Rubio and Trump — a budding bromance?

www.rubio.senate.gov

It wasn’t that long ago that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was openly bashing Donald Trump.

But that was when the two Republicans were competing for the White House.

Now that President Trump is comfortably ensconced there, has Rubio changed his views of his onetime foe?

Alex Conant, the former Florida House speaker’s former aide and current advisor, talks with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about his pal Rubio’s evolving approach to trump.

Listen to the interview here.

Glutton for punishment? JD Alexander foe gets some love from Dennis Ross

He seemed relaxed (but intense) while in town recently to plead with some of his onetime colleagues on behalf of state colleges.

But those of us who’ve been around for a minute know how ornery J.D. Alexander, the former Senate budget chief, can be when he gets his dander up.

Alexander is pondering a return to the upper chamber, but could face a formidable opponent in Rep. Ben Albritton.

Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, today shored up his bid for the sprawling rural Senate district that Alexander may run in by securing the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross.

“Ben Albritton is a committed and consistent conservative,” said Ross, a Lakeland Republican, a former state House member elected to Congress in 2010.

“He has a track record of principled leadership in the Florida House and his integrity and genuine concern for people have served his constituents well,” Ross said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing working with him when he is in the Florida Senate.”

Albritton — and perhaps Alexander — is running for District 26, now represented by Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Lake Placid Republican running for state agriculture commissioner (who’s got the backing of Alexander). The district includes parts of Polk, Charlotte and Lee counties and all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican, left the Senate in 2012 because of term limits.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger

Sheriffs shed some love on lawmakers

The Florida Sheriffs Association bestowed kudos on lawmakers “for their significant contributions to and support of good public safety policies” during the 2017 session.

“These legislators have demonstrated a commitment to protecting the best interests of Florida citizens through their diligent legislative efforts and support of FSA initiatives,” the association said in a press release Thursday announcing its top-rated lawmakers.

Here’s the list of this year’s “legislative champions,” and the rationale:

Representative Jim Boyd (sponsored HB 477 – heroin/Fentanyl bill)
Representative James Grant (sponsored HB 7059 – prolific juvenile offender bill)
Representative Chris Sprowls (supported public safety throughout session)
Senator Jack Latvala (sponsored SB 7059 – prolific juvenile offender bill)
Senator Greg Steube (sponsored SB 150 – heroin/Fentanyl bill)

On airport marijuana ban, thoughts on traveling with insulin

IMG_2721Patients won’t be able to bring their pot treatment with them when traveling through the Orlando International Airport.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Board approved the marijuana ban yesterday.

Click here to watch WFTV‘s report on the ban.

This got me thinking about the problems I encountered traveling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Airport authorities were extremely nervous about liquids, even in small amounts.

I’ve been an insulin-dependent, Type I diabetic for more than … well, for a long time.

Type-I diabetic, for those who don’t know, means I need insulin to stay alive.

But that didn’t matter to some of the airport folks.

I once was prohibited from traveling with my insulin (which comes in vials or pens clearly marked as medicine).

I scrapped my trip, rather than risk going without my life-saving meds.

After that, I traveled with a notarized letter from my doctor attesting to the fact that these medications were critical.

One of the problems, I learned over the years, was that airport authorities in and out of the state treated my insulin in disparate ways.

Sometimes, they ignored it.

Other times, I was subjected to a super-duper special search after the slim needle on a syringe or insulin pen caught the attention of a security tech, who feared the metal object on her X-ray screen indicated the presence of a bomb. (I’ll save the story about the time my daughter’s teddy bear — with a music box — resulted in an airport bomb squad and dog-sniffing search for another day.)

And on a few occasions, I was forced to explain my medical condition and my treatment while a long line of stocking-footed, impatient travelers piled up behind me.

According to yesterday’s report by the television station, Orlando airport law enforcement officials say they’re not going to go out of their way to sniff out pot travelers.

Further complicating the issue, while Florida law bars patients from smoking “whole flower” — dudes, we call it “bud” — the sale of whole flower for use in vaporizers isn’t prohibited.

After reporting on MMJ for years, I know that marijuana is viewed, like insulin, as a life-saving treatment for some patients. I was inches away from a man who had an epileptic seizure while he awaited his turn to testify before a Senate committee earlier this year. His wife pleaded with attendees for marijuana-based CBD oil, while awaiting emergency personnel. The man, Michael Bowen, serves on the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida.

But, unlike the medicine I’ve been taking for oh-so-long, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, posing a legitimate problem for law enforcement officials at airports and, most certainly, other transportation hubs.

Traveling with insulin within the U.S. has become a lot less problematic for me in the past few years. I don’t even have a letter from my doctor anymore, but an escalation in international terrorist attacks has prompted me to ask her for an updated authorization.

Sen. Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who’s been instrumental in passing the state’s medical marijuana legislation, calls the era in which dozens of states, including Florida, have legalized MMJ “a brand new world.” (Is he aware of the Aldous Huxley reference to hallucinogens?)

Traveling with treatment is just one part of that brave new world, for patients, law enforcement, and elected officials contemplating new policies.

Senate Dems: Screw Georgia!

