Gazitua Letelier, P.A. http://www.gazitua.com Public Private Partners Sat, 03 Jun 2017 00:05:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 http://www.gazitua.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Gazitua Letelier, P.A. http://www.gazitua.com 32 32 Gazitua Letelier Update: the current status of Medical marijuana in Florida as of March 2, 2017. http://www.gazitua.com/medical-marijuana-florida-lobbyist/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 20:08:21 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1908   Summary on Amendment 2 On November 8, 2016, Amendment 2 in the State of Florida passed with 71% of …

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Summary on Amendment 2

On November 8, 2016, Amendment 2 in the State of Florida passed with 71% of the vote, making Florida the 28th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize medical marijuana.[1] This Amendment added a new section to Florida’s Constitution entitled “Medical marijuana production, possession, and use.”[2] To become a qualifying patient under Amendment 2, a Florida physician must issue a letter of certification that the patient is diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, PTSD, ALS, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, MS, etc. After diagnosis, the patient can obtain an identification card from the Florida Department of Health (“FDOH”).[3] After receiving the identification card, patients will be able to obtain medical marijuana at “medical marijuana treatment centers,” (“MMTC”) which can produce and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes. These centers will be regulated by the FDOH, which will have 6 months for rulemaking to determine the regulations that govern medical marijuana. Next, businesses will apply for a selection process that will allow them to begin growing marijuana. Finally, the MMTCs will be able to sell to patients with proper identification.[4]

Florida Department of Health Rulemaking Process

The Office of Compassionate Use for the FDOH is responsible for implementing the rules regarding medical marijuana and Amendment 2.[5] The FDOH has also been responsible for issuing licenses to organizations to distribute medical marijuana prior to Amendment 2 becoming effective on January 3, 2017. Trulieve (Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County) and Alpha Surterra in the Tampa Bay, area received authorization from the FDOH in July 2016. Modern Health Concepts (Costa Nursery Farms in Miami-Dade County) received authorization in September 2016. On the weekend of December 2, 2016, the FDOH authorized Knox Medical (located in Winter Garden) to distribute medical marijuana for in-home delivery throughout the state.[6] In late December 2016, after a year of litigation in administrative hearings,[7] McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery was awarded the seventh license to distribute medical marijuana within Florida.[8] To date, these 7 MMTCs are the only license holders.

In March 2016, the Florida Senate approved HB 307[9] expanding the 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act so that once the patient registry (currently has 1,495 patients as of December 22, 2016)[10] exceeds 250,000, the FDOH can issue three more licenses to dispensing organizations.[11] Currently, there are 7 organizations that are allowed to distribute medical marijuana within Florida including: CHT Medical (Alachua County), The Green Solution (Alachua County), Trulieve (Gadsden County), Surterra Therapeutics (Hillsborough County), Modern Health Concepts (Miami-Dade County), Knox Medical (Orange County), and GrowHealthy (Polk County).[12] It is uncertain whether these organizations will have to reapply for selection once the final rules of Amendment 2 are implemented or if the organizations will be grandfathered in.[13] A map of all seven dispensing organizations and their territories can be seen at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/dispensing-organizations/index.html.

Florida Department of Health Releases Proposed Rules

Under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, the licensees can only grow and process medical marijuana within their respective regions but they are allowed to open as many dispensaries as they like within or outside of their respective region.[14] Commentators have stated that there is a push by the current licensees to prevent the FDOH from issuing additional medical marijuana licenses. Some believe this approach to be advocating for a monopolization of the medical marijuana industry.[15]

Amendment 2 gives the Florida Legislature 6 months to revise the current medical marijuana laws and implement the new laws within 9 months.[16] On January 17, 2017, the Office of Compassionate Use for the FDOH began the rulemaking process by issuing a notice of public hearings for the text of proposed rule development. The purpose and effect of this rulemaking procedure is to begin implementing the provisions of Article 10, section 29 of the Florida Constitution, to set out clear guidance on use of terms and implementation of the amendment that went into effect on January 3, 2017.[17]

Backlash on Proposed Rules

The next day after the FDOH issued the text of the proposed rules, the authors of Amendment 2 began their criticism. Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of the political committee advocating for Amendment 2 stated, “the rule is basically ignoring the text of the constitutional amendment at almost every point of the way.”[18] A main point for the advocates of Amendment 2 was to prevent the Florida Board of Medicine the authority to decide which patients qualify for medical marijuana licenses, instead of individual doctors.[19] Amendment 2 allows physicians to order medical marijuana as a treatment for patients and issue licenses to patients with debilitating medical conditions and “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”[20] However, the FDOH’s proposed rules give sole authority to the Florida Board of Medicine to determine what other diseases, and ultimately what patients, qualify for a medical marijuana license. Mr. Pollara responded, “This is not one of those things that is up for interpretation by a court or anyone else.”[21]

