State lawmakers spent hours this legislative session debating the “Whiskey and Wheaties” bill in Tallahassee and on Monday in Bradenton, they debated it yet again.
The bill, which would have let grocery stores sell liquor alongside food, passed both the Florida Senate and House before Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the bill. For two of the three state legislators at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce’s first Politics & Pints event at Motorworks Brewing, they disagreed with the governor’s action, saying too much time was spent on the bill during session.
“This is an example of an issue that shouldn’t be an issue,” state Sen. Bill Galvano said. “The fact that the governor vetoed it is very disappointing.”
Calling it one of the biggest issues, state Rep. Jim Boyd said he has no doubt that it will come back in the future.
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“It took far more of our time than it should have,” he said.
But for state Rep. Joe Gruters, an ally of Scott, he backed the governor’s veto.
“I think he made the right decision,” Gruters said.
While all local state lawmakers were invited to speak at the legislative session recap, the three Republican lawmakers were the only ones to attend, speaking on topics ranging from medical marijuana to education to the more than 100 attendees.
With respect to medical marijuana, the state lawmakers were able to reach an accord during the special session, Galvano said.
“We expanded the use of medical cannabis,” he said. “We have not allowed and continue to prohibit smoking of medical cannabis.”
To research medical marijuana and identify all the pros and cons, a research coalition has been established at Moffitt Cancer Center, Galvano said.
“We have not had that quality of study,” he said.
The three lawmakers were in support of the ballot measure in 2018 to increase the state homestead property tax exemption by $25,000.
“I think the voters deserve it,” Boyd said. “The residents of Florida deserve it. I have no doubt that you (local officials) are able to find the money without having to raise taxes. It helps the market. It helps residents. It helps our citizens.”
In America, one can never really own property, Galvano said.
“You will always have to pay for that property every single year,” he said. “If we can add another chunk of exemptions, it was worth it to do.”