Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Wednesday evening. An effort to put term limits on local school board members is steaming ahead, and lawmakers — with 13 days till opening day of the 2019 Legislative Session — are taking notes from state agencies as they consider next fiscal year’s state budget. Sixty Days is unlimited in its love for The Process. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Eight is enough: Term limits for school board members got one step closer to the statewide ballot in Florida.
Spencer’s way: Chris Spencer, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policy director, offered highlights of some $423 million in education initiatives, including a revamped “Best and Brightest” teacher bonus program.
Mum’s the word: State Rep. Emily Slosberg was circumspect on a criminal investigation of which she’s the alleged focus: “It’s an active criminal investigation and I can’t comment on it.”
Budget time: The asks have started, with FWC’s wish list that includes a “harmful algal bloom task force.”
Stadiums and subsidies: A recurrent proposal to squash subsidies for pro sports franchises is nearer to the Senate floor.
Millions: The state’s revenue estimators confirmed the Seminole Tribe of Florida is continuing to pay the state its cut of casino revenue. But for how long?
Doors are open: After a New York deal fell apart, DeSantis said he welcomed Amazon to put its second headquarters in Florida.
Quote of the Day
“Look, this is an occupational hazard. I’m a public figure … it’s something we all deal with.” — Rep. Emily Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat, on reports that she is under criminal investigation. (The details are still under wraps by police; no charges have been filed.)
Bill Day’s Latest
Rep. Jackie Toledo is sponsoring legislation this year that would ban handheld communications — texting, talking and everything in between — while driving. The measure goes further than the texting ban pushed in recent years, but Toledo — a Tampa Republican — thinks it removes ambiguities that stalled the bill in the past. Trilby Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson is sponsoring the measure in his chamber, where it picked up unanimous support from a committee Tuesday. Reporters caught up with Toledo to see whether the two pieces of legislation will align — and if the ban has a better chance of becoming law in 2019.
Q: Why is the ban broader this year?
Toledo: There was a lot of questions from different members about other types of distractions. Last year, we focused on just texting and driving. And we wanted this year to make it a hands-free ban. But the focus was on the wireless part. But there could be other distractions.
In talking with members, talking to the Speaker of the House and talking to the Senate sponsor, Sen. Simpson, we thought the best way to address this issue is to make all (handheld) communications while driving banned. So, I think the bill will alleviate a lot of concerns that people have. What we don’t want is for someone to say, “I wasn’t doing this distraction, I was doing this other distraction.” One distraction is too many; you can kill someone or kill yourself.
Q: So you plan to make your bill the same as the Senate’s?
Toledo: Yes, that’s correct. We’ll have a strike-all with the exact language of the Senate’s.
Q: The bill died last year. Will it have more support this time around?
Toledo: Absolutely. If you look at Tuesday’s Senate hearing, there were no questions; it just slid by with 100 percent, unanimous support. And everyone in the audience was also in support. So I think we’ll have a great opportunity this year to pass that.
Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced earlier this month that he was opening up his own consulting firm, Crisafulli Consulting, described as “a boutique governmental, political, and business consulting firm with clients in Florida and across the country.”
Two weeks later, and with the 2019 Legislative Session fast approaching, a half-dozen companies have decided to ink a deal with the former Merritt Island lawmaker’s new outfit.
Companies making the jump:
— BRIDG, a boutique microelectronics fabrication facility in Kissimmee.
— Canaveral Pilots Association, the trade association for harbor pilots out of Port Canaveral.
— Comcast, a telecom giant that offers broadcast and cable service in Florida.
— FCCI Insurance Group, a company that provides commercial property and casualty insurance products for businesses.
— Health First/Health First Health Plans, a Rockledge-based health insurer that sells policies in seven Florida counties.
— Istation, a Dallas-based company that produces educational software for K-12 students.
Most of those principals are also working with more established firms — the Canaveral Pilots Association has the team at GrayRobinson in their corner, Istation has Smith Bryan & Myers, FCCI has contracts with Floridian Partners and Greenberg Traurig, and Comcast is on PooleMcKinley’s client roster.
BRIDG, however, is unique to Crisafulli. The nonprofit isn’t just a small-scale chipmaker, it’s focus is on providing academic institutions with infrastructure enabling them to commercialize research. It’s also a nice spot for those with hardware fabrication dreams to get their ideas off paper and on to a wafer.
The Next 24
The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze issues related to tobacco taxes at 10 a.m., 117 Knott Building.
The House Appropriations Committee will take up a bill that would eliminate a ban on smoking medical marijuana. That’s at 8 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee will take up a bill to revise criteria used by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in ranking beach-management projects for funding. That’s at 10:30 a.m., 12 House Office Building.
The House Business & Professions Subcommittee will consider a proposal that would place restrictions on the ability of local governments to regulate businesses. That’s at 10:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
Jim Zingale, the newly appointed executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue, is slated to speak to the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee at 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will receive an update about state veterans’ nursing homes from Danny Burgess, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. That’s at 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will take up a bill that would change the way vessel-registration fees could be used by cities and counties. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Reed Hall, House 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.)
Senate President pro tempore David Simmons; Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Education, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, will “announce key components of education legislation” for the 2019 Legislative Session. That’s at 12:30 p.m., in front of the Senate Chamber doors, 4th floor.
Aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will discuss issues in advance of a Feb. 26 state Cabinet meeting. That’s at 1 p.m., Cabinet meeting room.
The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will hold a workshop about a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul the state’s electric utility industry. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building.
The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee will hold a workshop on issues related to rule-making authority at 1:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee will receive an overview of audits of quarterly compensation reports filed by lobbying firms at 1:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee is expected to hear from newly appointed Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller. That’s at 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building.