Medical Marijuana Left Out Of Special Session

Drew Angerer	

	Medical marijuana

Governor Rick Scott has reached a deal with state lawmakers to hold a special session to discuss education funding, Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida.

"I think this is going to be good for job creation and I think it's going to be good for education", Scott said, following a press conference at Miami International Airport with Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes.

Rick Scott is now focused on a special session, taking place from June 7-9, in Tallahassee.

Scott wanted $100 million for Visit Florida, the state's tourism promotion group, but Corcoran, bashing the lack of transparency and insider deals at the agency, included just $25 million for the group in the budget. But he agreed to $85 million for Enterprise Florida, the state agency that doles out incentives, so long as it's used for a new program that benefit all businesses through job training and infrastructure development.

The announcement coincided with news that Scott signed the budget 2017-18 budget, vetoing $410 million in legislative projects.

Democrats are particularly opposed to HB 7069, which also has drawn criticism from many public education leaders and some top Republicans.

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Along with rejecting Scotts request for business-incentive money, the budget would reduce the agencys funding for general operations from $23.5 million in the current year.

A $100 per pupil boost in state education spending would cost $215 million. "I don't have information that that's changed at this point", he said, adding that House and Senate bills were "very, very close" by the end of the regular session. But it's unlikely Corcoran would agree to incentive funding without some kind of assurance that his own priority will get approved. While Corcoran criticized a $1 million promotional contract with rapper Pitbull and likened economic incentives to "corporate welfare", Scott toured the state labeling Corcoran and other House members as "job killers". It also reduced Enterprise Florida's operating budget from $23.5 million to $16 million.

He had complained that GOP legislators were killing jobs and could wreck the state's economy by their push for cuts to the state's tourism marketing agency and the organization responsible for luring companies to the state.

Florida received its first payment almost a year ago, but the fate of the money remained in limbo. The program will receive no money next year.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who is slated to take over as president of the Senate late next year, told The News Service of Florida that lawmakers have yet to strike a deal on implementation of the medical marijuana amendment.

"I think we have the outlines for a tremendous session, a productive session and one that will do great things for the people of Florida", Corcoran said Friday. If lawmakers do not act, the state Department of Health will establish rules for the industry later this summer.

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