STATE CAPITAL BRIEFS (EVENING EDITION): TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2015 THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

fod_marijuanaCHALLENGE TO POT RULE IN JEOPARDY
With the case possibly getting tossed out, an administrative law judge has canceled a hearing next week in a challenge to a proposed rule for the state’s new medical-marijuana industry. Judge Elizabeth McArthur last week dismissed the case filed on behalf of a 4-year-old girl with an inoperable brain tumor and canceled a hearing scheduled for April 14. McArthur, however, gave the girl’s attorney an opportunity to file an amended case and address concerns about whether the child, Dahlia Barnhart, has legal standing to challenge the proposed rule. Attorneys for the Florida Department of Health filed a motion Monday for final dismissal of the case because the girl’s attorney had not submitted the amended petition. As of Tuesday afternoon, McArthur had not ruled on that motion. The Legislature last year passed a law that allows a limited type of non-euphoric medical marijuana but left it to the Department of Health to approve a rule that would provide a regulatory framework. Another administrative law judge rejected the department’s first attempt at a rule last year, and the department then drew up a new proposal. That has drawn three challenges, including the challenge filed on behalf of the child. The other two challenges continue and have been consolidated. They are scheduled for a hearing April 23 in Tallahassee.

ADOPTION ‘CONSCIENCE’ BILL GOES TO HOUSE FLOOR
The House is expected Wednesday to take up a controversial bill (HB 7111) that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, is slated to be heard on the House floor. It would provide what it calls a “conscience protection” for agencies whose religious or moral beliefs do not permit children in their care to be adopted by gays or lesbians. Critics have argued the bill would allow discrimination against people who want to adopt children.

POWDERED ALCOHOL BAN MIGHT BE SHORT-LIVED
It might not be that long before Floridians are able to enjoy a sip of Palcohol. The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday added a “sunset” provision to legislation (HB 1247), filed by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, that would prohibit the sale of powdered alcoholic beverages in Florida. Unless lawmakers extended the ban, it would expire on July 1, 2016. The sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said his language would allow Florida to consider what happens in other states and “decide whether we want to have a permanent ban or whether we want to regulate it later.” But Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, said he understood the intent of the sunset but was worried about having something only be a crime for a short period of time, especially given the way the penalties could escalate for someone convicted multiple times. ” I am a little concerned that … this will result in a misdemeanor and then a third-degree felony, and then a felony of up 10 years, and then one year later, we might be in the position of saying, ‘Oops, there’s no crime at all,’ ” McBurney said. Florida and other states are weighing whether to allow powdered forms of alcohol, with much of the attention on Palcohol, which recently received approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

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