Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Happy Presidents’ Day. The Legislature didn’t take the day off in recognition of George Washington’s birthday, but it did slow down a few notches, giving those in the process a chance to catch their breath heading into the second half of Session. The lull won’t last, however — tomorrow it’s back to business. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Petition thresholds. A bill proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee would make it tougher to get citizens’ initiatives on the ballot by requiring proposals to hit petition thresholds in every congressional district, rather than half.
Ctrl+Z-Verify. Sen. Tom Lee filed an amendment to his E-Verify bill (SB 664), undoing the agriculture industry carve-out it picked up when it cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Speedy recovery. The Senate Education Committee OK’d a bill that would speed up the timeline for failing schools to adopt plans getting them back on track.
Parents’ rights. Legislation that spells out the rights of parents to control how their children are educated narrowly passed the Senate Education Committee.
Expecting inmates. Legislation giving pregnant inmates more protections has been scheduled for a Tuesday hearing in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.
Athlete pay. A Senate panel unanimously advanced a measure to allow college athletes to earn money from their name, image or likeness but left open the door for the NCAA to first change its student contract ban.
Confirmation teed up. Surgeon General Scott Rivkees’ long-delayed nomination continued Monday, with the Senate Ethics and Elections committee unanimously approving of the Governor’s selection. Next stop: Senate floor.
License reform. Legislation that would dramatically alter occupational licensing was postponed by a Senate committee Monday amid Republican discontent.
No sunshine. A Senate panel advanced a bill (SB 872) that would exempt information about Florida Commission on Offender Review members from the public record.
Overstep? CFO Jimmy Patronis asked the Florida Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association to delay hiring a new general counsel but was rebuffed.
Quote of the Day
“There’s a lot of schools and a lot of elite athletes being produced out of those states, so it’s time to come to the table and do something meaningful and do it now.” — Sen. Rob Bradley, on Florida and California moving forward with athlete pay legislation.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What 1961 social program did President Kennedy authorize to help people fleeing Cuba?
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: How many votes are required to limit debate on the Senate floor?
Answer: 2/3 of those Senators present. See 8.6
Congrats to Jeremy Smith (@bcomingsuperman) — the back-to-back trivia winner — 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
The list of Florida leaders backing Mike Bloomberg for president grows daily. Former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, one of two Democrats elected to the Cabinet in the past 20 years, might be the biggest yet. We spoke to Sink about her decision and what Bloomberg could bring Florida Democrats.
Florida Politics: What led you to endorse Mike Bloomberg over a Democratic fixture like Joe Biden right now?
Sink: I have known Joe Biden many decades. But when we had 20 candidates last year, I thought this was an opportunity for us to test out our candidates. I wasn’t going to endorse early and decided to see how the field winnows out. As we have come closer to the March 17 primary, increasingly, many said to me, ‘Alex, I don’t know who to support.’ I hadn’t made up my own mind yet when Bloomberg got in the race, and others have already dropped out. For me, it’s do-or-die time. I was able to meet directly with Mike Bloomberg when he was here a few weeks ago. I’m aligned in most of his policies. Not all of them, but most. I believe he will be a good president. He knows how to put organizations together. And he has the resources to be able to go up against Donald Trump.
FP: You are the rare Democrat who won statewide, but also the first victim to Republican Rick Scott’s machine when he won the governorship in 2010. What does it take to win Florida?
Sink: It’s never going to be all money. But in the state of Florida, as I learned the hard way, money matters. I often say if I could have shaken hands with every voter in Florida, I would have won the state in a landslide. But it’s a state ruled by media, television and mass communications. We are a very diverse state; the issues of importance up in the Panhandle are not the issues that are important in Miami. But candidates have to stand for something and to be firm. Bloomberg was out there early about gun safety issues, and I like that he put money where his mouth is. Trump blusters about money, but he couldn’t run his own charity correctly. Bloomberg’s support for Planned Parenthood, for Everytown for Gun Safety, is important. And he has the resources to go on air. His TV ads in Florida have already proven to be very effective. But he needs to get on the debate stage. Amy Klobuchar is right about that. We need to see how he performs and comports himself. He has got to meet the press, so to speak. But in a state like Florida, where most people are not paying attention, it will come down to who has a message that appeals to a majority of Floridians. As conservative as this state is, and I do believe we are a more of a red than blue state, unfortunately, the lack of character and lack of integrity in this president, in Donald Trump, is astonishing. I certainly think Bloomberg can put Florida in play.
