Special session expands to include medical marijuana

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 07, 2017, 12:42 PM EDT

Lawmakers are back in Tallahassee today for the beginning of a three-day special session. 

And the to-do list has grown to include discussions on medical marijuana, which initially was left off the docket.

  • Medical marijuana to be included in special session
  • Budget battle takes the stage as lawmakers gather for special session
  • 3-day special session begins today
  • School funding, state tourism funding, economic development all are key issues
"We just found out this morning that the scope of the special session has been expanded greatly," said Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Hollywood. "Before we were just going to be doing some budget negotiations and discussions and rewriting a portion of the budget, now we’ve gone ahead and at the 11th hour decided to include medicinal marijuana which the legislature failed to act on during the regular session."  
 
Medical marijuana was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters during the November 2016 election.
 
On the agenda for the session: Boosting spending per student in Florida schools, funding the state's tourism agency, known as Visit Florida and creating a new economic development fund. 

The special session could cost more than $70,000 a day. 

Legislators were ordered back to town by Gov. Rick Scott after Scott vetoed nearly $12 billion from the new state budget. Most of those vetoes are tied to the main account used to pay for public schools.

The budget deal between Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, which prompted the session, could be in jeopardy of going down to defeat at the hands of the Florida Senate. 

The deal would give Scott funding for economic development and the speaker would see his funding for the controversial "Schools of Hope" charter school program survive being vetoed. 

Senate President Joe Negron said the Senate will vote to override the governor's veto of more than $100 million intended to go to state universities. 

"My goal is to be able to do this from revenues that the legislature has available to it," Negron said.

So what does this all mean?

It's not clear how smooth the session will go, prompting concerns it could run longer than the three days scheduled. 

Senate leaders say they plan to override some of Scott's budget vetoes and spend more money for hospitals. 

House leaders say they oppose the Senate plan.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.