Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2019 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Gov. Ron DeSantis went before cameras today to assure Floridians his administration is taking action to protect the public from the threat of coronavirus. There was little hard data in the update, though the key statistic — the number of confirmed cases in the Sunshine State — stands at zero. The lack of testing information stems from Surgeon General Scott Rivkees’ interpretation of the law. Rivkees said the state can only share information on “highly infectious” viruses. Currently, coronavirus is considered “moderately infectious.” Democratic lawmakers said that’s malarkey and vowed to introduce an amendment to the Department of Health’s legislative package to clarify the statute if the administration doesn’t release coronavirus data over the weekend. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Accountability Act. A bill to reform the Department of Children and Families, a priority of Senate President-designate Wilton Simpson, cleared its final committee.
E-Verify. The House E-Verify bill cleared its debut committee with a largely party-line vote, though it would allow employers already using the required I-9 verification system to continue doing so.
Alyssa’s Law. A bill requiring public and charter schools to set up mobile panic alarm systems is ready for the Senate floor.
‘Test and treat.’ A bill to let pharmacists administer flu tests is headed to the Senate floor, though significant daylight exists between it and a more expansive House proposal.
Power grab. A water bill headed to the House floor would allow the Governor to appoint a DEP secretary with only one yes vote from the Cabinet, though Rep. Blaise Ingoglia said the language would be removed.
Survivor speaks. Auschwitz survivor Magdalen Bader appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee to advocate for a Holocaust education bill being pushed by Sen. Lauren Book.
No-fault nix. The House bill repealing Florida’s no-fault insurance system is ready for a floor vote, but the Senate companion has stalled out.
Bad faith no more. A bill aimed at curbing bad faith lawsuits against insurers is primed for a floor vote after getting the OK from the House Commerce Committee.
In the pipe. Bills that would allow utility infrastructure to cross over conservation easement lands are ready for floor votes in both chambers.
Quote of the Day
“There are still no cases of coronavirus in Florida. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Obviously, if there is — and hopefully we don’t have — any identified cases, it is something we would notify the public about.” — Ron DeSantis, in a news conference detailing the state’s efforts on coronavirus.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: How many votes are required to waive the rule requiring House amendments to be germane to the underlying bill?
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: St. Petersburg is home to the world’s largest club of what game that involves weighted disks?
Congrats to Larry Williams Consulting (@LarryWmsConsult), 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 engineering projects from about 75 students drove, danced and dunked their way through Tallahassee as part of STEM Day at The Capitol. Monica Mueller, executive director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, organized the event with the Orlando Science Center to showcase what science, technology, engineering and math means for Florida education.
Florida Politics: Why is it essential to bring these STEM projects into The Capitol?
Mueller: It’s good for lawmakers to be able to see the energy that’s behind this and the enthusiasm. It’s really about getting youth excited in STEM careers and to look at this and companies who have come to support it to tackle the technology issues that are out there. It’s exciting for the kids to come here. They have been working so long. It allows lawmakers to see a lot of work going on in their communities, and it’s an opportunity for projects to be showcased and to help buzz spread.
FP: You’ve talked about getting more girls interested in these fields, and with other underrepresented populations. Have you seen strides in that regard?
Mueller: DiscoverE, an engineering foundation supporting youth programs, issued a study, and they focused on young women and why they choose engineering and why they persist in engineering. One of the things is the importance of holding positive attitudes and seeing the field in a positive light. That happens with programs like today. When I talk to girls studying engineering, they talk about that. Here, they get to see each other and get to see the positive image. For us from a foundation perspective, we think there is importance in them being able to do hands-on programming, so any coding program exposing them early on allows them to see what’s possible.
FP: Will lawmakers and officials in the Capitol be able to get some hands-on demonstrations? Are students teaching lawmakers here?
Absolutely. I was just watching a group of girls in fifth grade showing how to program robots to dance to music. We have a high school student team [that] built a robot that plays basketball. There’s a solar car built in Western High School in Davie that won a national competition. We have another group of high school students who put on a summer program for younger students to get hands-on learning and to get them interested in STEM fields early on, then as they approach high school, get a view of things they focus on early on.
Florida’s aerospace industry is booming.
The Space Coast has reeled in several high-profile businesses, Leonardo’s recent Navy helicopter contract promises to bring a bundle of jobs to Milton, and Florida boasted the biggest booth at the 2019 Paris Air Show.
To maintain growth in the high-tech industry, more high-skilled workers will need to move to Florida, or more Floridians will need to start getting them trained.
National Aviation Academy, located near PIE airport in Clearwater, would prefer the latter option. NAA, which traces its roots back to 1932, is singularly focused on building a quality aviation maintenance workforce.
The academy recently hired the team at Suskey Consulting to help them explore opportunities for funding student access and their eligibility for student financial aid.
“We are excited to work with the NAA to get more Floridians trained in the growing field of aviation maintenance. Boeing recently forecast that 769,000 new aircraft maintenance personnel will be needed over the next 20 years,” Suskey Consulting lobbyist RJ Myers said.
“The job opportunities in Florida are tremendous, and we are proud to be a part of the team training tomorrow’s technicians.”
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.