Friday, Sept. 7, 2018
From Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel
Florida Supreme Court Rules Proposed Greyhound Racing Ban Will Appear on Ballot
The Florida Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Amendment 13 - a proposed ban on greyhound racing - can appear on the November ballot.
The 6-1 ruling overturned a lower-court finding that the amendment's working amount to "trickeration."
"This is a very strong repudiation of the lower court," said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, which has led the fight against greyhound racing. "The industry used that 'trickeration' nonsense for a month. That dies today."
The court ruled that "a reasonable voter" could understand the amendment and its impact.
April 27, 2018
TOPEKA, Kan. A bill that failed on the Senate floor Friday would have adjusted taxes in the Lottery Act and paved the way to bring back horse and greyhound racing in Kansas.
The debate Friday was lengthy and at times heated. It lasted more than four hours before the bill's passage failed.
At first, some believed the bill passed because the "yays" were louder than the "nays." But a tally showed the bill fell short of advancing toward becoming law.
The passage would have adjusted taxes for racetracks, allowing slot machines at sites like the Wichita Greyhound Park and encouraging the re-opening of several area racetracks.
Some of the bill's opponents say racing greyhounds is a cruel and dying sport.
"It's a huge victory Greyhounds live a life of luxury as a companion pet and we're super excited," says Kimberly Pugliese, a board member for Beauties and Beasts.
The Wichita Greyhound Park closed a decade ago. The Woodlands in the Kansas City area was another large track that closed about that same time.
The bill failed by a 20 to 17 vote.
Mobile Greyhounds safe and sound
MOBILE, Ala. — When Mobile Greyhound Park closed on August 19, 2017, approximately 230 Greyhounds were moved into adoption programs with the track closing and another approximately 170 were moved to other tracks or went back to their owners. THANK YOU to all involved in helping the Mobile Greyhounds get closer to their Forever Homes.
Mobile Greyhound Park to close permanently in August
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — The Mobile Greyhound Park will end live races this month. Mobile Greyhound Park is a property of Wind Creek Hospitality who cite a “declining market demand” as a reason for eliminating the live races. The park will continue to offer simulcast of races originating from other locations.
The National Greyhound Association (NGA) also released a statement saying they have been informed by management of the Mobile Greyhound Park that the live races will end following the program of August 19th.
Wind Creek Hospitality says they have plans in place to assist the kennel owners with relocation, adoption, and ongoing care of the greyhounds. The NGA is working with different groups throughout the country and assure that “each and every greyhound at Mobile Greyhound Park will be properly cared for until transferred to another racing facility to continue their careers or adopted into a loving home.” The NGA says Mobile Greyhound Park will provide services necessary to care, transport, and re-home all of the greyhounds at their facility.
If you wish to help in this effort, contact NGA at 785-263-4660 or Mobile Greyhound Park at 251-653-5000.
State grants Miami track’s request to let the dogs out,
play jai-alai instead
By Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE July 20, 2017 5:58 PM – Florida gambling regulators this week gave a Miami dog track permission to ditch greyhound races but keep more lucrative slot machines and card games, in a first-of-its-kind ruling. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Wednesday granted a request from West Flagler Associates, which operates Magic City Casino in Miami, to replace dog races with jai-alai matches, as part of a drawn-out legal dispute over a controversial “summer jai-alai” permit. It’s the first time a pari-mutuel facility has been allowed to drop dog or horse races and continue operating slots.
The Magic City decision is rooted in a 1980 Florida law that allows pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that have the lowest betting handle for two consecutive years to convert to summer jai-alai permits. But if those pari-mutuels do not seek conversion, other facilities can seek the permits.
The Miami dog track’s lawyer, John Lockwood, first sought the summer jai-alai permit for Magic City in 2011. After much legal wrangling, the department’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering denied the track’s request to do away with dog races, launch jai-alai games and keep lucrative slots that the track began operating after voters signed off on the machines in 2004.
In a declaratory statement issued Wednesday, state regulators said Florida law gives the track the green light to do away with dog races, as long as the jai-alai matches take place at the same facility where the current greyhound permit is operated.
