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Benacquisto targets pill mills, recording of sex offenders

By Staff | Jan 29, 2015

When Florida begins its legislative session in March, State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto will have a pair of legislative measures she hopes will address loopholes.

Benacquisto filed measures to ensure that pain management clinics in the State of Florida continue to be monitored and not “sunset” as they are scheduled to this year and to make evidence of sexual abuse of a child admissible as evidence if the child records their abuser without the abuser’s knowledge.

Two years ago, the legislature passed a package of bills that made it illegal for doctors to write prescriptions and sell drugs out of clinics they owned themselves, as officials said many doctors had been caught prescribing controlled substances in inappropriate amounts.

Doctors now must write prescriptions for narcotics and they must be picked up at a pharmacy.

Senate Bill 450, relating to the so-called “pill mills,” is an action set to amend legislation’ deleting provisions of the repeal of the bill, which is set for Jan. 1, 2016.

“Addiction to prescription pain medication continues to be a problem in many communities, so we must give the state and law enforcement the tools to combat bad actors,” Benacquisto said in a statement.

If passed the law would take effect immediately.

Senate Bill 542 would authorize a child younger than age 18 to intercept and record an oral communication if the child is a party to a conversation “and had grounds to believe that the other party intends to commit, is committing, or has committed an unlawful act of physical force or violence against the child.”

Benacquisto cited a recent case where a Lee County man originally convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter was given a new trial because of secret recordings made by the victim.

Richard McDade was imprisoned after he was found guilty of sexually abusing his stepdaughter in 2011.

However, the State Supreme Court said he should be re-tried because the girl recorded the incident without telling him.

“I will not stand by while child predators navigate loopholes in our legal system. Fear of not being believed prevents countless children from turning in their abusers. This bill will ensure Florida’s children have a voice in our courts of law,” Benacquisto said in a statement.

If passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law, the measure would take effect July 1.