TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told state lawmakers this week that her office needs more money to hire additional lawyers and to upgrade an aging phone system.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Bond is seeking $1.1 million to hire more lawyers in her office's appeals section -- a total of 15 positions, including 12 lawyers.

"I am begging you to help me restore my criminal appeals office," Bondi told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, according to Times-Union reporter Matt Dixon.

The attorney general also is asking for $400,000 for a new phone system.

Bondi -- who made the requests in-person -- said the phone system hasn't been updated since the 1980s.

The attorney general also is requesting more than $180,000 for two statewide prosecutors to handle pill mill cases.

A "pill mill" refers to a doctor's office, clinic or health care facility that conspires in the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances outside the scope of the prevailing standards of medical practice, or violates laws regarding the prescribing or dispensing of controlled prescription drugs.

Bondi told lawmakers they "would not believe" how busy state prosecutors have been after a comprehensive anti-pill mill bill was passed in 2011.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Florida has been dubbed the "epicenter" for pill mills, and prescription drug overdoses cost at least seven Floridians' lives per day.

The pill mill legislation, signed into law in June 2011, toughens criminal and administrative penalties targeting doctors and clinics engaged in prescription drug trafficking. It also establishes standards of care for doctors who prescribe narcotics, requires them to register with the Department of Health, and bans doctors from dispensing the most abused narcotics. Additionally, the bill toughens oversight of pharmacies and wholesale distributors and strengthens the effectiveness of the prescription drug database by speeding up the time data must be entered.

Committee Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, told the Times-Union that Bondi's requests were "modest and well reasoned."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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