“The jai-alai fronton is going to take up significantly less space than the greyhound track, so this frees up West Flagler to develop its property to the highest and best use,” Lockwood told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.
Wednesday’s decision came in response to a question posed by Magic City, asking regulators if the pari-mutuel would still be able to operate slots if the dog races were discontinued and replaced by jai-alai games. The answer rests on whether “a licensed pari-mutuel facility as present in Florida law means ‘the actual racetrack or jai-alai fronton,’ ” Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering Director Anthony Glover wrote in Wednesday’s declaratory statement.
If so, the summer jai-alai permit wouldn’t meet the requirements “because a new fronton would have to be built,” Glover wrote.
Alternatively, if a “licensed pari-mutuel facility” means “the areas of the facility where pari-mutuel activity takes place, petitioner’s summer jai alai permit operating at the same location as where the greyhound permit was located would remain an eligible facility,” Glover wrote, siding with the dog track.
“… It is apparent that the Legislature intended for the term ‘licensed pari-mutuel facility’ … to refer to the physical location or piece of property utilized for pari-mutuel wagering, rather than just the racetrack or jai-alai fronton itself,” he wrote.
The agency’s decision won’t have broad implications but comes as lawmakers consider a push by gambling operators who want to do away with live dog and horse racing while holding onto slots or card rooms.
“It’s pretty clear that the department intends for this to not have any far-reaching effects, but once again, John Lockwood has masterfully used a unique set of circumstances to create a positive outcome for his client,” Scott Ross, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation who is now a lobbyist representing other gambling operators, said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Hartman and Tyner Inc., and H&T Gaming Inc., which operate rival Mardi Gras Casino and Racetrack in Broward County, had sought to intervene in the case. Lawyers for the Hallandale Beach dog track argued that Magic City was asking regulators to establish “a new and completely unfounded policy that improperly expands the types of permits eligible for slot machine gaming beyond what the plain terms” of the Constitution and state law allow. But in Wednesday’s declaratory statement, gambling officials rejected the petition to intervene, saying Mardi Gras had not shown “with particularity what real and immediate injury or impact the outcome of the declaratory statement would have had on the intervenors.”
Multiple attempts to reach representatives of Mardi Gras were unsuccessful. Isadore Havenick, vice president of the family-owned West Flagler Associates, which also operates a greyhound track in Southwest Florida and owns a 25 percent share of a jai-alai fronton in Dania Beach, said Magic City sought to put an end to the dog races in Miami because “nobody wants to watch them.”
The Havenicks are among the track owners who have pushed lawmakers to allow pari-mutuels to “decouple,” which would allow operators to do away with live horse or dog races while keeping more lucrative gambling activities such as slots or card rooms.
“Since decoupling hasn’t happened, and since jai-alai has to run fewer performances than dogs do, we said if we have two permits at the same location, why can’t we switch sports that we do here,” Havenick told the News Service on Thursday. “Nobody’s watching. Our dog men complain that they have to come over to Miami and deal with Miami when they get no customers in the stands. So this is a way for us to try a new sport and see if we can make a go of that.”
Gambling deal is dead, Galvano says
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 12:32pm - Tampa Bay Times
The Legislature will not pass a new gaming deal that could have expanded slot machines in Florida and allowed new games at the Seminole Tribe of Florida's seven casinos.
“It’s dead,” State Sen. Bill Galvano said Tuesday as negotiations with the Florida House over gambling in Florida collapsed.
Galvano said he’s going to request Senate President Joe Negron dissolve a conference committee aimed at working out a deal because the House and Senate are at an impasse that just can't be resolved.
Earlier on Tuesday, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said there were a lot of little hang-ups, but the biggest was how the two chambers wanted to address slot machines in 8 counties that have held referrendums to permit them.
"The House has stuck to its original position of not expanding to the eight referendum counties, and the Senate has continued to ask for different variations of expansion in those counties," said Diaz, the House's lead negotiator on the gambling deal. "We have a very difficult time with the concept of massive expansion of gaming."
Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Monday night that the issue is about more than expanding gambling. He said it was also about respecting the will of voters in the eight counties who have voted to have the slot machines.
"They voted for it," Negron said. "They’re the same people who sent us here and I feel strongly that a gaming bill has to respect their decision to allow more gaming opportunity. If we can resolve that issue, then I think everything else can fall into place."
But Diaz said philosophically that was a problem for the House. He said there are small counties making decisions to expand gaming options that will affect neighboring counties and cities that have not voted for expanding slot machines.
"The fear is that you have counties that are very small that are not very populated and they are voting and that affects their neighboring counties," Diaz said. "As something as important in a state that has a history of allowing everybody to vote for expansion of slots, I think the House has consistently said that if you really do want gaming in these counties, maybe every voter in the state should agree."
Voters passed a statewide referendum to allow slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward, but there has never been a statewide referendum on the other counties that have since passed their own proposals. The 8 other counties that have passed referendums include Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Lee, Hamilton, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington counties.
Greyhound activists join Florida's gambling fight
By Alexandra Glorioso, USA TODAY NETWORK - Florida -Published 9:14 p.m. ET April 8, 2017 | Updated 6:51 a.m. ET April 10, 2017
TALLAHASSEE - Florida’s high-stakes fight over gambling features powerful forces clashing, including the Seminole tribe, Disney World and 12 owners of race tracks.
And then there’s GREY2K, a national advocacy group with less muscle but no less fight championing the cause of greyhounds. This year’s battle over gambling offers the greyhound group a rare opportunity to accomplish its goal: eliminate dog racing now held to justify card games in Florida.
Florida began its foray into a complicated gaming system in 1931 when it legalized “betting among ourselves,” or pari-mutuels, in the form of live events such as jai alai matches, and horse and greyhound racing. Since then, every step to expand gambling across the state has been legislatively linked to these live events.
In an attempt to renegotiate a 2010 agreement with the Seminole tribe and bring in $3 billion to state coffers, House and Senate leaders are pushing gambling bills that represent wildly different ideas about gaming in Florida.
The House bill, H 7037, run by Rep. Mike La Rosa, a chair of the tourism and gaming subcommittee from St. Cloud, cracks down on gambling laws entangled in a series of federal and state lawsuits by forbidding slot machines in eight counties including Brevard, Lee and St. Lucie that have approved them. It also ties greyhounds to gambling until the contract expires in 2036.
The Senate bill, SB8, sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, a chair of the education subcommittee from Bradenton, broadly expands gambling by allowing any county that has approved slot machines to have them and unbinding live events from card rooms, including greyhound racing.
The tribe argues both plans don’t go far enough.
Some Republicans say GREY2K could benefit this year from the intricate chess game of ideology, lawsuits and special interests, and successfully disconnect greyhound racing from card games.
“It would completely depend on the details,” said La Rosa. But he acknowledged, it’s “something that could be discussed.”
Galvano said he was not interested in taking La Rosa up on a slot machine-live-events trade but did call greyhound racing a “dying industry.”
About GREY2K, he said, “They are effective, but it’s an easy sell.”
GREY2K is a national nonprofit co-founded by Carey Theil that works towards outlawing greyhound racing. Theil said he started working in Florida during its legislative sessions in 2012.
His political argument is simple: Tracks shouldn’t be forced to race dogs up to 16 times a day so that gambling facilities can have card rooms. The races no longer attract crowds and the tracks are losing money.
As evidence, he referenced financial reports from the state that show race tracks operating at a combined $31.2 million loss in 2015. In addition, the number of days for live racing, which includes greyhounds, has declined by nearly 39 percent since fiscal year 2007, according to the last annual report released by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Theil said his organization does contribute to political campaigns but in the tens of thousands of dollars compared to other groups battling in the gambling fight that give in the six figures every cycle.
His tactics have frequently aligned him with Senate moderates who want to expand gaming and pitted him against House conservatives who link live events to card rooms as a political strategy to limit gambling in the state.
Theil’s biggest political adversary is Jack Cory, a lobbyist who said he represents “all of the dog people.” Cory considers Theil a political opportunist who has very little real involvement with animals.
