Gov. Rick Scott will meet Friday with the families of victims of last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, raising expectations that he will sign into law a sweeping school-safety measure (SB 7026) that sparked veto requests from critics on both ends of the gun-control spectrum.
The Florida Education Association on Thursday asked Scott to veto the measure, saying more than 200,000 school employees could qualify to carry firearms, which would “do more harm than good.” And NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer sent out an “emergency alert” to supporters the same day, urging them to contact Scott and demand a veto.
Scott has repeatedly said that he objects to the three-day waiting period in the legislation and opposes “arming teachers,” but would not say Wednesday whether he intends to sign the bill into law.
But the governor telegraphed what action he might take on the measure, which the 17 families said they support and asked him to sign.
“I’m going to review the bill line-by-line, and the group that I’m going to be talking to, the group that I care the most about right now, because it impacted them so much, is the families,” Scott said.
2020 session gets early start
Continuing a trend, the Florida Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would start the 2020 legislative session in January.
Under the state Constitution, legislative sessions typically start in March, but the Legislature can decide to start sessions at other times during even-numbered years. The Legislature voted to start the 2016 and 2018 sessions in January.
The bill (HB 6049) approved Thursday in a 34-3 vote would start the 2020 session on Jan. 14. The House has also approved the bill, which means it is now ready to go to Gov. Rick Scott.
Marijuana rules become issue in budget
Lawmakers agreed Thursday to withhold more than $1.9 million from the Florida Department of Health until it implements rules necessary to carry out the state’s medical-marijuana laws.
But lawmakers agreed to make it easier for the department’s “Office of Compassionate Use” to implement the rules by agreeing to exempt the rules from a requirement that they be ratified by the Legislature.
The department published 10 rules this month meant to implement the state’s medical marijuana laws, including dealing with issues such as background screening requirements for staff members at treatment centers. Public meetings will be held on the rules in April.
Since 2010, any rule that increases the costs of doing business by more than $1 million over a five-year period requires legislative ratification, and rules that aren’t ratified cannot go into effect. But with Thursday’s vote, the medical marijuana rules will be exempt from ratification requirement.
Fish and wildlife picks spark debate
In a somewhat-unusual move, Senate Democrats objected Thursday to three of Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, though the appointees were ultimately confirmed.
The move came as the Senate took up confirmation of up dozens of Scott appointees to state boards. Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, questioned the qualifications of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appointees Gary Nicklaus, Sonya Rood and Gary Lester.
That led Republicans to defend the governor’s choices. “These people are of honor and integrity and deserve our vote,” Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said.
Senators then voted 23-14 to approve the nomination of Nicklaus; 25-12 to approve the nomination of Rood; and 24-13 to approve the nomination of Lester.