Sixty Days for 12.4.17 — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session
A view of the Capitol and Dept. of Education buildings Wednesday morning, Oct. 11, 2017 in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

Florida Legislature

Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session

The Last 24

Gov. Rick Scott’s top lawyer turned down a request to appoint a special prosecutor from the attorney representing the Senate staffer accusing Sen. Jack Latvala of sexual harassment.

Ritch Workman, a former House member and Scott appointee to the Public Service Commission, said he’s no longer pursuing the seat after Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto said he made vulgar and inappropriate comments to her at a charity event last year.

Airbnb is launching a television commercial this week in Tallahassee to convince legislators of the back-home support for vacation rentals.

Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia is pushing a bill that would return control to local school boards to decide how to evaluate teachers.

An appeals court ruled against a property insurer’s effort to place restrictions on a controversial practice known as “assignment of benefits.”

Quote of the Day

“At best, this suggests negligence – and at worst, willful disregard – in the faithful performance of the duties of your constitutional office.” – Daniel Nordby, general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott, putting pressure on State Attorney Aramis Ayala for missing deadlines to file death penalty cases.

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

With a seemingly endless shoreline to enjoy, it’s no surprise Floridians love boating. In fact, Florida is home to almost 1 million registered boat owners.

That’s why Sen. Dana Young and Rep. Shawn Harrison have filed SB 664 and HB 469, a measure designed to give consumer protections, so Florida boaters aren’t victimized by predatory maritime salvage companies.

Young answered three questions about the legislation.

Q: What issues are Florida boaters experiencing?

A: I’m a boat owner and love being out on the water. But we’re finding that numerous Floridians have been victimized by predatory maritime salvage and towing companies — some would even liken it to a form of modern-day piracy. Your average boater isn’t aware of the complexities of federal admiralty law, and you can’t expect them to realize that what seems like relatively minor assistance might actually end up carrying an undisclosed price tag of tens of thousands of dollars.

Q: What examples of this “piracy” issue have you seen in Florida?

A: Over the past several months, I’ve spoken with people who have received outrageous claims from companies. One boater got a bill for $30,000, even though the salvor only spent a few minutes providing assistance. Another person was charged more than $10,000 for a couple of hours of service that took place while the boat was safely docked at a marina. Yet another boater received a bill for almost $4,000, even though the salvage operator never even stepped foot on his boat. I was shocked at the fees these unsuspecting boaters were charged, and I look forward to advocating for these consumer protections as they make their way through the legislative process.

Q: How will this legislation combat this form of modern-day piracy?

A: Our legislation simply requires that salvage operators give boaters a written estimate before providing service — that’s it. We basically are applying common sense consumer protections Floridians have come to expect on land — from auto mechanics, for example — and extend them to our state’s boaters. While I’m sure many salvors operate with a high level of professional integrity, the situations I’ve heard about underscore the fact that there needs to be added transparency in this industry. It’s a simple and straightforward requirement that will provide boaters with added peace of mind knowing they’ll have the option to see how much the service will cost before any assistance is actually provided.

Lobby Up

Victoria Vangalis Zepp tells Florida Politics she’s accepted a position as Executive Vice President and Chief Policy and Research Officer for the Florida Coalition for Children.

The Coalition, based in Tallahassee, “advocates on behalf of Florida’s abused, abandoned and neglected children and supports the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf,” according to its Facebook page.

Zepp had her own lobbying firm for nearly two decades after working as a corporate telecommunications government affairs executive.

Over the years, “I’ve represented IBM, UPS, MCI, Pearson Education, Tenet, etc., and did pro bono child and developmental disabilities advocacy,” she writes.

“After decades in The Process, I decided to focus my power for good on those who need it most.”

The new job also will take her back to Washington, D.C., “helping to shape policy that enables all children a chance to reach their human potential,” Zepp told us.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Sen. Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach and Rep. Kamia Brown of Ocoee, both Democrats, are expected to take part in a news conference held by the “No Place for a Child” coalition to support changes in how children are prosecuted as adults. That’s at 9 a.m., fourth floor rotunda, the Capitol.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will take up a bill (SB 150), filed by GOP Sen. Tom Lee, that would end the state’s no-fault auto insurance system. That’s at 10 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a bill (SB 250), filed by Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, that would allow patients to stay up to 24 hours in ambulatory-surgical centers. That’s at 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee will consider a proposal (SB 286), filed by Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, that would lead to creation of a slavery memorial at the Capitol. That’s at 10 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The House Government Accountability Committee will consider a proposal (HB 25), filed by Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, that would make changes in the certification of public labor unions and increase the information unions are required to submit each year. That’s at 10:30 a.m., 17 House Office Building, the Capitol.

The Senate Democratic Caucus is scheduled to meet at 12:15 p.m., 200 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The House Health & Human Services Committee will take up a bill (HB 27), filed by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican, that would eliminate the “certificate of need” regulatory process for hospitals. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 17 House Office Building, the Capitol.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up a proposal (SB 134), filed by Chairman Greg Steube, that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to store firearms with security officers at courthouses. That’s at 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The House Ways & Means Committee will consider a proposal (HB 359), filed by GOP Reps. Jeanette Nunez of Miami and Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. of Hialeah, that would bar state investments in companies doing business with the government of Venezuela. That’s 4 p.m., 17 House Office Building, the Capitol.

The House Appropriations Committee will receive a presentation about Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed $87.4 billion budget for next fiscal year. That’s at 4 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.

Reps. Bob Cortes, David Santiago, Rene Plasencia, and Mike La Rosa will host a toy drive for children who are the victims of hurricanes, including those in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. “We are asking for new, unwrapped toys worth a maximum of $10 to be dropped off,” they said. That’s at 5-6:30 p.m., The Governor’s Inn Lobby, 209 South Adams St., Tallahassee.

Agriculture Commissioner and GOP candidate for Governor Adam Putnam is scheduled to address the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce. That’s at 7 p.m., 1200 S W C Owen Ave., Clewiston.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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