Another glaring issue that the proposed rules highlight is that there is no mention of granting additional licenses for MMTCs. Currently, only 7 vendors are licensed MMTCs that are supposed to serve an estimated 500,000 patients who would be eligible under Amendment 2.[22] Those who wish for the FDOH to allow for more licenses claim that without more licenses, a monopoly will result and will favor only the current licensed dispensing organizations. Amendment 2 requires the FDOH to issue new rules regarding Amendment 2 before July 3, 2017, to finalize the regulations. Thereafter, the Florida Legislature will weigh in.[23]

Appealing to the Voters: Senator Bradley Introduces SB 406

On January 19, 2017, Florida Senator Rob Bradley introduced SB 406 to the Florida Senate floor as a proposed roadmap explaining how the Florida Legislature will implement Amendment 2 once the FDOH releases the final rules regarding Amendment 2 in July 2017.[24] The highlights of SB 406 are: (1) qualifying patients would include those who are issued a physician certification and would require that they be registered with the Florida Department of Health; (2) physicians would be allowed to issue medical marijuana registration cards to qualified patients for chronic nonmalignant pain if the physician diagnosed the underlying debilitating medical condition as the cause of pain; (3) physicians would be able to issue a 90-day supply of medical marijuana to qualified patients instead of the currently allowed 45-day supply; (4) physicians would be required to undergo a 4-hour course explaining how and when qualifying patients should be issued a medical marijuana registration card instead of the current 8-hour course; (5) the FDOH would be required to issue final rules regarding Amendment 2 by July 3, 2017, and the FDOH would be required to begin issuing medical marijuana registration cards by October 3, 2017; and (6) after 250,000 qualified patients are registered with the compassionate use registry the FDOH would be required to issue 5 more licenses to distribute marijuana, one for a recognized member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, and 5 more licenses to distribute marijuana would be issued each time the patient registry reaches the following numbers: 350,000, 400,000, 500,000, and each time thereafter that an additional 100,000 patients are added to the registry.

On February 1, 2017, SB 406 was referred to the Florida House Health Policy Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services for further consideration.[25] We will continue to monitor the progress of SB 406 and provides updates as they become available. [26]

An Alternative Approach: Senator Brandes Introduces SB 614

On February 1, 2017, Senator Jeff Brandes introduced SB 614 to the Florida Senate floor as an alternative to Senator Bradley’s SB 406. SB 614 aims for less overall regulation and attempts to answer the call that voters were looking for when they approved Amendment 2.[27] The highlights of SB 614 are: (1) repealing the Compassionate Use Act of 2014; (2) it would give discretion physician to prescribe a medical marijuana license for other diseases or conditions that they believe are debilitating medical conditions; (3) paraplegia, quadriplegia, and terminal conditions would be added as debilitating medical conditions; (4) the FDOH must create a physician certification form and make such form available to the public by September 1, 2017; (5) the FDOH would be required to begin registering patients within 14 days of the patient’s submission of the physician certification form; this registration process would be required to begin as soon as practicable, but not later than October 3, 2017; (6) all medical marijuana registration cards would require renewal once per year; (7) the FDOH must create an online medical marijuana patient registry by July 1, 2017; (8) the FDOH must establish the operational standards for the cultivation, processing, packaging, labeling of marijuana, and all other associated responsibilities for MMTCs by June 3, 2017; (9) the FDOH would be required to begin registration of all MMTCs by October 3, 2017; registration for treatment centers would last for two (2) years and would be subject to renewal; (10) the FDOH would be allowed to issue individual licenses for cultivation, processing, retail sales, or transportation of medical marijuana or a MMTC may choose to apply for all four licenses to be a one-stop shop; and (11) no explicit limit on the number of licenses that the FDOH can issue.[28]

On February 16, 2017, SB 614 was referred to the Florida House Health Policy Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services for further consideration.

LUIS ANDRE GAZITUA, A PROCUREMENT LAWYER, AND REGISTERED MIAMI-DADE LOBBYIST, AUTHORED THE STRONG-MAYOR CHARTER AMENDMENT APPROVED BY THE VOTERS IN JANUARY 2007.

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[1] Joe Reedy, Florida Medical Marijuana Vote: State Approves Amendment 2, The Cannabist (Nov. 8, 2016), http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/11/08/florida-medical-marijuana-results-amendment-2-election-2016/66816/

[2] Art. X § 29, Fla. Const. (2016).

[3] Summary of Florida’s Amendment 2, Marijuana Policy Project, https://www.mpp.org/states/florida/amendment2/#_ftnref1 (last visited Feb. 21, 2017).

[4] Summary of Florida’s Amendment 2, supra note 3.

[5] Office of Compassionate Use, Fla. Dep’t of Health, http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/index.html?utm_source=flhealthIndex, (last visited date).

[6] Joe Reedy, A Fourth Company Was Just Authorized To Distribute Florida Medical Marijuana, But Not Without Some Hiccups, The Cannabist (Dec. 7, 2016), http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/12/07/florida-medical-marijuana-knox/68909/.

