Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Monday evening on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. You didn’t think Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis would stop hogging the politics/state government news headlines, did you? Good, because he didn’t rest on MLK Day. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Recognizing King’s contributions: Florida leaders took to social media to honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have turned 90 this year.
No more virtual standing in line: DeSantis called for an end to the waitlist for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which offers private school scholarships to low-income K-12 students.
No more good-old-boy’s network: DeSantis later talked about his own philosophy toward appointments and diversity, saying he just wants to “find good people.”
Lowering the boom on litigation: Groups aligned with Democrats have pulled some of their lawsuits challenging Florida election laws.
Controlling cannabis: Eleven people have applied to be Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s newly-created Director of Cannabis, according to information provided after a public records request.
A good guy wins: Gov. Rick Scott‘s top spokesman, John Tupps, was snapped up by VISIT FLORIDA as its new Vice President of External Affairs.
Quote of the Day
“All I’m trying to do is find good people. And I think you’re able to find good people if you’re willing to consider people from all walks of life. I don’t want to do some good-old-boys’ network. That’s not the way you find the best people.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, explaining his hiring philosophy.
Bill Day’s Latest
The House Judiciary Committee will receive an update Tuesday on the implementation of a criminal justice transparency measure passed and signed into law last year. The measure (SB 1392) provides for the collection of in-depth criminal justice data across the state. It also requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to publish criminal justice data in an online portal, which members of the committee will examine Tuesday.
We caught up by phone with Clearwater Republican state Rep. Chris Sprowls, who sponsored the House measure in 2018, for a general update about the new law.
FP: What are lawmakers looking for at this point?
Sprowls: What we’re looking for is to see from FDLE what the status is of the audit of the data that they’ve been compiling, what the initial look is of the database and the portal that we’ve been looking to create and some of the updates as far as the creation of things that go into the portal as well as organizing the data; making sure that words, terms and data mean the same thing across circuits.
So I think that’s kind of where we’re at as we get into Session. As well as to hear from the stakeholders — whether that’s the state attorneys, public defenders, the clerks — as to tweaks that need to be made to the legislation to make sure we’re collecting the data in a way that is consistent and accurate.
FP: When can we expect to see the information collected under the bill?
Sprowls: The bill went into effect in July. So they started working with the stakeholders at that point. The first deposit, so to speak, of data would be due here in the next couple of months. So that’s what they’re doing now with the stakeholders, making sure that kind of first wave of data will be integrated into the portal in a way that’s user-friendly.
FP: What’s the point of collecting the data?
Sprowls: The practical standpoint is when we talk about criminal justice, we talk about what’s going on in our criminal justice system and potential reforms. A lot of times we’re flying blind as to what the data actually is. You know, things as basic as, ‘What’s the recidivism rate?’ People might talk about that but the truth of the matter is we haven’t historically collected real data as to what recidivism actually is in the state.
Rather than have these conversations without the data, without really being able to read off the state’s sheet of music while we’re talking about policy, the practical goal is to make sure we’re all seeing the information from the same spot and it’s easily accessible — not just to legislators and policymakers, but to the press and the public so that the system is transparent.
From an aspirational standpoint … We’ve really tried to take this from the perspective of if we do this well in the criminal justice space, can this create an open-data revolution in Florida where we look in various silos of government and we say, “How can we inform ourselves with the best and latest information as close to real time as possible, inform our policy decisions, and also be radically transparent with the public?”
Scooter and bike rental companies are going to be in the spotlight this session, but don’t call it “bike wars.” Ride-sharing, this is not.
Uber and Lyft drivers own their vehicles and likewise don’t customarily ditch their cars on the front steps of their destination. When it comes to grab-and-go two-wheelers, however, people tend to drive it like a rental.
According to Tallahassee lobbyist Chris Moya, the debate will instead be another battle in the ‘home rule’ war. And all “personal vehicle options” could end up in the crosshairs.
Moya represents rental companies Deco Bike and Ride On, both of which operate in South Florida with the blessing of the localities they serve.
That’s not something most scooter companies can tout. It takes a lot of responsibility, from having a plan to get all the bikes indoors during a hurricane warning, to making sure users aren’t blocking handicap ramps once they make it to the library.
If those kinds of regulations are nixed by a pre-emptive statewide law, Florida’s major metros could face a murrain of miniature motor vehicle companies.
And those municipalities wouldn’t have a say in where they set up or how they operate. Keep an eye on this potential ‘food fight.’
The Next 24
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who took office Jan. 8, will appear at a meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee. That’s at 10 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will hold a workshop about Amendment 4, a ballot measure that passed in November to restore the voting rights of felons who have fulfilled their sentences. That’s at 10 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Health Policy Committee will receive an update from the state Agency for Health Care Administration about the Medicaid program. That’s at 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.
The House Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee will receive presentations on a report by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, created after the mass shooting in February in Parkland.
— House committee is at 11 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, The Capitol.
— Senate committee is at 2:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will hold a workshop about a bill (SB 122) to restrict the assignment of attorney fees in insurance disputes. That’s at 12:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will consider a series of issues, including a bill (SB 176) to offer sales-tax exemptions on items that can help seniors live independently. That’s at 12:30 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up proposals (SJR 74 and SJR 86) that would impose a single-subject requirement on constitutional amendments placed on the ballot in the future by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. That’s at 12:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.
The House Judiciary Committee will receive an update on an initiative about the transparency of criminal-justice data. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.
The House Commerce Committee will receive an overview of issues related to the Florida Building Code. That’s at 4 p.m., 212 Knott Building, The Capitol.
The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will receive a presentation from the Auditor General’s Office about an audit of the University of Central Florida and will receive a presentation about an investigation into UCF construction funding. That’s at 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building, The Capitol.
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will take up a series of issues, including an update on the implementation of the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act. That’s at 4:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.