Sixty Days for 2.11.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

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What’s ‘Sixty Days’? It’s what happened in the Capitol today.

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

The Last 24

The House unveiled its tax cut package Tuesday, which measures in at $150 million. The centerpiece is a half-percent cut to the communication services tax levied on TV, internet and wireless plans. House Ways and Means Chair Bryan Avila said the $60 million CST cut was a priority because it touches nearly every state resident. Also in line for a trim is the commercial rents sales tax, which would drop from 5.5% to 5.4%, costing the state $30 million in revenue. The plan would also provide larger corporate income tax refunds to companies that chip into the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and a one-cent-per-gallon drop in the tax on aviation fuel. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Rental regulations. The Senate plan to set statewide rules for vacation rental properties moved through its second committee despite vocal opposition for local officials.

Scholarship shift. A House committee is introducing a bill that would up requirements for private universities to receive Bright Futures funding and encourage more students to start college in an associate degree program.

E-Verify Lite. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced an E-verify requirement for Florida employers with a carve-out for the agriculture industry.

Genetic privacy. A bill that would block insurance companies from using or soliciting genetic information from customers is ready for the Senate floor.

Balance billing. A Senate plan that would close a loophole in the 2016 balance billing law that allows air ambulances to send surprise medical bills to patients got the nod from the Health Policy Committee.

Diaper duty. Senate legislation is finally on the move that, if passed, would eliminate taxes on incontinence products, such as diapers, pads, and liners.

Charity care. A House proposal that would set tie property tax exemptions for nonprofit hospitals to the amount of charity care they provide passed the House Ways and Means Committee with a unanimous vote.

Tax time. A House panel advanced a potential ballot amendment that would give homeowners more time to transfer homestead exemptions to new homes.

Pregnant prisoners. A House bill ensuring that pregnant incarcerated women receive appropriate medical care when they go into labor earned unanimous approval in its second of three committee stops.

Lotto labels. A bill that would require warning labels on Florida Lottery tickets moved a step forward in the House despite concerns it could reduce revenues for education.

Poaching penalties. The Senate bill upping criminal charges and fines for bear poaching is headed to its final committee. The House passed the bill last week.

Quote of the Day

“The theory of general deterrence is if we make everything a felony, then nobody will commit a crime. And I don’t subscribe to that theory.” — Sen. Jeff Brandes, expressing concern over a bill to increase penalties for vandalizing monuments.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: At what wind speed does a hurricane become a Category 4?

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: What Florida city has the highest average annual temperatures in the United States?

Answer: Key West.

Congrats to Trey Price (@TreyFLA), 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

3 Questions

Sen. Jason Pizzo turned heads when he bolted from former Vice President Joe Biden’s camp to that of billionaire Mike Bloomberg. We spoke to the Miami Democrat about the decision and the justice reform issues on his agenda this Session.

Florida Politics: What prompted you to change your endorsement for President, and how do you address concerns many have about Bloomberg?

Pizzo: A number of us who signed up for Biden thought there would be more participation, that they would leverage our constituency. Just in sheer numbers, if you divide Florida’s population by 40, we have huge districts. It’s not so much following polling as following the energy and message.

My twin boys were curious about the race and went on Biden’s website and its pleasantries and platitudes.

Then you go to Bloomberg’s site and there’s 17 bullet points that break down explanations on each subject matter. He’s come out punching. But also, I put feelers early on about whether Bloomberg would run, and it was no, no, no, and then yes. A lot of us issued endorsements at the last Session. I think Bloomberg took an assessment of the field. That’s why he entered the race, and that’s why he has my support.

Like most of us, he isn’t perfect. But for all the criticism he takes for being wealthy or going it alone in the beginning, it’s refreshing to see somebody older who doesn’t have to answer to so many people willing to come in the race.

On some issues, I can tell you I was myopic on criminal justice, and that was from overwhelmingly dealing with averages and data. Yet with the exception of my colleague Jeff Brandes, nobody is working hard in Florida to close gaping loopholes to deal with disparities.

Those on Bloomberg’s campaign how those issues have to be addressed. But in the same vein, people embrace [Donald] Trump for being plain-spoken to the point of being crude, Bloomberg also doesn’t have the best bedside manner and explanations on those issues have to be unpackaged and said correctly. Now spun. There’s only so much you can spin. But he has to deal with those issues head-on.

My support isn’t unwavering, unconditional adoration of everything he has ever done.