[7] Final Order, McCrory’s Sunny Hill Nursery, LLC v. Department of Health, DOH Case. No. 16-1934, https://www.doah.state.fl.us/ROS/2016/16001934_282_06272016_13225462_e.pdf.

[8] Joe Reedy, Florida Health Department’s Moving And Shaking: Here’s Who Just Scored The Seventh Marijuana License, The Cannabist (Dec. 22, 2016), http://www.thecannabist.co/2016/12/22/florida-medical-marijuana-seventh-license/69893/.

[9] MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT—DRUGS AND MEDICINE—MARIJUANA, 2016 Fla. Sess. Law Serv. Ch. 2016-123 (C.S.C.S.C.S.H.B. 307 & 1313), http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/307.

[10] See Reedy, supra note 8.

[11] Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Florida Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill, Fla. Politics (Mar. 7, 2016), http://floridapolitics.com/archives/203865-florida-senate-approves-medical-marijuana-expansion-bill.

[12] Licensed Dispensing Organizations, Fla. Dep’t of Health, http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/dispensing-organizations/index.html.

[13] Florida’s End of the Year Medical Marijuana Update, Greenacre Consulting Team (Dec. 25, 2016), http://www.greenacreteam.com/floridas-end-year-medical-marijuana-update/.

[14] See Greenacre Consulting Team, supra note 13.

[15] See Greenacre Consulting Team, supra note 13.

[16] See Reedy, supra note 8.

[17] Florida Administrative Code & Florida Administrative Register, Notice 18494037, Rule 64-4.012, https://www.flrules.org/Gateway/View_Notice.asp?ID=18494037.

[18] Orlando Weekly: Florida Medical Marijuana Proponents Blast State Rules, Florida for Care (Jan. 18, 2017), http://www.floridaforcare.org/florida_medical_marijuana_proponents_blast_proposed_state_rules.

[19] See Orlando Weekly, supra note 18.

[20] See Orlando Weekly, supra note 18.

[21] See Orlando Weekly, supra note 18.

[22] See Orlando Weekly, supra note 18.

[23] See Orlando Weekly, supra note 18. ; see also Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization, Amendment 2 (2016), Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Medical_Marijuana_Legalization,_Amendment_2_(2016), (last visited Feb. 8, 2017).

[24] Northwest Florida Daily News: Senator Offers Roadmap For Carrying Out Marijuana Amendment, Fla. for Care (Jan. 20, 2017), http://www.floridaforcare.org/senator_offers_roadmap_for_carrying_out_marijuana_ammendment.

[25] Florida House Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee (2017 Session), lobby tools, http://public.lobbytools.com/committees/1679, (last visited Feb. 20, 2017).

[26] 2017 Florida Senate Bill No. 406, Florida One Hundred Nineteenth Regular Session, 2017 Florida Senate Bill No. 406, Florida One Hundred Nineteenth Regular Session.

[27] See Reedy, supra note 1.

[28] 2017 Florida Senate Bill No. 614, Florida One Hundred Nineteenth Regular Session, 2017 Florida Senate Bill No. 614, Florida One Hundred Nineteenth Regular Session.

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Miami Herald OP-ED: Ordinance would give local unions outsized power. http://www.gazitua.com/miami-herald-op-ed-ordinance-give-local-unions-outsized-power/ Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:21:51 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1831 September 20, 2016 | Miami Herald Opinion. This summer, a local group calling itself An Accountable Miami-Dade circulated a petition to bring …

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September 20, 2016 | Miami Herald Opinion.

This summer, a local group calling itself An Accountable Miami-Dade circulated a petition to bring campaign finance reform to Miami-Dade County. The procedural aspects of the petition are being reviewed by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.

An Accountable Miami-Dade collected more than 125,000 signatures in order to offer the following question to the Miami-Dade voters this November:

Should an ordinance be enacted addressing the appearance of ethical impropriety in county government; limiting campaign contributions to $250 per election per candidate to candidates for County Offices; prohibiting large county contractors from making campaign contributions; amending the election campaign financing trust fund; repealing prior ordinances and resolutions in conflict; and amending definition of a gift.

Sounds noble. Removing the influence of money from politics is definitely something we should all strive for. Unfortunately, the ordinance goes significantly further, and the motives behind the reform are questionable, at best.

The proposed ordinance creates penalties of up to $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 364 days, and in some cases both. There is no mention of the “big house” in the question presented to voters.

It also incorporates both the members of the School Board and of the Board of Supervisors of the Soil & Water Conservation District. This is surprising because neither of these governmental entities are county offices.

The proposal aims to exclude “large county contractors” from making political contributions. This claim is misleading because the dollar amounts involved in the ordinance are for any contractor with a $250,000 county contract. That’s a lot of money. However, the contracts generally available to local mom-and-pop businesses hover at that amount. In effect, this ordinance will subsequently preclude local and minority small-business owners from contributing to county political campaigns.

