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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: HB 136 would make it a second-degree felony for health care practitioners to administer treatment to transgender minors


State Rep. Anthony Sabatini has kicked off the 2020 legislative session with yet another anti-LGBT act. On Monday, he filed HB 136, a bill that would make it a second-degree felony for health care practitioners to administer treatment to transgender minors. Sabatini says the law, if passed, would define sex as the “biological state of being female or male, based on sex organs and chromosomes.” He calls it the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” which is somewhat akin to calling a rule prohibiting feeding orphans the “child gluttony act.” Either Representative Sabatini thinks he knows more about this than medical professionals do, or he’s playing to a certain crowd – people troubled by the way American society has begun to accept and …
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Image: Governor Ron DeSantis, flgov.smugmug.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: This week, Governor DeSantis announced the formation of Florida’s Complete Count Committee


In June of last year, a reporter asked Governor Ron DeSantis about a request from Democratic lawmakers “to form a census committee to ensure that Floridians aren’t miscounted.” Census numbers determine federal funding for things like Medicaid, Pell grants and school lunch assistance. DeSantis said: “The federal government does that, we don’t have a role in it … if they have concerns, they should talk to the Commerce Department in Washington.” What a difference six months can make! This week, the governor announced the formation of Florida’s Complete Count Committee, which will coordinate with the U.S. Census Bureau on the constitutionally required tally of the nation’s population. Dems were concerned that Florida was at risk of an undercount and therefore …
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Image: Texting while driving via Intel Free Press/Wikimedia Commons
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Florida Highway Patrol troopers will issue tickets to motorists that text while driving


“Enforcement time” is here. As of January 1st – Florida Highway Patrol troopers will issue tickets, rather than warnings, to motorists they stop for texting while driving. The bulk of the texting-while-driving law went into place July 1, but, Lieutenant Derrick Rahming says, “We never want anyone to learn the hard way, so we gave everyone six months to learn about this law. But, now come Jan. 1, it’s a primary offense and we are going to start issuing citations.” Until now, Florida’s law against texting while driving had been enforced as a “secondary” offense – meaning motorists could only be cited for texting if they were stopped for other reasons such as speeding. But the new law made it …
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Image: Photo VIA Adobe Images, Orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Plan Continues for Fast Electric Vehicle Chargers at each of the Florida Turnpike’s eight service plazas.


In November, Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed the state would equip each of the Florida Turnpike’s eight service plazas with fast electric vehicle chargers. Now, a matching pair of bills filed in the state House and Senate, and scheduled to be heard in January, aim to set a master plan for those stations. The Senate bill also includes a legislative declaration that electric vehicles can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which would help “reduce the impact of climate change” in Florida. In a masterpiece of understatement, the Senate bill says, “Climate change may have significant impacts to this state, which will require the development of avoidance, adaptation, and mitigation strategies to address these potential impacts on future state projects, plans and …
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MICHAEL FISCHER / PEXELS.COM
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: A key part of the 2017 medical marijuana law known as “vertical integration” created cannabis oligarchs


When it comes to the law, language is precise. That’s especially true when it comes to Florida’s medical marijuana laws, which are at the heart of a battle before the state supreme court. Florida voters passed an amendment in 2016 legalizing medical marijuana, and defining who could prescribe it, grow it, and package it. The language voters passed to define treatment centers includes the wording “acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes … transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana …” Note the word “or” – which means Florida businesses could serve any of those roles in the new industry. But the law passed by the Florida Legislature in 2017 was different. Instead of “or” they used the word “and,” meaning that, …
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Image: Fireworks tent sales, Adobe Stock via Orlandoweekly.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

Orlando Weekly: Senate Bill 140 Would Make it Easier for Floridians to Buy Holiday Fireworks


Amid the fireworks in Washington over the Trump impeachment, another debate involving truth and government is taking place in Florida. The state Senate is advancing a bill that would lift the ban on fireworks sales in Florida. If you’ve ever bought fireworks and forgot they were even banned, it’s likely because you’re among the millions of people who signed a waiver certifying your fireworks would be for farming purposes – specifically, “frightening birds from agricultural work and fish hatcheries.” That means, well … you’ve lied. To yourself, to your state, and to the good people hawking gunpowder-packed toys under hot tents every July fourth. So have I. I’ve signed the waiver too, and I’m pretty sure there were no birds …
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Photo: Image from the Rybovich superyacht marina’s facebook page, facebook.com
From the Pages of Orlando Weekly

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Rick Scott granted tax breaks meant to help the poor to rich donor’s instead


When Rick Scott was governor of Florida, he was given a blank check by the Trump Administration to create so-called “opportunity zones” anywhere he chose, where developers wouldn’t have to pay millions in federal taxes. The money was supposed go to “needy areas” for development and jobs. Who did Rick Scott give it to? Billionaire developers, sports team owners, donors to his political campaigns. The opportunity zones were pitched as the prime anti-poverty measure of Trump’s signature Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. But the law has no public reporting requirements. In the new zones, investors don’t have to pay capital gains taxes up front and any appreciation they accrue is tax-free after a decade. That one is the …
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