Sixty Days for 3.4.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

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Sixty Days — our daily dispatch from the fourth floor.

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

The Last 24

Coronavirus has dominated the headlines, but not long ago, it was the spread of hepatitis A that had public health officials’ undivided attention. That’s factoring into how lawmakers fund the emergency response effort for COVID-19. Sen. Aaron Bean, the chamber’s health care budget writer, said the Legislature could skip out funding the response for any specific malady. Instead, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees would get a “super line” in the budget that would allow him more flexibility in responding to public health emergencies. Here’s your nightly rundown.

‘Super line.’ The Legislature may add a “super line to the budget, giving Surgeon General Rivkees broad discretion in public-health emergency spending.

No dice. House Speaker José Oliva doesn’t characterize the “delays” in budget negotiations as “problems.” Still, don’t expect a gaming bill this year.

iBudget on table. Senate Budget Chief Rob Bradley says changes to the Medicaid iBudget program, which provides in-home services to disabled Floridians, are “very much in play.”

Opposition outlined. House Democrats announced opposition to four bills expected to be heard on the floor before Session ends, including measures to implement E-Verify and break up unions.

Going Dutch. The House voted overwhelmingly for a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to end the public campaign-financing system available to political candidates.

Remember Ocoee. The Senate is poised to pass legislation to make more Floridians aware of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day riots.

Age of arrest. The House united to pass school safety legislation, including an amendment requiring police departments and schools to have policies in place surrounding the arrest of children younger than 10.

Clinical consent. A bill that would criminalize inseminating a woman without her knowledge or conducting pelvic exams without patient consent received preliminary approval in the Senate.

Up in smoke? Legislation changing tobacco laws experienced a hiccup when the Senate postponed bills raising the smoking age to 21 and treating vaping products like tobacco products.

Union buster. A controversial bill affecting union membership cleared the House by a surprisingly narrow margin, though its path forward is uncertain.

Fee multipliers. A bill that would nix “fee multipliers” for plaintiffs’ attorneys in property insurance cases cleared the full House on a party-line vote.

Newspaper notices. The House passed a bill that would allow public notices to go on city websites instead of local newspapers.

Quiet time. The House OK’d its version of a bill that would require schools to offer nondenominational “moments of silence.” The Senate version passed Monday.

Pet prescription. A bill that passed the Senate would block landlords from prohibiting emotional support animals, but tenets who falsely claim to need one could face jail time.

Lotto labels. A bill that would put warning labels on lottery tickets passed the House by a 108-9 margin, but it’s not a lock to make it into law.

Tiger tags. The House passed a bill that would add a specialty plate for Auburn University and revamp how the state adds future specialty plates.

Quote of the Day

“I wouldn’t say the issue is dead, but for the regular Session ending on March 13, it’s probably dead.” — House Speaker José Oliva, on passing a gaming bill this Session.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What is the name of the jolly headhunter who shows up near the end of the Jungle Cruise?

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 female Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives?

Answer: Rep. Anne Mackenzie from Broward County.

Congrats to Andy Gonzalez (@adg361), who was the first to tweet the correct answer! Catch

Thanks to everyone for participating — remember, the more you play, the better your chances of winning!

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

Public anxiety remains high about the small (but growing) number of coronavirus cases in Florida. But the Florida Medical Association on Wednesday issued a statement praising state response. Dr. Ashley Booth Norse, FMA Vice Speaker/Officer, explained what must continue happening.

Florida Politics: There have been complaints about how fast officials informed the public of presumptive positive tests. Why is it important for the FMA to voice support for state response so far?

Norse: It’s a huge public health issue. The problem is it’s changing rapidly. The state, from the Governor’s office to the Surgeon General and the Department of Health, has tried to keep up with changes and keep citizens informed as well as physicians. As with any epidemic that is larger and changing so fast, there have been some hiccups along the road, but overall, with Gov. Ron DeSantis declaring a state public health emergency, and the Department of Health and Surgeon General getting labs up and running around the state, they have been very proactive. The right steps are being taken. Everybody is taking it seriously. That said, this is a tourism state, and we are hitting Spring Break, so that’s a concern. People will be traveling in and out of the state, potentially to foreign countries, so the state remains on high alert.

FP: Will there need to increased capacity brought on by opening even more labs as demand for testing rises?

Norse: It’s yet to be seen. We now have a Miami lab, a Jacksonville lab, and the main DOH lab, and perhaps more coming online. But it’s hard to answer completely if there is potentially a need for more labs. If we continue to see this spread, absolutely. But we suspect this is a heat-labile virus. We have seen rates in China decreasing, and as the weather gets warmer here, it may decrease here too. So we may not have a need to get more labs up and running. If we don’t see a decrease, then yeah, we will need to get more running. The challenge is we are reactive to things changing day by day and minute by minute,

FP: In Sarasota and Tampa Bay, there’s public anxiety about quarantining procedures. How should suspected cases be treated?

Norse: Floridians that are coming from endemic areas — like China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran — the recommendations are to self-quarantine at home 14 days, because we know the incubation can be 14 days. But for now, that’s voluntary, so there is a risk of spread. If someone goes to the grocery, the potential is there. The second step is if Floridians are developing flu-like symptoms, like lower respiratory symptoms, and proceed on to getting testing, the next set is to be admitted to a hospital and get quarantined, or if they are well, they can go home and self-quarantine while the virus runs its course. The CDC has recommendations on people who can go home.


Lobby Up

A bill that would end the newspaper industry’s grip on public notice advertising was OK’d by the full House on Wednesday.

Rep. Randy Fine, who is sponsoring HB 7, has pushed to end the advertising requirement for a couple of Sessions now. He says the current system is a “subsidy to a dying industry” and claims it would be more efficient to spread the word about law changes or important dates through the internet or direct mail.

The newspaper industry is vociferously opposed — nearly every paper in the state has published an op-ed blasting the plan at some point this Session. Less publicly, their position is being pushed by a team of lobbyists in the Capitol.

Providing the industry a united front is the Florida Press Association, which has its president, Jim Fogler, roaming the halls alongside in-house advocate Samuel Morley. FPA also has Kimberly Case of Holland & Knight on retainer.

Gannett Media Group, which owns USA Today and several local papers in Florida, has its own representation, including Ron Book and Kelly Mallette, as well as Dean Cannon of GrayRobinson.

The First Amendment Foundation is also on the print media’s side. Their lobbying efforts are led by Pamela Marsh, who took over as the FAF’s leader late last year. She’s getting an assist from her predecessor, Barbara Petersen.

There’s a good chance that newspapers will get their way this Session, as companion legislation in the Senate (SB 1340) hasn’t been heard in committee.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The Senate will hold a floor session at 10 a.m.

Gov. DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and Department of Children & Families Secretary Chad Poppell will hold a news conference at the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, 339 E Jefferson St., in Quincy. It begins at 10:30 a.m.

The House will hold a floor session at 10:30 a.m.

The Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, chaired by Attorney General Ashley Moody, will meet at 1 p.m. in Cabinet Room LL-03 at the Capitol.

The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building to set the special-order calendar. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the floor session ends.

Staff Reports


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