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Senate bows to minimum-mandatory sentencing for fentanyl traffickers

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The Senate changed its mind Friday and accepted mandatory-minimum prison sentences in a bill cracking down on synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil. Senators had stripped the provision earlier in the week, but the House refused to abandon mandatory sentences and sent the bill back. Senate President Joe Negron initially ruled that Sen. Greg Steube’s motion to rescind the amendment had failed on a voice vote. But enough members insisted on a recorded vote, which went 20-18 to back down.…

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Florida bolsters response to opioid-addiction crisis

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Wednesday to combat opioid abuse in the state, where he said the number of overdose deaths has reached epidemic proportions. Scott’s executive order will free up nearly $30 million in federal funds for prevention, treatment and recovery services. And it comes as a series of workshops focused on addressing the opioid abuse crisis launch in the state’s hardest-hit areas. “I know firsthand how heartbreaking substance abuse can be to a family…

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Florida House passes bill cracking down on sober homes

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A crackdown on sober home corruption took a big step forward on Wednesday after House members unanimously voted to pass a bill strengthening the state’s role in prosecuting criminal and regulatory violations. Rep. Bill Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton who is sponsoring the measure (HB 807), hopes this is the next step toward stopping problems at substance abuse treatment centers in Florida. “Based on hearings we held, we found evidence of patient brokering, insurance fraud, human trafficking, forced labor…

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Oscar Braynon calls for emergency declaration on heroin

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Citing reports that heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths and public health costs are exploding in numbers in Florida, Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon called Monday for Florida to declare a public health emergency. In a letter, Braynon urged Gov. Rick Scott to have Florida Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip to declare the public health emergency, which would give state agencies wider latitude to address the growing problem. His call was made on behalf of the entire Florida Senate Democratic Caucus. Braynon’s call…

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