Florida Senator Jeff Brandes offers bill to reform driver license suspension rules

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Yesterday, January 6, 2016, Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) announced SPB 7046, related to penalties and fees, has been filed. The proposed legislation will dramatically reform the driver license suspension and revocation process in Florida, and follows a series of hearings by Senator Brandes in the Transportation Committee on the topic.

“Losing a driver license is a devastating penalty which most heavily impacts those with the least ability to afford it. For years the state has piled on driver license suspensions as an additional sanction for various non-driving related activity,” stated Senator Brandes. “This legislation will help thousands of Floridians who are caught in a relentless cycle of debt within the legal system. This bill will reduce a major burden on our courts from license suspensions, and it will give many Floridians a means to get back to work.”

The proposal follows media reports last year detailing the substantial number of driver license suspensions occurring annually in Florida. Following those reports, Senator Brandes and the Transportation Committee held several hearings and heard testimony by the State Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, elected Public Defenders, and various Clerks of Court. This proposal is a result of those hearings, and it is designed to radically reduce the number of suspended and revoked driver licenses. The bill establishes an alternative system for sanctions for the more than 1.2 million driver license suspensions annually.

SPB 7046 removes suspension and revocation penalties for certain non-driving-related offenses. Individuals who would have their licenses suspended today for many financial related issues will instead be issued a hardship license. The reform package also reforms a controversial surcharge in law for fines or fees which are sent to collections, and clearly establishes the right of a defendant in financial hardship to enter into community service as an alternative method of payment. Finally, the bill eliminates the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent driving while license is suspended or revoked resulting from a defendant’s inability to pay a fine or fee.

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Action Item: Florida residents, contact your reps to support medical marijuana – time is running out!

Yesterday, April 27, 2015, Florida‘s SB 7066, was postponed again by the Florida Senate, the fifth time in the last five sessions. The general session for the Florida Senate is set to expire at midnight this coming Friday, and there is fear the bill will not pass. The bill has gained approval of cannabis activists in the state, including the Florida Cannabis Action Network. The bill would allow 15 percent THC for qualifying patients, permitting them to get relief of ailment symptoms as well as potentially cure some diseases, as some research is leaning. The bill does not go far enough for libertarians in the State of Florida; however, feel it is a step in the right direction by respecting patients in need of a natural solution to the medical conditions.

Cannabis activists are now supportive of Florida medcial marijuana bill

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Activists are hoping the general public will rise to the occasion to support the bill and send an email to their representatives in support of the SB 7066. There has been a strike-all amendment added that, with its amendments, makes SB 7066 palatable to cannabis legalization supporters.

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Kratom under attack in Florida legislature and Palm Beach County – unbalanced business regulation

Today, March 10, 2015, kratom is being discussed by the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners and in the Florida Senate. Elected officials are seeking ways to regulate kratom. Kratom is a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia, for which some will use the leaves to relieve the symptoms of PMS, general pain relief, depression, lowering blood pressure, decrease anxiety, diarrhea relief and increased mental acuity.

There is no reason for talk of kratom’s regulation except for the outspoken voice of a parent who blames kratom on the death of her child’s suicide. Ignoring facts from the medical examiner’s office that kratom did not cause the death of her child, the parent continues her crusade with Palm Beach County Commissioners and in the Florida legislature. Even though there has never been one proven case where kratom was responsible for the death of anyone, elected officials are willing to regulate the tree, throwing reason and science out the window.

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Florida Senate passes information technology plan

Yesterday, May 2, 2014, the Florida Senate passed House Bill 7073, relating to Information Technology Governance. Developing an information technology strategy for state government is a component of the joint House and Senate Work Plan 2014 agenda championed by Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel).

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Florida Governor Rick Scott ready to sign highly restrictive marijuana bill

Today, the Florida Senate passed SB 1030 and the Floria House passed their version earlier this week to legalize a highly restrictive medical marijuana bill. Last night, May 1, 2014, Florida Governor Rick stated that he would sign the legislation into law making marijuana once again legal in Florida — even if to a small number of Floridians. The bill, often referred to as the “Charlotte’s Web” bill would legalize a specialized strain of cannabis for a small number of patients. The original bill only focused on children with seizures, however it was expanded to a restrictive number of cancer patients as well. The bill is so restrictive, it was the only way for Republicans to stay in the running, politically, this November as the overwhelming majority of Floridians feel marijuana should be legal in the state.

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President Gaetz and Speaker Weatherford celebrate end of legislative session

The Florida Legislature concluded the 2014 Session this evening, May 2, 2014, by finalizing key pieces of legislation outlined in the joint Senate and House Work Plan Florida agenda announced earlier this year by Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel).

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Florida craft brewery bill likely to fail in Florida House

Although Florida Senate Bill 1714 passed in the Florida Senate yesterday, April 29, 2014, its four comparison bills will not likely see the light of day before the Florida legislature ends its session later this week. Speaking about the legislation, Florida House Speaker Bill Weatherford stated, “That bill has an uphill battle in the House.” Read the rest of the story here. growlers-salt-water-brewers

 Photo from Salt Water Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida.