Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
Sen. Dennis Baxley has filed an amendment to his elections bill (SB 90) that would remove a widely panned provision to ban ballot drop boxes. The amendment would allow elections supervisors to set up drop boxes, but voters would only be allowed to drop off their ballots during early voting hours. The proposal would still be more restrictive than the House election bill, which would allow supervisors to operate drop boxes after hours as long as they were monitored in person or by video. Critics say neither bill is necessary and their sole intent is to suppress the vote. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Marathon debate. Representatives are fiercely debating a bill (HB 1475) that would ban transgender women from participating in girls’ sports ahead of a vote by the full chamber.
— 2,094,670 FL residents (+8,925 since Monday)
— 40,244 Non-FL residents (+143 since Monday)
— 16,785 Travel related
— 827,919 Contact with a confirmed case
— 22,968 Both
— 1,226,998 Under investigation
— 87,287 in FL
— 34,784 in FL
— 11,505,143 Doses administered
— 7,449,475 Total people vaccinated
— 2,883,560 First dose
— 510,247 Completed one-dose series (+36,831 since Monday)
— 4,055,668 Completed two-dose series (+81,119 since Monday)
Quote of the Day
“There are many important issues that we can take up in this body as a Legislature, but members, this is not one of them.” — Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell, on a House resolution to condemn Democratic Socialism.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: How many state parks are in 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: Bayshore Boulevard in this city is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.
Congrats to Geoffrey Becker (@geoffreyb89), the first person to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia from Spring Hill said he isn’t looking at what other states are doing. Instead, he’s moving forward with legislation to shape the state of Florida in its own unique image. We still asked him about the drama with MLB in Georgia and his election bill, plus we talked about a social media transparency bill that he said is not about Florida’s most famous Republican resident.
Florida Politics: You sponsor an elections bill (HB 7041) that voting-rights advocacy groups label as voter suppression. The same thing happened with an elections bill in Georgia, and after it passed, corporations responded with statements condemning the voting legislation. Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the bill. Do you think that could happen to Florida if this election legislation passes?
Ingoglia: Florida has always been viewed as a leader on legislation. So, I would say that we’re not reacting, or we’re not doing anything that Georgia is doing. Quite frankly, I’m not paying attention to what Georgia is doing. What I’m paying attention to is what Florida is doing and needs to do in order for elections to continue to run smoothly and have a safer process in place. Having said that, I think that a lot of these people who are criticizing our proposed law and the law that passed really aren’t paying attention or they’re not even reading the bill. It is a little disheartening to think that these large corporations are starting to boycott states because of legislation they’re putting forth. Take Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball now is saying that they’re moving the All-Star Game when in reality, it’s a lot easier to vote in Georgia than it is in New York. So, it makes them hypocrites. It makes them either hypocrites or just ignorant of what the law actually is. Having said that, the people have been misstating what our proposal is for new elections legislation. At the end of the day, we still have two committee stops to go. We’re always looking to make the bill better. We’re listening to the stakeholders, and making changes as we go. What people have to remember is the last elections bill that I helped co-author and I sponsored, the one that governed this last election in 2020; people said that bill was voter suppression. But in reality, we had the smoothest election we’ve ever had in a while. And we’ve had more people vote than have ever voted in the history of the state of Florida. But it all boils down to this: In the state of Florida, you have up to 45 days of voting. You have three different ways of voting. You can vote by mail. No excuse, vote by mail. You can vote at the polls in early voting or at the polls on Election Day. Anyone who says that we’re engaging in voter suppression in the state of Florida is being disingenuous.
Florida Politics: You have a bill that deals with social media transparency (HB 7013). What does that bill do, and where did the idea for the bill come from?
Ingoglia: This the one that says that social media companies have to publish their standards on why people would be de-platformed or why they would be censored. This way, everybody knows what the rules are. Social media giants can’t make up the rules as they go, and the important thing is to hold both people accountable. So, if you’re going to condemn one person for saying something online, then condemn the other person who’s doing something similar online. Because right now, what we view is it just being arbitrary and capricious. I think that’s our problem. But it also stops people from engaging in monopolistic behavior using their influence, big tech’s influence, to punish other companies and candidates.
Florida Politics: Is this bill in response to former President Donald Trump getting banned from social media?
