Florida Senate Appropriations Chairman and potential 2018 candidate for governor Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, will visit the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College this morning to hear from a slew of elected officials and experts about the state’s opioid crisis.
And at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., work-vacationing President Donald Trump is scheduled to participate in a 3 p.m. briefing on the opioid crisis with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
In Florida, Latvala says he wants to visit the epicenter of the crisis to determine how to steer money — including $54 million in federal grants — to address the problem.
The discussion at the Palm Beach State College Public Safety Training Center begins at 9:30 a.m. and is scheduled to end at noon.
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Among the elected officials expected to speak today: Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, state Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, state Rep. Matt Willhite, D-Wellington, and West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio. Chief Deputy Michael Gauger of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other first responders and medical and treatment professionals are also expected to make presentations. Fifty minutes of public comment are also scheduled.
Said Latvala in a statement released by his office: “Opioid abuse is a crisis facing our entire state. It’s costing lives and money. In fact, Florida hospital charges related to the heroin epidemic top $4 million a day. But the crisis seems to be affecting Palm Beach County more than many other parts of the state with more than 300 opioid overdoes in Palm Beach County already this year. Senator Rader and Commissioner McKinlay have worked particularly hard to bring attention to the issue. I want to visit and hear directly from the professionals and families directly involved with the issue.”
Latvala is expected to announce his 2018 political plans next week. Latvala, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis are considering entering the GOP race for governor, where Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam so far is the only major Republican candidate.