Gov. Rick Scott will visit this Boca Raton-based business to talk job growth

Gov. Rick Scott speaks to employees at RGF Environmental Groupd in Riviera Beach, Florida on May 3, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Gov. Rick Scott will visit the corporate headquarters of Orangetheory Fitness, a national fitness franchise based in Boca Raton, to highlight job growth Wednesday afternoon.

Scott will speak at the fitness company’s headquarters, at 6000 Broken Sound Pkwy NW, at 2:30 p.m.

» READ: Dining buzz: 8 new restaurants on deck, from Boca to the Gardens

Orangetheory Fitness has hundreds of locations worldwide, including three in and near Boca Raton, and focuses on intense, 1-hour group workouts.

Florida Senate unanimously passes sober home cleanup bill

Young addicts protested “corrupt sober homes” outside a Lake Worth apartment complex in March. (Photo by Christine Stapleton / Palm Beach Post)

A bill that would crack down on the sober home industry bounced back from near-death and unanimously passed the Florida Senate on Thursday.

When the week began, it wasn’t clear whether Senate Bill 788 — sponsored by Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth — would be placed on the calendar for a vote before session closes Friday. But it landed on the special order calendar and passed Thursday evening.

The bill would target shady marketing practices that draw addicts to seemingly unregulated sober homes throughout the state with the promise of recovery.

» RELATED: Sober home cleanup bill on path to OK after dangling all week

“Thousands of people are dying from opioid abuse,” Clemens said before the vote. “We’re dragging people here from other states to get treatment and we’re leaving them out in the streets.”

The Senate adopted the House counterpart to Clemens’ bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton. The difference between the two bills was subtle, with Hager’s bill giving the Department of Children and Families the responsibility of overseeing licensed treatment centers, with the power to visit the centers unannounced.

The bills were crafted based on the findings of the Sober Home Task Force led by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who was in the state Capitol this week to lobby for the bill.

The bill now requires the approval of Gov. Rick Scott, who praised the legislation at a mid-April news conference and declared a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic Wednesday.


Sober home cleanup bill on path to OK after dangling all week

Young addicts protested “corrupt sober homes” outside a Lake Worth apartment complex in March. (Photo by Christine Stapleton / Palm Beach Post)

A bill that would crack down on the shady business practices in the drug-treatment industry can move forward for a vote after its fate was up in the air for days.

The bill, which would target unethical drug-treatment marketing practices, was placed on the state Senate calendar for Thursday, which is necessary for the bill to be approved. It’s House counterpart was unanimously approved last week.

The fate of the bill was unclear earlier today, as its supporters awaited the decision of Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who would place the bill on the calendar or ignore it, allowing it to die when Florida Legislative session ends Friday.

» NEW: Opioid epidemic: Rick Scott declares public health emergency

Before reading the bill number in a meeting to announce additions to the calendar, Benacquisto said, “I see prayers in the audience.”

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson, Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Director Rebecca De La Rosa were among those in the Capitol on Wednesday lobbying for the bill.

“It’s one of these sausage-being-made, end-of-session issues that we are hopeful the legislature will do the right thing. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this is a life-or-death issue,” Aronberg said in the morning. As a former state senator, Aronberg had access to the Senate floor to talk to lawmakers.

Just before the meeting, Benacquisto acknowledged the importance of the bill in a statement.

“I understand the depth of the problem that is being experienced in Palm Beach County and the way these facilities are using the folks who are dealing with addiction to profit,” Benacquisto said. “Addressing that issue through legislation is important, it is warranted and I’m hopeful that we see a very positive result and the bad actors can be removed from the environment where folks who are dealing with true and real issues can get the help they deserve.”

» READ: State attorney: There’s still time to pass ‘life or death’ sober home legislation

The bill would tackle practices such as patient brokering by forcing sober home telemarketers to register with the state. It would also clarify laws that make kickbacks illegal and require background screenings for owners, directors and clinical supervisors of treatment centers.