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For thousands of gay couples in Florida, marriage became legal one year ago

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The Shaks’ first-year wedding anniversary today started they way most do, with flowers and anniversary cards, and the couple is planning to end it tonight with a romantic evening. Until recently, few saw that as possible, at least not this soon — for them or thousands of other couples who got married in Florida last year. Carrie and Malene Shak of Celebration were among the first same-sex couples to be wed in Florida when that became legal one year ago.…

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Fernando Valverde picked for State University System’s Board of Governors

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Gov. Rick Scott has tapped Dr. Fernando Valverde for the Board of Governors of the State University System, the Governor’s Office has said in a news release. In 2010, Valverde was a member on Scott’s Health and Human Services Transition Team, tasked with brainstorming ideas for reform at the state’s Department of Health. Valverde, 56, of Miami, has been Florida regional president of Humana, one of Florida’s largest Medicare health benefits companies, since January. According to a news release upon his 2014 appointment, Valverde…

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13 challenges filed over medical marijuana licenses

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When Florida’s Office of Compassionate Care named five nurseries to grow and distribute medical marijuana in the state, many expected there would be a few challenges filed — but not the more than a dozen that had landed by Monday’s deadline. Department of Health officials said in an email that 13 administrative challenges across all five regions have been received. Lobbyists and officials who have been following the process had estimated there would be eight at the most. “I think…

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Florida nurseries post their required performance bonds

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The Florida nurseries selected to cultivate and distribute the first medical marijuana in the state have successfully reached their first benchmark. All five have posted their $5 million performance bonds mandated by the Department of Health. The deadline was Wednesday at the close of business. The Office of Compassionate Care selected the five nurseries on Nov. 23. They then had 10 business days to post the $5 million performance bonds. The five nurseries are Hackney Nursery Company in Quincy (Northwest),…

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After more than a year of delays, Florida finally awards medical pot licenses

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The five nurseries in Florida approved to grow and distribute medical marijuana were announced Monday by the Department of Health, putting an end to a months-long wait by parents and their sick children who need the drug to control severe seizures. The approved nurseries by region are: Hackney Nursery Co. (Northwest) Chestnut Hill Tree Farm (Northeast) Knox Nursery (Central) Alpha Foliage (Southwest) Costa Nursery Farms (Southeast) Those nurseries now have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond, according to a press release.…

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Personnel note: Florida Department of Health announces new Communications Director

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Florida’s Department of Health named Mara (Burger) Gambineri as the new communications director, effective Nov. 3. Gambineri replaces Tiffany Cowie who has accepted a position with the St. Johns Water Management District. Gambineri will oversee the department’s comprehensive communications efforts. “Effective communications are vital to help Florida’s residents and visitors make informed choices for their health,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “Ms. Gambineri has demonstrated the skills necessary to increase our outreach to Florida’s children, adults and families…

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Dept. of Health unveiling new leadership team; Alexis Lambert named chief of staff

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Starting in September, Florida’s Department of Health will be under new leadership. Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong announced the promotion of Alexis Lambert to chief of staff, moving Jennifer Tschetter to chief operating officer, and Nathan Dunn will become chief operating officer. All three appointments begin September 11. “Leadership excellence remains a hallmark of Florida’s Department of Health,” Armstrong said in a prepared statement. “I am privileged to work with such a talented leadership group that is dedicated to improving the health of all people in Florida.” Lambert, eldest daughter…

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