Cory argues the greyhound racing industry provides a stable, profitable income with less up-front investment than horses for blue-collar dog breeders, farmers and trainers. He sees himself as a natural enemy to race track owners, whose buildings he refers to as “ugly,” whose tracks he frequently criticizes as unsafe and who he says are too greedy. Track owners keep 19 to 30 percent of prize money for races while Cory’s clients split about 4 percent, he said.
From Cory’s perspective, Theil is really just giving race track owners who already have a monopoly on one industry the political edge to become even more profitable.
Cory said the state monitors racing statistics and financials from live betting but does not do the same for betting from computers or telephones, which are reaping huge profits for track owners but aren’t reported and are currently illegal under state law.
“The financial reports to the department are self reporting and are fake reports because they are reporting by millionaires that want to become billionaires by having casinos,” Cory said.
Ron Book, the lobbyist for the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita owned by the Havernick family, said greyhound racing isn’t profitable “period,” and the racetracks he represents aren’t engaged with track betting by phones or computers.
“I will not dignify made up ignorant commentary by Mr. Cory who makes things up to suit his interests,” Book said.
Book supports the Senate bill and said the Havernick family wants “slots, cards and would love to continue limited racing” for Naples-Fort Myers.
Gambling Legislation Advances In Florida; Senate, House May Seek Compromise
by Paulick Report Staff | 03.30.2017 | 5:08pm
Two disparate gambling bills advanced through the Florida legislature on Thursday, one dramatically expanding the number of facilities permitting slot machines and the other keeping things mostly status quo.
Senate Bill 8, passed by the full Senate in a 32-6 vote, would permit slot machines at existing pari-mutuel facilities (mostly greyhound racing tracks) in eight counties where local referenda were passed: Brevard (east of Orlando), Duval (Jacksonville), Gadsden (Gretna, in the Florida panhandle where barrel racing and later flag drop races were staged to obtain a pari-mutuel permit and poker permit), Hamilton (near the Georgia border where similarly farcical horse races were conducted), Lee (Fort Myers), Palm Beach (West Palm Beach), St. Lucie (Ft. Pierce) and Washington (west of Tallahassee).
Senate Bill 8 also would permit greyhound and some horse racing pari-mutuel permitholders to continue to operate their slots facilities without conducting live racing or jai-alai, a move known as decoupling. Those permitholders would contribute annually toward a pool of purse money and breeder awards for horse racing. It also would allow slots permitholders in Miami Dade and Broward counties (Gulfstream Park, for example) to add blackjack to their wagering menu.
Senate Bill 8 does not contain a clause, found in an earlier version of the bill, that would make it a felony to wager on pari-mutuel races outside of a licensed facility, via advance deposit wagering.
House Bill 7037 passed the Commerce Committee by a 19-11 vote and is headed to the House floor. It does not expand wagering or permit pari-mutuel permitholders to “decouple” their slots license from their pari-mutuel license. It guarantees a virtual gambling monopoly to the Seminole Tribe, which would pay $3 billion to the state, in areas north of Miami Dade and Broward counties.
If the House bill passes, leaders from the two chambers could meet in the state capitol in Tallahassee as early as next week to work out compromise language.
MARCH 24, 2017 – Currently there are “Gaming Bills” in both the house and senate here in Florida. The Senate Bill includes Decoupling as well as slot machines for most tracks that have voter approval in their area. The House has no Slots or Decoupling. Neither of the bills have been voted on but the Senate seems optimistic that they can make a deal prior to the end of the session on May 5th.
In West Virginia House Bill 3105 and Senate Bill 437 both include defunding. (removal of state subsidies of around 14 Million) and both support decoupling. Both bills have made it through committee meetings but have yet to be voted on. It is generally felt that if these bills pass it would end greyhound racing in West Virginia were around 3,000 greyhounds are involved in racing. At least one of the bills includes one Million dollars for adoption HOWEVER most of the greyhounds racing in WV would not be retired but would displace greyhounds in Florida and other states. The West Virginia Session ends on April 8th.
