Medical marijuana left out of Florida Legislature's special session

Gov. Rick Scott center announces the budget compromise Friday with House Speaker Richard Corcoran far left Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera and Senate President Joe Negron far right at Miami International Airport. The Legislature will vote on the plan

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After months of bickering, two of Florida's top Republican leaders declared a truce Friday and announced the outlines of a final state budget deal that will allow both to declare victory.

Scott had threatened to veto the entire $84 billion dollar spending plan when lawmakers gutted the state's tourism procurement agency, Visit Florida, and severely cut the state's job procurement agency, Enterprise Florida.

In return, Scott will sign a controversial education bill that includes $419 million in funding for teacher pay bonuses and Schools of Hope, a charter school program in which charters are given incentives to open near failing traditional public schools.

Negron said next week lawmakers will vote on a proposal to keep Visit Florida's funding at $76 million. Along with rejecting Scott's request for business-incentive money, the budget would reduce the agency's funding for general operations from $23.5 million in the current year. Instead, it will be spent on workforce training as well as public works projects such as roads.

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Enterprise Florida's board of directors are trying to accentuate the positives at their meeting in Tallahassee this week. Those vetoes targeted everything from road projects to state university programs and incentives to public schools that require uniforms.

The compromise also included a significant increase in per-student funding, from the $24 per student lawmakers had initially agreed to, to the $100-per-student Scott pushed for. The governor had traveled the state, bashing Corcoran and lawmakers who supported his position on incentives.

Senate President Joe Negron told The News Service of Florida he is aware of ongoing talks between Scott and Corcoran regarding a sweeping education bill - which contains a priority of the speaker - and Enterprise Florida.

The House and Senate remain divided on the issue, Galvano said Friday.

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Democrats who opposed the education bill quickly lambasted Scott and Republicans. Sen.

But Galvano sounded cryptic about the possibility of a separate special session to deal with the regulatory framework for medical marijuana if lawmakers don't agree during next week's session. "I don't have information that that's changed at this point", he said, adding that House and Senate bills were "very, very close" by the end of the regular session.

Additionally, legislative leaders have said they would use a special session on the budget to try to resolve an impasse over legislation enacting the November constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.

The calls for a medical marijuana special session began nearly as soon as this year's regular session adjourned.

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