Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Thursday evening. Yesterday’s showdown over executive suspensions between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Bill Galvano had us harking back to 2015. That’s when the GOP-controlled House adjourned three days early over a Medicaid expansion-related impasse. Senate Democrats went to the Supreme Court to get them back in Session — and lost. Fast forward to DeSantis hinting he’ll call a Special Session if the Senate doesn’t finish its review of his suspensions of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Okaloosa Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson by ‘sine die’ next Friday. The chamber, constitutionally charged with reviewing executive suspensions and either removing or reinstating officials, clearly won’t have time to resolve both cases by then. And Galvano punched back, saying only the Senate can convene itself in Special Session. The state constitution says that the Governor can call a Special Session and that the Senate can meet in Special Session to consider suspensions, with neither section seemingly trumping the other. If DeSantis does follow through on his threat, will the Senate obey the call or, á la 2015, go to the Supreme Court to block the move? Sixty Days will bring popcorn. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Balloting blues: The House OK’d a measure that would make it harder for citizens’ initiatives to get on the ballot.
A ‘monumental’ move: The Senate voted to expand the use of private school vouchers.
More school daze: The House was up on a measure to let state universities and colleges sponsor charter schools for all grade levels.
Samaritan protection: Lawmakers passed legislation to shield people seeking medical help for themselves or others who overdose.
Hemp comeback: The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would establish a state hemp program.
The real CBD: The House passed a bill to permit the sale of a cannabis-containing drug called Epidiolex in Florida.
Budget talk: Lawmakers inched closer on how more than $10 billion in state money should be spent on health and human services.
Budget talk, part II: Lawmakers agreed on $500,000 toward a Pulse memorial in Orlando.
Budget talk, part III: The House and Senate remain at odds over how to spend $13 million on Florida universities.
Airbnb tax saved: An administrative law judge tossed out a challenge to the state’s deal with vacation rental websites to collect taxes.
Utility win: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of FPL recouping environmental cleanup costs from customers.
Marriage movie: an A&E documentary debuting tonight will look at Florida lawmakers’ effort to ban child marriages.
Quote of the Day
“How are you going to keep cats off the counters? You know, they’re pretty independent minded.” — state Rep. Joe Geller, in questions on a bill that would allow pet dogs and cats in craft breweries.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
In what special district is Disney World located?
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shout-out in Monday’s 60 Days!
Last time, we asked: Which Florida Governor’s inauguration was the first to be broadcast over the radio?
Answer: “The Jan. 5, 1933, inauguration of Gov. David Sholtz (1933-1937).”
Congrats to Jeremy Smith (@JeremySmith850) who was the first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
As a prescription drug importation proposal moves to the Senate floor, it’s opposed by former DEA special agent Javier Pena, a lead investigator on the team that targeted the world’s wealthiest and most violent drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar. The story formed part of the framework for the Netflix series “Narcos.” Pena warns that sidestepping federal safeguards to buy medicine isn’t safe. He explained why.
Florida Politics: Why do you oppose the current drug importation proposal pushed by Gov. DeSantis?
Pena: This pending legislation will open up the floodgates for criminal organizations to send their counterfeit medications into the United States without being vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. These criminal organizations are adept at taking advantage of weak laws, such as this and will make huge profits and will not care about the innocent people who will be killed by these fake prescription pills.
FP: Given your experience in this area, can you expand on some of the dangers in the Florida proposal, as you see it?
Pena: After serving 30 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration this proposal would allow Floridians to buy their prescription medications from other countries which have no safeguards in their medications. We will witness from these other countries, importation of counterfeit pills, subservient pills, placebos and pills laced with Fentanyl. We all know the deadly effects of Fentanyl. These criminal organizations are already sending their counterfeit pills and if this legislation passes more criminal organizations will be using this loophole to send in their poison into the United States. These countries do not have an adequate vetting mechanism to safeguard the quality of these medications.
FP: So what are you doing to stop the measure from becoming law?
Pena: We have aligned with Partnership for Safe Medicines and are educating people as to the dangers of illegal drug importation into the U.S. We are doing talk shows, print media, town hall meetings, and speaking to legislative staffers about the enactment of these very dangerous importation laws which should not be passed.
The Governor, Cabinet, state Senators and state Representatives can only serve eight years before they have to move up or move out, but those limits don’t apply to members of Congress.
Advocacy group US Term Limits (USTL) thinks U.S. Representatives and Senators should have to play by the same rules, and they’ve brought on Al Cardenas and Steve Schale of The Advocacy Group to help them make their case in Tallahassee.
The concept shouldn’t be a tough sell in the Sunshine State — more than three-quarters of Florida voters approved term limits for state-level offices in 1992. And in 2016, the Florida Legislature was the first in the nation to call for an Article V amendment convention to put congressional term limits into the constitution.
Since that effort, spearheaded by Sen. Aaron Bean and former Rep. Larry Metz, Alabama and Missouri have followed suit. But there’s a long way to go before USTL gets its wish as 34 states need to make the call before a convention takes place.
In the meantime, USTL are fans of putting an eight-year cap on school board members. That House version of the bill, HB 539, has moved but hasn’t been taken up on the chamber floor. The Senate version has stalled.
If either one grows legs and passes in the waning days of the 2019 Legislative Session, it would go before voters in 2020.
The Next 24
The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor Session at 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The House is scheduled to hold a floor Session at 10:30 a.m., House Chamber.
The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will set a special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor, 15 minutes after the floor Session.
The House Rules Committee will meet 15 minutes after floor session, 404 House Office Building.