Greyhound Pet Adoption Central FL
Senate starts moving on gambling overhaul
By Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
Posted: 6:25 PM, January 25, 2017 Updated: 6:25 PM, January 25, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With little discussion and virtually no debate, a Senate panel unanimously signed off Wednesday on a sweeping gambling plan proposed by one of the chamber's most powerful members.
But while Sen. Bill Galvano's proposal is on a speedy Senate track, the House is expected to take a much more conservative approach to a redesign of the state's gambling footprint.
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Galvano's legislation would broadly expand the presence of slots in Florida, by allowing the machines at pari-mutuels in eight counties --- Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington --- where voters have approved them. Galvano, who is slated to become Senate president after the 2018 elections, is also proposing another slot-machine license each in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The bill (SB 8) would also allow jai alai operators, greyhound tracks and all but thoroughbred horse track operators to do away with live racing or games while still keeping more lucrative gambling activities like cardrooms or slots, a process known as "decoupling."
The measure, if passed, would only go into effect if lawmakers also approve a new gambling agreement, called a "compact," with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Galvano told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee during an explanation of the 112-page bill Wednesday.
Lawmakers are again considering broad gambling legislation as House and Senate leaders work with Gov. Rick Scott's administration to hash out a new compact with the tribe.
The negotiations come after a portion of a 20-year compact expired in 2015. That portion gave the tribe the exclusive rights to operate "banked" card games such as blackjack.
Despite the expiration, a federal judge ruled in November that the Seminoles could continue to offer blackjack because the state had breached the agreement by permitting controversial "designated player" games at pari-mutuel cardrooms. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the designated player games violate a state law prohibiting games in which players bet against the house.
Galvano's soup-to-nuts proposal, which would legalize the designated player games, would also resolve litigation awaiting a decision from the Florida Supreme Court. The lawsuit, filed by Gretna Racing, is focused on whether gambling operators can add slots if county voters give the go-ahead, even without the express permission of the Legislature.
Galvano told the Senate committee Wednesday that his plan would inject certainty "in a dubious marketplace" by "creating funding opportunities," spurring economic development and resolving litigation.
The Senate plan would also establish regulations for the fantasy sports industry, requiring an initial $500,000 licensure fee and an annual $100,000 renewal fee for major operators like FanDuel and DraftKings. Questions have been raised in other states about whether fantasy sports are a form of illegal gambling.
"This bill, if it were to pass unchanged and I cannot in good faith tell you that unless we're playing fantasy amusement, but the gross impact on our annual budget would be $450 million, the net impact would be $375 (million)," Galvano told the committee. "It's a significant dollar amount, but again it is a comprehensive approach to move us forward on the journey with the tribe … and (gaming) interests."
The bill addresses "gaming and all of its components comprehensively" and "has been designed purposely so that the interest of each is ultimately dependent on the interests of others," he said.
"We have a very comprehensive bill here. I believe it is a solid vehicle to move forward. But this type of legislation is very unique. Unlike most legislation where you have a back and forth with your counterparts and you're seeking the approval of your governor, we have injected into this a sovereign (Seminole) nation," he said, referring to the gambling deal as a game of "three-dimensional chess."
Industry insiders have referred to Galvano's bill as a "Christmas tree" for pari-mutuel operators, but he rejected the notion that his plan is an industry wish list.
"These are not issues that we just came up with," Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters after the meeting. "These are all issues that were pursued and discussed in committees. They are a reality for the tribe and the House to contend with if we are going to get resolution."
Unlike the Senate bill, the House could focus on shrinking the state's gambling operations.
"The House bill will be a conservative approach to gaming that will put contraction front and center. But the details are still being worked out," House Commerce Committee Chairman Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Galvano --- who, as a House member, was instrumental in crafting the 20-year compact with the Seminoles --- and Diaz are the Legislature's chief negotiators with the tribe and the governor's office after lawmakers failed to give the requisite approval last year to a deal struck by Scott.
"The compact that was executed last year is no longer the starting place for either chamber," Diaz said.
Instead, both the House and Senate are crafting bills that lay out parameters for "how the compact should look," he explained.
