Lobbying group funded by Publix gives $100K to Adam Putnam: Days after Publix announced it would suspend all political donations, the Florida Retail Federation donated $100,000 to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam's Florida Grown political action committee. In 2018 alone, the FRF received $174,394 from its members, with the Lakeland grocery chain donating $150,000 on April 27. A Publix spokesperson told Orlando Weekly that the company hasn't given any political contributions since May 23. Around that time, Parkland shooting survivors called for die-ins at Publix stores after it was reported that the chain gave an unprecedented $670,000 to Putnam over the course of three years.
Putnam's office failed to review background checks on Florida concealed weapons permits: For 13 months, the office of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam failed to review national background checks on people applying for concealed weapons permits in Florida because an employee couldn't log into the system, a story broken by the Tampa Bay Times. The worker at the Florida Department of Agriculture failed to follow up on 365 applications flagged as potentially ineligible by an FBI crime database. Ultimately, 291 of those licenses were revoked. Putnam maintains that none of the people who were wrongly issued a concealed weapons permit would have been able to purchase a gun. "The headlines and stories that say that there were no background checks for a year are flat wrong, misleading and must be corrected," Putnam said on Twitter.
SeaWorld is getting rid of plastic straws and bags: SeaWorld will stop using single-use plastic straws and shopping bags at its 12 theme parks. The new policy applies to Orlando's SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove, as well as Busch Gardens in Tampa. "This milestone environmental achievement is a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean and the animals we share our planet with, which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution," said SeaWorld CEO John Riley in a statement. The Ocean Conservancy estimates 150 million metric tons of plastic circulate in the planet's waters, with 8 million metric tons added to it every year.
Florida will get $19.2 million in federal funds for election security: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission approved $19.2 million last week for Florida to spend on election security, voting equipment and staff training. Gov. Rick Scott personally sought the funds after his administration initially refused the money, leading to a delay. The funds will be divided among Florida's 67 counties to help detect threats, such as in 2016 when Russian hackers tried to get into the systems of at least five Florida county election offices through email phishing.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Graham takes cautious approach to cannabis reform: While Gwen Graham has endorsed decriminalizing recreational marijuana and has expressed support for the state's medical cannabis program, she hasn't come out in support of full legalization, unlike the other Democratic candidates running for Florida governor. But in an interview with Orlando Weekly, Graham says she believes in incremental change to Florida's marijuana laws. "We've seen challenges in other states that have legalized marijuana through referendum, and maybe that's the path that Florida will go," Graham says. "But for me, as someone that recognizes when you talk about getting something done, you actually want to have a path to do it – I think the path on this issue is to get medical marijuana fully implemented and start working towards broadening the decriminalization of marijuana and moving towards a discussion of legalization where the people of Florida are comfortable with that."
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