In addition, the ordinance would forbid the managers, family members, owner’s children, lobbyists and minority partners of county contractors from contributing to county campaigns.

More alarming is that there is nothing “local” about the group backing the petition. This initiative has been funded by a union-backed Washington D.C., think tank to benefit county labor unions.

The true intent of this ordinance is to create a discrete exemption for unions and public employees to dominate campaign fundraising in county elections.

This is concerning when you consider that the largest union representing employees at Miami-Dade County has 120,000 members. So, let’s do the math — 120,000 union members time a modest $25 contribution per member equals $3 million per candidate, per election cycle. With dollars like that, this union’s agenda will be unstoppable.

Miami-Dade’s unions will be able raise millions of dollars in order to protect their interests, while the private sector is shut out. You can forget innovation and privatization with labor influencing policy.

Real campaign reform would eliminate political committees in county races. These committees convey the appearance of impropriety. Such committees can accept unlimited donations from lobbyists — like me, political parties, unions and vendors. Even worse, some committees are not required to disclose their donors.

An Accountable Miami-Dade is flying under false colors to camouflage its primary intent — to further the national labor agenda in our back yard.

LUIS ANDRE GAZITUA, A PROCUREMENT LAWYER, AND REGISTERED MIAMI-DADE LOBBYIST, AUTHORED THE STRONG-MAYOR CHARTER AMENDMENT APPROVED BY THE VOTERS IN JANUARY 2007.

More at MiamiHerald.com

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Miami Herald OP-ED: The demand is there — legalize Uber and Lyft, Miami-Dade http://www.gazitua.com/demand-legalize-uber-lyft-miami-dade/ Tue, 10 May 2016 14:19:42 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1822 The Miami Herald – Opinion | May 4, 2016 I truly feel for the taxicab industry. Many of the drivers are …

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The Miami Herald – Opinion | May 4, 2016

I truly feel for the taxicab industry. Many of the drivers are hardworking people who, long ago, invested in taxi medallions, which were once considered the best investment in America.

In Miami-Dade, their business, to date, has been strictly regulated. First, the county must closely inspect all taxi vehicles. Moreover, taxis are equipped with a taximeter, which controls the charge rate based on route and destination. Drivers must have a chauffeur registration, which includes a review of the individual’s driving record and criminal background checks.

Drivers are also required to attend for-hire chauffeur classes and pass an exam administered by the county. Furthermore, if drivers want to serve Miami International Airport or PortMiami, they must attend the Ambassador Cabs Program workshop that the county offers.

Despite the lengthy list of mandates, things were pretty stable for medallion owners and their drivers for a long time. These individuals made a living following the county’s rigid regulations governing cabs.

Then along came Uber.

Much like what Netflix did to Blockbuster, iTunes to Spec’s Music — and even what Amazon Prime is doing to Walmart — Uber has rendered the traditional taxi framework inconvenient and obsolete. Unlike cabs, Uber provides a convenient and modern transportation solution with an unlimited amount of private vehicles hailed by our smartphones.

Uber vehicles are available in minutes. Uber’s rates fluctuate based on demand and tier of vehicle. From UberX to Uber Lux, an Uber ride is just a click away. Uber offers a platform for instant access to comfortable transportation.

Unfortunately, to date, Uber and its competition, have operated illegally in Miami-Dade County. There have been many attempts to rein in and regulate Uber, but all have failed miserably.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote on a regulatory framework proposed by its Vice Chairman Esteban Bovo, which establishes regulations on Transportation Network Entities (TNEs), their drivers and vehicles. Potential TNEs are Uber and Lyft.

The proposal sets no limit on the number of licenses offering TNE services. These regulations also set forth specific rules of operation and mandate that TNE drivers comply with specific requirements and establish insurance requirements.

Bovo has also offered two items to bring parity between TNEs and the taxi and limousine industry. Many of the historic stringent regulations are proposed to be eliminated. These items will give the taxicab industry the freedom to compete against TNEs and gain market share.

Prior proposals to legalize Uber have ignored the asphyxiating regulatory framework imposed on taxicabs and limousines. This time, county commissioner have a chance to remove the heavy burdens imposed on the taxi industry while promoting technology and a free market. For these reasons, I urge them to vote Yes and make TNEs legal.

LUIS ANDRE GAZITUA, A PROCUREMENT LAWYER, PREVIOUSLY REPRESENTED HAILO NETWORK LTD., A LONDON-BASED STARTUP, THAT PULLED OUT OF NORTH AMERICA IN THE FACE OF INTENSE COMPETITION FROM COMPANIES SUCH AS UBER TECHNOLOGIES INC. AND LYFT INC.

