Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee advanced Sen. Tom Lee’s E-Verify bill, but not before tacking on amendments that led Lee to disavow the proposal. Though the bill no longer has a carveout for the agriculture industry, it allows for the development of an alternative to the federal employment eligibility check. That was a bridge too far for Lee, who said if the bill passes in its current state that Gov. Ron DeSantis should veto it. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Alyssa’s Law. A bill that would require schools to install panic alarms was postponed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education pending an amendment.
Test and treat. A bill that would allow pharmacists to diagnose and treat the flu and strep throat was OK’d by the Senate Health Policy Committee.
Foreign interference. UCF’s Vice President for Compliance explained to the House Select Committee on the Integrity of Research Institutions how the school handles incidents of faculty researchers partnering with foreign entities on research.
Clinic oversight. A bill seeking to increase fertility clinic regulations sailed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with unanimous support.
Consent matters. The Senate Health Policy Committee advanced a bill requiring informed consent before physicians or medical students can perform gynecological exams on unconscious patients.
Timber talk. The Senate Agriculture Committee learned more about the continuing reforestation efforts following Hurricane Michael.
Ocoee massacre. A Senate panel passed a bill that would direct the state to examine how the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots could be taught in schools and encourage museums to promote educating the public on the even through exhibits and educational programs.
No-fault repeal. A bill to repeal the state’s no-fault car insurance system didn’t make the agenda for the final Senate Committee on Insurance and Banking meeting, but Lee, the bill sponsor, said: “it’s too early to write the obituary for the bill.”
Finning carveout. A Senate panel passed a bill banning the shark fin trade after amending it to exclude commercial fishermen for five years.
Quote of the Day
“It pretty much guts the bill. All [employers] would have to do is certify that they believe in their heart that they’ve got a system that is equally as effective. But who knows what is in their heart?” — Sen. Tom Lee, on the amended E-Verify bill passed by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Who was the first Latina, Cuban American, and Republican woman elected to U.S. Congress from Florida?
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 1961 social program did President John F. Kennedy authorize to help people fleeing Cuba?
Answer: Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA).
Congrats to Andy Gonzalez (@adg361), 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
Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder rose to Twitter prominence when a flame war with Mike Huckabee prompted the former presidential hopeful to file a bar complaint. Now Uhlfelder is leveraging his newfound celebrity through the formation of a super PAC, the Make My Day PAC. We spoke to him about this motion.
Florida Politics: Why did you feel a political action committee was the best mechanism to continue public engagement?
Uhlfelder: I looked at different options. This is the one that gave me the opportunity to support issues and individuals in a flexible way. I’m not running for office; people have asked me but not something I’m interested in doing. I want to remain politically involved as I have throughout my life. It’s an avenue that presented itself. We will be announcing more specifics in the future, and are not making any announcements about specifics. What I’ve experienced and learned in this process is that when you do something uncomfortable or difficult or that goes against the grain, it puts you in a position where you are subject to attack. Through the last few months, I’ve learned this is not an uncommon occurrence in this day and age. So we will identify causes or individuals who are similarly attacked for speaking out for similar issues where they need help. This is a democracy. Obviously, there is free speech, but it seems when people who are not as influential or powerful speak out, they have repercussions that are troublesome. Our goal is to help those with assistance in trying to speak out.
FP: How will you choose the individuals and causes you plan to help?
Uhlfelder: Every day, something new is happening in this climate. I’m looking at all the different possibilities. Free speech and public beaches, those are issues I very much support. Being able to speak without being punished for it with lawsuits or bar complaints, that’s why Make My Day exists. A lot of times when bad actors have influx or money or power, they take action against people, thinking that’s going to silence them I didn’t ask for a bar complaint from Mr. Huckabee, but when the public learned about it, I had no idea of the effect that would have. What I’ve learned through life and this situation is that weakness abides aggression. If you want to help people who are subject to unnecessary correction and help them be able to survive in this type of democracy, some are faired to speak up, and that’s a sad situation.
FP: Do you think you would have found this platform if not for the feud with Huckabee?
Uhlfelder: This is a new age. I’m fairly new to social media. It is a different era now. But I think with Twitter and other social platforms, you can reach a lot of people on either side of any issue. My parents raised me to be active, and to speak out and act out when I see something wrong, I credit them for teaching me that. It is uncomfortable getting a bar complaint, and now putting myself out here, but it’s more uncomfortable for me to not do something. We live in a country with a political system, and action committees can be formed for purposes like this. This is just something I believe in. This is a platform. I’m hopeful this can be used in a positive form. I have got a lot of support already from people all over the country, and more people know about this now than did a few hours ago. People are scared to speak up because of repercussions, and I see it getting worse in this environment. I hope I can help stop that in what small way I can.
Claims bills have a pretty low success rate in the Legislature, especially the first year they are filed. But bills seeking compensation for Clifford Williams could prove to be an exception.
Williams, of Jacksonville, was exonerated in March 2019 after spending 43 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Wrongful incarceration payouts are typically cut and dry, but Williams doesn’t qualify due to the “clean hands” rule, which bars compensation for those with past convictions.
Lawmakers fast-tracked Williams’ claim through committee — today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice OK’d SB 28 and the House Appropriations Committee advanced HB 6507.
House Approps Chair Travis Cummings called it the “most important bill on the agenda today.”
The Senate version has already been scheduled to go before the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday. It’s the bill’s final stop before the chamber floor.
Williams has received much public support from lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson and Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels, who are sponsoring the claims bills. But Williams has also benefited from the stellar lobbying efforts of Holland & Knight’s Mark Delegal, who has poured hours into the case.
Delegal hasn’t been touting his role in the process, but his colleagues in the Tallahassee lobbying corps won’t let him escape without at least a share of the credit.
Capital City Consulting lobbyist Ashley Kalifeh lauded Delegal “for his tireless (and pro bono) representation of Clifford Williams in the quest for justice. Most people in the process already knew he was a good guy, but lest there be any doubt.”
The Next 24
DeSantis, Department of Economic Opportunity head Ken Lawson and Enterprise Florida CEO Jamal Sowell, will make a major announcement at Pensacola International Airport. It starts at 10 a.m. Central time.
Members of the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation will hold a press conference to address a House plan that would merge New College of Florida with Florida State University. NCF President Donal O’Shea, students, and New College Foundation board members will also attend. It begins at 10 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice will host a news conference to unveil its 2020 safety agenda. Crime survivors from across the state, including former NFL player and Stedman Bailey, are expected to speak. It begins at 11 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.
The House will consider several bills, including one that would require parental consent before a minor could obtain an abortion, during a 1:30 p.m. floor session.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will host a workshop to inform the development of a state action plan for Hurricane Michael recovery funds. It will be at 3 p.m. Central time at the Chipola College Culture Center in Marianna.
The Senate will hold a floor session at 4 p.m.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Ways & Means Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building
— The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee meets at 10 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Rules Committee will take up a bill that would block insurers using genetic testing results for actuarial decisions when it meets at 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will consider a bill that would regulate peer-to-peer car-sharing services in the same manner as traditional rental car companies when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.
— The Senate Judiciary Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.