Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
A Cabinet office may become more “low-energy” if a measure becomes law, and objections are being raised. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, had her say Tuesday on a House bill that would move the Office of Energy from her department over to the Department of Environmental Protection. Democrats have cast the measure has been as a partisan “power grab” engineered to weaken Fried’s office. After the bill was OK’d by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Fried said the proposal “puts party before state, puts the Governor over Floridians.” Here’s your nightly rundown.
Teacher pay. The Senate unveiled its teacher pay plan, which measures in $100 million below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request and would allocate the money differently.
Water spending. The House water quality and Everglades spending proposal closely mirror DeSantis’ budget request, but it doesn’t include recurring funds.
Athlete compensation. A House committee approved a bill that would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals or their likeness, but not on-field play.
Complete Florida Plus. The Senate’s education spending plan would give Complete Florida Plus its own budget separate from the University of West Florida, which is facing criticism over financial mismanagement of the library services program.
More booze. A House panel advanced a bill that would increase the maximum production threshold for craft distilleries and allow them to bottle drinks in different sizes.
Preemption package. A bill that would override local government wages, hours and benefits ordinances cleared its second House panel, though critics say it would also undo LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinances.
Guns in church. A bill that would allow concealed weapons at places of worship attached to schools was OK’d by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
Home care overhaul. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services approved a bill that would rewrite rules surrounding a federally funded program that allows severely disabled Floridians to receive in-home care.
Broadband boost. Legislation to revitalize broadband expansion unanimously passed its first Senate committee, a week after making the same milestone in the House.
Ghost ships. A Senate committee spent over an hour discussing and learning about the state’s system for removing derelict and nuisance vessels from Florida waterways.
Go Tigers. Rep. Jamie Grant’s bill to create specialty tags for a trio of out-of-state universities — including his alma mater, Auburn University — cleared its second committee with a unanimous vote.
Cat care. The Senate Agriculture Committee greenlit a bill that would ban declawing cats and impose a penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation.
Independent practice. Nearly 200 nurse anesthetists filled the 4th floor Rotunda at the Capitol in support of a bill that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to practice without physician supervision.
Voting rights. A federal appeals court heard arguments over whether felons should be required to pay fines and fees before regaining the right to vote under Amendment 4.
Quote of the Day
“You about have to beg your way to state prison.” — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, defending Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Florida has the only living one of these ecosystems in the continental U.S.
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 city is known as the “birthplace of speed?”
Although we received some good guesses, no one got the correct answer — Ormond Beach. Thanks to everyone who participated, and we call on all of you out there to join in — the more you play, the better your chances of winning!
Bill Day’s Latest
E-Verify is just one of the hot issues FWD.us is paying attention to at the state level. While the group awaits comprehensive immigration reform in Washington, state director Ted Hutchison hopes Florida lawmakers this Session apply “common sense” for all those living here. “Why shut the door to folks coming here?” he tells Florida Politics. “At the end of the day, that’s counterproductive. Help Florida maintain and celebrate our economy.”
Florida Politics: FWD.us released a statement supporting a driver’s license access bill by Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jose Javier Rodriguez, and David Simmon has a bill out too. What should the Legislature include in anything it passes?
Hutchison: Similar to efforts we saw recently in Colorado and New York, and FWD.us worked with our partners on those as well, we just wasn’t to see an opportunity to live. Regardless of where you fall on the issue of immigration, at the end of the day, people realize what you need is the ability to do that. Issues of public safety, and the fact we want people insured, here in Florida, there is little to no public transportation, so a driver’s license is a necessary tool, and it helps people let us know who they are. Folks who can drive boost the economy. They can more easily shop in our stores, go to our venues and contribute. You often hear about the need for common sense and what solutions we can put forward. This gives some autonomy, and it harms no one. And it gives people if not a fair chair chance then a fighting chance to provide for their family. Comprehensive immigration reform is an issue that has to be done at the federal level, as far as border security, citizenship, legal statutes, revising the application process. But here at the state level, there are things we can do to help the economy rather than harm it. People here work. And they exist. In a state like Florida, with poor public transportation, this is a solution that can benefit everyone.