After urging fellow Democrats last week to be clear about why they “suck significantly less” than Republicans, Sen. Jeff Clemens is using last night’s Democratic losses in Georgia and South Carolina to drum up support for a critical special election in Miami.

“Georgia?! Screw that, we can actually WIN in Florida,” the subject line in an email sent by Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who’ll take over as minority leader next year, reads.

Clemens, in charge of raising money for Senate races, pointed out the differences between Senate District 40 — now open after former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, was forced to resign earlier this year — and the  congressional seat.

The Georgia race, reportedly the most expensive in history, was viewed nationally as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

“I know we’re upset. But if we spend our time worrying about a Congressional seat we normally lose by 20-30 points, we’re missing the real fight. The seats Dems lost last night were aspirational. They were seats no Democrat was supposed to win, we overperformed, etc. blah blah blah ad nauseum ad hominim expecto patronous,” Clemens wrote. “Whatever. Here’s the bottom line. Now is NOT the time to give up. Not when we have winnable races that matter.”

expecto patronum Clemens’s missive should delight Harry Potter fans.

The wizard invoked the “expecto patronous” (“I await a protector”) incantation to protect himself from Dementors.

Clemens goes on to advise that Democrats can win the Miami Senate seat, which Hillary Clinton carried last year.

“The most important thing about last night was it was proof that Dems can challenge almost any seat, if they have the following:

  • A belief by Democrats well outside of the district that this race mattered and was winnable (as evidenced by the massive contributions to the campaign).
  • Intense amounts of volunteerism, both inside and outside of the state.
  • A willingness from both the campaign and the GA Democratic party to put differences and convention aside and have fun while winning.

Here at Flip Florida, we believe these are lessons that have direct application to SD40 here in Florida.”

The keys to winning, Clemens concludes, are money, “sign ups, likes and followers,” and one other thing not usually included in fundraising pitches —- “love (We just need it … Makes campaigning easier).”

Democrats Annette Taddeo and Ana Rivas Logan will face off in the special election primary on July 25. On the Republican side, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and lawyer Lorenzo Palomares are vying for the chance to replace Artiles, who was forced to step down after a vulgar tirade at a private club in Tallahassee. The special general election for the Miami-Dade County District 40 seat is slated for Sept. 26.

Morgan ready to sue state over smokable pot

budOrlando trial lawyer John Morgan appears prepared to make good on threats to sue the state over implementation of the constitutional amendment, which he bankrolled, that legalized marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

“Great Scott!! I’ll be filing my lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law. Independence Day 🇺🇸 #NoSmokeIsAJoke,” Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) promised on Twitter today.

Morgan’s tweet references a quote from Gov. Rick Scott, who pledged to sign into law a measure (SB 8A), passed by lawmakers during the special session earlier this month, that lays out the framework for the constitutional amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in November.

Morgan has vowed to sue over the issue of whether patients should be able to smoke the marijuana treatment.

Despite Morgan’s threats, the proposal now awaiting Scott’s signature bans smoking of marijuana, but it does allow patients to vape marijuana products.

In a recent interview, Morgan said that’s not good enough.

“(Smoking) clearly was called for in the amendment, and so what they’ve done for me is allowed me to step back up on my soapbox and go get what the people of Florida wanted when they passed this bill with 71 percent,” Morgan, who is mulling a bid for governor next year, told The News Service of Florida  after the Legislature signed off on the proposal on June 9.

Scott gleeful about Georgia election as referendum on fellow Florida-man Trump

All of those who are completely over the Georgia special election can stop reading here.

But for the rest of us, here’s what Florida Gov. Rick Scott had to say about the face-off that was viewed by many to be a referendum on Scott’s pal, President Donald Trump.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 12.55.54 PM

Appearing on FOX Business show Varney & Co. Wednesday, Scott echoed those hyping Republican Karen Handel’s victory in the most expensive congressional race in history.

Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com

Handel’s 6th Congressional District win was a victory for Trump, Scott crowed.

“It shows you that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you have a bad message, you lose,” Scott, who spent at least $70 million of his own money in his 2010 gubernatorial bid, said.

 Trump’s message of “jobs and repealing and replacing Obamacare” — themes the Florida governor, mulling a run for the U.S. Senate next year, has hammered on — resonated with voters, Scott indicated.

Scott also tried to slip this week’s job-poaching trip to Connecticut into the conversation focused on national politics. And he also addressed the New Republic super-PAC, which he chairs, that seeks to rebrand the Republican Party in Trump’s image.

 “If you look at what we should be talking about, we ought to talk how Americans talk,” Scott said. “They’re not talking about liberal vs. conservative. They’re talking about, ‘I want an open government. I want choices. I want choices in my education. I want choices in my health care.’ That’s how Trump talked.”

 New Republican’s focus is on cutting regulations, targeting young voters and winning Hispanic voters.

Referring to the latter, Scott told FOX that Cubans in South Florida are “all on board” with the president’s Cuban policy introduced Friday in Miami. The new policy aims to reverse many of the actions of former President Barack Obama designed to open up thaw relations with the island country.

“The Cuban people know that you can’t help the Castro regime,” Scott said Wednesday. “It doesn’t work. There is nothing that Obama did that helped give freedom, democracy.”