Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Monday evening. This kind of earned media the House Democratic Caucus could probably do without. Rep. Anika Omphroy openly accused fellow Democrat Carlos G. Smith of bullying and intimidation at this weekend’s Party get-together in Orlando, and other House D’s are pushing back on changes to how the caucus elects its own leadership. Sixty Days is counting the days till the start of Session. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Bully or no bully? Omphroy said “no woman should suffer (such) mental anguish.” Smith countered that the exchange did not go down the way she said.
Democratic pushback: House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee wants Democrats to pick their next three leaders sooner, but influential members of the caucus aren’t having it.
Justice better late than never: A Senate committee OK’d a bill Monday to extend the statute of limitations in sexual attack cases.
No stacks for stadiums: Americans for Prosperity-Florida backed a repeal of sports incentives, which it’s long derided as corporate welfare.
Smile for the camera: Sen. Jeff Brandes has revived his effort to have police interrogations for serious crimes recorded on video.
Deregulation — delightful or no? The battle over a proposed ‘energy choice amendment’ began at The Capitol.
Quote of the Day
“No woman should suffer mental anguish or emotional distress from anyone, regardless of the abuser’s political affiliation, race or sexuality.” — Rep. Anika Omphroy, who alleged that fellow House Democrat Carlos G. Smith bullied her at an event over the weekend. Smith denied the allegation.
Bill Day’s Latest
Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, recently sat down with a trio of Florida Politics writers for a wide-ranging interview ahead of the 2019 Legislative Session. Below are a few highlights that didn’t make it to print.
FP: Will lawmakers meet Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 15 deadline to pass a new marijuana law?
Galvano: I do believe, and I’m speaking for the Senate, that we can have a bill off the floor by the March 15 deadline. It’s up again in (the) Innovation, Industry and Technology (Committee) Tuesday and I expect an amendment by [Jeff] Brandes, maybe some from some others and then it will go to Rules after that.
My message to the members from the beginning of my presidency was that I want them to be empowered. I want them to weigh in on issues and we welcome the debate and we saw that in Health Policy when chair [Gayle] Harrell put forth her amendment. I would expect that there will be further changes to it.
My message is this: Guardrails are important because if (marijuana is) to be treated like a medicine, they need to be reasonable and not obstacles and there’s a difference. And so when we go forward, what I think we will ultimately end up with is a bill that the Governor can be comfortable with and that treats it like a medicine, but one that … has guardrails, safety precautions that we would not have if he just pulled out of the lawsuit.
FP: What’s your take on Florida’s judiciary? What do you make of ‘judicial activism’ criticisms?
Galvano: I believe in the separation of powers and as a member of the Bar and having practiced for as long as I have, I have a great respect for the court system and give deference there. That does not mean there have not been examples of activist judges or judges who have legislated. I chaired redistricting, you know, some of the opinions that came out were not interpretations or suggestions it was, for example, in the congressional districts, they said, “You need to redraw CD 5, but if it doesn’t look like this, it’s not going to be constitutional.”
… There’s been an overreach and that’s where the backlash comes from. But you know, for the examples of overreach there were a lot of fair and balanced decisions that have come out through the years and I think the attitudes are becoming more positive, especially in light of the change in the Supreme Court and Gov. DeSantis’ appointments … If we are an example of exercising restraint legislatively, perhaps it will inspire the court to stay in its lane.
FP: Any big news you want to break before Session?
Galvano: I think the groundwork has been laid on the major issues. I would again re-emphasize my interest in building appropriate infrastructure in the state of Florida. … I would watch how we move things in the Senate. I have said it was going to be a member-driven process and that has become somewhat cliché through the years, but I mean it and I’m as interested in seeing how the various senators present and put their input into some of these major issues as I am in the outcomes.
Jodi Stevens is back.
New lobbying registrations show Stevens will represent the PACE Center for Girls this year. The registration isn’t new — she’s represented the group for years — but Stevens and her husband, fellow lobbyist Monte Stevens of Southern Strategy Group, have been celebrating a major addition to their family.
Back in December, the couple welcomed a happy and healthy baby, Connor Reid Stevens, to the world.
Jodi Stevens took some much-deserved maternity leave to recuperate and bond, but with the 2019 Legislative Session approaching, she’s ready to get back to work. Stevens has been director of government affairs at the PACE Center for Girls since 2016.
Before snagging the in-house lobbying gig, she was a legislative consultant at the Mayernick Group with PACE being among her many clients.
When she shows up at the Capitol, she’ll have some backup. Mayernick still represents PACE, and fellow in-house advocate Daniel Sibol will be on duty as well.
As far as the PACE Center for Girls, their goals are the same. The Jacksonville-based group is dedicated to keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system and, during of its mission, serves over 3,000 girls annually in Florida through 20 Pace Centers across the state.
The Next 24
The House Appropriations Committee will receive a presentation about debt, bonding, reserves and other issues that affect the state’s bond ratings. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will hold roundtable discussions on the agricultural impact of Hurricane Michael, particularly on the timber industry. That’s at 9 a.m., Rivertown Community Center, 19359 Highway 71, Blountstown.
The House Health & Human Services Committee will take up a bill that deals with a ban on smoking medical marijuana. Gov. Ron DeSantis has made clear he wants to eliminate the ban, included in a 2017 law that carried out a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
Democratic lawmakers, shooting survivors, advocacy groups and others will debut what they are calling a “comprehensive gun violence prevention agenda.” The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is organizing the event. That’s at 1 p.m., 4th-floor rotunda.
The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a dispute about whether Tampa businessman Joe Redner should be able to grow his own medical marijuana as part of his treatment for cancer. That’s at 2 p.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.
The Senate Education Committee will take up a school-safety bill that would allow trained classroom teachers to carry guns as school “guardians,” a follow-up to a law that the Legislature passed last year after the mass shooting at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That’s at 4 p.m., 412 Knott Building.
The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will take up a bill that deals with a newly passed constitutional amendment that raised the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. That’s at 4 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee will take up a bill by Sen. Brandes of St. Petersburg that seeks to eliminate a ban on smoking medical marijuana. That’s at 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will hold a workshop on a bill to make a variety of changes to state ethics laws. That’s at 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will take up issues related to a revenue cap. That’s at 4 p.m., 117 Knott Building.