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Florida's Legislative Session So Far: Medical Marijuana, Water Quality, Amendment 4 And More

Florida capitol building

Florida’s legislative session has been underway for almost a month and there have already been some big changes.

We talk with reporters about key issues lawmakers are considering and how their actions could affect our lives on this week’s Florida Matters.

Our guests are William March, a longtime political reporter who now writes for the Tampa Bay Times, and Zac Anderson, political editor at the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

We discuss the new law Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed that allows patients to smoke medical marijuana and how pressure from the public and from the courts helped bring about that change.

We talk about the idea of “horse trading” between the Senate and the House, as legislative leaders seem to hold each other’s priorities hostage. Those include Senate President Bill Galvano’s proposal to build and expand three major roadways in the state and House Speaker Jose Oliva’s plans for health care reform.

We talk about what lawmakers are planning to do to tackle our state’s many water quality issues, from increasing funding for the environment to proposing stricter regulations on pollution.

We discuss some abortion bills moving through the legislature and how the newly conservative-leaning Florida Supreme Court could influence rulings on those pieces of legislation if legal action is taken against them.

We talk about a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Florida that’s gaining traction but also doesn’t do much. Meanwhile another immigration bill with much more serious consequences, one that would require employers to verify if their workers are in the U.S. legally, is not advancing in the legislature.

We learn about some education initiatives, including one to expand school voucher programs in the state.

We also discuss the national attention surrounding the implementation of Amendment 4, which voters passed in the 2018 election to restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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