Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet, acting as the Board of Executive Clemency, adopted an “automatic process” to speed up the restoration of rights for felons who have completed all terms of their sentence, including paying fines and fees. The process also eliminates the five-year waiting period before felons can apply for restoration. Attorney General Ashley Moody said the new rules are “a huge advancement” toward reducing the backlog of cases at the clemency board. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Jalopy no more. Economic Opportunity Executive Director Dane Eagle promised a Senate committee that Florida’s unemployment system would be overhauled from jalopy to a “new, shiny car.”
Keep ‘em coming. Members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development voted unanimously for a bill (SB 778) removing VISIT FLORIDA’s 2023 sunset clause.
— 1,921,548 FL residents (+4,774 since Tuesday)
— 36,038 Non-FL residents (+79 since Tuesday)
— 15,209 Travel related
— 747,896 Contact with a confirmed case
— 20,772 Both
— 1,137,671 Under investigation
— 81,564 in FL
— 32,543 in FL
— 5,791,074 Doses administered
— 3,784,870 Total people vaccinated
— 1,753,286 First dose
— 25,380 Completed one-dose series (+7,883 since Tuesday)
— 2,006,204 Completed two-dose series (+57,761 since Tuesday)
Quote of the Day
“If any elected official, doesn’t make no difference to me what level it is, says something that’s absolutely inflammatory, there should be some type of recourse.” — Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, explaining his vote against the Big Tech crackdown bill.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Who was the first territorial governor of Florida?
As always, click here to tweet your answer with cc: @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in 60 Days!
Last time, we asked: What are the four historically Black colleges/universities in Florida?
Answer: Florida A&M University, Florida Memorial University, Edward Waters College, & Bethune-Cookman University.
Congrats to Larry Williams Consulting LLC (@LarryWmsConsult), the first person to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Rep. Ben Diamond and Sen. Darryl Rouson, both from St. Petersburg, each filed legislation (HB 1375/SB 1740) designed to identify high-achieving art students. The bills would establish a Seal of Fine Arts for high school diplomas through the Department of Education. The seal would be awarded to graduates who “attain a high level of skill in fine arts coursework” to promote the value of arts education throughout the state.
Florida Politics: There are a lot of school subjects; why focus on arts?
Ben Diamond: I think the arts are very important for a young person’s development. There are all these studies that show that kids who are somehow pursuing the arts — whether it’s music or theater or dance — are in a better place, emotionally and socially, and actually perform better in their academic subjects. And also, just from my conversations with folks who are arts educators in Florida, we’ve had so much focus on STEM that a lot of folks who are working with kids in the arts have felt squeezed out in terms of importance. We wanted to find a way to provide some special recognition to students who are doing either outstanding or exemplary work in the arts.
Florida Politics: This makes sense for a Rep. from St. Pete, right?
Ben Diamond: Absolutely. The arts are so important in our community. We have such a vibrant cultural life in St. Pete with music, theater and the visual arts. We have the Dali museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, so many great museums. And it’s attracting a lot of young people who are interested in the arts. And it’s inspiring to a lot of students who are in high school in my district who want to make the arts an important part of their lives. So that’s all tied into the thinking behind this bill.
Florida Politics: What resources do you need for this bill to be implemented?
Ben Diamond: This is not a bill that’s going to cost the state money. It’s not a budget buster. There’s no fiscal impact to this bill, but to the students who are pursuing these tracks, it could be extremely meaningful and help them as they’re pursuing their college coursework or hopefully pursuing careers in the arts.
While it has become widely acknowledged that obesity is an epidemic impacting Florida, addressing the disease has gained urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to its effect on people with obesity.
More than 5.5 million Floridians live with obesity, which represents the strongest predictor for COVID-19 severity after age and may predispose people to catch the virus.
Still, many Floridians, including seniors covered by Medicare, lack access to comprehensive obesity treatments.
The availability of FDA-approved obesity drugs, combined with multidisciplinary behavioral and nutritional care, has helped provide safe and effective nonsurgical care for those struggling with obesity.
In 2017, the Legislature directed the Department of Management Services to begin a weight management pilot program for state employees in Florida, including access to FDA-approved obesity drugs.
Reducing comorbidities also leads to savings — patients with obesity have medical costs 24% higher than people without obesity.
With 4 years of the Florida pilot program almost complete and given the necessity of addressing obesity amid the pandemic, the attention has turned to make coverage of obesity treatments permanent for state employees.
Federal legislation that would establish access to FDA-approved obesity drugs in the Medicare program has also been proposed.
Novo Nordisk wants to ensure patients in Florida — and nationwide — have access to the full continuum of care to treat obesity, including FDA-approved anti-obesity medications.
To help them in the fight against obesity in Florida, Novo Nordisk has hired the team at Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies, including Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, and Anita Berry.
The Next 24
The Senate Rules Committee will hear several highly watched bills, including measures (SB 72/SB 74) to shield businesses and health care providers from COVID-19 liability suits; a proposal (SB 60) requiring code complainants to put their names on their claims; and a bill (SB 80) to prioritize finding a permanent home for children within the child welfare system. The committee meets at 8:15 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
GrayRobinson will host a virtual event titled “Restoring Bilateral Trade Between Canada and Florida.” Firm president and former House Speaker Dean Cannon, Consulate General of Canada in Miami Susan Harper and Enterprise Florida SVP Manny Mencia are among the 16 speakers slated to discuss bilateral trade between Canada and Florida. The virtual event runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Register to attend.
The House Ways & Means Committee will take up a bill (HB 15) that would require online retailers to collect and remit sales tax on purchases even if they do not have a physical presence in the state. The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 17 of the House Office Building.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will hear a proposal that would raise rates by an average of 6.2% for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. policyholders. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. and will be streamed online.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider a bill (SB 522) to establish a statewide regulatory framework for vacation rentals and preempt most local ordinances governing the industry. The committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
The Senate will hold a floor session at 2:30 p.m. The agenda includes a bill to require online retailers to collect sales tax (SB 50), a bill reducing restrictions on craft distilleries (SB 46), and a bill raising the standard of proof for certain suits relating to “agritourism” activities (SB 88).
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will consider bills (HB 7019/HB 7021) to establish the Resilient Florida Grant Program within DEP to fund efforts to combat sea-level rise and nuisance flooding. The committee meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 102 of the House Office Building.
The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee will consider legislation (HB 303) to prohibit the arrest of children under 10 years old. The committee meets at 4:15 p.m. in Room 17 of the House Office Building.
The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Committee will take up a bill (HB 221) that would require a person who finds a “spaceflight asset” that has fallen to Earth to report it to law enforcement and return it to the owner. The committee meets at 4:15 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Appropriations Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The Senate Finance & Tax Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— The House Rules Committee meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meets at 12:45 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
— The House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee meets at 12:45 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:45 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 12:45 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee meets at 2:30 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 404 House Office Building.
— The House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee meets at 4:15 p.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee meets at 4:15 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee meets at 4:15 p.m. in Reed Hall in the House Office Building.