DeSantis says Florida should allow patients to smoke medical marijuana: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the state Legislature to change the current law banning smokable medical marijuana. "I want people to have their suffering relieved," said DeSantis, speaking in front of reporters in Winter Park. DeSantis said if the Legislature fails to change the law, he'll drop the state's appeal of a 2017 court decision ruling that banning medical cannabis violated a 2016 constitutional amendment. DeSantis added he also wanted lawmakers to look at the current cap on the number of medical-marijuana licenses and the "vertical integration" system that requires nurseries to also process and distribute the marijuana they grow. "Whether they have to smoke it or not, who am I to judge that?" DeSantis said. The governor made clear he is against recreational marijuana but said he will be looking at all court cases involving medical marijuana.
Orlando International Airport sponsors donation drive for government employees during partial shutdown: The Orlando International Airport Management Council sponsored a donation drive last week to assist employees of the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Aviation Administration during the partial government shutdown. The longest federal shutdown in history has gone for more than a month as President Donald Trump demands more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Multiple restaurants and businesses in town, including the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art and MX Taco, provided freebies to government workers hard-hit by the shutdown.
Nikki Fried bans discrimination against LGBTQ employees in her office: The recently elected Florida Agriculture Commissioner announced last week that she's revising the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' list of workplace protections against discrimination to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." The Florida Civil Rights Act doesn't explicitly protect queer and trans communities from discrimination, meaning it's legal to deny LGBTQ people housing, service and employment. The state Agriculture and Consumer Services Department will be the first in Florida's state government to ban discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the office. "This is a brand-new day in which our Department and its 4,000 employees are making a strong statement – we will not tolerate discrimination in our workplace on any basis, including sexual orientation and gender identity," Fried said. Earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an anti-discrimination order for state employees that excluded protections for LGBTQ people.
Soto, Díaz-Balart propose bill to give Venezuelans temporary immigration protections: U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Mario Díaz-Balart have proposed a bipartisan bill to allow Venezuelans fleeing their country's humanitarian crisis to become eligible for the Temporary Protected Status program, also known as TPS. Both Florida lawmakers say the regime of President Nicolás Maduro has "perpetrated egregious human rights abuses and corrupted Venezuela's once democratic institutions, leading to an economic, humanitarian and security crisis." United Nations officials estimated in November that the number of Venezuelan refugees who fled their country was about 3 million people. Under the bill proposed by Soto, D-Orlando, and Díaz-Balart, R-Miami, Venezuelans would be allowed to legally stay in the U.S. and be shielded from deportation. They would also be granted work permits and be allowed to travel abroad for emergencies and extenuating circumstances.
Lift station behind Mills 50 apartment complex spills another 1,000 gallons of shit into Orlando lakes: A lift station at an Orlando apartment complex with a history of failing recently dropped another 1,000 gallons of sewage into three Orlando lakes. The city of Orlando has issued Lake Alerts for Lake Formosa, Lake Rowena and Lake Sue after a malfunctioning bypass valve in a private lift station, located at the Gallery at Mills Park apartment complex, resulted in poopwater spilling onto the Urban Trail and the nearby stormwater system. Though the city says a private contractor has since repaired the damaged valve and cleaned all areas impacted by the spill, there's still a possibility of elevated fecal coliform counts in all three lakes. Over the past 16 months, the same lift station has failed four different times, reports Fox 35. In 2017, following Hurricane Irma, the lift station released 15,000 gallons of sewage into the stormwater system.