Read more: The Miami Herald

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Miami-Dade P3 Taskforce Recommendation – Adjust the Cone of Silence http://www.gazitua.com/public-private-partnerships/ Tue, 05 Jan 2016 20:26:15 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1714 On February 3, 2015, Resolution No. R-150-15 was passed and adopted, creating the Miami-Dade County Public Private Partnership Taskforce. The …

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On February 3, 2015, Resolution No. R-150-15 was passed and adopted, creating the Miami-Dade County Public Private Partnership Taskforce. The powers and duties of the P3 Taskforce are: (1) to make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners in regards to Miami-Dade County’s ordinances, resolutions, regulations, implementing orders, and administrative practices that will advance public private partnerships; and (2) to identify potential projects that address critical infrastructure needs in Miami-Dade County that are suitable for a public private partnership arrangement.

The P3 Taskforce is currently working on a P3 legislation draft for the County, which develops a P3 competitive structure. Any entity seeking to respond to a P3 bid issuance would have to comply with the procedures and requirements as recommended by the Taskforce.

In developing the P3 legislation, the Taskforce is unable to adopt the State of Florida’s P3 procurement model because the State of Florida’s P3 projects are mostly transportation focused, and the County anticipates diverse projects to be undertaken.  Moreover, the Taskforce cannot look to the County legislation for guidance, as the County does not currently have legislation that specifically addresses P3 procurement. As such, the Taskforce will consider elements such as County staff feedback, recommendations from the public, and P3 models from other agencies in formulating its recommendations and findings.

Since the Taskforce seeks to draft the most comprehensive recommendations possible, a number of County ordinances will be affected. Specifically, County Code Section 2-8.1, which governs the procurement of goods and services, would be amended.

GAZITUA LETELIER RECOMMENDS

The “Cone of Silence” regulation, which restricts communications during the solicitation process, is one area that warrants modification.

The “Cone,” as it is known, prohibits certain oral communications regarding a particular RFP, RFQ, or bid, from the issuance of the solicitation until staff makes an official recommendation.  Although written communications, copied to the Clerk of the Board, are permitted, in-depth negotiations between staff and qualified firms are not.

Simply put, traditional procurements for goods and services are a two-step process.  First, bidders submit written proposals in response to a detailed scope and second, at a later date, bidders give oral presentations on their proposals.  In these scenarios, the “Cone” is an essential restraint to prevent unnecessary and excessive influence by competitors allowing for an “apples to apples” comparison between bidders.

Alternatively, P3 proposals are extremely complex and differ significantly from proposer to proposer, even though their aim is to provide for the same need.  Respondents will submit vastly different proposals, which include infrastructure, operations, technology, and financing components for the same solution.  Therefore, P3 proposals require an “apples to oranges” comparison because the proposals proffered cannot be practically compared even though they provide the same solution.

As such, the “Cone” hinders there being an in-depth dialogue and comparison between P3 bidders’ proposals.  The only real interchange that takes place during the “Cone” occurs at oral presentations.  Due to the FL Sunshine Law, those presentations occur in a public setting with competing proposers in attendance, waiting to make their presentations, and taking notes for future reference.

With respect to P3s, the “Cone” should be modified to allow for a final third step: closed discussions and negotiations should be added between the selection committee and individual proposers during the evaluation process.  Additionally, modifications should be made to permit the submission of confidential information to be considered by a selection committee at that time.

Implementing such measures will protect the interests of both the County and the proposers, ensuring that the public gets the best deal.

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Miami Herald Letter to the Editor: Climate change is big business http://www.gazitua.com/climate-change-is-big-business/ Tue, 12 May 2015 15:55:36 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1658 Miami Herald – Letters to the Editor | May 12, 2015 I commend President Obama for his April 29 Other …

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Miami Herald – Letters to the Editor | May 12, 2015

I commend President Obama for his April 29 Other Views column, We can no longer delay action on climate change.

As he stated, “Last year, 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. So climate change is real as are its effects: stronger storms, deeper droughts, longer wildfire seasons and public-health risks.”

As members of the greater Miami community, we know that these facts cannot be denied. Unbearable August days, bleached coral reefs, flooded streets on sunny afternoons and the constant anxiety during hurricane season have become very real inconvenient truths. Sadly, this is just the beginning.

So what do we do about it?

In order to get the private sector, special interests and conservatives to buy in, we need to incentivize the solutions. The immediate strengthening and remediation of infrastructure offers a global opportunity for long-term economic growth and job creation.

Climate change is a massive business opportunity, and Americans can own the global market. Monetized solutions will breed enlightenment and silence the deniers.

Take Jakarta, Indonesia which is sinking several inches a year because of deep-water well injection and sea-level rise. Jakarta is undertaking a three-decade plan to save its coastline, which calls for 30 years of infrastructure work at a price of $40 billion. That’s a heck of a government contract.

Now imagine a hypothetical, multisector, public/private/partnership contract issued by the federal government to build thousands of miles of sea walls and pumping stations to protect American coastlines from the effects of climate change. This would be a very big deal.

