Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The end is nigh. Lawmakers have readied the state’s budget for the coming fiscal year for a quick vote on the final day of the Legislative Session. The House and Senate on Thursday discussed their $101.5 billion budget plan, finalized Tuesday afternoon. The Legislature must wait 72 hours before passing the budget and sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis, meaning lawmakers can vote on it beginning at 12:06 p.m. Friday. Senate President Wilton Simpson expects his chamber to leave early on Friday, the 60th and final day of Session. The $101.5 billion tab for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins in July, is $9.3 billion larger than the current year’s $92.2 billion budget. That amounts to a more than 10% increase, much of it attributable to federal coronavirus relief funding. Here’s your nightly rundown.
Unsunk. More than 20 organizations called on DeSantis to veto controversial seaports legislation that resurfaced in the eleventh hour.
Hell to pay. Transgender activists and allies didn’t mince words about lawmakers’ “backroom” deal to pass a transgender sports ban.
Three and out. In approving a bill (SB 1028) barring transgender athletes from participating in women’s college sports, Republicans slipped in an amendment to delay a law allowing college athletes to cash in on their likeness until 2022.
Fix or fail? Members of the Legislature agree there are staffing issues within DOC. But whether this year’s budget offers a solution or kicks the can down the road was the subject of debate on the Senate floor.
Serena’s Law. A loophole in public records law left an abused girl confronted with the sight of her assaulter volunteering with children. The Legislature passed a bill (HB 1229) to stop that from ever happening again.
— 2,186,477 FL residents (+5,553 since Wednesday)
— 41,735 Non-FL residents (+113 since Wednesday)
— 17,511 Travel related
— 871,679 Contact with a confirmed case
— 23,843 Both
— 1,273,444 Under investigation
— 90,262 in FL
— 35,777 in FL
— 14,271,699 Doses administered
— 8,740,620 Total people vaccinated
— 2,666,894 First dose
— 542,647 Completed one-dose series (+4,655 since Wednesday)
— 5,531,079 Completed two-dose series (+83,534 since Wednesday)
Quote of the Day
“This legislation stands in stark contrast to the dangerous anti-protest bill that Gov. DeSantis signed into law recently. It represents what can happen when we legislate with everyone’s best interests in mind. This bill is just the beginning, and we will continue fighting for fair and just policing in Florida.” — Tampa Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell, after the use-of-force training legislation (HB 7051) she helped negotiate passed the Senate.
Your Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day is: What prominent civil rights activist is known as the “First Lady of Struggle?”
As always, click here to tweet your answer with cc: @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in Last Call!
Last time, we asked: Florida has the most ___________ of any state in America.
Answer: Golf courses.
While we had several answers, nobody guessed it right! Sine Die is tomorrow, so there is still one more chance to win! Who will it be?
Bill Day’s Latest
A ban on transgender athletes came back from the dead Wednesday in the form of a last-minute amendment tacked onto a bill dealing with charter schools (SB 1028). The amendment, which passed both chambers mostly along party lines, would establish the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The law would keep transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports. We talked to Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Media Relations Manager for Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group that is opposed to the legislation.
Florida Politics: Democrats are calling it an “eleventh-hour” amendment. What do you make of the way the legislation was passed?
Wolf: The last-minute backroom maneuvering to usher this bill past the fierce public opposition that initially stalled it is shameful. Floridians made clear that they do not want this transphobic piece of legislation on the books, and rather than stand on the side of their constituents, GOP leaders cut a deal behind closed doors to press forward on their assault on transgender children.
Florida Politics: The bill isn’t signed yet. Does Equality Florida keep fighting? Are you going to ask the Governor for a veto?
Wolf: Equality Florida is committed to fighting this legislation at every turn. We urge the Governor to veto the unlawful, dangerous bill and have asked our supporters across the state of Florida to join us in those calls for a veto.
Florida Politics: If the bill as amended gets signed, do you think there would be a court challenge over it? What would be the basis of that challenge?
Wolf: We are working with attorneys and those directly impacted on potential legal challenges to the bill. A federal judge has already frozen Idaho’s similar transgender sports ban bill due to its likely unconstitutionality, and Democrats in Florida repeatedly warned of the same fate for our state. Republican lawmakers knew the risk to taxpayers and fully stepped into it when they rejected an amendment that would have refused to commit public money to defending these provisions. Equality Florida is prepared to use all avenues necessary to defend transgender youth.
There were many personnel moves in the Governor’s Office this Session, and yesterday brought one more.
Cory Dowd has been promoted from Policy Adviser to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez to Deputy Legislative Affairs Director for the Governor.
Dowd has been working in the Executive Office of the Governor since mid-2020, but his resume in Florida politics goes back much further than that.
Before taking a position in the DeSantis administration, Dowd spent nearly three years serving in various capacities in the state House.
He started as an intern on the Rules & Policy Committee in 2017 before taking a leap to then-House Speaker José Oliva’s office. There, he worked as a Legislative Aide from May 2018 through November 2019, before getting bumped up to Policy Adviser.
Lobbying firm Smith Bryan & Myers provided Dowd with his first experience in The Process — he worked as a runner and assistant for SBM during the 2017 Legislative Session.
Dowd is a double alumnus of Florida State University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in economics and political science and a master’s degree in applied American politics and policy.
The Next 24
The Senate Democratic Caucus will meet at 9 a.m. in Room 228 of the Senate Office Building. The meeting will be streamed over Zoom.
The Senate will hold a floor Session at 10 a.m.
The House will hold a floor Session at 10:30 a.m.
The Legislative Session is scheduled to end Friday after lawmakers pass a budget. Due to the mandatory 72-hour “cooling off” period, the earliest they may vote on the budget is 12:06 p.m.