Sixty Days for 2.19.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

Red Tally 3
Be better than the competition. Read Sixty Days for an edge.

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

The Last 24

Voting rights advocates can celebrate a victory at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled Florida cannot require proof of financial restitution being paid before felons can register to vote. The decision marks the latest step in the legal saga that began with the Legislature’s controversial 2019 bill implementing Amendment 4. Lawmakers said they based the law on arguments made by the amendment’s backers during its preelection review in the Florida Supreme Court. Critics, however, have equated the requirement of fines and restitution to a poll tax. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Welcome home. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new program, and staked it with $8 million, to assist veterans with down payments and closing costs to purchase homes.

College mergers. Members of the Sarasota County legislative delegation joined New College President Donal O’Shea in speaking out against a proposal to merge the school with FSU.

23andNope. A bill that would block life insurance companies from using or soliciting genetic information from customers is ready for the Senate floor.

Gift (un)ban. A bill relaxing gift ban rules for nonelected state employees dealing with a “serious disease or illness” is heading to the Senate floor.

Opioid clarification. The Senate Rules Committee advanced a bill exempting critical-care units and emergency departments from a law requiring them to inform patients about alternative, non-opioid drugs.

Required reading. A state-sanctioned “Guide to a Healthy Marriage” took one step closer to reality with an OK from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lease ban dead. Sen. Annette Taddeo said her bill to stop the unsavory business of renting pets is dead for the 2020 Legislative Session.

Tax cuts. The House moved forward with a $109.3 million tax cut package, despite concerns it would hurt small airports and mainly benefit corporations.

SHIP rules. A House bill would change the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program rules to direct rental assistance money toward applicants who need less money, with the goal of helping more households.

Power prescription. A bill that would require health care providers to tell patients who are dependent on electricity about medically essential utility service programs is primed for passage in the House.

Survivors speak. Dozens of crime survivors, the surviving family members of fatal crimes and their allies gathered in the Capitol both for catharsis and to raise their public safety agenda with lawmakers.

Quote of the Day

“Although our numbers are small, our impact is great. Folding [New College] into FSU would compromise its special value and leave Florida with nothing like it.” — New College of Florida President Donal O’Shea, speaking out against the House merger plan.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Which cartoon character was the first to get a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

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: Who was the first Latina, Cuban American, and Republican woman elected to U.S. Congress from Florida?

Answer: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Congrats to Johnny Hawkins (@JohnnyH12003424), 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

As the nation’s largest tomato grower, DiMare Fresh CEO Paul DiMare knows the workforce challenges of farming in Florida. In his role as co-chair of the American Business Immigration Coalition and IMPAC Fund, he’s been lobbying lawmakers about the economic threat posed by E-Verify requirements. We spoke to the business leader about the evolving legislation up this year.

Florida Politics: How will requirements to verify employment eligibility impact businesses in Florida?

DiMare: It’s a lot more than agriculture. Food service, hotels, the construction industry, guys mowing lawns, maids in houses, roofs on houses. Workers are all Latins. How many of those are legal? I don’t know, but a big proportion are probably not legal. In our business of agriculture, it’s all Latins. But there has been a terrible labor shortage in agriculture. Restaurant people tell me the same thing. Especially with vacation places, they just can’t find any labor. Why we haven’t got an immigration situation where we bring in people to work temporarily or permanently, I don’t know. But if we are expanding jobs in this country, where are people coming from to work in these jobs? What we are doing here is paralyzing the country. E-Verify has been around a long time, but only seven states require it for every employee, and 8 require it for public employees. That’s 15 out of 50 states. Most don’t do anything. So if you put E-Verify in Florida, what will happen? You can see what happened in Georgia. These workers will pick up and move to states that don’t have E-Verify. So we haven’t cured the illegal worker working. We have just pushed them out of Florida, which is a state that needs workers more than anybody. Now, if E-Verify is so good, why doesn’t the President enforce it everywhere? Yet our governor wants to make that one of his priorities to do. It will ruin this state when we are below the national average on unemployment. In Dade County, it’s at 1.5 or 2%.

