago, with former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and hometown Congressman Charlie Crist.

 

Nevada gambling regulators ponder pot

budWith the advent of recreational marijuana in Nevada, at least one of the state’s gambling regulators wants weed to be included in “responsible gaming” policy.

According to a report by CDC Gaming Report’s Aaron Stanley, Nevada Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson expressed concern about adding the impacts of marijuana to those of alcohol or problem gambling in the state’s regulations governing responsible gaming.

“We have existing regulations that talk about impairment from alcohol and gambling, but the statutes and regulations are silent on… what happens when the persons might be impaired from marijuana intoxication and continue to gamble,” Johnson, who has served on the NGCB since 2012, said, after explaining that an operator had been recently fined for allowing a patron to continue to gamble while visibly intoxicated from alcohol.

Johnson spoke yesterday at a University of Nevada-Las Vegas event hosted by the American Gaming Association.

Florida, which legalized medical marijuana last year, doesn’t have any gambling regs on the books specifically dealing with pot, either.

Nevada regulators concerns may be heightened by what could be the nation’s first marijuana mega-store opening soon near downtown Las Vegas.

Click here for more on that.

Supreme Court warns of scams

The state’s high court is warning of “several widespread email and phone scams” where tricksters tell targets they have to pay money to avoid going to a Florida court to face charges.

The scams appear to target individuals with limited English-language skills, the elderly, health-care workers, or relatives of people who recently died, according to a press release issued by the Florida Supreme Court this morning.

Courts don’t work that way, SCOFLA spokesman Craig Waters said in the press release.

“People can avoid being victimized with a little foreknowledge. Most importantly, state courts in Florida do not make initial contact by email or by phone to tell people to appear before a judge or to pay money. You normally would be told in person or by regular-delivery mail,” Waters wrote.

The alert also details the different kinds of scams reported thus far:

  • One scam sends emails saying that the recipient – often a health-care worker – is a defendant in a “Court of Appeals” case about a “Health Care Service Violation.” In reality, no Florida state court would ever make its initial contact with any “defendant” by email.
  • A separate telephone scam targets Spanish speakers in Southeast Florida, especially Dade and Broward Counties. It often displays a fake caller ID phone number that spoofs the actual phone number of the Florida Supreme Court clerk’s office.  Usually the caller tells the intended victims they must pay money or make a wire transfer to avoid being charged with offenses like kidnapping, child pornography or human trafficking.
  • A third scam targets the family or heirs of people who recently died, claiming that someone else owes money to the deceased person’s estate. Usually the scam occurs by asking the family or heirs to pay an upfront “tax” or some other fee in order to receive payment. At least one email scam of this type included the bogus signature of a Florida judge.
  • A fourth scam widespread throughout the United States can come by phone or email and relates to jury duty. Usually it falsely claims that the person must pay a fine for missing jury duty or must disclose sensitive personal information like a Social Security number that can be used in identity theft.

The court cautions anyone receiving similar emails or phone calls not to give out their personal information, and to contact law enforcement or the attorney general’s office.

Waters also advised individuals who want to check out such suspicious email or phone calls to forward them to the Florida Supreme Court at supremecourt@flcourts.org.

 

Will the big boxing of kush be a trend?

IMG_2721Could it be a sign of what’s to come in Florida?

A pot mega-store is slated to open on tribal land near downtown Las Vegas next month, according to a report yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun.

The 15,800-square-foot Nuwu Cannabis Marketplace — about the size of a Walmart Express — will open next month.

The tribe aims to capitalize on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada, approved by voters in November.

With 13 checkout lanes, the pot shop will be the largest in the nation, according to tribal leaders.

“We’re pretty sure this is bigger than anyone here will have ever seen,” Las Vegas Paiute Chairman Benny Tso said. “We want to raise the bar on the cannabis industry, and we want the industry to come with us.”

The outlet is intended to be a marketplace, where customers already know what they want, rather than a dispensary, Tso said in the report.

It’s unlikely Florida — where only medical, not recreational, marijuana is legal — will see any big-box pot stores any time soon.

And we don’t know yet if the state’s tribes intend to start marijuana operations on tribal lands.

Putnam hauls in cash but eats on the cheap ‘cuz he’s packing heat

20155766_10159004818580371_549381760493572209_nHow did Adam Putnam spend his July?

Apparently, doing the things you would expect from a candidate trying to position himself as a conservative GOP candidate running for governor, including a discount meal in the Panhandle because he’s got a license to carry a concealed weapon.

The result?

Putnam’s campaign reported Thursday that he’s raised $16.98 million through the end of last month, including nearly $1.3 million collected in July. The state agriculture commissioner has $12.3 million cash on hand through July, his campaign said.

Putnam’s fund-raising far outpaces his potential primary rivals, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, state Sen. Jack Latvala and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who — along with their supporters — are stepping up their efforts.

Amanda Bevis, a spokeswoman for Putnam’s campaign, said the new report shows Putnam’s “finance operation continues to gain strength.”

“But, more importantly, our grassroots momentum is gaining speed,” Bevis said. “Floridians are passionate about Adam Putnam’s willingness to fight for our freedoms and his ability to bring common sense, business smarts to our state’s capital.”

Putnam’s July campaign itinerary included fairly typical events, including attending the state’s “largest Independence Day” parade in Brandon, two GOP barbecues, two “Up and Adam” breakfasts, three fire house visits, two stops at Florida National Guard facilities and a clay shoot.

And as a sign he is not shying away from the criticism he invoked after declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” Putnam highlighted the fact that he had “concealed carry Wednesday” luncheon at the “Just the Cook” restaurant in Panama City, where concealed weapons licensees get a 25 percent discount.

“You pack the heat/We cook the meat,” a sign at the rustic facility, which is located in a marina, says. In a Facebook along with a photo of the sign, Putnam wrote: “My kind of place.”

Putnam is in charge of Florida’s concealed weapons licensing program, which has blossomed under his leadership.

Other July highlights cited by his campaign include Putnam’s visit to the Kennedy Space Center with Vice President Mike Pence. He was also endorsed by the Florida Associated Builders and Contractors, who represent some 2,500 small businesses in the state.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.