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As Eyeball Wars peak, optometrists seek desperate, last-minute buzzer beater

in Peter/Top Headlines by

After suffering a significant setback last week in the Eyeball Wars, optometrists may be mounting a last-ditch effort to get their bill rolling in the House.

When will this bad bill just die? It has long past time to put an end to the Eyeball Wars in 2017, perhaps for good.

Last week, HB 1037 stalled in the House Health and Human Services Committee after it had appeared there were not enough votes to pass. The companion bill, SB 1168, has never been heard in the Senate.

Now, lobbyists for optometrists – numbering an even dozen – may be looking to get the controversial bill passed by attaching it to some sort of health care legislative train.

Choo-choo.

HB 1037, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz, seeks to expand the practice of optometry to include performing surgery and prescribing opiates, a move vehemently opposed by ophthalmologists, the American Medical Association, and other professional medical groups. Each group raised concerns about patient safety and optometrists’ relative lack of education, knowledge and experience.

As per Florida rules, before Day 55 of the Regular Legislative Session: “Main floor amendments must be submitted to the House Bill Drafting Service by 3 p.m. and approved for filing with the Clerk by 4 p.m. on the first day a bill appears on the Special-Order Calendar in the Calendar of the House.”

However, after Day 55, things get a little more complicated: Main floor amendments must be approved for filing with the Clerk not later than two hours before Session is scheduled to convene on the day a bill appears on the Special-Order Calendar in the House.

That said, this week will become a make-it-or-break-it moment for optometrists, looking to piggyback HB 1037 on a health care bill – or any bill, for that matter – for a fourth quarter buzzer-beater in the Eyeball Wars.

Nevertheless, as HB 1037 met with widespread condemnation by more than two dozen high-profile health organizations, as well as receiving somewhat tepid support in the House – struggling with slim margins in each committee stop – taking the shot may not be worth the risk.

This bill should rightfully face death in committee – as it should be for something so unpopular – instead of making a part of a larger health care train, only to have the whole thing die in the Senate anyway.

The clock is ticking, why waste everyone’s time? Best to pick another battle, one with a better chance of success.

Hopefully, as sine die approaches, so will the end of this horrible, dangerous train wreck of an idea.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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