FP: There has been talk in committee about the particular problems for agriculture because of the international marketplace. How will your industry, in particular, be impacted?

DiMare: I’ve been in agriculture in Florida since the ‘60s. We’ve sued Mexico twice and won lawsuits on them dumping tomatoes into the United States. Peppers, cucumbers and row crops are not big enough individually to sue, but they are facing the same issues. About the dumping of Mexican products into this country. It’s killing the American farmer. In Dade County, we once had 35,000 acres of tomatoes in winter, and there’s less than 1,000 growing anymore. There used to be 25 packing houses; now there’s one. It’s crazy. We can’t compete against Mexico. It’s a Third World country. You think they have a better product? No, they’ve just got cheap labor, no rules or regulation. They don’t have anything like workmans’ comp or regulations. I testified three or four times when they were doing the NAFTA deal in ‘93 or ’94. I said, how do you expect us to compete when it comes to labor? They hire 20 people for what we pay one. At the time, we had a $1-billion trade surplus in ’94. Now we have a $110-billion trade deficit with Mexico. That means we just lost 2.2 million jobs to Mexico.

FP: Along those lines, are there legitimate concerns about whether paying undocumented workers with a living wage?

DiMare: What guarantee is there of a living wage? I grew up before any welfare. We had nothing, no Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, just Social Security when you retired. And when you signed in and came to the country, you had to have a sponsor, who had guarantee you would not be a ward of the state. Family or church took care of you until about 1965. And in my neighborhood, not one woman worked. Every man supported his own family, and that was a house, car, school all on one paycheck. Now you can’t do all that with two. So the government has done something wrong. But what is a living wage? Who puts that number on it? A fair paycheck to me is what you can earn.

Lobby Up

There’s a federal law on the books that provides businesses with tax deductions if they invest in making their properties more energy efficient.

Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code aims at spurring more efficient developments, and it provides a significant write-off — $1.80 a square foot.

For efficiency upgrades at public properties, the tax deduction passes through to the people behind its design, such as engineer, architect or contractor. To qualify, they just need their public-sector client to sign off that they did the work.

That’s led to some problems.

Rather than simply signing the form, many of those clients see dollar signs and withhold the signature until the designer forks over a slice of the savings — in other words, a quid pro quo. The U.S. Treasury Department has made clear that such deals are illegal and run counter to the policy goals of the tax break.

But that hasn’t stopped the practice, which has become commonplace in Florida, especially for construction projects at state universities.

Alliantgroup, a Houston-based tax consulting firm, wants the state to help stamp it out by including provisions outlawing the extortive practice in tax bills moving through the Legislature this Session.

To get help it done, they’ve hired the team at Dean Mead: Angela Bonds, French Brown, Marc Dunbar, Peter Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Chris Moya and Jennifer Ungru.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Rep. Mel Ponder, Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh, Florida College System Chancellor Kathy Hebda and others will hold a news conference announcing the creation of a program to increase access to affordable education for veterans and active-duty military. It begins at 10 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.

The Florida State Parks Foundation will name its “2019 Legislative Park Champion of the Year” during a news conference attended by FSPF President Gil Ziffer, foundation board members and lawmakers. It begins at 12:30 p.m. on the 3rd-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.

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

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee will choose lobbying firms for compensation reports audits when it meets at 1:30 p.m. in Room G-01 of the Claude Pepper Building.

Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson will share findings from a new research report, Florida Workforce 2030, with the Florida Talent Development Council. The presentation begins at 3 p.m. at the Turlington Building, 325 W. Gaines Street, in Tallahassee.

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 Senate Appropriations Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott 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 House Rules Committee will meet in Room 404 of the House Office Building, 15 minutes after the floor session ends.

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

Staff Reports


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704