Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2021 Legislative Session:
The Last 24
The Senate approved new maps for itself and the state’s now-28 congressional districts on Thursday. The new Senate map, passed with a 34-3 vote, would produce 22 seats that went for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election and 18 that went for Democrat Joe Biden, which is not far off from the existing map. The congressional map, which passed 31-4, would most likely produce 16 Republican U.S. Representatives and 12 Democratic ones. However, it is likely to face challenges — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office has criticized at least one district as an “unconstitutional gerrymander” and online activists have called on the Florida House to ignore it or for DeSantis to veto it. Here’s your nightly rundown.
DEP drama. The House State Affairs Committee advanced a bill (HB 1295) that would allow the Governor to appoint a Department of Environmental Protection agency Secretary without the Cabinet’s approval.
Not-so-independent contractor. The Senate Rules Committee greenlit a bill (SB 542) that would allow businesses to provide financial assistance or equipment to independent contractors without fear of litigation.
‘Truck yeah.’ DeSantis announced $2.3 million in grants for six institutions around the state to support commercial driver’s license and nursing instruction.
Double or nothing. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has said the Department of Interior will appeal the court decision that struck down the Gaming Compact.
Shhh. Parental rights legislation (HB 1557) that would prohibit some discussions of LGBTQ issues in schools received its first committee nod Thursday.
Get well soon. The Governor said First Lady Casey DeSantis has completed chemotherapy treatment.
New DCA. The House Judiciary Committee voted to introduce a proposed committee bill (PCB JDC 22-01) creating a sixth District Court of Appeal.
Quality time. The House Government Operations Subcommittee OK’d a bill (HB 1053) that would require state departments and agencies to provide paid parental leave from the sick leave pool for state employees.
Quote of the Day
“We should not be the experimental first case of this. And our small cities and our small counties are ultimately the ones that are going to be the guinea pigs.”
— Sen. Jeff Brandes, on a priority bill that would allow businesses to sue local governments if an ordinance impacts their bottom line.
Bill Day’s Latest
Discussion on Florida’s redistricting process has dominated capital discourse during the first two weeks of the 2022 session. Even DeSantis chimed in with his own vision for Florida’s Congressional district lines.
One member of the conversation has been Cecile Swoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. She has been present and given public comment at most of the redistricting committee meetings, voicing her organization’s concern that the redistricting maps are not going far enough to expand minority-controlled districts in the state.
Swoon spoke with Florida Politics about her organization’s objections and her thoughts on DeSantis’ congressional map draft.
Q: Your organization has opposed both Florida senate redistricting maps. What are some of the areas in the maps that have you the most concerned?
Swoon: We are concerned about areas of growth of different populations, minority populations, and how the lines have been drawn. We believe there may be a possibility for additional minority access opportunity districts. And we’re not sure at this point, because the Senate has not done the required analysis to actually check if there are other areas other than the benchmark districts that were set forth in the litigation in 2016. We’re not sure that they’re not other minority districts that can and should be drawn.
Q: Do you have similar concerns about the proposed Florida House redistricting map? Are there any communities that you think it may leave out?
Swoon: We have very similar concerns with the house redistricting map. And they’re not as far along as the Senate is. So we’re not entirely sure what they’re going to put forth. Because it seems they’re still in workshop. They’re trying to settle down on what they want to do. But we actually don’t have a firm sense of where they’re going. But based on the workshop maps that they presented, yes, we have the same concerns.
Q: One of the things that have changed since you last spoke at a committee session was the Governor dropping his own proposed congressional redistricting map. What are your thoughts on his map?
Swoon: It’s very surprising that the Governor would enter into this whole process, it’s unusual. and it was done sort of late in the season. Those things are noteworthy. Concerning the actual content of the map, we haven’t had a chance to fully analyze it. But on its face, it seems to violate the anti retrogression of minority districts. The fact that some from the Governor’s office have said ‘oh, but now we have different districts that are stronger than they were before, even though there’s less of them’ doesn’t fix the problem. There are two requirements of section two and also the Voting Rights Act tier one. And that is one, you don’t decrease the number of minority districts. And they certainly have with their map proposal for Hispanics, and for African Americans. The second thing is there doesn’t appear to have been any research or data analysis to determine whether there should be more (minority) districts drawn instead of contracting. We should be looking for more (minority districts) and making some districts stronger African American or stronger Hispanic doesn’t fix those problems. Because the idea of the district being an opportunity district is that after analysis, it has been shown that the minority has an opportunity to select a representative of their choice. You have to do a study to know what percentage does that mean. 51%? 50%? 48%? So once you’ve established where the cutoff is, adding more people to it doesn’t really fix anything. It kind of goes to the packing idea of putting extra votes and extra people in the district when those people can have an impact. Maybe if there’s enough to further pack minority districts, there’s enough to have another minority district. So making already minority districts stronger, in terms of the number of the population, doesn’t necessarily fix the problem.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the reigning Super Bowl champs, and they have a solid chance to repeat.
Only a handful of teams have managed to win back-to-back championships, including the 2003-04 New England Patriots led by now-Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, who is still setting records two decades into his NFL career.
This season alone, he became the first QB to break 600 career touchdowns and broke the record for single-season pass completions with 485, all while amassing a personal best 5,316 passing yards.
But the Buccaneers will have to win a few more games to earn a spot in Super Bowl LIV. With a playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, the Bucs are likely spending more time thinking about Matthew Stafford’s toe than what the Legislature is up to this Session.
Luckily, they don’t need to worry about what’s going on in Tallahassee — they have a team for that: Michael Corcoran, Jacqueline Corcoran, Matt Blair and Will Rodriguez of Corcoran Partners.
Blair said there aren’t any specific bills that the Bucs are keeping tabs on in the 2022 Legislative Session, but their top issues are economic development and growth, transportation and infrastructure and COVID-19 policy.
Of the few sports-related bills filed this Session is a measure (SB 1298) by Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters that would require pro sports teams to play the national anthem before every game or face a fine. It cleared the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee earlier this week with a 7-1 vote.
Whether it passes or not, it’s of little consequence to the Buccaneers or any other team in Florida, they all cue up The Star-Spangled Banner ahead of every home game.
The Next 24
— The Florida Commission on Ethics will discuss an ethics complaint related to missing information on former Sen. Daphne Campbell’s financial-disclosure forms when it meets at 8:30 a.m. in the 1st District Court of Appeal.
— The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will hold hearings on three property insurance rate increase requests. It will take up Southern Fidelity Insurance Co.’s proposal at 8:30 a.m., Cypress Property & Casualty Insurance Co.’s at noon and Centauri Specialty Insurance Co.’s at 3 p.m.
— The Florida Conference of Black State Legislators Foundation’s annual Kershaw-Cherry Legislative Luncheon will be held at noon in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.
Also, the following committees will meet.
— The Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining meets at 8 a.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.
— The House State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee meets at 10:30 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.