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Sixty Days for 12.10.19 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

Sixty Days — our daily dispatch from the fourth floor.

The Last 24

Good Tuesday evening. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Reps. Geraldine Thompson and Anthony Sabatini called for the Groveland Four to receive full exonerations.

While the four men falsely accused of rape 70 years ago were posthumously pardoned by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet early this year, that didn’t resolve the question of guilt; an exoneration would establish permanently that they’d broken no law in the first place.

Fried issued a proclamation calling for that exoneration, saying the Groveland Four were denied due process, “wrongly imprisoned, murdered, tortured.”

Also speaking up as the event progressed: Sen. Gary Farmer, who noted the pardon means nothing to the men who were killed. And Rep. Bobby DuBose, who said the push would be “back again and again until it’s done.”

Here’s your nightly rundown.

Roll camera. A Senate panel unanimously approved a bill that would set up a rebate program to entice film studios to bring productions to the Sunshine State.

Puff, puff, hold. The hope was hemp cultivation rules would be in place as soon as next month. That’s not happening.

Parental consent. After a lengthy debate, the Senate Health Policy Committee advanced a controversial bill requiring minors to get parental approval before having an abortion.

Spoiled for choice. The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program that state lawmakers passed earlier is a hit — it’s the largest first-year private charter school implementation in the state’s history.

Quote of the Day

“I truly believe a person’s word is their bond and should live up to their word. I also meant that after eight years, I would come home and pass the baton to a new generation.” — U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho on his decision not to run for reelection in 2020.

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

Gov. DeSantis in Naples announced he wants graduating high school seniors taking tests similar to those for naturalized citizens. He spoke to the press afterward about how what the state needs to glean about those finishing their education.

Florida Politics: Having students take these tests, is there going to be any consequence for students who fail? Are you ever going to tie graduation to passing this test?

DeSantis: I would say those are things that are in discussion. I would like initially to just understand where we are. How bad is it? Because you see some of these national numbers when they do the surveys, they’re really bad. I kind of think we would do a little bit better than that. But take it to show where we are, where the deficiencies are, and then build up. Eventually, that could be something that we could do, so I wouldn’t rule it out. But I think my main goal with this is just to see OK, what more do we need to do? And then make sure folks have a good foundation going forward.

How is this going to be implemented?

DeSantis: We would like to do a soft rollout at the end of this school year now, but really, it’ll be full-fledged for the next school year. I think there’ll be some school districts who will want to participate. That’ll just kind of give us a baseline where we’re at and where our deficiencies. We have just got to work with the Legislature. This is something that we wanted to do. I hear from a lot of people throughout the state; it didn’t matter which corner, people are frustrated that this isn’t as important as it used to be. People say Americans generally don’t have as good as civic knowledge. But by age group, it’s really declining in every survey I’ve seen. And so that tells me that we’re not doing as good a job as we need to do.

This focuses on 18-year-olds that are now old enough to vote. Is that part of the motivation?

DeSantis: You are going to be prepared to be a citizen, whether it’s voting or it could be joining the military. Now, we don’t have an active military draft. Who knows what happens? At some point, you could be called upon to wear the uniform of your country. It’s important that people understand what they’re fighting for, and understand that there’s a lot of benefits that come from being an American citizen, a lot of benefits of having the Constitution to protect your rights. But there are duties and responsibilities that flow from that. Those core principles are very important.

Lobby Up

More than 20% of Florida children live in “food insecure” homes, meaning they don’t get enough to eat or that what they do get doesn’t provide quality nutrition.

One organization dedicated to ending hunger among Florida’s children is No Kid Hungry. They’ve been expanding their reach in the state, hiring field directors, and working with school districts to ensure kids aren’t going home hungry.

Part of their strategy is breaking the stigma of free school breakfasts by holding them during the school day rather than before class in the cafeteria — in the 2018-19 school year alone, No Kid Hungry fed hungry kids an additional 11.5 million nutritious breakfasts in schools across America.

The program has caught the attention of teachers, who know firsthand that students learn better when they’re not operating on an empty stomach.

Now they’re working on getting the attention of lawmakers.

In the lead up to the 2020 Legislative Session, No Kid Hungry’s parent organization, Share Our Strength, hired lobbyists Stephen Shiver and Sarah Suskey of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners.

Suskey said one bill that’s caught the group’s eye is HB 521, sponsored by Gulfport Rep. Jennifer Webb.

It contains several provisions that cut down on hunger, including incentivizing farmers to donate their surplus harvest and setting up “share tables” where students can return food and beverages they don’t want so others may have them.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet in Panama City to discuss its 10-year bear-management plan. That’s at 8:30 a.m. at the Edgewater Beach Resort, 11212 Front Beach Road.

The Board of Governors for state-backed insurer Citizens Property Insurance Corp. meets in Maitland to discuss its budget for the next fiscal year. They convene at 9 a.m. at the Sheraton Orlando North, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss lottery revenues. When it examined the issue in August, it revised estimates upward, citing higher-than-expected ticket sales. The conference meets at 1:30 p.m. in the Knott Building.

Also, the following committees will meet:

— House Health Quality Subcommittee, 8:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building. On the agenda is a bill that would allow APRNs to practice without physician supervision.

— House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, 8:30 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

— House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee, 9 a.m., 306 House Office Building.

— House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building. The committee will discuss a measure blocking local governments from adopting sunscreen bans.

— Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee, 10 a.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

— The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., 12 House Office Building. The committee will consider a measure that would ban the controversial shark fin trade.

— House Business & Professions Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building. Up for debate is a bill that would roll back a law governing the size of wine containers.

— House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee 12:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building

— House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee, 12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building. The committee will hear a bill upping the penalty for drivers who don’t stop for school buses.

— Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee 1:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building. 

— Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, 1:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building. On the agenda is a bill that would lower sentencing requirements for many drug-related offenses.

— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 1:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building. There will be a presentation on the Governor’s proposed education budget.

— Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., 412 Knott Building.

— Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

— House Health Market Reform Subcommittee, 4 p.m., 306 House Office Building.

— House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., 212 Knott Building.

— House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, 4 p.m., 404 House Office Building,

— House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, 4 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

Full committee agendas, including bills to be considered, are available on the House and Senate websites.

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