To the joy of construction firms and banks, the scope of this hypothetical project would include design, build, finance and operations. To the joy of members of Congress, this project would be a campaign tent-pole and a massive job creator.

Keep in mind that sea walls and pumping stations are only brick-and-mortar opportunities. Long-term lucrative opportunities will come from proprietary technologies.

Private industry will be incentivized to become the vehicle for greater funding of the sciences in order to find solutions to cool our seas and to isolate the excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere in order to convert or expel it.

If these futuristic solutions are developed, I can easily foresee cooling and CO2 conversion rigs deployed globally. Instead of drilling platforms, businesses will be contracted to build cooling platforms throughout our seas.

These challenges and opportunities are real, and we need to be practical in pursuing the solutions. I may not be a scientist, but I know that climate change will be big business.

Luis is a government affairs lawyer and Miami Lobbyist serving elected officials, businesses, international clients and trade associations.

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Unintended Consequences with Miami-Dade Taxi Tech http://www.gazitua.com/unintended-consequences-in-miami-dade-taxi-tech/ http://www.gazitua.com/unintended-consequences-in-miami-dade-taxi-tech/#respond Wed, 29 Jan 2014 19:10:35 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1634 HuffPOST Miami | January 29, 2014 County commissioners are scheduled to make significant changes this week, including upgrading taxis and …

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HuffPOST Miami | January 29, 2014

County commissioners are scheduled to make significant changes this week, including upgrading taxis and the technology inside them. Unfortunately, sometimes the most well-intentioned legislation creates unintended consequences when involving new technologies.

The clear legislative intent underlying the all proposed credit card regulations and prohibitions on certain rates, charges or fees is to protect both drivers and passengers from arbitrary and capricious charges. This is honest and prudent legislation. Unfortunately, much of the proposed legislation does not contemplate emerging technologies.

Take e-hail: simply put, “e-hail” is real-time taxi hail initiated by a mobile phone application.

E-hail is also a fourth payment option for passengers: (1) cash, (2) installed in vehicle credit card devices, (3) PayPal and Square, (4) and now e-hail with a cloud-based credit card payment accomplished via the app.

How e-hail works: Drivers have no risk. There are no hardware costs, financing, subscriptions or monthly fees. There is no fare split. Drivers simply download a driver version of the app and wait to get e-hailed. The relationship does not to replace owner fleets, radio dispatch or other traditional methods of obtaining fares. E-hail simply serves as a potential for extra income for drivers during idle times or return trips.

Passengers pay for the hail when they successfully e-hail a cab. The passenger is aware of the charge for the e-hail because they download the app, agree to terms and conditions, and save their credit card info in the app.

The ride fare is determined by the governmentally regulated metered rate. The passenger can pay by either: (1) by credit card via the app, or (2) cash — if mandated by the local government. At the end of the ride, the driver inputs the metered rate in his app on his phone, the passenger accepts and adds the tip on their phone. There is no handing over of the phone or credit card to the driver. The transaction is sterile and occurs securely in the cloud. Thereafter, a receipt detailing all tips, fares, tolls and governmentally approved fees is emailed to the user. Finally, if a credit card is used, the tips and fares are transferred daily to driver’s accounts or debit cards.

Concerns with the proposed regs:

1) Many of the proposals make it unlawful for any added “fees” to be “related to” transportation services as provided for a taxi. This section intended to avoid the arbitrary fees charged by some bad apples. Unfortunately, this overbroad section presents significant challenges for emerging technology services like e-hail because amending the code — particularly when it comes to for-hire vehicles — can be a cumbersome and stressful process. Moreover, if passed, this section may force existing providers of e-hail in Miami-Dade to stop offering their services.

A suggested solution would be for the proposals to permit the e-hail charge as an approved part of the “fare structure” as referenced in the proposed ordinance.

2) Next, the Credit Card Processing systems proposals set forth a regulatory regime which limits acceptable methods for accepting credit card payments to in-vehicle hardware connected to the taximeter.

The various versions mandate that taxicabs shall be equipped with a taximeter meeting the requirements described in this article and that any credit card processing system shall contain the fare charged, the name and telephone number of the passenger service company, the operating permit number and the telephone number for filing complaints with the Consumer Services. That makes total sense. Unfortunately, the proposals thereafter mandate that that the credit card processing system be affixed thereto a current valid taximeter and credit card processing system certification label, sticker or decal. This is cumbersome and hinders new cloud based technologies.

E-hail incorporates digital credit card processing technology, which is independent of credit card processing systems that will be operating within and affixed to a taxi and meter. It is a new payment option, which will be closed out by these new regulations as written.

The legislation should contemplate a provision for e-hail credit card processing services and passenger fees that are approved by Consumer Services based on emerging cloud-based industry standards. Like the traditional methods the legislation must also require the apps to list the fare charged, the name and telephone number of the passenger service company, the operating permit number and the telephone number for filing complaints with the County.

Luis is a government affairs lawyer and Miami Lobbyist serving elected officials, businesses, international clients and trade associations.

