Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The eve of the 2020 Legislative Session produced some positive news for employees: a Senate bill would have the state at least consider giving them cost-of-living pay raises … once it has the data next Session. The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee voted unanimously to advance the bill, SB 1114 by Sen. Bill Montford. Still, the measure faces a rougher road in the House, where it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
Here’s your nightly rundown.
Florida Prepaid is getting cheaper. New enrollees will pay less, and families who started paying in after 2008 can expect a refund.
E-Verify gets Senate sponsor. Sen. Joe Gruters filed a companion to the compromise bill put forward by Rep. Cord Byrd last week.
Water plan gets ally. Senate Budget Chief Rob Bradley filed a bill Monday that would fully fund Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan for $625 million a year in water quality spending.
Bump pay for all school employees. The Legislature is set to consider raising minimum teacher salaries, by Democratic lawmakers are calling for a more expansive plan.
Panic alarms advance. Senate Infrastructure and Security committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill by Sen. Lauren Book (SB 70) that would require panic alarms in public schools.
Quote of the Day
“With the support of over 67% of Florida voters, Make it Legal Florida is proud to have gathered more than 700,000 signed petitions in the effort to bring adult-use cannabis to the Sunshine State. The narrow time frame to submit and verify those signatures has prompted our committee to shift focus to now gain ballot access in 2022.” — Make it Legal Florida on its decision to end its campaign for the 2020 ballot.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
Consuming what food gives flamingoes their pink color?
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in tomorrow’s 60 Days!
Bill Day’s Latest
There are multiple reasons state Rep. Jennifer Webb feels the Florida Workforce Development Act needs to pass in the state. As an economic development professional, the St. Petersburg Democrat said Florida loses out on corporate business. But she’s also the first lesbian ever elected to the Florida Legislature. She sees now as an important time for Florida to become a safe place to work and live for LGBTQ residents.
Florida Politics: Do you feel this legislation has a better chance to pass than in prior years?
Webb: Yes, and we are bringing a new strategy. We have three people in leadership positions, myself, Chair Holly Raschein and Vice-Chair Jackie Toledo. Raschein is not running for higher office, and she has a lot of political capital to send on this bill. We continue to tack on co-sponsors every year. And among my Republican colleagues, especially younger members, they tell me Florida’s Republican Party party isn’t like elsewhere. I have to believe them when say this to be a more inclusive party. Whether they actually choose to hear this bill or workshop it, will show whether that’s true or not. You can’t get more inclusive than this bill.
Florida Politics: You have actually worked in the world of attracting economic development to Florida. How much does this impact the ability to attract business?
Webb: I do business development. I look to help companies to expand into markets and the Southeast. This is 100 % something people ask about. It’s a quality-of-life issue. As we look to how to make Florida, especially the Central Florida region that includes Tampa Bay to Orlando, more competitive nationally and internationally, this is a big sticking point. Even if a company protects their own employees, there is no guarantee for spouses and children who will be affected. It’s why companies are forgoing sunny Florida and moving instead to Pittsburgh. It’s educational institutions and it’s these protections.
Florida Politics: Last Session, there seemed to be a struggle whether the Legislature should just pursue workforce protections and not this entire bill. Was that a helpful or hurtful conversation for this legislation?
Webb: It was helpful ultimately. I was raised by the LGBTQ+ community. That was definitely an opportunity for my community to come together or separate and fraction off. We came together for the most part, and I am really proud we learned lessons from history. It has never paid off to break into factions. Also, the other bill wasn’t well written, and it was not good statuary language, and that showed the work of those who wrote the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. That helped to educate our colleagues. We had a lot of foundational conversations about the legislation.
The Florida Association of Health Plans announced its priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session. What’s tops the list? Balance billing.
Though FAHP successfully pushed for legislation ending balance building a few years ago, the practice is still alive and well in some corners of the medical industry. The current culprit are air ambulances, which have “hid behind a federal ACT to continue the egregious practice” according to FAHP CEO Audrey Brown Bridges.
Bills to close the loophole have been filed by Sen. Manny Diaz (SB 736) and Rep. Jayer Williamson (HB 747).
FAHP’s other priorities include further improvements to the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care and standing against any bills “that would undermine the current, effective business practices that Florida’s health plans use to ensure patient safety, incentivize quality through managed networks, and control costs of services and pharmaceuticals.”
The association has a large team helping them out in Tallahassee.
In addition to in-house lobbyists Audrey Brown, Paul Runk, Wences Troncoso, FAHP is represented by Mike Corcoran and Matt Blair of Corcoran Partners; James Card of Larry J. Overton & Associates; Bill Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson, Amy Bisceglia, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco of Rubin Turnbull & Associates; and Justin Day, Megan Fay, Ashley Kalifeh, Ron LaFace, Daniel Newman, Scott Ross and Gerald Wester, of Capital City Consulting.
The Next 24
Senate President Bill Galvano will officially debut new artwork for the Senate seating gallery. The new artwork, completed by artist Barry Miller of Rose Boulevard Design in Tallahassee, replaces the “Five Flags Mural,” which was removed and preserved as part of the 2016 Senate Chamber Renovation. The unveiling is at 8:30 a.m. at the entrance to the Senate gallery.
The Senate holds its first meeting of the 2020 Legislative Session at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber. The House follows with its first meeting at 10 a.m.
DeSantis will deliver his annual State of the State address in the House Chamber at 11 a.m.
Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, will offer a response to the State of the State address at 12:15 p.m. or immediately following DeSantis’ speech. They will deliver their remarks on the 4th-floor Rotunda.
Senate President Galvano will meet with media at 2 p.m. in the Senate Chamber.
Sen. Randolph Bracy will hold a news conference outlining a bill (SB 566) that would prohibit discrimination against certain race-associated hairstyles and textures. It begins at 4:30 p.m. on the4th-floor Rotunda.
Also, the following committees will meet:
— The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Transportation & Tourism Subcommittee will meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The Senate Agriculture Committee will debate bills, including to ban declawing cats, when it meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will consider a bill that would eliminate a tax on airplane fuel when it meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a bill that would allow pharmacies to dispense drugs from automated kiosks when it meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.