Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
A bill (SB 426) that would undo Key West referendums limiting cruise ship traffic is on its way to the Senate floor after hitting turbulent waters in committee. The proposal, sponsored by Bradenton Republican Sen. Jim Boyd, has received several edits through its three committee stops, including on Wednesday. The latest amendment limits the bill’s focus from municipal ports to any port near an area of “critical state concern.” Key West would be considered one of those critical areas, and residents flocked to the Capitol in droves to speak against the bill. Despite passionate testimony, the committee advanced the bill with a 12-5 vote. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Legalize it. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried flashed her state-issued medical marijuana card in a new ad slamming Republican lawmakers’ efforts to pass a THC cap.
— 2,101,365 FL residents (+6,695 since Tuesday)
— 40,321 Non-FL residents (+77 since Tuesday)
— 16,847 Travel related
— 831,501 Contact with a confirmed case
— 23,044 Both
— 1,229,973 Under investigation
— 87,523 in FL
— 34,829 in FL
— 11,746,277 Doses administered
— 7,584,736 Total people vaccinated
— 2,905,749 First dose
— 517,446 Completed one-dose series (+7,199 since Tuesday)
— 4,161,541 Completed two-dose series (+105,873 since Tuesday)
Quote of the Day
“It’s like professional wrestling. We know it’s fake, but we can’t say it’s fake because we have to preserve the entertainment value.” — Rep. Omari Hardy during debate on the pregame prayer bill (HB 1027).
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: Who founded NASCAR?
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: How many state parks are in Florida?
Congrats to Florida Politics’ own Janelle Irwin Taylor (@JanelleIrwinFL), the first person to tweet the correct answer!
Bill Day’s Latest
Whether she is championing Florida dental issues or coaching weekly fitness classes, Florida Dental Association Chief Legislative Officer and 2021 Tally Madness finalist Joe Anne Hart puts her full commitment into every task. Joe Anne has over 20 years of lobbying experience and has been with the Florida Dental Association since 2005.
Florida Politics: Legislation (SB 604) has been filed to create a new licensed dental provider called a dental therapist. Dental therapists can do some dental work for patients, like cleaning and filling cavities. Does the FDA have a position on this legislation?
Hart: The Florida Dental Association does not support the proposal to create a new licensed dental provider, as this has not been shown to increase access in other states and will not provide immediate care and relief for Florida patients and communities who are in need now.
Florida Politics: Tooth decay remains one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Federal data shows that 9% of children ages 2-5 have untreated decay, and 21% have experienced decay at some point. Rates are considerably higher for low-income children. Can you talk about this issue, and what can be done to help solve it?
Hart: Childhood tooth decay is a critical issue. Oral health is essential to a child’s overall health, well-being and success. Unfortunately, the prevalence of dental problems has only gotten worse amid the pandemic, as families have experienced major shifts in routines and stress levels. The Florida Dental Association advocates for investing in solutions that will help address these urgent needs and ensure that every child has the opportunity to access dental care and treatment. In addition to championing funding for Florida’s dental student loan repayment program and Donated Dental Services, the Florida Dental Association Foundation is hosting the sixth Florida Mission of Mercy event in July, which will provide critical dental care services to patients in need, while maintaining the highest levels of infection control protocols and safe distancing to protect the health and safety of patients and volunteers. Since 2014, the Florida Mission of Mercy has provided approximately 10,000 patients with donated dental care valued at over $9 million.
Florida Politics: What are priorities for the FDA this session?
Hart: The Florida Dental Association is working to secure funding for Florida’s Dental Student Loan Repayment Program and Donated Dental Services, which will provide immediate dental care to those in rural and underserved areas. The dental student loan repayment program will immediately help dentists practice in public health programs and serve patients who are covered by Medicaid and can’t afford care. We know there is a lot of interest from dentists, especially those who are building their careers, to participate in this program to serve those most in need of care and help meet their student loan obligations. Florida Donated Dental Services connects volunteer dentists and dental labs with patients who are elderly, disabled, and/or medically compromised. Patients in this program are provided ongoing, comprehensive, and often extensive dental services (on average, $5,500 worth of care per patient) in volunteer dentists’ practices, with support from volunteer dental labs to provide crowns, bridges, dentures, etc.
In a normal year, federal taxes would be due tomorrow. But this is not a normal year.
The IRS announced last month it will automatically push back the filing due date for individuals to May 17, giving Americans a little extra breathing room to calculate their tax bill and cut the government a check or to maximize their refund.
For some, wading through IRS forms will be a bit more difficult this year. PPP loans, pandemic sick leave, unreceived stimulus checks … there are a lot more boxes to check. Maybe an accountant could help.
The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants are the go-to’s for tax advice, and they have their own team of go-to’s in the Capitol.
The trade group is represented by Jennifer Green, Melanie Bostick and Timothy Parson of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee. They also have in-house advocate Justin Thames, who is also known as a fierce competitor in TallyMadness season.
According to Florida TaxWatch, Floridians pay about $224 billion in federal taxes this year, representing about 70% of state residents’ overall tax burden. The advocacy group calculated that the average Floridian needed until April 9 before they had earned enough money to pay their tax bill — a day it refers to as “Taxpayer Independence Day.”
Florida TaxWatch has kept its eye on several pieces of legislation this year, advocating for the online sales tax plan and COVID-19 liability protections for businesses and health care providers, both of which cleared the Legislature.
The advocacy group doesn’t have a lobbyist, per se, but President and CEO Dominic Calabro is a regular presence in committee hearings.
The Next 24
The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider dozens of bills when it meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building. Among the proposals on the docket is a bill (SB 1362) that would provide free books to elementary school students who are reading under grade level and a proposal (SB 1906) that would increase unemployment benefits for jobless Floridians.
The House Education & Employment Committee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 1461) that would prohibit school board members from receiving compensation. The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Morris Hall in the House Office Building.
The House Judiciary Committee will consider a proposed constitutional amendment (HJR 61) to raise the threshold for future ballot amendments to pass from 60% to two-thirds. It meets at 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.
The House will hold a floor session at 2 p.m. The agenda includes a bill (HB 651) that would allow parents to file medical malpractice suits on behalf of their deceased adult children.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The House State Affairs Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.
— The House Rules Committee will meet in Room 404 of the House Office Building. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the floor Session adjourns.
— The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will meet in Room 402 of the Senate Office Building. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the Appropriations Committee adjourns.