Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Sen. Jeff Brandes merged two COVID-19 liability bills into one, creating a single measure that would fortify legal protections for both businesses and health care providers. Sponsors in both chambers previously separated the protections so lawmakers could hammer out the details for each prong of the liability shield. Brandes said now that the measures are preparing for the Senate floor, they should be combined into one package to ensure both passes. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Resilient Florida. Bills (HB 7019/HB 7021) that would help local communities adapt to rising sea levels and flooding received unanimous support in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.
Helping hand. Sen. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith pitched their legislation (SB 1860/HB 1435) to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to help people who can’t pay electricity or water bills.
Cheers! The Senate could soon tip a bill (SB 46) to reduce restrictions on craft distilleries to the House after giving its initial approval on Thursday.
— 1,926,494 FL residents (+4,946 since Wednesday)
— 36,157 Non-FL residents (+119 since Wednesday)
— 15,243 Travel related
— 750,447 Contact with a confirmed case
— 20,805 Both
— 1,139,999 Under investigation
— 81,763 in FL
— 32,639 in FL
— 5,989,120 Doses administered
— 3,895,656 Total people vaccinated
— 1,766,109 First dose
— 2,129,547 Series completed (+97,963 since Wednesday)
— 36,083 Completed one-dose series (+10,703 since Wednesday)
— 2,093,464 Completed two-dose series (+87,260 since Wednesday)
Quote of the Day
“It’s easier to defend one fortress than to guard two. I think it’s important that we have both the business community and the health care community rowing with us together in the same ship.” — Sen. Jeff Brandes on merging the business and health care liability bills.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What movie starring Jim Carrey was mostly filmed in Seaside, Florida?
As always, click here to tweet your answer with cc: @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in Monday’s 60 Days!
Last time, we asked: Who was the first territorial governor of Florida?
Answer: Andrew Jackson.
Congrats to Okaloosa GOP (@OkaloosaGOP), the first to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
For the past decade, felons in Florida have had to wait at least five years after completing their sentence before becoming eligible for civil rights restoration. But, at a Clemency Board meeting Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet, acting as the Board of Executive Clemency, did away with the waiting period. The result is thousands of “returning citizens” will have their rights automatically restored, possibly wiping out a backlog of thousands of cases awaiting review.
The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has been working behind the scenes to achieve the milestone. We spoke with the organization’s Deputy Director and returning citizen Neil Volz, who has been advocating on this issue.
Florida Politics: What are the major things this does?
Neil Volz: “One big change is that anybody who is eligible to vote under Amendment 4 — so that’s hundreds of thousands of people — will have a pathway to automatic restoration of their civil rights. Civil rights are an integral part of the [citizen] restoration process. There are people who can have improved access to housing, because they get their civil rights restored. People who can get access to employment, because they have their civil rights restored. You can serve on a jury. You can run for office. And this is really about the full reintegration into the community for people who have past felony convictions. What I mentioned to the board Wednesday, what I think is a very telling statistic, is a study done by the Florida Parole Commission. The parole commission did a study of tens of thousands of returning citizens, and they found that people who had their civil rights restored were three times less likely to reoffend than people who didn’t.”
Florida Politics: Talk about the backlog of applications for restored rights.
Neil Volz: “A second piece is that these changes, got rid of waiting periods. There’s tens of thousands of people currently waiting to have their case heard through the clemency process. We know that Gov. Rick Scott instituted some additional five- and seven-year waiting periods for people to come before the clemency board, and that was in addition to many people who would wait more than 10 years before the case would even be heard. So, a big step in the right direction is getting rid of the waiting periods. So they created a more streamlined process, so that people can get through the clemency process.”
Florida Politics: What issues for returning citizens weren’t solved?
Neil Volz: “That’s a good question because our North Star is the full empowerment of returning citizens across the state of Florida. So, we’re constantly pushing to create a society in which, when somebody has completed their sentence, they can be treated like anybody else. So, there’s a lot of tools available to the clemency board that can help meet that goal. Some of that is making it easier for people who owe financial obligations to be able to vote. And I think that would be an area of discussion that we would like to engage in going forward. But we do want to be really clear; these are changes that we’ve been fighting for for a long time. Many of the changes — the big ones that we’ve been talking about — we gave detailed proposals to the Governor, to the Attorney General, to the CFO, to the [Agriculture] Commissioner. We talked to them. We talked to their staffs. And so, this is the combination of a lot of hard work, geared towards the real lives of real people.”
While some universities are skipping Spring Break this year, there will still be plenty of students heading to Florida to have some fun in the sun.
Panama City and Miami Beach are two of the busiest Spring Destinations in the state and, by extension, the world. Both have top-tier lobbyists working on their behalf in the Capitol.
The Southern Group handles the needs of Panama City, with Rachel Cone, Erin Rock and Clark Smith running point. Panama City Beach, meanwhile, has Jorge Chamizo, Charles Dudley and Melissa Ramba of Floridian Partners on retainer.
Down south, Ron Book and lobbying partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette work to advance Miami Beach’s interests. The city also gets help from Mary DeLoach of The Southern Group.
While some cities hope for a muted season, Spring Break simply wouldn’t be Spring Break without booze.
There are dozens of alcohol interests with lobbyists in the Capitol. A couple of the biggest are Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo.
The former is behind Spring Break staples such as Bud Light and Corona (Extra, not virus). They have the team at Floridian Partners on tap, as well as Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Chris Chaney, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey and Jeffrey Woodburn of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners; French Brown of Dean Mead; and Tracy Mayernick, Frank Mayernick and Rob Johnson of The Mayernick Group.
Diageo — which produces spirits ranging from Captain Morgan to Crown Royal — relies on the team at Smith Bryan & Myers, including Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley and Jim Naff.
Travelers will also need a place to stay. Many will likely find themselves on a Marriott property of some sort — after all, they are the largest hotel chain in the country, with 30 labels running from the economical to top-tier luxury.
Their lobbyists include in-houser Travis Cutler and the team at The Advocacy Group as well as Angela Bonds, Peter Dunbar, Martha Edenfield, Chris Moya and Jennifer Ungru of Dean Mead.
The Next 24
The Florida Housing Finance Corp. Board of Directors meets at 8:30 a.m. The call-in number is 1-888-339-2688. The conference code is 71824523.
The House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee will consider a bill (HB 149) that would ban school officials from secluding students with disabilities and limit the use of restraints on those students. The committee meets at 9:30 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
The House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee will consider several bills, including a measure (HB 313) that would expand the rights of firefighters under investigation. The committee meets at 9:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet to analyze the financial impact of proposed legislation at 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.
The Manhattan Institute hosts a virtual event with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Keith Rabois, a former executive at PayPal, Square, and Linkedin, to discuss Miami’s future as an innovative city and tech migration. It begins at 1 p.m. Registration is online.