Last Call for 9.15.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

As the first interim committee week ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session approaches, new bill filings are pouring in.

Of the 135 bills that have been filed so far in the House and Senate, more than half were filed this week, including 15 on Wednesday.

Some of the new proposals aren’t all that new.

Sen. Bobby Powell and Rep. Sam Killebrew brought back a measure (SB 226/HB 25) known as the “Care for Retired Law Enforcement Dogs Program Act” that would set aside money to enhance the welfare of retired police dogs.

The concept has received bipartisan support for a decade — it was even teed up for final passage in 2015, but that was the year the House infamously “took its ball and went home” by ending Session early. An appropriation isn’t tied to the bill yet, but past iterations have asked for $300,000.

Sen. Joe Gruters has reintroduced his proposal to allow local governments to ban smoking on public beaches. The Sarasota Republican has filed some iteration of the bill (SB 224) for years — in the 2021 Legislative Session, it made it through two hearings before going up in smoke in the Rules Committee.

Rep. Randy Fine is taking over as the sponsor of the House companion bill (HB 105).

The beach smoking ban was the less controversial of the two bills Fine rolled out this week. The other (HB 57) was technically filed Aug. 30, but the Brevard County Republican introduced it with a fiery press release on Wednesday.

The measure would ban the use of Critical Race Theory to inform training or policy at state agencies, county and municipal governments, and private contractors working with the government.

“Critical Race Theory is racist at its core, and has no place in the State of Florida,” Fine said. “The notion that people are good or bad based on the color of their skin runs counter to everything our country was founded on. It is insidious, it is evil, and it is propagated to make our children hate their country.”

Wednesday also saw Rep. Anthony Sabatini introduce a bill  (HB 103)  that would make Florida a “constitutional carry” state, meaning that law-abiding residents would be allowed to carry guns — either open or concealed — without the need to obtain a permit.

According to the group Legislation for Florida Gun Rights, five states passed constitutional carry laws this year, raising the number of constitutional carry states to 21.

Evening Reads

The pandemic marks another grim milestone: 1 in 500 Americans have died of COVID-19” via Dan Keating and Akilah Johnson of The Washington Post

Theranos and COVID-19 testing are mirror-image cautionary tales” via Benjamin Mazer of The Atlantic

The reversals have begun: Some school districts backtrack on opt-out mask policies” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix

COVID-19 booster debate rages days before target rollout date” via Emily Kopp of Roll Call

The chilling popularity of anti-vax deathbed videos” via Eleanor Cummins of The New Republic

Donald Trump, Larry Elder’s campaign falsely claimed fraud before California votes were counted — a growing GOP tactic” via Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post

Legislators remain silent about repairing Florida’s tarnished redistricting process” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

Jon Stewart isn’t laughing” via Lacey Rose of The Hollywood Reporter

Star gymnasts give Senators an unsparing account of FBI’s failures in Larry Nassar investigation” via Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal

After Surfside collapse, condo dwellers who shirk fixes may reap a redevelopment windfall” via Andres Viglucci and Allie Pitchon of the Miami Herald

Here’s why Norm Macdonald was comedy royalty. It’s not SNL.” via Jason Zinoman of The New York Times

Quote of the Day

“These sadly predictable data trends are also preventable.” — AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson, on a report showing Florida led the nation in nursing home deaths last month.

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