Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The 2020 Legislative Session officially began today. Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off the 60-day Session with a State of the State speech themed around a “season of opportunity.” He highlighted his 2019 accomplishments before saying he and the Legislature “have much more to do.” Some of his priorities will be red meat for social conservatives, though much of his speech focused on less controversial proposals, including more environmental funding. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Teacher pay being worked out. Senate President Bill Galvano maintained his position that “negotiation” is needed to strike a balance between the Governor’s teacher pay plan and the Legislature’s.
Spending isn’t caring. According to House Speaker José Oliva, money won’t solve the big issues facing Florida. Thundered, nine times, during a Tuesday speech with the subtlety of a hammer banging an anvil: “SPENDING IS NOT CARING, SOLVING IS CARING.”
Dems disappointed. Responses to DeSantis’ State of the State address Tuesday were a mixed bag, with Democrats in the Legislature dishing out most of the criticism.
Grandparents’ rights. A bill filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes will allow grandparents to petition for visitation rights if a child’s parent has been convicted of a felony.
Ready for takeoff. A bill by Sen. Joe Gruters that would repeal a tax on jet fuel flew through its first committee stop.
Baby boxes. The Senate Health Policy Committee advanced a bill that would make climatized boxes available at fire stations and hospitals for mothers to surrender newborns they cannot care for.
Quote of the Day
“Now, I am not given to hyperbole; I use these words with precision. The health care-industrial complex made up of hospitals, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are the great robber barons of our time.” — House Speaker José Oliva, in his address opening the 2020 Legislative Session.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is:
What Florida city hosted the first college football game ever played in the state?
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: Consuming what food gives flamingoes their pink color?
Answer: Shrimp: the more shrimp one eats, the pinker a flamingo becomes.
Congrats to Lauren Bankert Steif (@laurenbankert), who was the first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Another Legislative Session means VISIT FLORIDA must fight for its life again. VISIT FLORIDA chair Virginia Haley spoke to us about the unfair stress the annual budget fight places on staff and the fears felt by destination marketing groups, but also expressed optimism lawmakers understood the need to continue.
Florida Politics: On this first day of the Legislative Session, how confident are you VISIT FLORIDA will make it into the state budget?
Haley: The Governor put in the $50 million, which is flat to this current year. We are pleased that both in the Senate and coming from the Governor’s Office, they are requesting a multiyear reauthorization. We also know, of course, the Speaker (José Oliva) has a different opinion. But Sen. Dana Young (VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO) has been in constant meetings in the House and the Senate. We seem to be getting very positive support. I am hopeful we can work things out.
FP: Why is a multiyear reauthorization important for Visit Florida?
Haley: We’d be happy with one year, but we are in the process now, because it’s good business and because it’s required of VISIT FLORIDA, to do multiyear strategic plans. It’s hard to do. It’s getting done, and the VISIT FLORIDA staff continues to do amazing and creative programs with excellent results. Especially some of the outdoor adventure seeker campaign have had tremendous results for the state. But if you have a family, how long can you continue to work for an organization fighting every year for reauthorization? If we continue this way, we will see talent leaving. (Retention) is extremely important. You have continuity. You build relationships within the industry. It’s a larger and complex state. It’s great to have people in there who understand the problems of different regions.
FP: You also run Visit Sarasota County. What will destination marketing organizations like your own do if VISIT FLORIDA sunsets?
Haley: Even for a mid-sized destination like Sarasota, we really depend on cooperative marketing opportunities that we put dollars into with VISIT FLORIDA and which have a much greater reach than we could do on our own. We would lose that umbrella opportunity in international trade shows. We would be in real trouble if faced with an emergency as we were with red tide. We all work together, particularly in Southwest Florida and Tampa Bay. But our most successful programs are when we work under the VISIT FLORIDA umbrella.
Lutheran Services of Florida is one of about a dozen managing entities works alongside the Department of Children and Families to connect kids and parents with providers that provide the services they need.
Though they’re not pushing for any specific legislation this year, they’ve made it a priority to back many of the mental health initiatives being pushed by First Lady Casey DeSantis — especially her awareness and prevention efforts relating to teen suicide.
Helping them in the effort is the team at Liberty Partners of Tallahassee. The connection between LSF and Liberty Partners came along thanks to firm lobbyist Tim Parsons’ strong ties to former DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, who is now involved with LSF.
It’s a feel-good client and natural fit for the firm, says Liberty Partners’ President Jennifer Green, adding that “even though none of us are Lutheran, we all say grace before we eat.”
Green says the firm is also excited to see Parsons continue his working relationship with Carroll.
“I’m thrilled to have Tim be able to work with Mike again. His institutional knowledge makes him such an asset to have on staff.”
The Next 24
The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze state revenues when they meet at 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and NFIB will hold a news conference alongside Sen. Doug Broxson and Rep. Bob Rommel, announcing the results of a study assessing the economic benefits of tort reform. It begins at 12:30 p.m. on the 4th-floor of the Capitol.
Nonpartisan group Florida TaxWatch will hold its annual “State of the Taxpayer” dinner at the Hotel Duval, 415 North Monroe St. Speakers lined up for the event include CFO Jimmy Patronis, state Sen. José Javier Rodriguez and state Rep. Paul Renner. It begins at 6:30 p.m. A media availability with TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro precedes the dinner.
Also, the following committees will meet:
— The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee will consider confirming Florida National Guard Adjutant Gen. James Eifert. The committee meets at 8:30 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
— The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will meet at 8:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Health Quality Subcommittee will meet at 8:30 a.m. in Room 306 of the House Office Building.
— The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.
— The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The Senate Rules Committee will debate a controversial bill (SB 172) that would ban local sunscreen bans, such as the one planned for Key West. The committee meets at 8:30 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building
— The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.
— The House Business & Professions Subcommittee will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 1 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 1 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will meet at 1 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government will consider confirming new executive directors for five of Florida’s water management districts. They meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Room 306 of the House Office Building.
— The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee will meet at 3:30 p.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.
— The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Surgeon General and Florida Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees. They meet at 4 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.