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Sixty Days for 2.12.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

Pull up a barstool and a smartphone. Here’s tonight’s edition of ‘Sixty Days.’

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

The Last 24

After reviewing and adopting amendments, the Senate moved its $92.8 billion budget to third reading, setting the stage for a vote Thursday. The budget is about $1.4 billion larger than the plans put forward by the House and Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the gaps are present in some key areas — the Senate fully funds the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund with $387 million and $52.5 million for VISIT FLORIDA — two positions where the House diverges, offering $144 million and zero dollars respectively. And though teacher pay increases are funded similarly in both legislative proposals, their divergence from the Governor’s math ensures there will be no shortage of debate through the final hankie drop. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Gaming compact. The Legislature and the Seminole Tribe may be close to hammering out a new deal that would give the tribe exclusivity on sports betting in Florida.

Medicaid money. The Senate would “love” to have Medicaid block grant, according to Sen. Aaron Bean, who chairs the chamber’s health care budget panel.

Merger moves. A controversial plan that would merge Florida’s two smallest universities into UF and FSU and make sweeping changes to scholarship programs cleared the Education Committee, but not without dissent.

Ethics rules. A bill that would add fines for violating the ethics rules added by Amendment 12 is headed to the Governor’s desk.

E-cig crackdown. The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee advanced a bill to regulate vape shops, but health experts doubt it will be effective.

Gun bill stalled. A bill that would close the so-called “gun-show loophole” on private gun sales is still languishing in the Senate Judiciary Committee halfway through the Legislative Session.

Cemetery memorials. Senate Democrats successfully proposed a budget amendment that would set aside $100,000 for memorials at two African American cemeteries were built over.

FinTech funds. DeSantis is sending $3.6 million in grant money to Florida State College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College to create new financial technology training and certification programs.

Signage. DeSantis signed SB 594, SB 596, SB 598 and SB 600.

PhRMA researcher fly-in.

A group of researchers from the biopharmaceutical industry visited Tallahassee for one-on-one meetings with policymakers in an event hosted by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Lawmakers met with innovators — working on a range of issues like vaccines, immuno-oncology and epilepsy — to demonstrate the industry’s impact in Florida.

Quote of the Day

“I’ll let the wisdom of the Legislature decide that.” — FSU President John Thrasher, on the House plan to merge FSU and New College of Florida.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What Florida-based team co-founded the World Hockey Association with 11 other teams in 1971?

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: At what wind speed does a hurricane become a category 4?

Answer: 130 mph.

Congrats to Wayne Bertsch (@waynebertsch), 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

The legalization of hemp presents newly tilled legal soil in Florida, and Jeff Greene, the co-founder of the Florida Hemp Council, is in Tallahassee this week, seeking a few tweaks in the law. We spoke to him about the state of this growing industry.

Florida Politics: You have advocated for a couple of ‘glitch’ bills involving hemp. Can you tell us the most significant changes the industry wants in the law this Session?

Greene: The seed rolls are now restricted to AOSCA [Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies-certified only, and that certification process would be very limiting to Florida farmers. Most don’t want to use the certified seeds out there because they have never been grown in Florida. The language we are potentially going to see is university pilot program-approved seeds, in addition to AOSCA seeds. That will take the benefits of those universities doing the research in Florida, and allowing that research to be pushed forward commercially. It’s a combination of [AOSCA seeds] not being suited to our tropical environment and not being in abundant supply. Certain groups of farmers may not be able to participate. Our goal is to have anybody who wants to participate to be able to participate.

FP: The Council has raised concerns about labeling requirements and the restriction of inhalable hemp products. How are those things challenging growers and distributors?

Greene: What we have predominantly worked on with that labeling requirement the state is implementing is making sure those doing the labels know how they must be done. The main thing has been confusion. For example, one of the conditions of the Department of Agriculture was to include in label language information be based on how product was measured on a dry weight basis. For products that are liquid, like CBD oil, that makes no sense. So we want to eliminate that for products where there is no dry weight. There is also language allowing smokable hemp to be regulated. Right now, it’s legal, but it’s not regulated yet. Smokable hemp is a minor cannabinoids, very low in THC. Anecdotal information is that it may have nutritional and medicinal benefits to humans. We are seeing a lot of people attracted to that as an alternative to tobacco, as it is theoretically more healthy. There does seem to be growing interest because of the vape scare of the last six months or so, and people have gravitated toward smoking as opposed to vaping.

FP: Early on with the hemp program, we heard of the interest in both greenhouse growing procedures useful for CBD oil and about growing on industrial hemp. As the actual marketplace takes form, where do you see the greatest demand for product?

Greene: What we are seeing is a maturation of an industry. In its infancy stage, CBD is what birthed it. But because of hemp’s legalization now and the ability for scientists and practitioners to do their due diligence, we are finding the plants can be used for hundreds if not thousands of things. A towel distributor in Jacksonville is selling hemp towels, and right now, they are manufactured in China, but she wants it in the U.S. That’s textile-driven. She’s gotten hotel contracts for replacing cotton towels with hemp towels. So while the market was birthed by CBD, it will be matured with all these industrial opportunities. A lot of it is coming to a supply and demand issue. Certain textile manufacturers look for a certain tensile strength of hemp fibers that is just not out there, but the industry is driving research.

Lobby Up

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists should be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the independent practice battles over the past several Legislative Sessions, but CRNAs aren’t the only professionals who call themselves “anesthetists.”

The term is also used to describe Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants. Their joint custody of the name has been on books in Florida since 2004. In the federal government and the health care industry at large, it’s been accepted shorthand for both groups for far longer.

But CRNAs have been treating the term as theirs and theirs alone during committee testimony and in other arenas, which has caught the attention of the Florida Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants, the statewide professional association for CAAs.

Though CAAs, like CRNAs, are highly trained health care professionals, they are far less common. According to FAAA, there are about 500 CAAs in the state. The Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, meanwhile, represents about 3,800 CRNAs.

To fend off any encroachment, FAAA has signed a lobbying contract with Brecht Heuchan of The Labrador Company. In addition to playing defense, Heuchan will work to raise awareness of the profession in the Capitol. 

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Sens. Travis Hutson and Joe Gruters and Reps. Jason Fischer, Byron Donalds, Randy Fine and David Santiago will hold a “Cut the Tax on Tech” news conference alongside Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and Florida Internet & Television (FIT) at 8:30 a.m. on the House side of the 4th-floor Rotunda.

The House will hold a floor session at 1:30 p.m. in the House Chamber.

The Senate will hold a floor session at 2:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber.

Also, the following committees will meet.

— The House State Affairs Committee meets at 8 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.

— The House Commerce Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building,

— The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Finance and Tax Committee meets at 12:30 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— The House Rules Committee will meet in Room 404 of the House Office Building 15 minutes after the floor session adjourns.

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

PhRMA researcher fly-in — A group of researchers from the biopharmaceutical industry visited Tallahassee for one-on-one meetings with policymakers in an event hosted by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Lawmakers met with innovators — working on a range of issues like vaccines, immuno-oncology and epilepsy — to demonstrate the industry’s impact in Florida.

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