FP: Can this election improve the future for Democrats in Florida?
Sink: I’m hopeful. I’ve been participating in meetings and conferences with people around the state. With the block the Republicans have had in Tallahassee all these years, somebody, especially somebody like Mike Bloomberg because of the money and resources he brings, will help us rebuild a party apparatus in Florida year-round. We have been so underfunded so many years, about all we can do is the last 60 days before every election we round people up to register people and get out the vote. You can’t run a political operation like that anymore. You need to have a year-round presence. But we have a lot to build. In Hillsborough County, we had a good local DEC party organization, registering voters, works on get-out-the-vote, and low and behold in 2018 we regained a majority on the Hillsborough County Commission for the first time in 14 years. So we’ve shown here in Tampa it can be done. If we established a bulkhead in our more urban areas, then this message can spread to other counties. I do believe we need an economic message, which is another attraction to Bloomberg. We need to run on the economy. Trump says this is the best economy ever. It’s not. When though unemployment is at record lows in Florida, why is it 45% of families are one paycheck away from disaster according to the ALICE report? But with increasing health care costs, a lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing transportation costs, that’s what it boils down to.
Florida has more nursing positions than it does nurses, and the gap is only expected to grow over the next decade.
The Florida Center for Nursing projects 40% of nurses working in the state will hit retirement age by 2030, while job growth in the profession is pegged at 21%, outpacing the national average.
Meanwhile, data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing shows enrollment at nursing schools isn’t keeping pace with the expected growth.
St. Petersburg College is hoping to stave off a dire shortage by enticing more students to sign up for its associates and bachelor’s degree programs in nursing. The school says it could up its capacity, but it faces a bottleneck in the number of available clinical rotations for its students.
The limit could be alleviated, however, if the Legislature tosses them some funding to expand their simulation offerings.
St. Petersburg College is looking for $725,000 to get the ball rolling. About half of the money would be used to renovate facilities, while $190,000 would go toward simulators, and $185,000 would cover faculty and staff expenses.
Rep. Chris Latvala and Sen. Jeff Brandes, both of whom represent Pinellas County, are on board and have filed appropriations requests in their respective chambers.
To help cull support from the rest of the Legislature, St. Petersburg College brought on the team at Capital City Consulting last week.
The lobbying contract will see CCC’s Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Megan Fay and Chris Schoonover augment the efforts of in-house lobbyist Eired Eddy for the closing stretch of the 2020 Legislative Session.
The Next 24
Sen. Linda Stewart will hold a press conference on SB 90, which aims to close the wage gap between men and women in Florida. It begins at 9:15 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.
The Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Sheriffs Research Institute and the Florida Police Chiefs Association will hold a news conference to share data and analysis on violent drug crime offenders as part of the Truth in Sentencing initiative. It begins at 9:30 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.
Sen. Jason Pizzo and Reps. Shevrin Jones and Amy Mercado will hold a press conference outlining their support of the “Tammy Jackson Act,” which would provide pregnant inmates more protections. It begins at 12:30 p.m. on the 4th floor of the Capitol.
The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the push for the voting rights restoration amendment in 2018, will hold an advocacy day at the Capitol. It begins at 2 p.m.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Select Committee on Research Institutions will hear presentations on foreign intervention into research at Florida institutions when it meets 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will hear a bill that would require public and private employers to use the federal E-Verify system when it meets at 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
The Senate Health Policy Committee will consider a bill that would allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat the flu and strep throat when it meets at 10 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Agriculture Committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.
— The House Appropriations Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hear a bill that would require public schools to install panic alarms when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The House Education Committee meets at 3 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Health & Human Services Committee meets at 3 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill that would make it harder for political committees to get constitutional amendments on the ballot when it meets at 3 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 4 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Finance and Tax Committee meets at 4 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.