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Politics / Issues

Senate Rejects Nurse, Telemedicine Bills

Florida Capitol

The Senate took up a House omnibus health-care bill Thursday and stripped out proposals dealing with the powers of nurse practitioners and telemedicine.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and other senators have long said they oppose a House proposal to allow nurse practitioners to provide primary care without the supervision of physicians.

The Senate deleted that proposal from HB 7113 during a flurry of amendments Thursday.

Also, senators have objected to a broad House proposal aimed at increasing the use of telemedicine. Those objections, in part, have centered on part of the House proposal that would allow out-of-state doctors to use telemedicine to provide care to Florida patients without getting licensed in Florida.

Senators passed an amendment deleting the House's telemedicine proposal.

In another high-profile issue, the Senate also approved an amendment to revamp part of the bill that would ensure three disputed trauma centers can remain open in Manatee, Pasco and Marion counties. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Friday. If approved, the measure then would go back to the House. Friday is the final day of the annual legislative session.

Parasailing Bill Headed to the Governor

A long-sought effort to regulate Florida's commercial parasailing industry is headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

The White-Miskell Act (SB 320) received unanimous support from the Senate after the House voted 117-1 to approve the measure Thursday.

"This important legislation will save lives, prevent needless injuries and tragedies," House sponsor Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, said in a prepared statement. "I am pleased Florida is taking necessary action to bring reasonable regulations to parasailing operators who are a component of our state’s important tourism industry."

Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, cast the lone vote against the measure.

The bill, in part, would require operators to log weather conditions before embarking, forbid operations during severe weather conditions, require operators to be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and limit operations near airports.

The bill is named after Kathleen Miskell, a 28-year-old Connecticut woman who died in August 2012 after she fell from a harness while parasailing over the ocean off Pompano Beach, and Amber May White, 15, of Belleview, who died in 2007 after a line snapped on a parasail, resulting in her hitting the roof of a hotel.

Parasail operators got on board with the legislation at the urging of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, after two Indiana teens were videotaped last summer as they were seriously injured parasailing in Panama City Beach.