Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Every year, there’s talk of a tax-cut package. Most Sessions, lawmakers follow through — sales tax holidays and cuts to the commercial rents and communications taxes were included in recent packages. But what about tort reform? According to the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, Florida’s legal system is shoddy to the point that the average Florida household takes a $4,442 hit yearly from inflated torts. The so-called “tort tax” has grabbed the attention of some lawmakers, though they said real reform could take an AOB-level effort in the Legislature.
Here’s your nightly rundown.
Surgeon General marches on. A Senate panel recommended Scott Rivkees be confirmed as the state’s Surgeon General, but some Democrats expressed concerns.
Parental consent advances. A controversial bill that would require minors to get parental consent before obtaining an abortion got the approval of a second Senate committee.
Ban on bans. A bill that would ban bans on sunscreens containing certain chemicals cleared its final committee stop and is primed for a vote by the full Senate.
Drone bill cruises. A House panel OKd a bill that would allow state agencies to use the drones over swamps and other people-free places where invasive species and other nuisances have proved problematic.
Limitations lifting. A House bill that would remove the time limit for criminal action against child sex abusers passed earned a unanimous vote in its first committee.
Strep and Flu. A bill that would allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat strep throat and the flu got the green light from the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.
Ready for launch. A bill that would rework the state’s fireworks laws rocketed through its third committee and is now primed for a floor vote in the Senate.
Quote of the Day
“If it was not a legal drug … we would call it a cartel. We don’t like cartels.” — Sen. Doug Broxson, voting in favor of a bill to cap insulin prices.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
When a main question has been decided by the full Senate on a voice vote, who is permitted to move for reconsideration of that question?
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!
Last time, we asked: What Florida city hosted the first college football game ever played in the state?
Answer: Jacksonville, where Stetson and Florida Agricultural College played on November 22, 1901.
Congrats to Andrew Rutledge (@aprut) who was the first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer remains one of Tallahassee’s most influential forces. But she left a Senate committee Tuesday unhappy lawmakers did not respond to her concerns about legislation (SB 7028) sold as fixing a “gun show loophole. She said the bill does no such thing and labeled it “gun control on steroids.” We spoke to her about those thoughts.
Florida Politics: You say there’s no gun show loophole and this legislation extends beyond that. Can you explain the concerns you have with this bill?
Hammer: There is no gunshot loophole. That’s a mythology of people who want to ban private sales. In 1998, a constitutional amendment gave the counties a local option to “close the gun show loophole.” That’s how it was presented to the public, and it passed. It gives counties the authority to require background checks and waiting periods on private sales at gun shows and any property to which the public has the right of access. Over 20 years, only 10 counties — Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Leon, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas Sarasota and Volusia — have this option on their books. Some counties adopted it and later repealed it because it was overburdening to the county and they didn’t really have a problem. Someone told me it’s like trying to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer. Now these 10 counties are not happy the other 57 counties have not seen a need in 20 years to pass such an ordinance.
FP: What makes this bill worse than gun control measures, “on steroids” as you told Senators in committee?
Hammer: It prohibits the private sale of any person to another person of a firearm unless you jump through lot of hoops that the average citizen could not navigate. It requires them to do things they simply cannot do, for example, create a government form and then have it notarized. You can’t find a notary these days. Banks and government offices don’t routinely have people who will notarize documents for the general public. It’s really a thing of the past. There are so many hoops, so much impossible criteria, people will not be able to comply and out of fear won’t be able to sell a gun because won’t be able to comply.
FP: So will votes cast for this legislation be counted when the NRA issues its legislative score card?
Hammer: Absolutely. This is a gun control vote, and the people on that committee who voted for that bill, that’s the second time they have voted for massive gun control. The Parkland bill was supposed to cure all ills and, of course, it hasn’t done anything, so they are back for more, just like we predicted. Yes, we are scoring every vote. I’m paying attention to everything. If anything moves or looks like it’s going to get traction, I will be out there in full force. My job is just like the job of every legislator, to protect the Constitution — all of it, including the Second Amendment. I will protect the constitutional rights of gun owners and all law-abiding citizens. They swear to do it. I just get a paycheck to do it.
Nearly every day of the 60-day Legislative Session highlights a specific organization, cause or community. While Hillsborough Day was a major event at the Capitol Wednesday, today also saw representatives from Palm Beach and Pasco counties head to Tallahassee to meet with lawmakers.
Palm Beach County is the third-largest in the state by population, and they have a lot at stake every Session. This afternoon county leaders made their pitch to lawmakers with a luncheon, which doubled as an event celebrating the county’s legislative delegation.
Pasco, meanwhile, is one of the fastest-growing counties in Florida — its population has shot up nearly 16 % since 2010, and its needs from Tallahassee have grown in accordance with that boom. Pasco County Commissioners showed up Wednesday to get some in-person time with lawmakers and make sure they were up-to-date on what the county outlined in its 2020 State Legislative Agenda Priority Issues report.
Of course, it takes more than a day of work to get anything done in Tallahassee, and both counties have heaps of backup in the Capitol to make sure lawmakers don’t forget their wish lists come mid-March.
Repping Palm Beach County are Albert Balido, Frank Bernardino, Natalie Fausel and Edgar Fernandez of Anfield Consulting; Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart and Anita Berry of Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies; Mike Corcoran, Matt Blair, Jacqueline Corcoran and Andrea Tovar of Corcoran Partners; Angela Bonds and Chris Moya of Dean Mead; Candice Ericks of Ericks Consultants; and Jonathan Kilman, Cesar Fernandez, Paul Lowell of Converge Government Affairs of Florida
The Pasco County Board of County Commissioners is represented by Ralph Lair, while Pasco County Schools gets lobbying help from Shawn Foster and Sam Wagoner of Sunrise Consulting Group.
The Next 24
Vice President Mike Pence is set to headline events for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. The first will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Venetian Events Center in Tampa, 9724 Cross Creek Blvd. The second will be held at 6 p.m. at Nacion de Fe in Kissimmee, 4555 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Hemp Advisory Council discuss the state’s industrial hemp program during a 4 p.m. conference call. The call-in number is 1-877-309-2073. The conference code is 547229781.
Also, the following committees will meet:
— The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee will meet at 8:30 a.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.
— The House Civil Justice Subcommittee will meet at 8:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. in Room 306 of the House Office Building.
— The House Local Administration Subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet at 10 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The House Education Committee will meet at noon in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Health & Human Services Committee will meet at noon in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Judiciary Committee will meet at noon in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Commerce Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House State Affairs Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Rules Committee will meet at 5 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.