THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, March 22, 2016.......... It's time for Gov. Rick Scott to have his say.
Scott during the next four days will take action on more than 100 bills passed during this year's legislative session, including a proposal to expand regulations on abortion clinics and a measure that would allow terminally ill patients to have access to medical marijuana.
The vast majority of the bills are likely safe from Scott's veto pen, as they focus on relatively non-controversial issues. As an example, about two dozen of the bills deal with local issues for specific communities or counties --- bills that typically draw little discussion from lawmakers.
But Scott, who can sign, veto or let bills become law without his signature, will make other decisions that will spark debate. Perhaps the highest-profile decision will focus on a bill (HB 1411) that would increase abortion-clinic regulations and bar public funding for organizations affiliated with abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood.
Opponents of the bill delivered thousands of petitions to Scott's office last week calling on him to veto the bill. They argue, at least in part, that it is an attempt to limit the ability of women to have abortions. But supporters of the bill say increased clinic regulations are needed and that tax dollars should not go to groups such as Planned Parenthood. Supporters have urged Scott to sign the measure by a Saturday deadline.
The session ended March 11, and legislative leaders formally send bills to Scott in batches. The bills due for action this week were sent to him in the final days of the session, and he had 15 days to consider them. He faces a Wednesday deadline for nine bills; a Thursday deadline for 34 bills; a Friday deadline for 21 bills; and a Saturday deadline for 48 bills, according to a list on the governor's website.
Along wither the abortion bill, another high-profile measure (HB 307) would allow people with terminal illnesses to have access to medical marijuana and also would make changes in a 2014 law aimed at allowing some patients to use non-euphoric forms of cannabis. Scott is required to take action on that bill by a Friday deadline.
He also will take action this week on a heavily lobbied bill (HB 819) that could ultimately lead to changes in the way dental services are provided to children in the state's Medicaid program. Scott faces a Thursday deadline on the bill, which is opposed by the managed-care industry.
Other pending bills drew headlines during the legislative session, though they were approved by large margins. For instance, Scott has a Wednesday deadline on a bill (SB 242) that would allow the creation of a pilot needle-exchange program in Miami-Dade County and a bill (SB 636) that would seek to speed up DNA testing in suspected rape cases.
On Thursday, meanwhile, Scott has a deadline for a bill (HB 93) that would require law-enforcement agencies to set policies if they use body cameras. Two days later, he is required to take action on a measure (HB 1061) that seeks to allow nurses to practice across state lines.