FP: Along the lines of criminal justice reform, how do you feel about progress on that front this Legislative Session?

Pizzo: It’s going well. Going back to my involvement with Sen. Brandes, for a long time, the primary focus and mission of criminal justice in Florida has been to punish.

I believe there is now bipartisan support to move away from those ideas to a different ideology, and that is that it should be for public safety. What has been too easily characterized as violent crime has this ridiculous, disproportionate sentencing. But in addition, the Senate President [Bill Galvano] last year appointed me to the Criminal Punishment Code Task Force.

It’s headed by the Attorney General and includes a host of prosecutors and legislators. It’s doing some amazing things. If its recommendations result in changes being adopted by the Florida Legislature, we will have substantial changes in results and disparities right now. That will affect sentencing, score sheets, and enhancements of all kinds of things.

The sausage is made in the courtroom when you talk sentencing.

FP: You have worked over the years to change criminal penalties involved with HIV status disclosure. How do you feel about the chance of that legislation moving forward?

Pizzo: I spoke to Sen. [Gayle] Harrell yesterday, and she’s willing to agenda that bill for the limited purpose of authorizing transfer from Positive to Positive patients for organ transplants, but she’s not comfortable including on the agenda decriminalization of transmission.

She suggested to move forward with organs, and I can bifurcate the bill and take a stab next Session at the rest. Then the remaining language falls more squarely in Criminal Justice than in Health Policy. We don’t want to wait, but I understand her argument.

And I like my chances in Criminal Justice.

Lobby Up

Every year, hundreds of institutions apply for grant funding through the Division of Cultural Affairs’ grant program, but only a few are ultimately approved.

Due to so many institutions applying for a limited amount of funding, the division, which is housed under the Department of State, examines the funding requests and assigns them a rank before handing the list over to the Legislature.

Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory Theatre is one of nearly 500 arts organizations that applied for grants this fiscal year. The operation, which hires over 400 people every year, has two requests in the pipeline. The first is for $500,000 to expand its rehearsal and production center in Bradenton. The second seeks $150,000 in general support.

DCA gave both projects high marks, ranking the expansion at No. 7 in its list of 30 DCA-approved projects.

The ranking is high enough to make the cut, based on both chambers’ current spending plans — the House’s 2020-21 budget sets aside $3.8 million to fund the first 11 projects on the 2020-2021 Cultural Facilities list. The Senate goes a little further, recommending $4.7 million in funding.

The second request is a little more complex. Though it holds the No. 37 spot out of 491 DCA-recommended general support grants, final grant amounts under that program are determined by way of a mathematical formula that allocates funding based on a project’s score. Asolo’s application earned 95%.

Though their rankings are high, last week, the theatre brought on some lobbyists to help land the plane. Repping them in the Capitol are Michael Corcoran, Matt Blair, Jacqueline Corcoran and Andrea Tovar of Corcoran Partners.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Rep. Emily Slosberg will host an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. A bipartisan group of women will attend the “Keep Roaring On: 1920-2020” event with elected leaders, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Sen. Lori Berman, Sen. Lauren Book, Rep. Fentrice Driskell, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, Rep. Dotie Joseph and Rep. Jackie Toledo. It begins at 8 a.m. on the 22nd floor of The Capitol.

Sen. Bobby Powell will join the Florida League of Mayors for a press conference on legislation relating to water quality and vacation rental regulations. It starts at 8:15 a.m. on the 4th floor of The Capitol.

Reps. Driskell, Fitzenhagen and Joseph will host a press conference calling for Florida to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment at 9:30 a.m. on the 4th floor of The Capitol.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, Enterprise Florida Inc. President and CEO Jamal Sowell and Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson will make a major announcement at 10 a.m., Florida State College at Jacksonville Administrative Offices – Board Room, 501 West State Street, Suite 405, Jacksonville.

The Senate will consider its $92.83 billion budget proposal during a floor session. It begins at 10 a.m. in the Senate Chamber.

The House will discuss its $91.37 billion budget proposal during a 1:30 p.m. floor session in the House Chamber.

Also, the following committees will meet.

— The House Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.

— The House Health & Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.

— The House Judiciary Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee at 4 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Rules Committee meets at 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

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

Happening Thursday — Communications Services Tax bill sponsors Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Jason Fischer will hold a “Cut the Tax on Tech” press conference alongside Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and Florida Internet & Television (FIT) on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. on the House side of the 4th-floor Rotunda.

Staff Reports


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