Debate Emerges On Carving Up ‘Docs V. Glocks’ Law

July 28, 2016

As a federal appeals court ponders the constitutionality of Florida’s “docs v. glocks” law, attorneys this week debated in court documents whether it would be possible to jettison parts of the controversial measure — and keep others.

The full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments June 21 in a challenge by physician groups and individual physicians to the 2011 law, which seeks to restrict doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients’ gun ownership. Two days after the arguments, the court asked attorneys to file briefs about the issue of “severability,” a legal concept that can involve eliminating unconstitutional parts of laws while retaining other provisions.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office and a lawyer for the physicians filed briefs Monday taking starkly different positions on the question.

Bondi’s office said the appeals court could carve out unconstitutional pieces of the law while keeping the rest intact.

“The act’s provisions are functionally independent, and any invalid provision can easily be severed without disrupting the operation or integrity of the remaining provisions,” Deputy Solicitor General Rachel Nordby wrote. “If the court determines that any provision of the act is invalid, the court should apply the doctrine of severability and uphold all remaining valid provisions of the act.”

But plaintiffs say the law, dubbed by the Legislature as the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, cannot be broken apart. The plaintiffs contend the law violates doctors’ First Amendment rights.

“The challenged provisions of FOPA (Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act) are parts of a single legislative act, adopted by the Florida Legislature as a package, with a shared unconstitutional purpose,” plaintiffs’ attorney Douglas Hallward-Driemeier wrote. “In enacting FOPA, the Florida Legislature indisputably intended to chill speech by health care practitioners about firearms — and indeed a particular viewpoint on the same — with which the Legislature disagreed.”

The law, which is backed by gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, seeks to place a series of restrictions on doctors and other health providers. For example, it seeks to prevent physicians from entering information about gun ownership into medical records if the physicians know the information is not “relevant” to patients’ medical care or safety or to the safety of other people.

Also, the law says doctors should refrain from asking about gun ownership by patients or family members unless the doctors believe in “good faith” that the information is relevant to medical care or safety. Also, the law seeks to prevent doctors from discriminating against patients or “harassing” them because of owning firearms.

In addressing the severability question, Hallward-Driemeier’s brief said some members of the appeals court during oral arguments posed a “hypothetical scenario” about possibly trying to narrow the anti-discrimination provision.

The appeals court typically does not signal when it will rule in cases, and judges have been divided on the constitutionality of the law — widely known as the “docs v. glocks” law.

A U.S. District Court judge blocked the law from taking effect, but a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the law in three rulings. The full appeals court then took the somewhat-unusual step of agreeing to hear the case.

by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Wahoos Over Biscuits 3-1

July 28, 2016

Four Pensacola pitchers combined to limit Montgomery to one run and Phillip Ervin delivered the clutch hit to help the Blue Wahoos win, 3-1, Wednesday over the Biscuits at Riverwalk Stadium.

Pensacola starting pitcher Rookie Davis, who struck out the side in the second inning, ended up working 5.1 innings, allowing one run on a homer by Montgomery second baseman Paul Blair. He gave up five hits and two walks with six strikeouts total. He improved to a team-best 9-3 with and lowered his earned run average of 2.62.

Meanwhile, relievers Abel De Los Santos, Carlos Gonzalez and Alejandro Chacin threw 3.2 scoreless and hitless innings, while striking out four.

Like he has done all season for Pensacola, Chacin took over and tossed a scoreless ninth inning getting Montgomery out 1-2-3 with a strikeout to earn his 20th save this year, which leads the Southern League. He has struck out 49 batters in 44.1 innings.

Meanwhile, Pensacola left fielder Phillip Ervin stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third in the fifth inning. In 87 previous at bats with two outs Ervin was hitting .195. He singled to center field in the fifth inning and drove in catcher Chad Wallach and center fielder Beau Amaral to put his team up, 3-0, over Montgomery.

His clutch hit made him 1-4 on the night. Six of the Blue Wahoos nine hitters got one hit Wednesday.