Ingoglia: No, it’s not, and that’s another false narrative that’s been going around. One of the things that really pushed me to push for this legislation was when Twitter pulled down the New York Post article about Hunter Biden. I said to myself; this is a piece of information that voters should have in order to make an informed decision. And when Twitter can unilaterally take away that speech from somebody who is just trying to get information to people, in this case, the Post, that is a very dangerous place. That was more the original nexus of why I started talking to Speaker (Chris) Sprowls about putting forth a piece of legislation like this. It’s easy for people to say that it was about Donald Trump and him being de-platformed, but it’s a much, much bigger issue than de-platforming Donald Trump.
Florida Politics: You have a bill (HB 1343) that deals with the application process for concealed carry permits. Can you talk about where the idea for that bill came from and what it does?
Ingoglia: We don’t know if that bill is going to make it across the finish line, because I think it has some problems in the Senate. During the pandemic, I had found out through some social networks that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) arbitrarily shut down the online portal to get concealed carry applications, and I just think it’s the wrong thing to do. In my belief, it was purely arbitrary. It was an anti-Second Amendment stance. How do we know this? We know this because there were other online portals that are controlled by DACS, which also were not taken down. So, this bill basically just says that you cannot arbitrarily take that information and that online portal down. It has to stay open 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Florida Politics: What’s going on in the Senate with the bill?
Ingoglia: I’m not sure, but I think the next reference after the first committee stop doesn’t meet anymore. So basically, there’s no place for the bill to go for a second committee stop. So, it may be effectively dead right now. It’s a little disheartening if we don’t get across the finish line, but this is one of those good pieces of public policy that I will continue to push next Session if it doesn’t get done this Session.
Gov. Ron DeSantis may not be a fan of “vaccine passports,” but some cruise lines see them as key to getting back on the water.
A handful of cruise lines have announced they will require passengers to prove they were vaccinated before getting on board when they resume sailings later this year. The first was Norwegian Cruise Lines, followed by Silversea Cruises. A couple of other majors — Carnival and Royal Caribbean — haven’t decided whether to require vaccines yet.
DeSantis’ stance on vaccine passports could leave cruise lines torn between adhering to CDC guidelines and keeping avoiding the Governor’s ire, whose state is home to some of the top cruise ports in the world.
As one of the biggest business interests in Florida’s tourism industry, cruise lines had lobbyists on the ground in Tallahassee long before “vaccine passport” entered the lexicon.
The Cruise Lines International Association, an industry trade group, has the Ballard Partners team in its corner, including firm founder Brian Ballard and lobbyists Bradley Burleson and Kathy San Pedro.
Carnival Corporation, which has its headquarters in Miami, has Bill Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson, Christopher Finkbeiner and Matthew Sacco of Rubin Turnbull & Associates on retainer.
Florida’s seaports have also been heavily impacted by the cruise industry shut down. Individual seaports have lobbyists at the Capitol, but the Florida Ports Council represents them collectively.
They joined DeSantis in blasting the CDC for not providing a clear path to resume cruises, but if the Governor’s order and the CDC’s guidelines are a mismatch, an amicable resolution will rocket to the top of their priority list.
The Florida Ports Council is represented by Jeff Littlejohn of Littlejohn Mann & Associates as well as in-house lobbyist Michael Rubin.
The Next 24
The Senate Finance & Tax Committee will take up a resolution (SJR 1182) that would put an amendment on the 2022 ballot to give a property-tax break to homeowners who make flood mitigation improvements. The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.
More than 100 PreK-12 teachers, school support staff and higher education faculty, are expected to join the Florida Education Association to testify against bills the teacher union opposes (SB 1014/SB 78) that are up for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee. They will gather at 9 a.m. outside the Tucker Civic Center.
The Senate Rules Committee will consider a controversial bill (SB 90) to make a series of changes to vote-by-mail rules. It meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
Equality Florida will hold a news conference opposing the transgender sports bill ahead of the House Session, where it is expected to come up for a vote. The event will feature Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, Equality Florida public policy director Jon Harris Maurer, former ALSO Youth executive director Nathan Bruemmer and three student speakers. The news conference begins at 11 a.m. on the House Office Building Portico.
The Ocoee Election Day Riots Historical Review and Dedication Committee will meet to discuss options for naming state parks to recognize victims of the 1920 riot. The committee meets online at 1 p.m.
The Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships and environmental advocates will hold a news conference near the Governor’s Mansion urging DeSantis to block a legislative effort to undo Key West’s cruise ship referendums. It starts at 1 p.m. at 700 N Adams St.
The House will hold a floor Session at 2 p.m.
The Senate will hold a floor Session at 3 p.m. The agenda includes the controversial anti-riot bill (HB 1).
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House Commerce Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Health & Human Services Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
— The House Pandemic & Public Emergencies Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.