Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The Senate unveiled its initial health care budget this afternoon. The $39.4 billion package comes a day after the House detailed its $38.7 billion health care spending plan. While there’s a $700 million gap, the chambers are aligned on what segments of the massive budget silo need more attention. Atop the list: upping the reimbursement rate for nursing homes. The Senate would ante up $105 million more than last year, while the House has proposed an increase of $45 million. Here’s your nightly rundown.
‘Accuracy in damages.’ A House panel advanced a bill aimed at lowering awards in medical claims lawsuits by letting juries know what a patient paid for care rather than what providers billed
Bye-bye Best and Brightest. A bill to nix the Best and Brightest bonus program and shift the funds to teacher pay raises sailed through the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education without opposition.
Water money flows. The Senate wants to set aside $639 million in water quality funding in the 2020-21 budget, exceeding the Governor’s $625 million ask.
Eight is enough. A proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that could impose term limits on all school board members cleared its second House panel.
Early release. Proposals allowing for the early release of ill or elderly inmates unanimously passed a Senate justice panel. One more stop before the chamber floor.
Child welfare. A House committee introduced a plan to overhaul the child welfare system by providing more support for key workers, enhancing workforce development, and boosting pay for child protective investigators.
CRC repeal imminent. A bill to abolish the controversial Constitutional Revision Commission cleared its final Senate committee and is ready for a floor vote. The Senate passed a repeal bill last year. The measure already cleared the House.
DNA privacy passes. The House gave nearly unanimous approval Wednesday to a bill that would protect Floridians’ genetic privacy from life, disability and long-term care insurers.
Parental consent split. House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee announced that the party would not take a position on a controversial bill that would require parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion.
Quote of the Day
“I will not back down from people who are merely activist motivated and not true policymakers, in my opinion. This is a message to the Anna Eskamanis and the Cindy Polos, who are so far left they have been left behind … the best thing they can do is tweet and get likes and undermine other elected officials with bogus media attempts.” — Rep. Kimberly Daniels, contending she has been “bullied” by other Democrats over her position on the parental consent bill.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What Florida-born professional surfer is the winningest surfer of all time with 11 world titles?
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shout-out in tomorrow’s 60 Days!
Last time, we asked: Florida has the only living one of these ecosystems in the continental U.S.
Answer: Coral barrier reef.
Congrats to Lauren Bankert Steif (@laurenbankert), who was the first to tweet the correct answer!
Thanks to everyone for participating — remember, the more you play, the better your chances of winning!
Bill Day’s Latest
While the conversation around medical marijuana has shifted significantly in Tallahassee since a constitutional amendment passed in 2016, conversations about recreational use continue to haze policy rhetoric. That’s according to Dr. Barry Gordon, a Venice-based physician and a member of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee. We spoke to him about conversations this Session.
Florida Politics: How do you feel about the state of dialogue on medical marijuana this year?
Gordon: When I first became involved in medical cannabis in 2017, it was really from the social side. But in the past three years from the medical side, it’s become so fascinating to me, This plant is so undiscovered and un-researched that we come up with things daily, weekly and monthly that surprise. We just can’t ignore the positives and medical benefits of cannabis. But while we move forward, the fears about legal adult responsible use in Florida agitated in committee season. And what bothered me was in the Senate and House, meetings were designed to look at what the effects in Florida would be. I watched every single one, and besides Andrew Freedman of Colorado, every one was a complete prohibitionist presentation. My point is there is no discussion of issues that are still important to the medical program, like state-by-state reciprocity, job protections, access for veterans. I can list 10 items that would advance the medical program, but what we see in Tallahassee is the exact opposite. And what we see is the discussion of the responsible adult use trickling back into the medical world, like a discussion of the 10% THC cap again. Just keeping the medical program intact with no changes would be an absolute victory for medical cannabis this session. But we need to address five easy As — anxiety, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis of any type, or autoimmune disease besides Crohn’s disease. Many of these are covered in northern states but not covered in Florida.
FP: Why is the THC cap viewed as such a threat to the industry?
Gordon: It’s not going away. Rep. Ray Rodrigues is going to run for senate, and he’s probably going to win, so he is not going away. But there’s a number of reasons it’s concerning. The most obvious is, frankly, it forces patients to buy more medication to get the equivalent amount of THC and CBD product that may be in medicine they are buying now. Then they are exposing their body to twice as much product. If it’s an inhalation product, that’s not something that is ever going to be favorable. You want to utilize the least amount of anything you put in your body. Absolutely, many have already found the medicine and product that works best for them. You have 300,000 patients who are appropriately using the program and accessing medication. Now we will ask them to go backward when there are already medicines helping them. Many would have to replant their crop, and would literally have to take their over-10% flower products and process them down into oils. I would be a disaster in a bunch of ways.
FP: What impacts might happen on the industry if responsible adult use were to be legalized?
Gordon: I’ve always told people that if and when, and it’s when, we go to the next step that we will be busier. When things go legal, true medical patients will take the time to educate themselves. More people will want to learn how to best use medical cannabis. There will be a lot of issues once the feds take care of things. We may need to change our model. The fly-by-night clinics, they may fade away, but we get so many of our referrals from other doctors. We just need to apply logic and common sense to the discussion. My main focus is on enhancing and protecting the medical program. But doctors have a role to play as we go to legal adult responsible use.
It’s that time again.
Lobbying compensation reports for the fourth quarter are starting to trickle in. The first batch has mainly come from small firms and solo shops. For a half-dozen firms, the last few months of 2019 provided a major boost to the bottom line.
Among those boasting at least $100,000 in earnings lobbying the Legislature were Rosanna Catalano and Jerald Paul of Capitol Energy Florida; Wallace McGee of GMA; Mike Haridopolos; Jon Moyle of Moyle Law Firm; Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, Bryan Cherry, Don Davis and Marti Coley Eubanks of PinPoint Results; and Shawn Foster and Sam Wagoner of Sunrise Consulting Group.
The $100,000 mark represents the bottom end of their potential earnings — lobbyists report their income in broad ranges. Legislative lobbying could have netted each firm as much as $250,000.
For Capitol Energy Florida, GMA, Haridopolos, PinPoint Results, the rake was double, as they also reported between $100,000 and $250,000 in pay for executive branch lobbying.
Meanwhile, Moyle tacked on between $50,000 and $100,000 in the executive, while Sunrise Consulting Group’s report shows they could have earned another $50,000.
Florida lobbyists and lobbying firms have a couple more weeks to submit their Q4 reports, which are due to the state on Feb. 14.
The Next 24
The state university system Board of Governors will receive an update on the University of Central Florida’s search for a new president when it meets at 11 a.m. in the Augustus B. Turnbull III Conference Center on FSU campus.
The House will hold a floor session at 3 p.m.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Judiciary Committee meets at 8 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.
— The House Health & Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall of the House Office Building.
— The House Rules Committee will meet at 11:15 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Commerce Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House State Affairs Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Morris Hall of the House Office Building.