Legislative Issues

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS We all groan twice a year when our clocks move forward or backward. Bills have been introduced in both chambers that would require Florida to observe Daylight Savings year-round.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA Senator Brandes, a supporter of medical marijuana use, has filed a bill which would replace the 2014 Compassionate Use Act.  His bill is broad in scope in that it would allow for more expansive uses of medical marijuana, especially for patients with a specified medical condition or symptom documented by a physician.   It would also scrap the current Charlotte’s Web licensing provision and replace it with a comprehensive licensing approach.

LOTTERY Ready for the Senate floor is a bill which would allow point-of-sale purchases for lottery tickets, like at a gas pump. A similar bill in the House has two more committee stops. It is hoped ticket sales will increase with new buying options. In related news, the Florida Lottery announced that 2015 sales exceeded their expectations by over $88 million and that since the lottery’s inception over $29 billion has been given to education.

BOATING SAFETY After two 14-year old boys went missing off Jupiter Island last summer, local lawmakers filed legislation to incentivize boaters to install safety devices in their water crafts. Anyone who buys and registers an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) device with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would receive a twenty-five percent discount off their annual boat registration with the State.

COHABITATION REPEAL An 1868 law prohibiting unmarried couples from living together is once again before the Legislature.  Between 2007-2011, over seven hundred residents were charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which includes a possible fine of up to $500 and sixty days in jail.  Interestingly, this law does not pertain to same sex couples.

FLORIDA RETIREMENT SYSTEM The House will again pursue legislation to change the current retirement system.  The existing plan would be closed to new employees. In its place, new hires would be offered a more typical 401(k) investment plan.  The issue first came up for consideration in 2012, but the Senate has resisted making changes.  The program has 346,000 retirees receiving benefits and another 621,000 are currently in the system.

GAMING A South Florida Senator filed a bill to create a five-member Gaming Commission to regulate gaming activity in the State. Members would be appointed by the Governor, and would include at least one accountant with five years experience; someone with a law enforcement or an investigation background; and a person who had worked in the gaming industry. Four-year terms would be staggered and limited to two terms. Currently, the Division of Parimutuel Wagering at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation handles these responsibilities.

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