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mental health

Legislative coalition urges leaders to find money for mental health programs

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A bipartisan coalition of House members and senators endorsed Gov. Rick Scott’s request to increase mental health funding by $25 million, but said even more money is needed to move Florida out of the basement in funding for treatment. “At the end of the day, we’re 49th (in funding among the states), which means we’ve neglected this for far too long,” Sen. Rene Garcia said. “This has to be a priority,” he said. “It’s costing us way too much money by not funding…

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Face-biter said he fled demon-like figure before killings

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A Florida college student accused of randomly killing a couple in their garage and chewing on the dead man’s face told television psychologist Phil McGraw he was fleeing a demon-like figure named Daniel and only had a vague recollection of the slayings. In a 22-minute interview released Tuesday by prosecutors, Austin Harrouff said he lost his wits as he walked back to his father’s home after storming out of a restaurant where they had an argument. McGraw asked about “the…

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Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio applaud NIH funding bill passage; Moffitt money preserved

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Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson both applauded passage Wednesday by the U.S. Senate of a bill that heads off potential cuts in cancer research at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Senate approved H.R. 34, entitled the “21st Century Cures Act,” by a 94-5 vote Wednesday. The House of Representatives approved it earlier. “This bill makes a lot of improvements to our nation’s medical research programs, but the…

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Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, I-4, Sanford Burnham, water quality, Pulse, on Central Florida lawmakers’ minds

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As they prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session, Central Florida lawmakers are looking out for help for the emerging Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County, the demise of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona, and I-4 throughout the region. Those are things almost everyone in Central Florida’s delegation is examining. The Democrats add, don’t forget about Pulse, and the economic fairness and mental health issues everyone spoke of during the election campaigns this year. But…

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Legal escape for Florida’s ‘Prison Houdini’ could be blocked

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A man known as a “prison Houdini” for a series of escapes might have his first legal exit thwarted after Florida’s parole commission voted Thursday to reconsider his upcoming release in a case that began 36 years ago when the then-teenager was convicted of stealing the very tools his father left him in a will. If parole is rescinded, Mark DeFriest, 55, faces the possibility of dying in prison in a case his advocates say is a prime example of…

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Rick Scott signs raft of 33 bills into law

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A day after signing nine bills into law on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott gave final approval to 33 bills passed during the 2016 Legislative Session late Thursday morning. The raft of newly enacted legislation includes HB 93 by Democratic Rep. Shevrin Jones, which requires Florida law enforcement agencies to “establish policies and procedures regarding the use” of police body cameras. The bill does not require all police to actually use the cameras, but it does appear it could hasten the arrival of police body cameras…

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Jack Latvala, Kathleen Peters file mental health reform legislation

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Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala and South Pasadena Rep. Kathleen Peters held a press conference Monday to announce a pair of bills that would make mental health and substance abuse services more available to Floridians. Latvala and Peters’ legislation aims integrate the state’s mental health services to create a culture of access through any door, and would also attack the shortage of mental health professionals in the state. “Florida’s jails and prisons have far too many inmates who are afflicted and their incarceration is often…

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