Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session.
The Last 24
Good Wednesday evening. Will Dana Young, now the head of the public-private tourism marketing agency VISIT FLORIDA, have a job after this Session? The House and Senate have different ideas about funding the agency. That is, the Senate would give it $50 million; the House, well, wants to shut its doors come Oct. 1. That ticks off Sen. Travis Hutson, who chairs the Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Committee: “To come up here and say you’re not going to market and advertise … to get your tourism in here is a bad idea.” Can a compromise be reached between something and zero? Sixty Days says, “Reply hazy, try again later.” Here’s your nightly rundown.
Mo’ money or no money? The Legislature is split on funding VISIT FLORIDA and affordable housing.
But wait, there’s more: The two chambers will go into budget negotiations hundreds of millions of dollars apart on spending for the state’s public schools.
So-called sanctuary: A House version of “sanctuary cities” legislation cleared its first of three committees. A leading civil rights group slammed it as “wasteful and unconstitutional.”
Have fun storming the castle: Sen. Doug Broxson led a march on the Capitol against “abusive AOB practices.”
Nursing freedom: Should Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) be able to treat patients without the supervision of a physician? Jeff Brandes says yes.
Criminal justice budget tightens: “We have to fund the core functions of government before we can fund the individual priorities of any one of us,” Brandes says.
Electrifying amendment: Count the Florida League of Cities among skeptics regarding a proposed energy choice referendum for the 2020 ballot.
Quote of the Day
“I think it’s important that we keep our brand as the Sunshine State (but) I do not want it to be known as the melanoma capital of the world. — Sen. Travis Hutson, explaining a budget provision that would prevent VISIT FLORIDA from giving money to local governments that ban certain sunscreen products.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
What two women served as president of the Florida Senate?
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shout-out in tomorrow’s 60 Days!
Yesterday, we asked: What Florida city is home to one of the two naturally round lakes in the world?
Answer: “DeFuniak Springs, where Lake DeFuniak is said to be one of only two perfectly round natural lakes in the world — the other is near Zurich, Switzerland.”
Congrats to Brad Drake (@braddrake5), first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Miami Democrat, is behind legislation this year to allow undocumented immigrants, or “immigrants without status,” to get driver’s licenses. The idea behind the move? “Since they don’t have access to driving privileges, they face significant restrictions when attempting to access jobs,” he said, among other reasons. But in a Legislature controlled by Republicans, where some are pushing anti-immigration measures, such as a ban on so-called sanctuary cities, the odds of his bill gaining traction is low. Reporters spoke with Rodríguez about his bill and related matters at a Wednesday news conference. (Questions and answers have been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.)
Q: Are you aware of a poster in Sen. Joe Gruters’ office that some people find objectionable? (The poster, Rodríguez later explained, was “basically mug shots of men of color, and then it says ‘criminal aliens’ on top.”)
Rodríguez: I asked (Gruters) if he would be willing to take that poster down. He said he’d be willing to temporarily take it down. I suspect that’s in recognition of the heightened rhetoric around the Capitol … I think a lot of the false narratives and rhetoric that’s kind of coming through the halls are to advance this anti-immigrant legislation. But all these false narratives are put out there to create an environment of fear.
Q: What do you think is driving these Republican policies and bills?
Rodríguez: I mean, it’s pure and simple. It’s politics.
Q: Politics or prejudice?
Rodríguez: They’re related. I think there are many in this state who see their political fortunes tied to sowing fear. I wish it were not effective, but you know, we have a president who campaigned on that. So I think people see that as a model. And I think to the extent that we don’t do something about political rhetoric, we’re going to continue to see this. We need to focus on policies that make our state safer, increased opportunities to deal with racial profiling, deal with the relationship between communities and police. (The Republican legislation) goes to the opposite direction. It’s not based on actual data; it’s based on fear mongering. Discrimination has a cost. And that’s our message to our colleagues here in the Legislature.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in Florida. More than 560,000 Sunshine State residents are suffering from the condition, and that population is expected to grow by 29 percent over the next six years.
There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but the Senate is considering bills that would help the state take stock of efforts to combat it.
A bill (SB 860) sponsored by Lakeland Sen. Kelli Stargel, would have the Alzheimer’s disease Advisory Committee deliver the Governor and top lawmakers an annual report making recommendations on state policy, research projects, clinical care, and at-home care.
It would also have the committee collaborate with Alzheimer’s disease organizations to update Florida’s state plan every three years. The two main Alzheimer’s organizations in the state are pushing for its passage.
The Alzheimer’s Association, which provides education and support for patients and raises funds for research, has a quintet of in-house lobbyists helping along the legislative effort: Jennifer Braisted, Michelle Branham, Cyrena Duncan, Evan Holler, Brian Sullivan.
Alzheimer’s Community Care provides community-based, family-centered care for patients and their caregivers. Tending to their needs in the Legislature are Ken Pruitt, Meghan Hoza, Mark Pruitt of The P5 Group.
The Senate bill has a strong chance — it had already made it through one committee, and it notched another win Wednesday.
A House bill that would make similar changes has already cleared its committee assignments and is ready for a floor vote. That bill (HB 449) would also and add five seats to the committee.
The Next 24
The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees will meet after holding committee meetings. Committees start at 9:45 a.m., with full board at 1 p.m., University of Central Florida, Fairwinds Alumni Center, Orlando.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor Session and could vote on a bill (SB 7012) filed by Sen. Wilton Simpson. It would carry out a constitutional amendment that bans vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor workplaces. That’s at 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will approve a special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. It begins 15 minutes after floor Session, 401 Senate Office Building.
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m. (Releases in recent weeks, however, have been canceled or delayed because of the addition of three new justices to the court.)
The House is scheduled to hold a floor Session at 3:30 p.m., House Chamber.
In other meetings:
— House Education Committee is at 8 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building. One bill on the agenda, by Palm Bay Republican Randy Fine, would combat anti-Semitism.
— House Judiciary Committee is at 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building. A bill by Eucheeanna Republican Brad Drake would dissolve the once-every-20-years Constitution Revision Commission.
— House Health & Human Services Committee is at 9 a.m., 17 House Office Building. A bill to be considered, filed by Avon Park Republican Cary Pigman, would remove a requirement that doctors prescribing painkillers for terminal patients first check the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
— House Commerce Committee is at noon, 212 Knott Building. There, a bill from Polk City Republican Josie Tomkow would allow beer companies to advertise in large theme parks.
— House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee is at noon, 404 House Office Building. The chamber’s ethics overhaul bill for this year is up for discussion.
— House State Affairs Committee is at noon, Morris Hall, House Office Building. A proposed committee bill would make multiple changes to state election law, such as “extending the deadline for curing defective vote-by-mail ballot signatures from 5 p.m. on the day before the election to 5 p.m. on the second day after an election.”
— Senate Rules Committee is at 1:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building. Bills include one creating a “Firefighters’ Bill of Rights” and another would increase the penalty for hurting or killing police dogs or horses, among other service animals.
— House Rules Committee meets 15 minutes after the House floor Session to set the Special Order Calendar for March 27.
Lawmakers and immigration advocates will host a news conference to oppose what they call “hostile, anti-immigration” legislation this Session. That’s at 11 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.