Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Legislation to sever the state contract with the embattled Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence is now in the Senate’s hands following a unanimous House vote. The action comes a week after Gov. Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers to fast track the bill following revelations the coalition had paid its former CEO more than $7 million over the past three years. Though lawmakers are primed to end the contract in short order, the FCADV saga isn’t over. Investigations in the Legislature and by Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel are moving forward, and Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin said the next goal is to peer into the local care providers FCADV oversaw. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Who’s next? In response to the FCADV scandal, DeSantis issued an executive order mandating reviews of all statutorily protected single-source contracts.
Deal or no deal? The effort to strike a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida this Session hasn’t produced results yet, but DeSantis hasn’t given up on the idea.
Parental permission. The House passed a contentious bill by a 75-43 vote requiring parental consent before minors could have abortions.
Eight is enough. The House voted in favor of placing a school board term limits proposal on the ballot, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
Vote tech. A House bill that would allow supervisors of elections to use digital imaging and tabulation machines during recounts is ready for a floor vote.
Book it. Proposed regulatory uniformity for short-term rental platforms is ready for the House floor after getting the OK from the Commerce Committee.
Deregathon. Rep. Blaise Ingoglia introduced a strike-all amendment bringing his occupational deregulation bill closer to the Senate version.
Jordan’s Law. The House passed a bill aimed at improving outcomes for children in Florida’s child welfare system with a unanimous vote.
Flashing red. A House panel gave the OK to a bill that would replace flashing yellow lights with red ones at crosswalks throughout the state.
Double trouble. A bill doubling the fines and increasing driver’s license suspension penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus cleared the House with a unanimous vote.
Wire act. Bills ready for a floor vote in both chambers would direct $5 million a year to expand broadband service along the path of a controversial toll road expansion.
E-bike rules. A House panel advanced a bill that would allow e-bikes on any road or path where a standard bicycle is permitted.
Quote of the Day
“At the end of the day, we have a lot of good things going on with the universities, but we can’t necessarily be all things to all people. So, if there’s ways to do it that are more efficient, I’m certainly willing to look at it.” — Ron DeSantis, on the university merger proposal.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Ironically, a Florida man wearing these shoes was bitten by an alligator after breaking into a gator farm.
As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in Monday’s 60 Days!
Last time, we asked: Which cartoon character was the first to get a plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
Answer: Mickey Mouse.
Congrats to Jeremy Smith (@bcomingsuperman), who was once again 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
Metropolitan mayors make up a significant section of presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg’s endorsement list. It made some sense then that former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn came out in favor of the New York Democrat this week. We asked Buckhorn about the decision and role mayors should play in politics.
FP: What ultimately led you to back Bloomberg right now?
Buckhorn: Mayors need a seat at the table right now. What mayors do is more pragmatic, less ideological, and more focused on results. And as a former Mayor of New York City, having run one of the most complex city in the world, along with his successful business background, made him the perfect candidate in this race. I have a soft spot for Mayors, but he’s also the perfect candidate for challenging Donald Trump. He embodies everything Donald Trump is not but wishes he was. He’s self-made. He’s significantly more successful than Trump ever will be. He’s run something before, both a major corporation and a major city. And he’s competent. He’s also in a better position to run a competitive campaign. Resources are important in politics, and Bloomberg comes with unlimited resources to run this race. He’s better positioned than anyone else onstage to attract Democrats but also independents and Republicans who feel Donald Trump has hijacked the Grand Old Party and taken it in a direction they are not comfortable with.
FP: You mention Bloomberg’s place on that stage, but many watched that and felt he didn’t do well against the other Democrats. How do you feel about his performance last night?
Buckhorn: I did watch it from start to finish. It’s not surprising all the other candidates were piling on. That’s to be expected given how fast and how successful he has been in moving up the polls. It’s clearly a threat to those candidates who may be out of this race in the next couple of weeks, so he made an easy candidate to take shots at. No surprise there. Now, obviously, he hasn’t been on a debate stage in a decade, so there is some rust any candidate has to knock off. There is a rhythm he has to get into, and he will only get there doing more of these debates. But he scares them and he should. They don’t have resources to compete in other states, with possibly the exception of Bernie Sanders.
FP: With your background in politics on the I-4 corridor in this eternal battleground state, what do you think he could bring to efforts to win Florida in November?
Buckhorn: Obviously, this is a purple state. He will be competitive particular in the I-4 corridor where swing voters decide elections. He is not run a self-described Socialist who would not be able to compete well in South Florida, where a significant part of the population fled socialism to come to this country. And there’s a lot of Floridians who moved from New York, and who lived in New York City when he was mayor of that complex and diverse city, and they remember his time there fondly. His ability to attract those independents who defected from the Democratic Party in 2016 will vote for someone they see as representative of their worldview and values. Plus, we are already staffing a campaign as big as Barack Obama’s campaign was in 2008 in the general election. He already has resources deployed, and staff deployed here. The media buys significant and are not going to let up. All that makes him a very formidable candidate.
Halfway through the 2020 Legislative Session, Rep. Randy Fine put forward a plan that would fold the state’s smallest universities, Florida Poly and New College, into its flagship institutions, UF and FSU.
The bombshell dropped without warning, and if the schools weren’t taking it seriously from the start, they certainly are now that Senate President Bill Galvano, whose district includes New College, has said he’s willing to entertain the plan.
Each institution has its allies in the Legislature, but whether the plan comes to fruition could hinge on how well they make their case for independence over the next few weeks, both in public and through their lobbying teams.
Though it’s only been an independent university for a handful of years, Florida Poly’s lobbying corps is a dozen strong and includes some of the biggest firms in the business.
Representing the Lakeland school in Tallahassee are Keaton Alexander of Silver Palm Consulting; Brian Ballard and Carol Bracy of Ballard Partners; Laura Boehmer, Sydney Ridley and David Shepp of The Southern Group; Yolanda Cash Jackson and LaToya Sheals of Becker & Poliakoff; Rhett O’Doski, Sara Clements and Sean Stafford of McGuireWoods Consulting; and Derek Whitis of Whitis Consulting.
Though New College’s team is half as large, it’s no less capable. The Sarasota institution has signed up Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Megan Fay, Andrew Ketchel, Scott Ross and Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting.
The Next 24
The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze the fiscal impact of legislation proposed for the 2020 Legislative Session when it meets at 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will hold a news conference in Oakland Park alongside local elected officials and advocacy groups to highlight a $250,000 energy efficiency grant project. It begins at 10 a.m. in Wimberly Fields Park, 4000 NE 3rd Avenue, in Oakland Park.
Democratic Reps. Dianne Hart and Susan Valdés will hold a news conference to discuss Hart’s bill (HB 189) to increase the amount of gain time inmates can receive toward their prison sentence. It begins at 10:30 a.m. in the 4th-floor Rotunda of the Capitol.