Sixty Days for 1.23.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

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Your nightly review of Session news. It’s ‘Sixty Days’ — right now.

Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:

The Last 24

Gov. Ron DeSantis has a list of nominees to replace former Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, who Donald Trump appointed to spots on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominee Commission sent over nine names. Six of the potential replacements are appeals judges, while five are women, and one is black. None of the current Florida Supreme Court justices are black, which has been a sore spot among some lawmakers seeking to reform the JNC process. DeSantis has 60 days to make his selections. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Bill of rights. The House Commerce Committee plan for allowing college athletes to receive compensation for their names or images also includes a “bill of rights” guaranteeing them health care and financial aid.

Solid no. Senate President Bill Galvano supports closing the so-called gun show loophole, but RPOF Chair and Sarasota Sen. Joe Gruters said he’s firmly against it and doubts it has enough support to clear the Senate.

Fast track. A week after it was filed, House Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls’ bill to protect Floridians’ DNA information from being used by insurance companies is ready for a vote in the full House.

Poaching punishment. A bill that would up the penalties for anyone caught killing or possessing Florida black bears outside of a bear hunting season is ready for consideration on the House floor.

Quote of the Day

“I’m standing my ground. I have a right to be here. If they don’t like it, get a good opponent and send me home.” — Rep. Kim Daniels, on House Democrats disagreeing with her position on the parental consent abortion bill.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Florida man throws what creature through a Wendy’s drive-thru window?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in Monday’s 60 Days!

Last time, we asked: What Florida Tourism Hall of Fame inductee and famous circus showman aided in the development of Sarasota?

Answer: John Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Congrats to Geoffrey Becker (@geoffreyb89) who was the first to tweet the correct answer!

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

“Will & Grace” is wrapping a revival series and same-sex marriage has the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the year 2020, a spate of anti-LGBTQ bills still landed in the coffer ahead of the Legislative Session. It’s why LGBTQ activists will storm the Capitol Monday to demand fair treatment in Florida. We spoke with Joe Saunders, senior political director for Equality Florida, about the continued civil rights fight of the 21st century.

Florida Politics: Why do you think in the year 2020 we still see a number of bills identified as anti-LGBTQ filed ahead of the Legislative Session?

Saunders: There’s a couple of dynamics in play in Tallahassee right now. I think some members who still operate from the old playbook that says in an election year it’s open season on the LGBTQ community, and that it’s still OK to try to earn political points on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable people. Bills like the transgender youth medical care ban were filed in the eleventh hour moment, right before the filing deadline. But the other thing is a belligerent indifference about the effects legislation can have on local protection cultivated by cities and counties. We see legislation where it is mostly a broad bill seizing power from local governments to the state, but it is so broadly written its impact stretched into our ordinances. Where we have spent a lot of time around Session is around impact and not intent. That distinction is what makes it possible to live in Florida, where the most popular bill is the Florida Comprehensive Workforce Act, and one of the most bipartisan acts filed is the Florida Comprehensive Workforce Act, but that is about the same protections being threatened in the state. Now it’s not always the bill sponsor’s original intent. Now the question is whether when educated, they will react to that information. Rep. Michael Grant, in the first committee for HB 3, brought an amendment to remove the impact on 22 conversion therapy bans in the state, for example. But the next day on HB 305, we pointed out it would have a terrible effect on local nondiscrimination ordinances if it moved forward and the bill sponsor was frankly indifferent it would.

We have heard lawmakers say these deregulation bills should not be classified as anti-LGBTQ, some push back hard against the label. Is there a way to address the issue they want without legislation being viewed as anti-LGBTQ?

Saunders: That’s pretty easy. If lawmakers are as frustrated as we are with the cyclical way in which bills they file stretch through with impact, if it’s not the intent to affect these local ordinances, they should create statewide protections that would make those local protections unnecessary. Pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act or a statewide ban on conversion therapy, and then we won’t need anything at the local level. The threat of that won’t be raised when broad preemption bills are put into effect or are introduced. I do believe there are bill sponsors who brought language we flagged, and they did not write with the intention of impacting the LGBTQ community. But the simple fact is passing that legislation sends a clear signal to the country that Florida is indifferent to the needs of LGBTQ citizens, visitors and anyone living here or just trying to raise a family.

With more legislation specifically directed at transgender people, is that population now the political whipping child LGBT individuals were 15 years ago?

Saunders: The transgender youth medical care ban is not specific to Florida. There is a wave of bills like the one in Florida with nearly identical language across conservative states. You can see in South Dakota, South Carolina, and Tennessee, they are experiencing similar battles. Texas is one. This is a play coming out of a very specific playbook, and it’s the same one driving the filing of anti-trans legislation at the federal level. This is from the same ones who pushed the Trump administration to ban transgender people from serving in the military. It’s all the same conservative forces, and look no further than at the bill sponsor, Sen. Dennis Baxley. He has a strong record of being antagonistic to the LGBTQ community broadly and specifically to transgender Floridians.

Lobby Up

Since taking office, DeSantis and his administration have made efforts to increase the economic links between Florida and several countries.

There was the much-hyped trip to Israel and, more recently, Lt. Gov. Jeannette Núñez traveled to Colombia with a delegation that included 19 Florida companies seeking to increase trade with the nation.

But Colombia isn’t the only Latin American country looking to expand its ties to the Sunshine State. Belize is looking to do the same, and it’s got some unique qualities that would make it a natural fit for tourism and trade partnerships.

Notably, Belize is the only native-English speaking country in Central and South America. The lack of a language barrier and its relative safety have positioned it as a tourism destination for American travelers. Combined with its location in the Central time zone, the country has also seen its market share in the call center industry rise in recent years.

But there’s always room for more growth — direct flights to and from Florida airports, infrastructure investments and more are on the wish list. To help get the conversation started, the Belize American Chamber of Commerce hired Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group, and he’s already had some success.

He tells Florida Politics that Belize’s Minister for Investment, Trade and Commerce, Tracy Pinto, will be touching down in Florida to talk about trade opportunities in the coming weeks.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

First Lady Casey DeSantis will highlight the Department of Education Reading Scholarships and announce several pilot programs. That’s at 8:45 a.m., Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library, 200 West Park Avenue, Tallahassee.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze the fiscal impact of legislation proposed for the 2020 Legislative Session when it meets at 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

Gov. DeSantis will make a major announcement, 9:30 a.m., Baker Park, Eva Sugden-Gomez Center, 50 Riverside Circle, Naples.

The Annual State of Black Florida events continue with the Annual Kershaw-Cherry Legislative luncheon and the Annual Scholarship Gala Celebration. Both events will be held at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. The luncheon begins at noon. The gala begins at 8 p.m.

Attorney General Ashley Moody and Miami-Dade County officials will hold a news conference in Miami detailing anti-human trafficking efforts ahead of Super Bowl LIV. It begins at 2:45 p.m. at Port of Miami — Terminal E, 1265 N. Cruise Blvd.

The Republican National Committee is holding its Winter Meeting in Miami.

Also, the following committees will meet.

— The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 8 a.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.

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

Staff Reports


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