Sixty Days for 2.23.22 — A prime-time look at the 2022 Legislative Session

Red Tally 4
Notes and highlights from today in Tallahassee.

Sixty Days — A prime-time look at the 2022 Legislative Session:

The Last 24

An update to condominium regulations (SB 1702) introduced in the wake of the Surfside condominium disaster advanced through its third and final Senate committee Wednesday. Sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, the bill would require a two-part inspection at condo buildings’ 30-year mark and once every 10 years afterward. Originally, the bill addressed inspections solely, but Wednesday more administrative regulations were added. The bill now requires condo boards to conduct studies of how sound the condo’s repair funds are and add those reports to the condominium’s official records. Condo boards can waive the once-every-three-years study, but the bill requires “conspicuous disclosure” of that decision to forego a study of the condo’s reserve. The bill now heads to the full Senate. Similar legislation (HB 7069) is on third reading in the House. Here’s your nightly rundown.

Hold the Mayo. The House budget (HB 5001) requires DMS to issue a competitive bid for office space to move 272 employees out of the Nathan Mayo Building.

Shift change. Legislation (HB 1239) to “modernize” nursing home staffing requirements by allowing nonnursing staff to fulfill a portion of direct care hours cleared its final House panel.

Foster care overhaul. The Senate passed a bill (SB 7034) that would increase protections for foster children, raise benefits for foster families and expand the college tuition waiver for students exiting foster care.

Pearly whites. The Legislative dogfight over Medicaid dental care appears to be resolved after a House panel the chamber’s Medicaid managed care bill (HB 7047).

The doctor is in. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo after bitter partisan debate.

RIP. The House Commerce may have held its last meeting this Session, leaving a lot of bills in limbo, including a rural broadband expansion package (HB 1543/HB 1545).

High-stakes swap. Legislation (HB 1193) to replace standardized testing with a “progress monitoring program” passed its final committee in the House.

CRO. A bill (HB 7053) that would formalize the Statewide Office of Resilience and create the official position of Chief Resilience Officer under the Governor is on its way to the House floor.

Share with the class. The ranking Democrat on the House Redistricting Committee wants the results of racial polarization study ahead of the panel’s final meeting.

Step-down. The House added a step-down process to a bill (HB 741) that would eventually end “net metering” in Florida.

Dollars and sense. Legislation (HB 1115) requiring high school students to take a financial literacy and management class passed its final House committee.

[Redacted]. A bill (HB 1511) that aims to protect the personal information of people involved in car accidents cleared its final House panel.

‘Belts and suspenders.’ Legislation (SB 1352) to clarify the ban on political contributions from foreign nationals is ready for the Senate floor.

Privacy isn’t free. Data privacy legislation (HB 9/SB 1864) under consideration in the Legislature could deliver a $21 billion hit to Florida’s economy, according to Florida TaxWatch.

Quote of the Day

“You need your doctor, your lawyer and your accountant to tell you the truth even if it’s not popular.”

— Sen. Jason Pizzo, saying Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has not earned his trust or confidence.

Bill Day’s Latest


3 Questions

The University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research lab released a poll earlier this week centered on issues pivotal to the legislative session.

The poll, done from Feb. 7-20, found 57% of respondents either somewhat disapproved or strongly disapproved of the bill banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The number jumped 5% when respondents were told it does not contain exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

49% of respondents opposed the bill opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 40% supported it.

Another issue touched on was recreational marijuana. The poll found 76% of respondents support allowing people to possess small amounts of cannabis, while only 20% opposed. That’s a 10% increase from 2019.

Florida Politics spoke with Michael Binder,  the lab’s faculty director, about the poll’s results and what he thinks it says about those issues.

Q: There were two different phrasing in the abortion bill section of the poll that led to a 5% difference in results. Why were those two different framings asked and what does the results say about the issue?

Binder: Well, they were asked, because most things you hear about the abortion bills, oh, 15 weeks, and then that’s it. The lack of an exception for rape or incest is traditionally different from most other abortion ban restrictions. So, we wanted to highlight that and then see if there was a difference in the public opinion with or without it. And it was only a 5% difference. So, I think that tells you that, generally speaking, people’s opinions on abortions are pretty hard and fast. But some of those key provisions can move the needle just a little bit.

Q: One of the interesting things to me about the poll was the 10% jump in support for recreational marijuana. Where did that jump come from in the polling? Did it come from any specific demographic?

Binder: This surprised the heck out of me, too. But it was up everywhere. Everybody was up just a little bit more, even Republicans were at 64%. It’s not just like, oh, this group came around, or oh, that group came around, it shows an across-the-board uptick in support. I think the reason for the uptick is probably twofold. I think one is now that we’ve had medical marijuana here in the state for, I guess, theoretically, four years but in actuality closer to two, people are looking around, people are having more experience with it, and they’re not seeing terrible things happen. Additionally, a lot of other states have moved to recreational marijuana, and those states are not seeing some of the problems that people had feared. And so, I think it’s easing some of the concerns or consciousness of folks.

Q: What do you think is the biggest takeaway from the results of these polls?

Binder: I think the biggest takeaway is, even though it may appear, that the Florida Legislature might be out of step with the Florida voters, if you look a little deeper into those numbers, Republicans are supportive of that 15-week abortion ban. Republicans are supportive of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Republicans are supportive of marijuana but that’s probably the only one (not getting attention). So, a lot of these issues that the Legislature is moving on that are extraordinarily controversial, not just here in Florida, but getting national attention. They’re in line with the Republican voters that are electing them to the House and Senate.

Lobby Up

Jacksonville-based lobbying firm The Fiorentino Group earned an estimated $2.48 million last year, according to its quarterly compensation reports.

The firm founded by Marty Fiorentino represented 70 clients last year, notching $1.3 million in legislative lobbying revenues and $1.18 million in executive branch lobbying revenues.

The Fiorentino Group is the go-to firm for many of the biggest names in Northeast Florida. Their clientele includes companies such as Flagler Health+, Crowley Maritime, the Florida East Coast Railway and many county and municipal governments.

Flagler Health+ paid the firm $100,000 for legislative lobbying work, making it the firm’s top client last year. It was followed by the Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers at the $90,000 level. Flagler Health+ was also The Fiorentino Group’s top executive branch client, paying another $100,000 for help plying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies.

The firm’s local government and public sector clients included Duval County Public Schools, Flagler County, Clay County and the city government for Atlantic Beach. Some of the better-known names on their client sheets include the PGA Tour and AT&T.

In addition to Fiorentino, the firm’s lobbying team includes Davis Bean, Melissa Braude, John Delaney, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto and Shannan Schuessler.

Firm-level ranges show The Fiorentino Group earned between $250,000 and $500,000 in legislative lobbying pay and the same amount in executive branch pay each quarter. Based on those ranges, the firm earned no less than $2 million last year and may have earned as much as $4 million.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The House Redistricting Committee will consider a proposed congressional district map when it meets at 9 a.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for Governor, will hold a roundtable with parents, teachers, and students “to discuss Gov. DeSantis’ reckless and politically motivated attacks against our schools.” It will be livestreamed on Crist’s Facebook page at 10 a.m.

The House will hold a floor session at 1 p.m. The agenda includes a bill (HB 357) that would tighten regulations for pharmacy benefit managers.

Also, the following committees will meet.

— Senate Appropriations Committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 412 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 401 of the Senate Office Building. The meeting begins 15 minutes after the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting adjourns.

Full committee agendas, including bills to be considered, are available on the House and Senate websites.

Staff Reports


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