Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Wednesday evening. It was a ‘green’ day in the Capitol as front-yard veggie gardens and hemp dominated the agenda. The only ‘home grow’ Sixty Days wants to do involves tomatoes so we can make our own marinara. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Hemp bill moving in Senate: Universities in the state, such as Florida A&M, wants to research ways to use the plant’s fibers.
Liberty for lettuce: A bill to stop local governments from banning vegetable gardens is headed to the Senate floor.
Ron DeSantis weighs in on insurance: “I would like to see the abuses pared back,” he says.
Bigger role for National Guard during hurricanes? “I think we need a little more in-depth look at lessons learned,” Gayle Harrell says.
Capping damages: For the first time in decades, lawmakers could limit “pain and suffering” damages.
What if Democrats ran the House? Why, it would mean a “New Sunshine Deal” budget, that’s what.
It’s not a competition, but … : Joe Gruters and Keith Perry lead the 2019 Session in number of bills filed or co-sponsored.
Remaking education: A Senate panel OKd a bill on student vouchers and teacher bonuses, part of a school choice push.
Quote of the Day
“I believe we can make hemp great again!” — state Sen. Gary Farmer, during debate on the Senate’s hemp bill.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is …
Who was the first CFO of the state of Florida?
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shout-out in tomorrow’s 60 Days!
Yesterday, we asked: What Spanish explorer is believed to have planted the first orange trees near St. Augustine in the 1500s?
Answer: “Ponce de León, who in 1513 led the first known European expedition to La Florida (which he named) and returned eight years later with cattle and oranges.”
Congrats to Shannon Love (@ShannonLoveFL), first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
We’re revisiting a media availability Senate President Bill Galvano did with reporters, where the biggest news was his pushback against Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Governor questioned how the Senate, constitutionally charged with reviewing the suspension of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, could even possibly reinstate him. Galvano called that “awkward,” adding that his chamber would “not just going to be a rubber stamp for the governor.” But he also touched on a host of other topics; as usual, questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What is your stance on the environment?
Galvano: It’s a very important issue — especially for me, coming from Southwest Florida. We were dealing with red tide issues there. I was very supportive over the last few years with President (Joe) Negron’s efforts to improve the quality of water in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. I felt like we could go further with the north of the lake storage. Even the (rural road) corridors I’ve been talking about have an environmental component by providing additional access to water and sewer systems and moving away from septic.
Q: Are the Governor’s funding requests for the environment realistic?
Galvano: When you boil it down, it’s $625-$630 million. That’s pushing it a bit, given the challenges we have budget-wise, with the impact of Hurricane Michael and what we’ve spent there already. We have to make sure we’re doing things that are fiscally responsible, efficient, and effective.
Q: The House is going to start looking at a tort reform package. As an attorney and someone who has been in the Legislature a long time, what’s your philosophy about access to the courts?
Galvano: I’ve been very cautious in that regard. I have practiced for a long time. It’s not that I haven’t supported tort reform in the past. But we’re going to scrutinize everything that comes over in that regard.
The Florida Lottery sells more than $6 billion in tickets every year, which helped pump more than $1.7 billion into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund last year alone.
But for players to snag a ticket, they have to walk into a retail store. That could change if The Lotter gets its way — the outfit runs a website that links up ticket buyers with retailers so they can get their fix without leaving the couch.
The New Jersey-based company’s current lineup includes multistate games Powerball and Mega Millions, as well as the New York state lottery and loads of overseas games. The Lotter has even sold a winning Florida Lottery ticket to a Panamanian woman, but after the Florida Lottery begrudgingly paid out that jackpot it nixed its contract with the retailer who sold it.
The New Jersey-based company would love for its tech to be considered kosher by the Florida Lottery and it’s retained Ron LaFace and Megan Fay of Capital City Consulting to help that happen.
The most pressing hurdles are bills filed by state Sen. Keith Perry (SB 1264) and state Rep. Will Robinson (HB 629) that would outlaw online ticket sales and make violations a second-degree misdemeanor. Online lotto sales are also of questionable legality at the federal level but unlike Florida other states are clamoring for the opportunity.
New Hampshire projects it’ll make $6 million via online scratch-off sales next year. That figure would be orders of magnitude higher for the Florida Lottery, which is the second-largest state lotto in the country.
The Next 24
The Florida Supreme Court will take up five cases, including an appeal by a man sentenced to death for killing another inmate in 2012 at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze “ad valorem” property taxes at 9 a.m., 117 Knott 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.)
The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor Session and could begin considering bills, at 1:30 p.m.
In other scheduled legislative meetings at the Capitol:
— House Health Market Reform Subcommittee at 9 a.m., 306 House Office Building.
— House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee at 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
— House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee at 9 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
— House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee at 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
— House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee at 9 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
— House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee at 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building.
— Senate Appropriations Committee at 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building.
— House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee at noon, Morris Hall, House Office Building.
— House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee at noon, Reed Hall, House Office Building.
— House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee at noon, 404 House Office Building.
— House Education Committee at 2:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
— House Health & Human Services Committee at 2:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
— House Judiciary Committee at 2:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
— House Rules Committee at 5 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
— Senate Special Order Calendar Group, 15 minutes after Senate Session ends.