FP: There are major divides in the Legislature about E-Verify requirements. Where does FWD.us stand on the various proposals put forward this Session?
Hutchison: I know there is the bill introduced by Tom Lee, and also a compromise sponsored by Joe Gruters with Cord Byrd. But our position is, we don’t see the benefit of doing E-Verify. It places a burden on businesses, and it’s going to impact industries that are critical to Florida like agriculture, like tourism and hospitality, like construction. I don’t understand how a state that has a reasonably good economy, where we see consistent job growth, why would we harm that and stop that growth? Why pause, and suffer the consequence of that?
So we don’t support either piece of legislation. There has been a compromise bill introduced, but it’s a backdoor to E-Verify, and if you look at it, it has requirements more onerous than the current verification process.
FP: When the so-called sanctuary cities ban was discussed last year. We frequently heard that if Republicans really cared, they would tackle E-Verify instead of forcing law enforcement to cooperate with ICE. How does that position jive with opposition to E-Verify now?
Hutchison: Going into the last Legislative Session, we understood the possibility was there both issues could come up. But then it was clear there was a more obvious appetite for sanctuary cities. I have to note there are no sanctuary cities in Florida. But E-Verify is something I and the organization were constantly worried about, and we would have opposed it then as we do now. I get people are frustrated, but this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s common sense. If we are going to do something on immigration in Florida, let’s not try to harm people. Providing driver’s licenses, it helps people. We know all of it’s about a failure to do comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, but I don’t understand the effort to do these things that harm us in the state.
When it comes time to fill spots on the bench, Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commissions are tasked with making a list and sending it over to the Governor’s office.
The commissions were set up in the 1970s to provide a check on executive power, but Progress Florida says they’ve fallen short in recent years.
Currently, the Governor controls the nine-member panels. Five members are appointed by the Governor, all of whom must reside in the jurisdiction covered by the respective commissions. The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors recommends options for the remaining seats, but the Governor has veto power over the Bar’s suggestions. And the veto power has been used often.
Progress Florida points to Gov. Rick Scott’s tenure, which saw 90 Florida Bar recommendations for JNCs brushed aside, resulting in commissions becoming a politicized arm of the Governor’s Office. The problem has continued under the DeSantis administration, the organization says.
Progress Florida, through its Florida Access to Justice Project, is pushing for policies that ensure a statewide judiciary free from partisan influence and special interest money. Additionally, the project supports proposals for new JNC guidelines that would lead to commissions around the state better, reflecting the diversity of Florida.
To further the mission, Progress Florida has retained Albert Balido and Anfield Consulting to advocate for legislation filed in both chambers that would depoliticize the judicial selection process. Their priority bills: SB 86 and HB 379.
The legislation put forward by Sen. Perry Thurston and Rep. Al Jacquet would limit the Governor to three appointments. The Florida Bar Board of Governors would appoint another three. The final three would be agreed upon by the other six appointees.
The Next 24
DeSantis and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen will make a major announcement. That’s at 8:20 a.m. at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Dolphin Meeting Space — American Seminar Room, 1500 Epcot Resorts Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista.
Aides to the Governor and Cabinet will meet at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room.
Catholics for Choice and the Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health and Justice and will discuss bills that would require parents to sign off before a minor could have an abortion. The news conference begins at 11 a.m. on the 4th floor of the Capitol.
Attorney General Ashley Moody and DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller will join the Pace Center for Girls for a news conference held as part of “Pace Day at the Capitol.” It begins at 11:45 a.m. on the 22nd floor.
The Catholic bishops of Florida will host the 45th Annual Red Mass on Wednesday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. It starts at 6 p.m. A reception will follow.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.
— The House Civil Justice Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Local Administration Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 9 a.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will consider a bill by committee Chair Jeff Brandes that would allow older inmates to be released from state prisons. The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will discuss the 2020-2021 budgets for the Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning and the state university system Board of Governors when it meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will that would extend VISIT FLORIDA’s authorization through 2028. It meets at 11 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The House Appropriations Committee will meet at 12:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Rules Committee will consider a measure that would repeal the Constitution Revision Commission when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The House will hold a floor session at 3:30 p.m.
— The Senate will hold a floor session at 4 p.m.