"We're now spending time fleshing out the details of the two proposals to see if we can get to a realistic, passable bill," Diaz said.
Galvano said the tribe is aware of his bill, and he expects to receive input from the Seminoles --- who have paid the state more than $120 million even after the banked card games portion of the compact expired --- soon.
"We all want to get something done," he said.
JANUARY 13, 2017 - The Florida Senate just introduced Senate Bill 8 that includes Decoupling for greyhound tracks and some horse tracks. It also recommends approval of the Indian compact and outlines how injury reporting is to take place.
The Florida House will also come up with their version of a Florida Gaming Bill but it is expected to be different. We will let everyone know when this happens and how it reads. With this early introduction of legislation it is our hope that we will know the outcome earlier and will be able to give more notice.
Greyhound Pet Adoption Central FL
JANUARY 10, 2017 - The Florida Legislative session starts March 7th and ends on May 5th (Cinco De Mayo). Legislators are expecting to see a comprehensive “Gaming Bill” covering all aspects of gambling in Florida. We will advise when any legislation is introduced and follow it through committee and floor votes.
The West Virginia Legislative session starts on January 11th and ends on April 8th. West Virginia legislators are expected to remove state subsidies to the racing industry and we are not sure of other legislation that may include greyhound racing in that state.
Currently there are approximately 8,000 greyhounds racing in Florida; 3,000 greyhounds racing in West Virginia; 2,000+ in Alabama; and over 2,000 in Arkansas and Texas. It is estimated that there are another 10,000 on farms in different stages of training to become future racers.
Greyhound Pet Adoption Central FL
Greyhound Racing Legislation Florida
Orlando Sentinel | July 29
As a step toward phasing out Greyhound racing in Florida, a coalition of ... and that such a county ordinance would be pre-empted by Florida law.
Greyhound Racing Legislation Arizona
Arizona Daily Star | June 26, 2016
After 72 years, live dog racing ends at Tucson Greyhound Park ... The track's owners, Joseph Zappala and Philip Robert Consolo Jr. of Florida, are still ..
Greyhound Racing Legislation West Virginia
Wheeling Intelligencer | June 24, 2016
CHARLES TOWN — Thoroughbred and greyhound racetracks in West Virginia are slated to take a hit in purse funds under the new state budget
West Virginia MetroNews | June 17, 2016
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has come to the rescue of the state's dog racing industry by restoring a cut of approximately $2.5 ...
GREYHOUND ADOPTION ACTION ALLIANCE® • COPYRIGHT 2017
April 20, 2018
At right is the final language on the Greyhound Ban to be voted on in November of this year in Florida. Look at the section highlighted in Red. This is kind of a “back door” approval to “Decouple” Greyhound racing with Other gaming (Poker rooms). It allows tracks to stop racing after December 31st, 2018 by waving any penalties for doing so currently. This would also permit tracks that don’t stop racing to diminish the number of races required by current law. No idea how many tracks will discontinue racing or reduce the number of races but the feeling is that most would continue to race for the immediate future.
The Florida Greyhound association is saying they will sue the state to try and remove this Constitutional Amendment but attempts to remove other Amendments in the past have failed.
Also breedings are the lowest they have ever been right now, and there are shortages at several tracks with kennels having openings that they can’t fill.
1988 - there were a total of 37,784 pups that were born
2000 - there were a total of 26,464 pups that were born
2010 - there were a total of 12,801 pups that were born
2017 - there were a total of 7,181 pups that were born
2018 - based on January and February numbers that 5,982 pups will be born this year.
Greyhound news in Florida
As expected, Constitution Revision Commissioner Tom Lee has filed a constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing in Florida. Lee, a state senator from Thonotosassa and a previous Senate president, filed the 2-page proposal late Tuesday, the deadline for commissioners to submit proposed amendments for the state’s governing document. Lee last month said he had been considering filing such a measure, and gaming industry sources said the senator had called some of the state’s dog track owners to “take their temperature.” “There is growing recognition that many of these animals live in inhumane conditions, a reality that is out of line with the moral standard of Floridians,” Lee said in a statement.