Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Gov. Ron DeSantis will meet with top brass at the state’s parimutuels tomorrow as part of a push to pass gaming legislation this Session. First reported by Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida, the meeting comes shortly after the Governor met with representatives from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who run the biggest gambling enterprise in Florida. DeSantis spokesperson Meredith Beatrice confirmed the meeting, saying it is important parimutuels “have a voice” in any potential gaming plan. Also on Wednesday, former Sen. Frank Artiles’ home was raided as part of an investigation into sham candidates who ran in the 2020 election cycle. On Election Day, Artiles took credit for the flip in SD 37, raising eyebrows and spurring the investigation. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Greenlight. The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee heaped praise on newly appointed AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller as they advanced her confirmation.
— 1,952,321 FL residents (+AMT since Tuesday)
— 36,703 Non-FL residents (+AMT since Tuesday)
— 15,487 Travel related
— 763,426 Contact with a confirmed case
— 21,080 Both
— 1,152,328 Under investigation
— 82,786 in FL
— 33,120 in FL
— 6,839,725 Doses administered
— 4,464,035 Total people vaccinated
— 1,967,600 First dose
— 120,745 Completed one-dose series (+10,213 since Tuesday)
— 2,375,690 Completed two-dose series (+54,682 since Tuesday)
Quote of the Day
“Trans folk never asked to be a political football in a culture war. Trans folk are not men presenting as females to try and dominate a basketball league, and they’re not predators waiting in bathrooms. They are our friends, our neighbors, siblings, cousins, daughters and sons. This bill is a very harmful solution in search of a problem.” — Rep. Susan Valdes, on the transgender athletes’ bill (HB 1475).
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: The remains of what rare and mysterious deep-sea creatures are exhibited at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota?
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 Florida city is known as the “Venice of America?”
Answer: Fort Lauderdale, because of its canal system.
Congrats to Tad Fisher (@TadP), the first person to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Attorneys’ groups have expressed concern about the constitutionality of Covid-liability protections for businesses (HB 7, SB 72) because they add a “greater burden of proof” for plaintiffs’ cases. The House bill has already passed and the Senate Bill passed its last committee Thursday. Florida-based personal injury attorney Michael Feiner of Injurylawyers.com answers questions on the legislation.
Florida Politics: You mentioned the law creates “steep hurdles” for plaintiffs, can you explain what you mean by that?
Michael Feiner: The way they’re changing this law is really tantamount to the punitive damages standard in Florida, where you have to have a very heightened increase to the burden of proof in order to get there. It’s borderline unconstitutional, especially since they’re looking for a reasonable degree of medical certainty that, when you’re dealing with COVID and contact tracing, is so difficult to begin with. It’s going to be almost impossible to meet that standard.
Florida Politics: This law says a defendant’s “good faith effort” should be decided by a judge? What do you think of that?
Michael Feiner: I don’t like it. I don’t like it because, you know, we have a jury system here, and your fate should be decided by the community and your peers. And I think that if the judiciary is making those determinations, they take it out of the hands of the jury, and I just think it’s unfair.
Florida Politics: Right now, no one is sure how big of an issue this will be. The Florida Office of the State Courts does not have data on COVID-19 liability lawsuits. One of the few estimates we’ve seen is a January report from Florida Tax Watch that showed 490 COVID-related lawsuits in Florida. How many COVID liability lawsuits do you expect to come across your desk?
Michael Feiner: Not a lot. I mean this is the field that I’m in, and I haven’t seen very many already. And if you put things in perspective 400-something lawsuits over the entire state of Florida is minuscule. And it could be, what I had said earlier, it’s already difficult to contact trace this stuff. You can get it from so many places. Who’s to say you got it at work, or you got it at the park, or you got it at this person’s home, or you got it at this person’s business? And on top of it, the burden is that you have to prove it by medical certainty. It’s just so difficult. It could almost make access to the courthouse a fantasy.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, also known as the only day in the year it’s acceptable to drink an “Irish Car Bomb” — just don’t try and order one if you happen to be in the land of Éire. Call it an Irish shot instead.
If you’re going to mix one up, make sure you do it right. Here’s what you’ll need:
— A pint of Guinness. Make sure you get the can, the bottle doesn’t have the distinct nitro taste.
— A half-ounce of Baileys Irish Cream.
— A half-ounce of Irish whiskey.
A couple of those ingredients come from the same company: Diageo. As one of the largest beverage companies in the world, it is behind brands including Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray gin and Bulleit bourbon. The list also includes Guinness and Baileys. No matter your preference, chances are a Diageo label is in your favorite bar.
The worldwide company also has a presence in the Florida Capitol, thanks to a lobbying deal with the team at Smith Bryan & Myers, including Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Jim Naff and Teye Reeves.
Guinness and Baileys also have the same distributor: Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits. The multistate operation relies on Brian Ballard, Michael Abrams, Brady Benford, Jose Diaz, Chris Dorworth and Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners.
For Irish whiskey, there are several options. One of the go-to’s is Tullamore D.E.W. — not Dew, it’s named after Daniel E. Williams and the Irish county where he ran his distillery. It’s one of the top-selling whiskey brands in the world, shipping out more than 1.5 million cases a year.
The cases that arrive in the Sunshine State head to Breakthru Beverage Florida, which distributes a long list of labels. When they need some help in the Legislature, they turn to Chris Dudley of The Southern Group.
Once you have all the ingredients, put the Baileys and whiskey in a shot glass and drop it into the pint and start drinking.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Next 24
The Florida Veterans Foundation will hold an event recognizing those who have served Florida veterans during a time of need. CFO Jimmy Patronis, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Executive Director Major General James Hartsell and multiple lawmakers are expected to attend the Forward March Ambassadors Wall Unveiling Ceremony. It starts at 8 a.m.
Senate Rules Committee will consider a bill (SB 148) that would allow restaurants to continue selling cocktails to go after the pandemic ends. The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a bill (HB 1455) that would cap THC in medical cannabis and another (HB 1157) that would prohibit free-standing emergency departments from presenting themselves as urgent care centers. The committee meets at 9:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
Senate Appropriations Committee will consider a bill that would repeal M-CORES (SB 100) and another measure (SB 264) that would survey college faculty on their ideological beliefs when it meets at 11:30 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
The Florida Supreme Court will release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.
The House will hold a floor session at 2 p.m. Among the bills on the agenda are proposals to require daily moments of silence in K-12 schools (HB 529); a measure that would survey college and university faculty on their political views (HB 233); and a bill to rename a stretch of coral reef former Rep. Kristin Jacobs, who died of cancer in 2020 (HB 217).
The Senate will hold a floor session at 2 p.m. The agenda includes a bill to provide farmers with lawsuit protections (SB 88), a proposal revamping craft distillery regulations (SB 46), and a fast-tracked proposal to shield businesses and health care providers from COVID-19 lawsuits.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— Senate Finance & Tax Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
— House Public Integrity & Elections Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— House Health & Human Services Committee meets at noon in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— House Rules Committee will meet in Room 404 of the House Office Building 15 minutes after the floor Session ends.