Report: Prescription drugs kill far more in Florida than illegal drugs, Oxycodone deaths at record high: News. Politics. Media

According to a report released Thursday by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, 5 percent of all deaths in 2009 were attributable to prescription drug use, far outnumbering those caused by illegal substances. The report indicates the most frequently occurring drugs found in decedents were ethyl alcohol (4,046), all Benzodiazepines (3,379), Oxycodone (1,948) and cocaine (1,462). The drugs that caused the most deaths were Oxycodone, all Benzodiazepines (with Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, accounting for the majority of the deaths), methadone, ethyl alcohol, cocaine, morphine and Hydrocodone. Oxycodone, the generic version of the Purdue Pharma brand name prescription pain-killer OxyContin, was the cause of 1,185 state deaths in 2009, a 26-percent increase from the year before and a whopping 249-percent increase from 2005.

Vinyard shows ‘willingness to work’ with St. Johns Riverkeeper on Georgia-Pacific pipeline

Nearly five months ago, the St. Johns Riverkeeper first launched its campaign against a pipeline that will reroute much of the waste from Georgia-Pacific's Palatka paper mill into the St. Johns River, a project the Riverkeeper says is a disaster waiting to happen. Though the Riverkeeper has received no response from Gov. Rick Scott (despite a massive email campaign and the collection of thousands of signatures against the pipeline), there may be hope for their cause yet, from the Scott-appointed head of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Top Gingrich staffers resign

The top aides to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign have resigned en masse, according to the Associated Press. The list of those leaving includes two former key staffers for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Effects of Ryan Medicare plan could vary across Florida

A guest column published by Kaiser Health News points out an interesting (and largely undiscussed) feature of Congressman Paul Ryan's hot-button Medicare plan: It ignores differences in Medicare costs between regions, and as a result it could expose the egregious amount of money Medicare wastes in many parts of the country.

Green groups, GOP hopefuls oppose corn-based ethanol subsidies

Much of the attention on corn-based ethanol has focused on the role that this supposedly renewable fuel is playing in driving up global food prices. Now environmental groups and some conservative politicians are pointing out another problem — corn-based ethanol consumes the bulk of federal funding on renewable energy and the big oil companies that blend the ethanol into gasoline are collecting subsidies to the tune of about $6 billion a year.
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New project draws water from the St. Johns, could worsen algal bloom: News. Politics. Media

The St. Johns River has been surrounded by its fair share of controversy as of late, and a recently begun Seminole County construction project is only adding to it. Though many initially disapproved of the Water Management District’s approval of a permit that allowed for the removal of 5.5 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns, the project’s latest steps have gone largely unnoticed in the local media. Much to the dismay of the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the project has been steadily moving along.

Anti-reproductive rights group to focus on RU 486 at Jacksonville event

The Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change, an anti-reproductive rights group that includes medical professionals, will be hosting its annual conference at the end of June in Jacksonville. According to the group's press release on National Right to Life News, the event's focus will be on the special dangers posed by chemical abortions using the RU 486 drug.

Brown says drug-testing welfare recipients ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘a waste of taxpayers’ funds’

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, attacked Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday for signing a piece of legislation that would require all welfare recipients be drug-tested. Appearing on Fox News, Brown said that Scott's measure was a major violation of privacy and that his support for the measure likely stems from the fact that the company he once headed (Solantic) counts drug-testing among the services it provides.

Report: Lawmakers divert funds from public hospitals to for-profit and faith-based hospitals

According to The Miami Herald, Florida’s legislature has redirected millions of dollars for low-income hospital patients in South Florida to private and faith-based hospitals. The money comes from a $1 billion pool of money given to hospitals in Florida to offset the costs of taking in uninsured and low-income patients. Traditionally, the money goes predominantly to public hospital networks, such as the Jackson Health System. This year, however, HCA and faith-based Baptist Health South Florida are receiving a greater portion of the money.
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Care Net and NARAL reps go head-to-head over allegations of misinformation in crisis pregnancy centers

Care Net, a network of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers across North America, released a statement earlier this week in response to a video posted on YouTube by pro-abortion rights group NARAL New York. NARAL’s video highlights some of the controversies surrounding crisis pregnancy centers around the country. The video advocates a municipal-level push to provide women with information about what services crisis pregnancy centers actually provide. Care Net claims that the video exposes NARAL's national strategy aimed at shutting down these centers and directing women to abortion providers.

Scott signs elections bill

Many of the law's provisions technically take effect immediately. A lawsuit is already claiming the bill would unconstitutionally disrupt the last weekend of early voting in the Miami-Dade County elections, which are Tuesday.