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The Business of the Employer Mandate – Miami Lobbyist http://www.gazitua.com/employer-mandate/ http://www.gazitua.com/employer-mandate/#respond Wed, 22 Jan 2014 20:19:39 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1631 Alright business owners, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land and you need …

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Alright business owners, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land and you need to figure out how you are going to deal with the employer mandate.

First off, if you do not have 50 or more full time employees — you’re off the hook. You get back to your cafecito.

Now, for the rest of you supposed fat cats … by this year, employers with 50 plus employees will be required to offer coverage to all full time employees or opt to pay a penalty. For the purposes of the law any employee that averages over 30 hours per week is deemed full-time.

Large employers who do not offer coverage to their employees will be penalized and must pay when one full time employee receives a credit or subsidy at one of those forthcoming government Health Care Exchanges that are so upsetting so many governors. The penalty is $2,000 annually times the number of full-time employees minus 30. For example: 100 employees minus 30 employees = 70 employees times $2,000 which gets you a $140,000 penalty.

Now, let’s say that as a large employer, you do provide health insurance to your workers but the coverage you provide does not cover at least 60 percent of health care expenses for “a typical population”. Yeah, I have no idea what that means either. In that case, your employees may choose to buy coverage at an Exchange and receive a tax credit. If they do, you have to pay a penalty of $3,000 annually for each full-time employee taking the tax credit minus 30. 

Similar to scenario above, but let’s say you do provide health care to your worker, but this time some of your employees have to pay more than 9.5 percent their family income for the coverage you offer as an employer. Those employees can choose to buy coverage in an Exchange and receive a premium tax credit. Again, you have to pay a penalty of $3,000 annually for each full-time employee taking the tax credit minus 30.

Penalties are increased each year by the growth in insurance premiums. Oh, and by the way, the penalties are a tax and therefore not tax deductible.

In implementing the employer mandate you may need to differentiate between your high skilled/high wage and your unskilled/low wage employees.

High skilled employees cost you more to employ. Therefore, in their case, you could choose to respond to the law in one of two ways: (i) by spending more on health benefits and reducing wages; or if the math works (ii) eliminating all coverage for employees, increasing your employees salaries so they can purchase coverage for themselves and their families at an Exchange, and you pay the penalty.

Your unskilled workers or low wageworkers will not fare as well as your higher wage ones. Unfortunately, you will not be able to afford to pay workers who cost more than they produce because now you’ll need to add health care costs to your budget.

You may need to respond to these higher costs in two ways: (i) forgo providing health benefits and force workers onto the Government Health Care Exchanges. As stated earlier, you will incur a $2,000 penalty per full-time worker, but once your do the math that penalty might be more economical than providing coverage; or (ii) replace full-time jobs with part-time positions. At this time, Congress has not implemented any penalties to employers for not providing health benefits to part-time employees, so part-time positions will cost much less to fill than full-time positions.

Luis is a government affairs lawyer and miami lobbyist serving elected officials, businesses, international clients, and trade associations.  Gazitua Letelier is a Miami Lobbying Firm.

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Miami Herald OP-ED: Miami-Dade annexation push rises again http://www.gazitua.com/miami-dade-annexation-push-rises-again/ http://www.gazitua.com/miami-dade-annexation-push-rises-again/#respond Thu, 28 Mar 2013 19:04:25 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1513 The Miami Herald – Other Views | March 15, 2013 The charming cities of Miami Springs, Medley and Virginia Gardens, …

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The Miami Herald – Other Views | March 15, 2013

The charming cities of Miami Springs, Medley and Virginia Gardens, hereinafter jointly known as Pleasantville, are moving fast to annex light industrial and commercial land. They contend that these annexations will allow them to sustain and serve the annexed areas while providing a greater value to their current residents.

That sounds great, as long as you are not a business owner who owns property in the areas to be annexed. In your case, you probably feel that these cities are converting your unincorporated light industrial or commercial land into property tax ATM machines to fatten bureaucrats, feed lobbyists, and grow government.

So, what can you expect as business owner if you are annexed? In general, your new city will now provide the services of police, public works, and code enforcement, which are currently provided by the county.

In some instances a city could better provide these municipal services. However, in this case, the businesses in some of the areas to be annexed serve as the main hub of warehouse space for the Cargo Gateway of the Americas — Port Miami. Therefore, cargo security is a major priority and business owners should be concerned with losing Miami-Dade County Police (MD-PD) as their first responder.

No disrespect to the police of Pleasantville but they do not have the capacity or infrastructure of the Tactical Operations Multi-Agency Cargo Anti Theft Squad headed by MD-PD. All truck hijackings that occur in unincorporated Miami-Dade County are assigned to them for investigation and the squad recovers about $30 million in stolen property each year. The Pleasantville police will have to gear up to provide that level of service and business owners can be assured that will come at a price.

