Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Thursday evening. Sen. Bill Galvano is taking a pass on looking into the fate of the Broward Elections Supervisor, and a former House Speaker enters hospice. Sixty Days prays for him and his family. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Senatorial stasis: Galvano said his chamber won’t act on Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes‘ suspension by Gov. Rick Scott.
Filing against fracking: After failed attempts in the past, a Senate Democrat has again filed a proposal to ban the oil- and natural-gas drilling process known as “fracking.”
Amendment anxiety: Some lawmakers are now saying they may need to “interpret” a constitutional amendment to restore ex-cons’ voting rights.
Godspeed to a great man: After years of staving off cancer, former House Speaker (and retired Florida State University President) T.K. Wetherell is going into hospice.
Quote of the Day
“Recreational interests: reading, travel and Wolf Spider husbandry.” — state Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat, listing his hobbies on his House webpage.
Bill Day’s Latest
Under current state law, it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations. There’s a near-annual push in the Legislature to change that by extending statewide civil rights protections to members of the LGBTQ community.
But whether the legislation — known as the Competitive Workforce Act — will catch traction in 2019 is unknown; despite securing bipartisan support from nearly 45 percent of the Legislature, the CWA never made it to a committee in 2018.
We caught up with Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an openly gay lawmaker, to see what he thinks of the CWA’s chances this year.
FP: Do you plan to file a version of the CWA in the House this year?
CGS: I’m less concerned about who files and sponsors the CWA. I am more concerned with making sure this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation is given a chance to succeed with fair committee assignments, a fair hearing and a vote. Over the years, both Democrats and Republicans have filed the CWA with little success. I am all for any bill sponsor who can give us a chance.
FP: Supporters of the CWA argue that the current lack of LGBTQ protections hurts the economy. Do you agree?
CGS: Absolutely. It’s undeniable that Florida has missed out on economic opportunities by failing to pass the CWA. Most recently, it was reported by USA TODAY that Amazon decided against bringing HQ2 to Florida, which promised up to 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in economic activity for our state. Amazon’s decision, in part, was due to the absence of nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ workers. That’s not all.
After North Carolina famously passed anti-LGBTQ legislation in March 2016, they lost $350 million in convention and tourism revenue due to corporate boycotts and backlash according to local chambers of commerce. Florida was NOT in a position to compete for those businesses who left North Carolina, when we could have been. All we had to do was pass the CWA and demonstrate Florida was open for business for EVERYONE — including LGBTQ people. It wouldn’t have cost us a dime. No corporate welfare or costly taxpayer subsidies required. Simply treating LGBTQ Floridians with dignity and respect could have brought these economic opportunities to our state.
FP: Put on prognosticating cap: Will 2019 be the year for CWA?
CGS: It should be. As Governor-elect Ron DeSantis looks for ways to move toward the center and bring Floridians together after a divisive election, he should consider backing this legislation. We have the votes but need the political will to get this done. Protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination has the largest bipartisan majority we’ve ever seen in both the Florida House and Senate. Passing this bill would be a stunning bipartisan victory Republicans would get lots of credit for in addition to bragging rights for the DeSantis administration. Even I will sing their praises. What do they have to lose?
Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers has hired The Fiorentino Group to lobby lawmakers, registration records show.
It lobbies the Legislature through its internal legislative and public affairs team, but also “hires outside contract lobbyists to help promote our priorities.”
That’s according to Jason Harrell, the organization’s director of Legislative and Public Affairs.
“The Fiorentino Group has worked with several Clerks in the past, and has a good reputation, so we feel their firm fits our needs nicely,” he added.
Here’s what they need this year: “Florida’s Clerks are facing critical funding issues that are seriously impacting the many important services they provide to Floridians,” Harrell explained.
“For the past several years, this has been our main priority. This year, Clerks plan to bring a long-term solution forward for consideration during Session.
“Our internal team and outside contracted lobbyists will work to advocate for these changes during the 2019 Legislative Session,” Harrell said.
The Next 24
Governor-elect Ron DeSantis will visit Bay County to assess damage and ongoing recovery after Hurricane Michael. All times are Central zone:
— 8 a.m., Springfield City Hall, 3529 E. 3rd St., Springfield.
— 9 a.m., Everitt Middle School, 608 School Ave., Panama City.
— 10 a.m., Bay County EOC, 700 Hwy. 2300, Southport. After this stop, DeSantis will be available to the media outside the EOC.
Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican, will hold a “Java with Jackie” community discussion. That’s at 9:30 a.m., Kahwa Coffee, 3928 Henderson Blvd., Tampa. RSVP by emailing Jackie.Toledo@myfloridahouse.gov.
The Miami-Dade Refugee Task Force will meet. That’s at 10 a.m., Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. Second Ave., Building 8, Miami.
Rep. Jennifer Webb, a Gulfport Democrat, will hold a district office grand opening. She asks that visitors bring a canned food item to help Kind Mouse provide food for neighbors in need. That’s at 5 p.m., Suite C-105, 6798 Crosswinds Drive, St. Petersburg.
Rep. Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat, will be the featured speaker at a vigil for gun violence victims on the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. That’s at 6 p.m., St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota.