Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session
The Last 24
Good Monday evening. A proposed constitutional amendment to raise Florida’s minimum wage could cost the state around $540 million by 2027, according to estimates. And it would lose millions more in the five prior years. State revenue estimators crunched the numbers for a ballot proposal seeking a $15 minimum wage. Florida For A Fair Wage, chaired by Orlando attorney John Morgan, wants the question in front of voters in 2020. Sixty Days is all for higher wages, but that’s a lot of lost cheddar. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Mo’ money: Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a letter to the White House asking for a boost in federal cost share for the last leg of Michael recovery efforts.
Jackson’s back: The legal battle over Okaloosa Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson’s suspension has returned to the Senate.
‘America’s forgotten disaster’: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried spotlights post-Hurricane Michael malaise in new video.
Up in smoke: AG Ashley Moody‘s opioid lawsuit could be imperiled as a related bill stalls in the Senate.
Shorter sentences, less money: A proposed decrease in the length of criminal sentences could save the state nearly a billion bucks over five years.
Constitutional rights — and wrongs: Legal legend Sandy D’Alemberte tells lawmakers: Stop messing around with felon voting rights.
Election Day doldrums: Lawmakers are considering several measures to address the state’s long documented election woes.
Quote of the Day
“You all put your lives on the line. You go into buildings that are burning to save somebody else. How could we not save you?” — state Rep. Dianne Hart, a Tampa Democrat, supporting a firefighter cancer coverage bill.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
What are the two largest Civil War engagements in 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!
Last time, we asked: What name was given to a group of conservative North Florida Democrats who controlled political power from the 1930s-1960s and fought to maintain segregation?
Answer: “The Pork Chop Gang.”
Congrats to Eric Vey (@EricVey) who was the first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
The 2018 Farm Bill allows something once impossible for legitimate farmers: the commercial production of hemp. Timothy F. Stanfield, an attorney in Greenberg Traurig’s Government Law & Policy Practice in the Tallahassee office, represents clients in the sector and spoke to us about what needs to happen with legislation.
Florida Politics: Where does the focus need to be on hemp legislation and is the House or Senate doing a better job with the task?
Stanfield: My clients are focusing on the creation of a holistic regulatory system that puts the market on solid ground to grow. We have to be able to facilitate the agriculture industry’s ability to cultivate products, to allow cultivators’ to sell their products through processors, and to ultimately sell an end product to consumers. When we talk about this agriculture community, it’s pretty vast. We want a system that isn’t overly burdensome and allows for the cultivation, processing and retail sale, but also protects the marketplace and respects federal law.
We want to protect consumers, and, in some cases, the farmer, to make sure he is buying legitimate seed. Both chambers should be commended for the way views have evolved regarding this subject matter. It’s hard to go from a prohibitionary stance for 100-plus years, and then the federal government over four years throws a switch. I commend both chambers for latching onto the reality of what’s going on. They have been willing to listen and make changes in their views and ideologies to facilitate this.
FP: Is Florida behind other states and are there hemp regulations elsewhere that should be emulated?
Stanfield: Everybody is really feeling their way around this. The reality is it’s still a nascent industry. We are talking probably 100,000 acres that were cultivating hemp around the U.S. last year. The demand for products is far greater than that. Florida’s agriculture industry is sophisticated enough that even if there are others that do have a head start, we can close the gap and make it up. No other state has a regulatory system or market that is so far ahead or doing anything groundbreaking. Other states are regulating and creating market systems holistically. We should pay close attention to what’s happening in the other states, but Florida is on the right track.
FP: There have been reports Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the sale of CBD products stopped until legislation gets straightened out. Does that concern anyone already working in this space?
Stanfield: There has been a lot said about what Commissioner Fried has said and not said. She has been deliberate and open in her dealings with the industry. I expect any action the Commissioner’s office does take, if they take any action, to involve careful deliberation and include a very public process. She has done a good job and set herself up to regulate in an effective manner.
Thousands of Floridians spent their Sunday morning taking part in sunrise services and Easter egg hunts, and many of them did so on a pristine plot of green space. Florida’s natural beauty is one of its greatest assets. While theme parks reel in millions of visitors a year, there are hundreds of nature tourism destinations that do their part in driving the state’s tourism economy — from Paynes Prairie to Panhandle beaches, and springs to swamps, Florida’s chock full of natural wonders.
There’s no better day than today — Earth Day — to recognize Florida’s unique flora, fauna and habitats and recommit to protecting them for future generations to enjoy. But for some groups, Earth Day is every day.
One of the top environmental groups in the state is Sierra Club Florida. The state chapter represents nearly 40,000 members and makes sure its voice is heard throughout the Legislative Session thanks to the efforts of lobbyists David Cullen and Deborah Foote.
Audubon Florida pushes for land conservation and environmental spending, with a special focus on protecting the five-dozen or so imperiled species of birds. Diana Ferguson of Rutledge Ecenia as well as in-house advocates Elizabeth Alvi and Joshua Romero tackle their needs in the Capitol.
Advocacy groups aren’t the only ones with a stake in keeping Florida environments clean and sustainable. That’s also the charge of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Their lobbying corps includes Noah Valenstein, Kevin Cleary, Leslie Reed, Darica Smith, and Robert Wilson.
While they work around the clock, today is as good a day as any to pitch in with a little roadside cleanup, toss your cans and bottles in the blue bin, shave a few kilowatt-hours off your electric bill, or set the roadster to “eco mode.” If the Earth doesn’t thank you, your wallet will.
The Next 24
The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission will certify the results of special Republican primary elections in House District 7 and House District 38 and an uncontested special election in House District 97. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.
The Florida Education Association (FEA) will hold a news conference to discuss state and local funding of neighborhood public schools. That’s at 9:30 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.
The Senate will hold a floor session and could approve a wide-ranging bill aimed at bolstering safety in Florida schools. Other measures expected to be considered: A proposal to toughen the state’s texting-while-driving ban; a plan to build or expand three toll roads; a motion dealing with the controversial insurance practice known as assignment of benefits. That’s at 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The House Ways & Means Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
Lawmakers, the We Are Florida Coalition, immigrants, civil rights advocates, and faith leaders will hold a news conference and then pray in opposition to ‘family separation’ bills. That’s at 11 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.
FloridaPolitics.com publisher Peter Schorsch will be the featured speaker at a meeting of Capital Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee.
The House will take up a series of bills during a floor session, including a measure that seeks to prevent so-called sanctuary cities in Florida. Also expected to be considered: A controversial proposal to carry out a November constitutional amendment designed to restore voting rights of many felons who have fulfilled their sentences. That’s at 12:30 p.m., House Chamber.
Senate Special Master Dudley Goodlette will again take up a case stemming from DeSantis’ suspension of Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson. The process had been on hold pending a court challenge that Jackson lost. That’s at 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Rules Committee will consider dozens of bills, including a measure to prevent life insurers from using customers’ genetic information in decisions about selling policies or pricing premiums. That’s at 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will set a special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. That’s 15 minutes after the Rules Committee meeting ends, 401 Senate Office Building.
The House Rules Committee will meet 15 minutes after floor session, 404 House Office Building.
A fundraising event is scheduled for Donna Barcomb, a Republican running in Sarasota County’s House District 72. Barcomb is trying to unseat Rep. Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Signature Events and Catering, 4870 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
Attorney General Ashley Moody will speak during the Leon County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. That’s at 7 p.m., Florida State University, University Center Club, 403 Stadium Dr., Tallahassee.