This leads into the major issue with this annexation — the near immediate increase in property taxes the business and landowners will bear once annexed. If they are owners of large warehouses and offices, they can expect significant increases in property taxes when annexed. Unfortunately, the loss of revenue due to increased property taxes, compounded with the mandatory implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act in 2014 will cost jobs.

The greatest misfortune of this whole thing is that business owners have no say in the matter — they have no public vote. This annexation is tantamount to taxation without representation for the business owners and job creators.

So what to do? Well, packing commission chambers wearing ugly colored T-shirts and holding signs that say “Annexation Kills Jobs” is tacky, un-neighborly, and desperate.

The best thing to do is get organized, know the annexation process of the Miami-Dade code of ordinances backwards and forwards, create a cohesive narrative about the business owners’ concerns and needs, and visit with the policymakers before this goes to a commission vote. Most important — try to craft a pleasant alternative to the hyperbole I spewed above.

If annexation seems inevitable, your group needs to find common ground with your new city. For starters, try to negotiate the continuation of MD-PD as a first responder in the cargo-sensitive areas. Next, advocate a scaled introduction of the higher millage rate over a period of 10 years for your business’ budgeting purposes.

I assure you, good things will happen if you meet with the right elected officials and let them know what’s outside of Pleasantville.

Luis Andre Gazitua, a lawyer, and Miami Lobbyist, specializing in government affairs, authored the strong-mayor charter amendment approved by the voters in January 2007.

Read more:  The Miami Herald

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George P. Bush’s long road to the White House begins with TX bid, donations from FL http://www.gazitua.com/herald-blog/ Fri, 16 Nov 2012 17:42:46 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1507 The Miami Herald Blog – Naked Politics | Marc Caputo | November 8, 2012 From an email sent by Miami Lobbyist/Lawyer/Bush …

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The Miami Herald Blog – Naked Politics | Marc Caputo | November 8, 2012

From an email sent by Miami Lobbyist/Lawyer/Bush family insider Luis Gazitua to “friends, floridians, Republicans….:’

Tuesday’s elections proved that our party needs to broaden our appeal and rebuild in an inclusive manner with a new generation of leaders.

In order to begin this transformation, we must begin investing in rising stars within our party and I am confident that with thoughtful and forward thinking messengers such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and George P. Bush we will emerge stronger than ever.

As a friend of George P’s next generation movement, I wanted to let you know that yesterday George created an exploratory committee to begin looking at running for statewide office in Texas. Should you be inclined to support his efforts with some seed capital, checks can be made payable to: George P. Bush Campaign.

Luis Andre Gazitua, a lawyer, and Miami Lobbyist, specializing in government affairs, authored the strong-mayor charter amendment approved by the voters in January 2007.

Read more: Miami Herald Blog

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Miami Herald OP-ED: Give the ‘Next Gen’ better schools http://www.gazitua.com/give-the-next-gen-better-schools/ Fri, 21 Sep 2012 19:51:52 +0000 http://www.gazitua.com/?p=1500 The Miami Herald – Speak Out | September 21, 2012 I’m a parent. I have a bodacious 3-year-old daughter who …

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The Miami Herald – Speak Out | September 21, 2012

I’m a parent. I have a bodacious 3-year-old daughter who is ready to take on the world. She’s opinionated, articulate and loves Dora the Explorer.

I’m a young professional and own my business. My wife and I have student loans, we’re paying prepaid college, we have childcare and pre-K expenses and a mortgage. We want to have another child.

I’m a conservative. I demand a limited local government that prioritizes spending to provide value to the taxpayer — an innovative government focused on contributing to the growth of the private sector through the privatization of government services instead of increasing its own ranks.

With that said, I wholeheartedly and passionately support Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo’s campaign to renovate crumbling schools and will vote to support the bond referendum.

Our school district, the nation’s fourth-largest, is dead broke in terms of construction dollars despite having almost $2 billion in unmet needs and deferred maintenance across nearly 400 schools and facilities.

We’ve inherited a wasteland of technology-starved, deteriorating schools with leaky roofs, moldy air-conditioning and exposed bathroom pipes that ooze filth through walls onto the floor under the children’s feet. I would not want my daughter walking through that wearing her Dora backpack.

Over half of our schools were built before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I say “our schools” because we own them. We are the next generation of trustees and investors in Miami-Dade. By supporting the bond we will stimulate our local economy by getting our friends back into the workforce.

Most important, this bond referendum clearly lets us know what we’re paying for — there’s no bait and switch. These funds will not go to the excesses of bureaucracy and personnel. Money will go to bricks, mortar and technology — real stuff.

The time has come for us to own tomorrow. Vote Yes on Nov. 6. We can be the voice supporting this investment in our schools for our children — the real Next Gen.

Luis Andre Gazitua, a lawyer, and Miami Lobbyist, specializing in government affairs, authored the strong-mayor charter amendment approved by the voters in January 2007.

Read more:  The Miami Herald

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