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Sen. Jeff Brandes

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is once again seeking to do away with the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, the powerful panel that sparked controversy last year for linking unrelated issues in proposed constitutional amendments.

This last May was the hottest ever recorded in the Sunshine State. That was followed by higher-than-average temperatures in June and July. The scorching hot temperatures means thousands of inmates across the state are spending what could potentially be a record-breaking summer without access to air conditioning.

The Florida Department of Corrections operates 50 “major facilities” across the state. Only 18 of them have air conditioning in “most of their housing,” according to the department.

Prison buses in front of a prison.
Florida Department of Corrections

Florida's prisons have a health care problem.

The state's aging prison population and the high cost of treating inmates with debilitating diseases are behind a surge in spending on health care in recent years.


Nurse takes a patient's blood pressure.
Pixabay

State lawmakers are hoping to increase access to health care by allowing nurse practitioners to treat patients without a doctor's supervision.

A high-profile effort to repeal the state’s ban on smokable medical marijuana morphed Monday into legislation that, according to the proposal’s author, would be worse for patients than doing nothing at all. 

State Senator Jeff Brandes believes the Florida Legislature is now organized in a way that will lead to more insurance issues being heard and ultimately solved. The Office of Insurance Regulation held it’s 2019 summit this week.

If Florida lawmakers don’t do anything policy wise soon, the state’s prison population could increase. That’s according to a report commissioned by the Florida Senate to promote the need for prison reform.

A new report paid for and released by the Florida Senate finds that while the state is sending fewer people to prison than in the past, those who end up behind bars are staying there for a longer time.

The study from the Crime and Justice Institute based in Boston says there are nearly 100,000 inmates housed in Florida prisons, and the per capita incarceration rate in the state is more than 20 percent higher than the national average.

About $5 million separates the Florida House and Senate’s criminal justice budget. But, while there are some differences, there are areas where both chambers agree.

'Certificate Of Need' Repeal Proposed In Senate

Jan 4, 2018

With the House ready to move quickly on the issue, a Senate Republican on Wednesday filed a proposal to repeal the long-controversial “certificate of need” regulatory process for hospitals.

Florida Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles

Pinellas County Senator Jeff Brandes is renewing his push to limit how the state suspends driver's licenses. He filed a bill in the Florida Senate that would ban suspensions for most offenses that don't involve driving.

Florida levies a tax on communications services—things like cable and cell phones, but also streaming services.  Now one lawmaker wants to carve out internet video from the tax.

Tax Break Proposed For Standby Generators

Nov 21, 2017

A Senate Republican on Monday proposed providing a property-tax exemption for permanently installed generators used to provide power when electricity goes out.

Despite past failed legislative attempts, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers is vowing to continue their work on criminal justice reform—particularly within Florida’s prison system.

The Department of Justice is promising a return to the law and order enforcement policies of the war on drugs.  Some Republican lawmakers are worried those policies might undermine state laws.

A new bill filed Wednesday has the potential to completely revamp Florida’s medical marijuana system – and remove caps on the number of growers.

Melies the Bunny, flickr

The debate over how to regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft is returning to the Florida legislature. 


The  Florida Senate Health Policy Committee passed a bill Tuesday that will establish the "Florida Right to Try Act."

SB 1052 will allow patients diagnosed with a terminal illness to explore products and treatments that are currently under clinical trial, but not yet FDA approved. It also would protect a physician recommending certain treatment options.