Pensacola scored first in the fourth inning when the hot-hitting shortstop Zach Vincej tripled in Brandon Dixon, who had singled to center field, with two out to put the Blue Wahoos up, 1-0.

Vincej went 1-4 and is hitting .346 and has an on-base percentage of .400 in July, which are both his highest marks this season. He also has 11 RBIs this month, which is highest total.

Montgomery did get on the board when Blair, who was batting ninth in the lineup and averaging .168, lifted a solo homer to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull the Biscuits within, 3-1.

Chih-Wei Hu pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking one and striking out three. He fell to 3-7 with 2.34 ERA. Hu and two Biscuits’ relievers — Kyle Bird and Jordan Harrison — retired 12 in a row until Pensacola first baseman Eric Jagielo earned a walk in the ninth inning.

Pensacola improved to 24-27 on the road. The first half Southern League champions are now back to .500 at 16-16 in the second half and in third place 2.5 games behind the Mississippi Braves (18-13). Montgomery fell to 19-12 but still leads the North Division.

Century Holds Meeting In Apparent Violation Of State Sunshine Law

July 27, 2016

The Town of Century conducted a meeting Tuesday afternoon in an apparent violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law. The state law requires that the public’s business be conducted in open, public noticed meetings.

A public notice published on NorthEscambia.com and in the weekly Tri-City Ledger newspaper in Flomaton stated that the Town of Century’s Community Development Block Grant Citizen’s Advisory Task Force (CATF) would meet at Century Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

NorthEscambia.com arrived for the 4 p.m. meeting to find the front doors of the Century Hall locked  and the parking lot empty.

When reached by phone, Debbie Nickles, Century’s town planner, said the meeting had been held at 2 p.m. Tuesday. She said letters mailed to the four citizens on the task force had advised them to arrive for a meeting at 2 p.m. She said the discrepancy between meeting time in the letters and the legal public notices was discussed, and the meeting was held despite the improper public notice.

Nickles said she was present at the meeting, along with town consultant Robin Phillips and CATF members Sylvia Godwin, Helen Mincy, Robert Mitchell and Alfonzie Cottrell.

According to the meeting minutes, the CATF voted to recommend that the council apply for the CDBG grant.

When NorthEscambia.com reached Century Mayor Freddie McCall on his cell phone Tuesday to inquire about the meeting, he was with a local group at a church camp in Kentucky and said he was unaware of the meeting. Town Clerk Leslie Gonzalez did not work Tuesday and did not answer her cell phone, and Deputy Clerk Kim Godwin said she was unaware of the meeting.

Nickles said that another CATF meeting would be scheduled and properly noticed. At about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, the town provided notice that the committee would meet again Thursday afternoon at 1:50 p.m.

Pictured: The Century Town Hall was locked and the parking lot empty at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the time of a publicly noticed town task force meeting. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens In Florida

July 27, 2016

Florida first legal medical-marijuana dispensary formally opened Tuesday in a Tallahassee storefront, a week after the company known as Trulieve received state approval to begin selling a type of non-euphoric cannabis.

A 2014 law allows the company to sell low-THC cannabis oil to patients who suffer from cancer, chronic muscle spasms and seizures.

Another law, passed during the most recent legislative session, allows terminally ill patients to use full-strength marijuana.

“When I say it is an historic and momentous day, it really is,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said during a packed news conference at the store Tuesday. “We are really overwhelmed and so proud to be this pioneer.”

The company plans to open a Northwest Florida location in Pensacola.

So far, one issue facing patients who want to get legal weed is finding doctors who will sign off on the treatment. As of last week, only 15 doctors had signed up to order the low-THC products.

While lawmakers gave approval in 2014, a series of legal battles has delayed the cannabis from becoming available to patients.

by The News Service of Florida and NorthEscambia.com

Pictured top: Trulieve’s Tallahassee location opened Tuesday. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Highway 99, Barrineau Park Road Projects Running Ahead Of Schedule

July 27, 2016

A contractor is on track for an early completion of projects to widen and resurface several miles of County Road 99 and Barrineau Park Road.

