When the Senate broke for lunch on Wednesday, state Sen. Rob Bradley engaged the Capitol Press Corps in a discussion of dead bills, a broken session and the Senate healthcare proposal to provide coverage to uninsured workers.
Q: SPB 7066, a rewrite of the medicinal marijuana law died yesterday. Do you intend to bring it back next session or will you do another rewrite?
Bradley: I want to see what happens with the administrative law judge and how that comes in for a landing. There are clearly improvements that need to be made to the medical cannabis system that was contained in last year’s bill. And I look forward to continuing discussion with our House partners on making that good policy better.
Q: Do you think Secretary John Armstrong deserves to be confirmed given the way the Department of Health has handled implementation of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014?
Bradley: I wasn’t on the committee that heard Secretary Armstrong’s testimony. I know there were some concerns about some of the answers that he gave. I wasn’t on that committee.
I am pleased with how Secretary Armstrong has handled this particular issue.
Q: The session is effectively over with about a dozen of the governor’s agency heads not being confirmed. In addition to Armstrong there is the Secretary of State, Secretary of AHCA and more. What should people make of that?
Bradley: There are a lot of things that did not get done. And each of those I am sure was handled on an individual basis. That is what happens when session ends on day 57 over in the House rather than day 60. You have unfinished business and that is certainly unfinished business.
Q: Do you think Gov. Rick Scott has shown any leadership in helping the Legislature get a budget agreement?
Bradley: Look where we are. The House has gone home. We still have business that needs to be finished, the people’s business. They didn’t get their money’s worth this session. They expect us to be here for 60 days. I think clearly this is not going to be featured in a Profiles of Courage book in the future about political leadership. That’s for sure.
Right now what we need to do is get this budget done. We need to refocus. Everybody needs to go home and then refocus and let’s make sure that we do what we are sent here to do.
We have one job and that is to pass a budget. We need to get that job done.
Q: How do you think this looks to your constituents in Clay and Bradford counties?
Bradley: I’m disappointed how the session ended. The taxpayers expect us to do a job and be here for 60 days to do that job and they didn’t get their money’s worth.
It is disappointing that it ended like it did.
We’re going to be here and we’re going to finish the people’s business. We’re going to take up those messages that are consistent with the deals that we made with the House on various issues. It’s unfortunate the session ended like it did.
Q: If a straight up vote on Medicaid expansion were to come up would you support it?
Bradley: The Senate plan is not ObamaCare. It is Florida’s response to ObamaCare. The Senate plan is a free market approach. The Senate plan says pretty simply; if you have a job or you are going to school then we’re going to provide for you a way to get affordable health insurance. Nothing more, nothing less, that is not ObamaCare. That’s not even traditional Medicaid expansion. Anyone who seeks to characterize that is incorrect. It is just not factual.
What we wanted to see happen was to have a discussion on how we can provide healthcare insurance to individuals who are working and to individuals who are going to school. That is keeping it within the conservative guardrails that we set forth and it is disappointing that we are not able to have that conversation.