Sixty Days for 4.3.19 — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session

Red Tally 5
Be better than the competition. Read Sixty Days for an edge.

Sixty Days  — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session

The Last 24

Good Wednesday evening. The Senate passed its $90.3 billion state budget for next fiscal year, and the House set up its $89.9 billion budget for passage tomorrow. That means the two chambers could be in budget conference mode as early as this weekend. The biggest gulf is on funding for preK-12 and higher education. Appropriations lobbyists, gird yourselves. Sixty Days is watching. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Budget time: “This budget truly is a function of the priorities of the people that you all represent,” Sen. Rob Bradley said.

Health regulation issues? We can work it out, House Speaker Jose Oliva says.

Democracy now: Students arrived by the busload to urge lawmakers to vote against a proposal — later postponed — to let teachers carry guns on campus.

Of needles and haystacks: Miami-Dade County’s needle exchange program could be expanded throughout the state.

Killing your buzz: A bill that would limit medical marijuana to 10 percent THC cleared its only committee.

Bury it: Lawmakers are moving forward with regulatory changes that could lead to more underground power lines.

Sick sex dolls: Selling or showing child-like sex dolls could soon be a crime in Florida.

‘Officers with 4 legs’: The Senate approved a bill that would increase penalties for hurting or killing police dogs and horses.

Quote of the Day

“The elephant in the room here is the bill was temporarily postponed, but it’s coming back — and so are these students.” — state Rep. Carlos G. Smith, reacting to the tabling of a bill that would allow public school teachers to carry guns on campus after hundreds of kids came to The Capitol to protest the legislation.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:

Who was the first African-American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court post-Reconstruction?

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: Which Governor talked about “BHAGs — big, hairy, audacious goals” for changing how state government operates?

Answer: “Jeb Bush, who was Governor 1997-2006.”

Congrats to Jeremy Smith (@JeremySmith850) first to tweet the correct answer!

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

PACE Center for Girls, which “provides girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling and advocacy,” held a reception at the Capitol with Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Secretary Simone Marstiller as the featured speaker. Marstiller has a mind-boggling resume in state government. A few highlights: Assistant General Counsel to former Gov. Jeb Bush. General Counsel for the Department of Management Services and later interim secretary of that agency. Then, Deputy Chief of Staff for Bush, followed by Chief Information Officer, and Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. She also was a judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal. We spoke to her after the reception; questions and answers were edited for clarity and brevity.

Florida Politics: The #MeToo movement is still going strong. What advice do you give young women about navigating the work world against harassment and abuse?

Marstiller: The important thing is to learn to stand up for yourself. You’ve gotta be able to call out that kind of behavior when it happens, whether to you or you see it happening to somebody else. The other important thing is to find someone that you trust, that you can go to and say, ‘this is happening,’ because there are people out there who will rally around a person, any young woman who’s going through it. It happens, unfortunately, but you’ve got to speak up about it. You have to call it out, and you’ve got to have somebody that you trust that you can go to.

FP: You had a successful career after your public service, both at your own firm and at the Gunster firm. Why’d you come back?

Marstiller: Leading DJJ is an opportunity that I didn’t see coming. When Gov. [Ron] DeSantis talked to me about it, he explained what he saw in me and my background, that he felt would be good for the agency. And I never want to say no to an opportunity, especially one like this … It’s really a chance to do some truly meaningful work in the lives of children and the lives of families for communities. It was an opportunity to which I couldn’t say no. Is it going to be hard at times? Absolutely. But the fact that the Governor came to me and gave me the privilege and the honor to do it? It was a no brainer.

FP: What about the department or the job as secretary surprised you once you got on the inside?

Marstiller: I’m learning the depth and breadth of what DJJ does from a juvenile justice perspective. It’s not just taking kids into the system and trying to rehabilitate them. There’s a lot of work that’s done on the front end, on prevention. I had no idea how vast that responsibility is. So that was really the first thing that surprised me … The other thing is (that) we’ve got so many committed, dedicated people inside this agency, roughly 3,200 employees. The folks who are detention officers, the folks who are probation officers, those are some of the most dedicated and committed folks I’ve ever met. And they have to be dedicated and committed because the work is hard and the pay is not that great. We’re talking about people who care so much about kids and about their communities that they’re doing this and trying to make a difference in these kids’ lives. And that was not just surprising but uplifting for me.

Lobby Up

Today was Miami-Dade Day in Tallahassee. The annual event is a crowd favorite thanks to “Paellafest,” a tradition that serves up the famous dish to those walking the halls of the Florida Capitol.

But providing tasty meals isn’t the prime directive of Miami-Dade Day. It’s meant to draw attention to the needs of Florida’s most populous county, and among the 2,000-plus people getting a helping of paella are many lobbyists looking out for major Miami-area interests.

One of the best-represented is Miami-Dade County Public Schools — the largest school system in the state and the fifth-largest in the nation. The school district’s advocates include Mario Bailey and Yolanda Cash Jackson of Becker & Poliakoff, Thomas Cerra of Florida School Services, Eduardo Gonzalez of Sun City Strategies, as well as the powerhouse trio of Ron Book, Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette.

There are plenty of major corporations with a nexus in Miami as well. Baptist Health South Florida and American Airlines each employ more than 10,000 county residents. Robert Beck of PinPoint Results and Marsha Bowen and Jose Diaz of Robert M. Levy & Associates go to bat for Baptist Health, while Mike Corcoran, Jeff Johnston, Anita Berry, Matt Blair and Amanda Stewart of Corcoran & Johnston handle the needs of the world’s largest airline.

Education and business interests get plenty of attention when the Legislature is in session, and transportation is no different. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has a big ask this year: he wants lawmakers to greenlight a merger of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and the Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike. Repping MDX are Dean Cannon and Joseph Salzverg of GrayRobinson, Manny Reyes of Pereira Reyes Consulting and Jose Bermudez and Jose Fuentes of Becker & Poliakoff.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases, including a lawsuit in which a tow-truck driver alleges he was injured by battery acid that spilled onto Interstate 75. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m. (Releases in recent weeks, however, have been canceled because of the addition of three new justices to the court.)

The House is scheduled to hold a floor session at 1:30 p.m., House Chamber.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor session at 2:30 p.m., Senate Chamber.

The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will set the special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. That’s 15 minutes after floor session, 401 Senate Office Building.

Other scheduled meetings are below. Check the official daily calendar before you go as agendas and meetings are subject to change and cancellation:

The House Commerce Committee meets at 8 a.m., 212 Knott Building. On the agenda: A bill to exempt front-yard vegetable gardens from local government regulation.

The House State Affairs Committee meets at 8 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building. On the agenda: A bill to make texting while driving a primary offense.

The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 10 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building. On the agenda: A bill that authorizes the Statewide Task Force on Opioid Drug Abuse.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building. On the agenda: A confirmation hearing for Secretary of Health Care Administration Mary Mayhew.

The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building. On the agenda: A bill on autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars.

The Senate Finance & Tax Committee meets at 12:30 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building. On the agenda: A bill that would create a sales tax exemption for diapers and incontinence products.

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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704