Last Call for 10.13.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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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

Rep. Matt Willhite filed a bill Wednesday prohibiting financial services businesses from charging former inmates a fee on checks they receive upon release from prison.

The bill (HB 279) concerns “gate money” — a payment provided by the state to certain inmates meant to help them get back on their feet when they are released. The amounts and source of the funds vary state to state, but Florida payments are typically around $100. Cashing a check, however, can eat away 2% to 10% of the total.

“The amount of money these discharged inmates receive is not enough to help them meet their basic needs,” said Willhite, a Wellington Democrat. “Released inmates receive their gate money in the form of a check. If they do not have a bank account, where do they go to cash their check? They have to go to a money services business, in which case they are paying a fee to get their money. This bill removes a barrier to those who have done their time and are working to reintegrate back into society.”

Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat, has filed the Senate’s companion bill (SB 464).

“The purpose of gate money is to ensure the state of Florida is providing returning citizens with the most opportunities possible to succeed after serving their time. Their fresh start should not be further obstructed by service fees,” he said. “Our hope is that this bill alleviates that hindrance and starts a meaningful dialogue about how we can best serve returning citizens who will then in turn serve and contribute to our state and local community.”

The bills are only a few lines long, specifying that the new rule would apply to inmates released from state prisons and county or municipal jails.

Evening Reads

They work at Florida’s last unemployment call center. And they know what it’s like to lose a job.” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel

A cashless society: Lawmakers in Florida want to protect residents’ rights to pay via cash at businesses” via Issac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix

How Tampa and Orlando could become the next ‘megaregion’” via Bernadette Berdychowski of the Tampa Bay Times

Supply chain logjam poses question: Can Joe Biden save Christmas?” via Jessica Wehrman of Roll Call

‘A ticking time bomb’: Lawmakers plan to address National Guard troop shortage” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

2020 Census may have undercounted Black Americans, new analyses say” via Tara Bahrampour of The Washington Post

Can the U.S. cut drug prices without sacrificing new cures?” via Dylan Scott of Vox

As manatee deaths near 1,000, lawmakers seek areas for refuge and restoration” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

War of words over student masks escalates between state Department of Education and feds” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Gambling initiatives race a short calendar” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

The cost of William Shatner’s ‘most profound experience’” via Marina Koren of The Atlantic

Quote of the Day

“As far as public input goes, I can assure members that those conversations are continuing.” — Rep. Tyler Sirois, on virtual public hearings on redistricting.

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