Work is 80 percent complete on a project to widen and resurface seven miles of Highway 99 from Barrineau Park Road north to Highway 97A in Bay Springs, according to Escambia County. Panhandle Grading and Paving is still  widening shoulders. The entire widening area will then be resurfaced , and then striping and signage will be added.

The Highway 99 project will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration Agency (FHWA) for  reimbursement at an estimated project  construction cost of $2.87 million.

Escambia County says work is also 80 percent complete on the Barrineau Park Road project which includes widening the existing travel lanes to 11 feet wide, adding four foot paved shoulders, upgrading guardrails and minor drainage improvements. Panhandle Grading and Paving is still  widening shoulders. The entire widening area will then be resurfaced , and then striping and signage will be added.

In addition to the two county projects, the Florida Department of Transportation upgraded the railroad crossing on Highway 99  south Highway 97A.

Escambia Vote By Mail Ballots On The Way

July 27, 2016

The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office delivered more than 26,000 vote-by-mail ballots to the post office on Tuesday for the Primary election. Voters could receive their green or ivory colored vote-by-mail packages as early as as today. Voted ballots must be received in the Supervisor of Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day, August 30. Ballots require a first-class postage stamp ($.47 postage) if returned by mail.

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the Primary election is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24. To request or track your vote-by-mail ballot for the Primary election, visit EscambiaVotes.com and click “Vote by Mail”, or contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at (850) 595-3900.

Ascend Awards Scholarships To Three North Escambia Students

July 27, 2016

Three North Escambia students have been awarded $2,000 scholarships from the Ascend Cares Foundation.

The non-profit organization managed and funded by Ascend Performance Materials, awarded 23 scholarships to children of their employees in Alabama, Florida and Texas this summer. Applicants were required to have earned at least a 3.0 grade point average and have demonstrated a record of community service.

The three North Escambia winners were:

  • Abri’ McDaniel of Cantonment, 17, a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology in Pensacola. In school, Abri’ was a varsity cheerleader and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Outside of school, Abri’ was active at the Ronald McDonald House, the NAACP’s Youth Council and the Charmettes etiquette club. She plans to attend Troy University in Alabama in the fall semester. Abri’s parents are Twana and Donald McDaniel. Donald McDaniel is a processor at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.
  • Jacob Norre of Cantonment, 18, a graduate of Tate High School. In school, Jacob was a member of the Beta Club, the National Science Honor Society and the school’s band, where he was drum major and played saxophone. Outside of school, he was an Eagle Scout and volunteered in The Miracle League. Jacob plans to attend Texas A&M University in the fall semester and major in aerospace engineering. His parents are Michael and Cathy Norre. Michael Norre is a project engineer at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.
  • Allison Woodfin of Molino, 18, a graduate of West Florida High School of Advanced Technology. In school, Allison was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Future Farmers of America. Outside of school, she raised show pigs as part of the 4H agricultural club. She plans to attend Troy University in the fall semester and major in communications. Allison’s parents are Jennifer and Walt Woodfin. Walt Woodfin is a scheduler at the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment.

“We believe that part of being a good company means being good to our team members, their families and our community,” said Rachell Gold, executive director of the Ascend Cares Foundation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to invest in these dedicated young people and wish them the best as they further their education.”

FWC Law Enforcement Report

July 27, 2016

The Florida FWC Division of Law Enforcement reported the following activity during the weekly period ending July 21 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

FWC officers provided waterborne security during the annual Blue Angels Air Show on Pensacola Beach. During the three‑day event, a total of 60 FWC officers conducted 589 hours of law enforcement patrol in and around Pensacola Beach providing security to the estimated 750,000 people attending the show by both land and water. An estimated 20,000 people attended the show by way of water aboard approximately 3,000 vessels. FWC officers conducted more than 250 vessel stops, checked more than 1,000 users and issued several citations and warnings for boating safety violations. Additionally, four boaters were arrested for BUI, two for underage drinking and two for assault.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY

(No report submitted for Santa Rosa County.)

This report represents some events the FWC handled over the past week; however, it does not include all actions taken by the Division of Law Enforcement. Information provided by FWC.

