Expanded Prescribing Gets House OK

Apr 2, 2015

Physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners won another round Wednesday in their battle to gain expanded drug-prescribing powers, with a House health committee backing the proposal.

Similar bills are moving in the House and Senate that would allow physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances, an idea that doctors' groups have long opposed.

The House Health & Human Services Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal (HB 281), filed by Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park. Pigman, who is a physician, and other supporters point in part to a lack of doctors in rural areas of the state. But critics warn against allowing physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners to prescribe addictive painkillers.

"Don't make access more available,'' said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa. Pigman's bill is now ready to go to the full House.

A Senate version (SB 614), filed by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, was approved Tuesday by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

SENATE REJECTS BLOCKING MONEY FOR IMMIGRATION CASE

The Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposed budget amendment that would have prevented Attorney General Pam Bondi from spending money to fight a federal policy aimed at allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country if they meet certain conditions. Bondi said in December she would join a lawsuit challenging President Obama over an executive order about the policy. The lawsuit contends Obama overstepped his legal authority. But state Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, proposed the budget amendment Wednesday, saying lawmakers have the "power of the purse" and that the legal challenge is hurting people in his district. But Republican leaders objected because they said the amendment would infringe on Bondi's constitutional powers and could open the door to future legislative attempts to influence the attorney general's involvement in cases. "This is a dangerous, dangerous road to go down," Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. Senators initially voted 16-15 to approve Soto's amendment. But several senators were off the floor at the time. The Senate then brought up the amendment again and rejected it in a voice vote.

HIGHER-ED SEARCH BILL HEADS TO FULL HOUSE

With supporters saying Florida needs to attract the best applicants for higher-education jobs, the House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would partially prevent the release of information about candidates to become president or provost at state universities and colleges. The proposal (HB 223), filed by Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, is now ready to go to the full House. It would provide public-records and public-meetings exemptions for information about applicants for the top college and university jobs, though information would have to be released about finalists 30 days before votes are taken on filling the positions. Combee said public disclosure of information can dissuade people, such as sitting college presidents, from applying for jobs in Florida. "This is really common sense,'' Combee said. But opponents said the process of filling top higher-education jobs needs openness. "In my opinion, transparency is the word,'' said Rep. Victor Torres, D-Orlando. A similar Senate bill (SB 182), filed by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has been approved by two committees.