Sixty Days for 3.9.20 — A prime-time look at the 2020 Legislative Session

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Your nightly review of Session news. It’s ‘Sixty Days’ — right now.

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

The Last 24

Coronavirus fears shut down business in the House for part of this afternoon as five members self-isolated and agreed to test for COVID-19. But after medical professionals checked the individuals out, it was determined none met federal guidelines that would prompt such testing. Concerns stemmed from their attendance at conferences in Washington, D.C. Three members — Reps. Antony Sabatini, Cord Byrd and Thad Altman attended CPAC last month. Rep. Byron Donalds and House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee attended AIPAC last week. Individuals who attended those conferences have since tested positive for the new coronavirus. Here’s your nightly rundown.

School choice. The House approved a bill that would make nearly 29,000 more Florida students eligible to receive school vouchers next school year.

E-Verify. The Senate passed legislation requiring Florida businesses to use either the federal E-Verify system or I-9 forms to confirm whether employees are eligible to legally work in the United States.

Ballot amendments. The Senate voted along party lines to pass a controversial proposal increasing the signature threshold for ballot initiatives to go before the Supreme Court for review. 

Occupational licenses. A bill that would slash licensing requirements for a wide array of professions passed the House with an 88-25 vote, setting it up for a Senate hearing.

Athlete pay. The Senate passed a bill that would allow college athletes to cash in — including via endorsement deals — on their name, image or likeness.

Shift change. Legislative budgeters agreed to reduce a quarter of correctional officers’ shifts from 12 hours to 8.5 hours, creating a final deal that split the initial House and Senate offers.

Housing discrimination. The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would allow people to file housing discrimination lawsuits without waiting on a decision from the Florida Commission on Ethics.

‘Never again.’ The House voted unanimously in favor of a bill requiring students to learn about the Holocaust and be informed of the state’s policy against anti-Semitism.

Fin ban. The House passed a Senate bill outlawing the import and export of shark fins in Florida. It added an amendment, requiring it to go back to the Senate for final passage.

Parental rights. The House advanced sweeping legislation codifying a parent’s “bill of rights” with a 77-41 vote.

Fireworks. The Senate OK’d a bill that would legalize buying and using fireworks on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day.

Budget Notes

COVID-19 cash. Senate President Bill Galvano says lawmakers will have to rethink the Legislature’s budget, possibly including at least an additional $200 million to address concerns from the new coronavirus.

Teacher pay. Galvano said the increased COVID-19 funding could take a bite out of other areas of the budget, including teacher pay raises.

Colleges, too. The House pitched cutting $15.8 million in state university funding and $13.4 million from colleges to help cover the coronavirus response.

Medicaid shortfall. Both chambers agreed to cut the Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals in the current fiscal year, which is expected to result in a $25 million shortfall for hospitals.

TBARTA. The Senate matched the House with a $1.5 million appropriation for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, the full amount requested.

Marketing money. A $1 million allocation to market the state’s restaurant and lodging industry has been bumped to budget conference chairs.

Bowl backup. The Senate wants $1 million for DEO to bolster security at Super Bowl LV in Tampa next year, but the House isn’t on board.

Quote of the Day

“Right now, the cruise industry’s in really bad condition. Things are dubious nationally, you saw what happened with the market this morning, so I think we really have to think about what dollars we’re spending and on a recurring basis.” — Bill Galvano, on COVID-19’s potential impact on the state budget.

Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: This South Florida beach holds the Guinness World Record for the “largest underwater cleanup” with 633 divers picking up trash.

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: Florida man tried to “run” to Bermuda in what?

Answer: Inflatable bubble. (

Congrats to Jeremy Smith (@bcomingsuperman), 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

Immigration continues to be debated in Washington and Tallahassee, with E-Verify legislation passed in the Senate the most recent matter earning attention here. But Matt Childers, Director of Research and Policy for the Florida Health Justice Project, said continued crackdowns bring detrimental impacts not just to immigrants but the community as a whole.

Florida Politics: Why are you concerned about E-Verify discussions taking place in the Legislature at this moment in time?

Childers: Probably the biggest source of our concern, generally in the last few years, is this policy environment out of Washington, D.C. The immigrant community at large is afraid. They are generally fearful of interacting with programs anywhere and fearful of the government. This isn’t just about those referred to by people as undocumented or unauthorized. There’s a lot of fear among immigrants at large because of the ‘public charge’ rule. That’s creating fear even among immigrants with green cards. So there is generally an anti-immigration attitude out of D.C. in general, at least in the administration. E-Verify is going to exacerbate the fear.

Florida Politics: There’s a sudden discussion of whether the coronavirus threat changes the terms of debate. How will this impact public health?

Childers: This is especially counterproductive given we’ve got this public health crisis with coronavirus spreading across the country. Anything that exacerbates unease with interacting with the government is a step in the wrong direction. People are afraid news will leak out if they access treatment. They cannot do that without being afraid of the consequences. So we know some of the fear comes from the public charge rule. But a lot documented and undocumented immigrants are fearful of seeking treatment at clinics or even bringing family in. This will only add to fear. This will push people further into the shadows, and this is not a time to do that.

But HIPPA rules and ethics among medical professionals means undocumented people won’t be reported if they are tested, right?

Childers: We have a lot of stories, through news and immigrant networks, anecdotes, and people are too afraid. Health clinics and have told me their numbers have plummeted.


Lobby Up

The House education package got an overhaul last week, adding a host of changes, including one that would allow for pregame prayers at high school athletic events.

The prayer portion of the bill directs the Florida High School Athletic Association to craft rules that would grant schools 30 seconds of airtime on the PA system at state-sanctioned sporting events.

It didn’t come out of nowhere. Pregame prayer has been the focus of a long-running legal fight between FHSAA and Cambridge Christian School of Tampa, which was denied access to the PA at a 2016 football championship game held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

FHSAA has been reluctant to change its rules as the case continues to move through the courts.

A U.S. District Court judge initially sided with FHSAA, though an appeals court struck down that ruling and sent the case back to the lower court.

FHSAA has a team of lobbyists in the Capitol, including Ron Book, Michael Corcoran, Matt Blair, Jacqueline Corcoran and Andrea Tovar of Corcoran Partners; and Jessica Janasiewicz and Corinne Mixon of Rutledge Eccenia.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze the financial impact of legislation filed in the 2020 Legislative Session when it meets at 8:30 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

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

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

The USDA will hold a conference call at noon to announce its updated citrus forecast for the 2019-2020 growing season. The call-in number is 1-855-384-4184. The conference code is 6486013.

The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the floor session adjourns.

State political committees and candidates face a Tuesday deadline for filing reports detailing fundraising numbers for February.

Staff Reports


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