Montgomery Biscuits Roll To 10-5 Victory Over The Blue Wahoos

July 27, 2016

The Montgomery Biscuits welcomed the Pensacola Blue Wahoos to Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium by jumping out to a 10-1 lead.

The Biscuits knocked out usually reliable starter Tyler Mahle by scoring eight runs against him in his 4.2 innings of work and went on to win, 10-5, Tuesday.

Montgomery benefited from two two-run home runs by right fielder Justin Williams in the third inning and shortstop Willy Adames in the fifth inning off of Mahle. Mahle fell to 5-2, allowing nine of Montgomery’s 11 hits, walking. two and striking out one.

Pensacola fell to 23-27 on the road. The first half Southern League champions are now 15-16 in the second half. Montgomery improved to 19-12 and leads the North Division.

Montgomery didn’t take long to start rolling. DH Cade Gotta led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and came around to score on shortstop Adames ground out to third base to put the Biscuits up, 1-0. Adames was 2-4, scored twice and knocked in three runs.

Biscuits left fielder Granden Goetzman doubled to start the second inning and reached third on a wild pitch. Montgomery Williams then smashed a homer to left center to bring in Goetzman for a 3-0 lead.

Montgomery center fielder Braxton Lee doubled and went to third on an errant throw by Mahle trying to pick him off. Second baseman Thomas Coyle then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Braxton and put Montgomery ahead, 4-0.

Pensacola finally got on the board in the third inning to pull within, 4-1, when catcher Chad Wallach singled to third base and then Alex Blandino singled to shortstop.  Both first baseman Jake Bauer and Adames were charged with throwing errors on the play to make the run unearned.

It was the only run that Montgomery starter Taylor Guerrieri would give up to Pensacola in six innings to improve to 11-4 becoming the first pitcher in the Southern League to 11 wins. He gave up four hits, one walk and struck out five.

Montgomery tacked on another run in the fourth when Goetzman tripled and was driven in by Williams single to right field for a 5-1 lead.

The Biscuits extended its lead in the fifth inning to 7-1 on a two-run homer to left center by Adames that also scored third baseman Kean Wong. Williams then doubled on a pop up to left field that deflected off of Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej’s glove and scored Goetzman to go ahead, 8-1.

Vincej went 2-2 with a walk, and is now batting .333 in July, his best monthly average this season.

Montgomery scored two more runs in the seventh inning to make the score, 10-1. Williams smacked a line drive to center filed that scored both Adames and Bauers.

Pensacola finally broke out with four runs in the eighth inning to pull within, 10-5. Blue Wahoos right fielder Sebastian Elizalde singled in Blandino. Pensacola third baseman Taylor Sparks, who was 2-5, Tuesday scored on a wild pitch after a single to center.  Blue Wahoos left fielder Jeff Gelalich singled to center to score Elizalde. The fourth and final run crossed the plate when DH Brandon Dixon, who had walked, scored on a wild pitch.

In the ninth inning, Pensacola loaded the bases with one out, but Montgomery closer Jeff Ames came in and faced Brandon Dixon, who popped out to the catcher, and Jeff Gelalich, who struck out, to end the threat. Batters are now, 0-10, against Ames with the bases loaded.

Cat Country 98.7 Nominated For Prestigious NAB Award

July 27, 2016

Pensacola’s locally owned country radio station, CatCountry 98.7, has been nominated for a National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award. This is the station’s third nomination for the prestigious award.

CatCountry 98.7 is one of just five stations in the country nominated for the 2016 award.

The station helped United Way raise more than $240,000 for tornado relief and raised money for toys for needy children at Christmas — just two of many community events spearheaded by CatCountry during the past year.

“I’m so proud to work with this team.  I genuinely believe we are the hardest working team in the business,” said Brent Lane, program director and morning show host.

“We are proud of our team and constant effort they put in to make our community a better place,” said Dave and Mary Hoxeng, owners and operators of CatCountry 98.7.

The winners will be announced September 22 at the NAB Marconi Radio Awards Dinner and Show in Nashville.

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